TikTok · Theranos · Con Queen Shocker

Plus: Your true-crime podcast name

A post shared by Spaulding Decon (@crimescenecleaning)

“Bloody crime scene cleanups are going viral on TikTok” says Wired UK, citing clips like these. That’s hardly the only viral TikTok trend these days — this correspondent is obsessed with Ratatouille: The Musical (explainer here) and had not even heard about these TikToks, which reporter Laura Holliday says is “a collection of videos with over 200 million views that document real life crime scenes in graphic detail.”

One of those, crimescenecleaning, has 2.8 million followers for posts that include “hoards, crime scene & drug lab cleans.” It’s run by Spaulding Decon, a “national crime scene cleanup, hoarding cleanup, meth lab cleanup and mold remediation company.” (I would watch an HG show in which this company pairs with flippers, just saying.)

Gabe Chrismon runs the company’s Nashville location. “While YouTube videos and Instagram posts are still extremely engaging and important, TikTok was another avenue where we could get our message and purpose out to as wide of an audience as possible,” he tells Wired. “I have had multiple customers find us through our social media platforms. The overwhelming response is: ‘I saw your TikTok videos and immediately called because my mom could use your services.’”

Here’s a snip:

A restoration supervisor in Las Vegas, who wishes to remain anonymous, says he initially began uploading pictures and videos of his bio jobs, including suicide scenes, to TikTok as a way to connect with ex-coworkers in California, but things soon escalated. “I did not realise my page was public,” he says. “The first video got over two million views in about two hours.” When his employer found out, he was suspended.

For TikTok, which came under fire in July after taking two days to remove footage of a group of teenagers discovering human remains inside a suitcase, crime scene videos are tricky to moderate. The platform has restrictions on gore, but does allow educational content – around medical procedures, for instance – although such videos are never promoted to a user’s ‘For You’ page of algorithmically chosen clips.

The whole piece is a great window into another platform for true-crime content that many of us have yet to dive into. Unless…are you all big true-crime TikTockers and you didn’t tell me? Assuming you’re not already an expert, you can read the full Wired story here. — EB

The holidays, they are approaching. Best Evidence makes a great gift — it’s only $55 for a year, it doesn’t take up any space, and you don’t need to worry about trying it on or if it’s the right color for someone’s living room. All you need is a recipient who’s into true crime, and you’re all set with a gift AND you’re keeping this thing afloat. What a twofer!

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Over here, we’re Bread and Butter Embezzlement and The Crackers Strangling. How about you?

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Today in Buttholes…

Our semi-regular feature runneth over with buttheads and the things they do. Here’s a three-fer:

  • College Admissions Grifter Mossimo Giannulli Shaved His Head Before Prison[GQ] A prison consultant says that the Target clothier might have made the chop because he wants to embrace change, but there’s another option, too: what if the guy wears a hairpiece (permanent or removable)? That’s not something he’d be allowed to continue while he serves his five months in Lompoc, not for nothing.

  • Harvey Weinstein Very Ill, Covid Likely [TMZ] Yes, we know that the disgraced film producer reportedly contracted coronavirus earlier in the pandemic, but “he was never officially diagnosed.” According to the LA Times, his reps say he is “struggling with a number of health issues in prison,” just not COVID-19.

  • DFW Brewery Owner Arrested on Charges of Federal Wire Fraud, Murder” [Eater Dallas] Folks, please read this report from my colleague Amy McCarthy, who says that explaining to county jail workers what “Eater” is added an unexpected complication to her job. “This fall,” McCarthy writes, “the brewery offered a Hatch chile infused ale called the Hatch Me if You Can, a play on the classic caper movie Catch Me If You Can, which seems pretty ironic considering the circumstances.”

The Theranos case is heating up. First, there’s a new lawsuit filed by Diana Dupuy, a former Theranos laboratory scientist. Dupuy had since found new employment at Italian diagnostics company DiaSorin, which has made recent headlines for its COVID-19 antibody test. But after Dupuy received a subpoena in the federal case against Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and company president Sunny Balwani, DiaSorin fired her, the Bay Area News Group reports.

According to the suit, DiaSorin “was extremely concerned about potential negative publicity arising from a company employee testifying at the Elizabeth Holmes criminal trial because Theranos, the company that Elizabeth Holmes allegedly used to defraud investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars, reportedly used analyzers from defendant DiaSorin … as part of fake and fraudulent testing.”

DiaSorin “did not want its name and Theranos and/or Elizabeth Holmes mentioned in the same news story or in any description of the Elizabeth Holmes criminal trial and therefore terminated … Dupuy in an improper and illegal effort to prevent it from happening,” the suit claims. Now, Dupuy is seeking unspecified damages from DiaSorin, and also says that she wants her job back.

And that’s not all — according to CNBC, late Friday night the attorneys representing Holmes in her federal case filed a motion saying that "The amount of money Ms. Holmes earned in her position at Theranos, how she chose to spend that money, and the identities of people with whom she associated simply have no relevance to Ms. Holmes' guilt or innocence,” and that information should be kept from the jury.

"Many CEOs live in luxurious housing, buy expensive vehicle and clothing, travel luxuriously and associate with famous people – as the government claims Ms. Holmes did," her defense writes, so "The jury should not be subjected to arguments regarding Ms. Holmes' alleged purchase of luxury travel, 'fine wine,' or 'food delivery to her home.’” As of this writing, the judge in the case has not ruled on the request. The trial remains on track to begin jury selection on March 9, 2021. — EB

The Hollywood Con Queen is no lady, a podcast on the case claims. According to the most recent episode of Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen, the con queen in question isn’t a woman at all, but (per Deadline)

…a man who is of Indonesian descent, living in the UK. A master of accents with an ability to disguise his voice to sound male or female, the person has so far successfully pretended to be one of a coterie of female Hollywood moguls, and others male and female who actually work in the business. The scammer has hooked aspiring filmmakers, security consultants, physical trainers and hair and makeup personnel, who were coerced into traveling to Jakarta with promises of employment. There, they ended up fronting money for things, with a promise of reimbursement that never materialized.

The podcast’s a production of Campside Media, in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment; Vanity Fair has a full report on how they unmasked the scammer known for impersonating boldfaced Hollywood names like Kathleen Kennedy, Amy Pascal, and Wendi Deng. According to VF, “In the U.K. [the suspect] is known as a foodfluencer Instagramming under the handle Pure Bytes and ISpintheTales…who has not responded to multiple requests for comment.”

The key to the alleged con queen’s identity was a falsified passport, podcasters/reporters Josh Dean and Vanessa Grigoriadis say. The whole thing is fascinating, and the full Vanity Fair breakdown is definitely worth a read. — EB

[this piece was corrected 11/24 to reflect the podcast’s production provenance]

Wednesday on Best Evidence: Unboxing a true-crime book lot with SDB!

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