A small-town Indiana woman who was always haunted by the death of a high school classmate turned that obsession into a book. The 1965 death of Olene Emberton, a 17-year-old student at Tipton High School, reportedly “rocked” the town -- her unclothed body had been found by the side of the road, and her killer was never found.
"Before Olene, Tipton was Mayberry," says Janis Thornton. "After her body was found, there was a darkness,” says Janis Thornton, a classmate of Emberton’s. After taking a criminology class in the 1980s, Thornton decided that she wanted to look into Emberton’s death, but didn’t get to work until 1995, when her mother (who reportedly opposed the project) died. (The Indianapolis Star has a nice interview with Thornton here.)
After she finished the book, Emberton’s mother begged her not to publish it, so Thornton held off until the last surviving member of the Emberton family “gave the green light,” the Pharos Tribune reports. Now Too Good a Girl: Remembering Olene Emberton and the Mystery of Her Death is available on Amazon. I haven’t read the book and can’t speak to its quality -- it’s the backstory here that I love. Thornton stuck with this book through various jobs, life changes, and all sorts of adversity, and made her first dive into a career in true crime at (based on when she was in high school) a time when so many of her contemporaries are winding things up. That’s pretty inspiring, and also why I just dropped $3.99 on the Kindle version of her work. -- EB
I’ve made my discomfort with Live PD, a show that creator Dan Abrams is on record as saying is intended to give uncritical attention to law enforcement officers, pretty clear. It’s got that The Running Man meets Cops thing down in a way that makes me glad I’m going to die one day, because is this is where things are heading, etc etc I am very old.
So, fine. But I’m also nothing if not vulnerable to the needs of animals, and my heart was 100 percent melted by the above video from an episode from late last week, in which Lawrence, Indiana, Police Department (why are the first two items in this newsletter based in Indiana? I did not plan this!) Officer Stu Bishop (here he is on Twitter, saying pretty standard coppy stuff) appears to rescue a dog that was reported as abandoned.
Bishop eventually adopted the dog, and has since set the pup -- now named Rizzo -- up with its own Twitter account, where it now has more followers than I do. Does the touching tale mean that I’m going to start watching Live PD? Probably not, as it seems to approach struggling pets with a great deal more compassion than it does struggling humans. But in These Troubled Times, I’ll take flashes of humanity and kindness where I can find them, and, yeah, I just followed that godamn dog. -- EB
Lorri Davis found her husband-to-be in a true crime documentary. Davis was 32 in 1996, the year she watched Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s film on the West Memphis Three. In an excerpt from Rachel Monroe’s Savage Appetites that was recently published in Elle (we also discussed the book last week), Davis says that the film spurred her to write to Damien Echols, who she says she couldn’t stop thinking about.
By 1998, Davis had moved to be near to where Echols was in jail, and in 1999 they were wed in a Buddhist ceremony on the prison grounds. Following activist pressure to keep the case open, as well as DNA evidence that appeared to exonerate the Three, they were released in 2011. The pair are still together today, living in Harlem in “a third-floor walk-up that they share with three suspicious, spoiled cats.” You can read the piece on the Davis/Echols romance here, or pre-order Savage Appetites, which is set for release on August 20, here. -- EB
Is The Family worth joining? On this week’s episode of the Extra Hot Great podcast, Best Evidence subscriber Tara Ariano characterizes the Netflix series as (I’m paraphrasing) “not in the top tier.” In my opinion, that’s a pretty charitable assessment: The show, which claims to “unveil” the fact that many people in positions of political power have ties to conservative Christianity, felt like a pretty big “no shit, Sherlock” to me. If I had been watching it for work, I might have pushed through, but as it was I barely made it through the first episode before switching it off. Other folks seem to agree, with Mashable’s Alison Foreman saying the show “falls flat,” while Vulture’s Jen Chaney says it lets a lot of its threads “hang a little too loosely.” The series is based on two books by Jeff Sharlet (who also appears on camera A LOT): The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power and C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy. If, like me, you found yourself begging “tell me something I don’t already know,” checking out Sharlet’s books might be a better way to go. -- EB
Out on the press junket for Mindhunter, its cast is dropping some details on the show’s next season. It’s sort of like, big whoop, the series drops tomorrow so you’ll probably be fine if you know nothing until then, but just in case: Jonathan Groff tells Entertainment Weekly that on this season, which he confirms will be set in 1979, Holden Ford has become “obsessed with” taking the interview techniques he pioneered in the first season “on the field and seeing if it actually works in real life.” meanwhile, Bill Tench will take “the lead on trying to find out who the BTK Strangler is after the local police force comes up empty-handed.” Spoiler alert: unless Bill finds a time machine that takes him to 2005, his hands will remain empty as well. -- EB
Friday on Best Evidence: How to rob a bank. Seems appropriate info for a Friday, right?
What is this thing? This should help.