True Conviction · Crime Junkie · Gilded Rage
Plus: NCIS: TCTCF, Jailbirds, and Killer Ratings
|Best Evidence||May 23, 2019||2|
Welcome to our first “official” issue of Best Evidence! We announced this thing Wednesday, and are heartened to see how many of you have already signed up. If you like what you’re reading and think others might, feel free to forward this to your pals -- and please do consider a paid subscription, which will allow you access to our full archives, the ability to comment, and five full issues a week. (And if you’ve already ponied up, well, gift subscriptions would delight many a dad or grad.) Thank you! -- Sarah and Eve
This week’s True Conviction did a serviceable job of covering the details of one of Indianapolis’s most shocking crimes. If you’re unfamiliar, the ID show is a fairly standard “walk me through what happened” style series, and with “conviction” in the title viewers can enjoy the arguable comfort in knowing that by the end, someone’s going to jail.
Host Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi is a former Brooklyn ADA who transitioned into reality stardom last year -- perhaps a wise move, as during her career, she made the Marshall Project’s link list for her prosecution of a case that was overturned when a four-judge panel agreed that Nicolazzi had withheld favorable evidence from the defense. New York Daily News columnist Harry Siegel covered that case for ages, and this Daily Beast report from February of 2018 sums it all up.
That said (and, after you click on those links, you’ll see that “that” is a lot), Nicolazzi is an affable enough host, giving the impression of speaking with survivors, prosecutors, and cops without being overly aggressive or podium-poundingly law and order. The case in this week’s episode, which aired Tuesday and is available to folks with an ID subscription online here, involves a slain Indiana woman who, with her soon-to-be ex-husband (you see where this is going already) were part of Indianapolis’s Indy Car industry. (This is timely, you see, because the sport’s biggest event, the Indianapolis 500, is this coming weekend.)
What I appreciated about the show is that the more tabloid-worthy details of the case -- for example, that the victim, 31-year-old Cynthia Albrecht, was left in a rural area naked, in “a sexually suggestive position,” and without her head -- were detailed without too much eyebrow wagging, nor were issues like her dating history presented as anything approaching a “reason” for her death.
Ultimately, the homicide was found to be a domestic slaying, perhaps remarkable (or not, sigh) because her almost-ex first tried to convince his friend to kill her, then admitted to the friend that he did it…and the friend did nothing, for a very, very long time. Michael Albrecht’s 60-year sentence was upheld in 2009, the prosecutor wrote a book about the murder, and the area where Cynthia’s remains (among many others over the years) were found retained its rep as a body dumping spot. Her head, however, was never found. -- EB
Popular podcast Crime Junkie is expanding its brand. The wildly popular pod was started by Ashley Flowers, a member of the board of directors for Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana. While all the jokily addiction-themed language around the show gives me a bit of pause (in addition to the title, Flowers calls herself “your new true crime dealer”), the Indiana State Police lack my snowflake-like temperament, it appears. Flowers tells Deadline that she’s working with the force on “a 40-year old cold case” that will result in a a limited six-part podcast series.
Deadline reports that this is “the first time that law enforcement has brought in an outside podcaster to help crack a case,” and that if things go well, the outing could be adapted into a TV series. “There’s been a lot of talk in the television world about how we could turn this show into a series,” Flowers says, “once it’s out and fingers crossed the police is happy.” I won’t hold my breath Flowers’s hard-hitting expose on police misconduct, I guess. -- EB
Jake Gyllenhaal is working with Conde Nast to bring its coverage of the Princeton Preppy Murder to the big screen. The movie is currently entitled Gilded Rage, and will be based on Vanity Fair’s 2015 investigations into the allegations that Thomas Gilbert Jr. is responsible for the murder of his investment banker dad, Thomas Gilbert Sr.
That’s Gilbert, Jr.’s mug shot above, so it’s unlikely that Gyllenhaal has his eye on that role. As Sr. was 70 at the time of his death, that’s probably off the table, too, so it’s unclear where his interest lies. Production is set to begin later this year, but its screenwriters better keep their laptops open -- Gilbert, Jr. has turned down all plea deals, and the latest chapter in his case is expected to kick off next Tuesday in Manhattan. -- EB
48 Hours: NCIS has been rebranded as NCIS: The Cases They Can’t Forget. The CBS series is a bit of a line-blurrer, as it’s hosted by actor Rocky Carroll, who appears on the network’s scripted drama NCIS. (You can see the branding problem here, can’t you?) NCIS: TCTCF (hahaha that’s really the acronym!) is seemingly intended to provide the true crime inspo for the scripted series, or as the press release puts it “a slate of the biggest cases handled by the real-life Naval Criminal Investigative Service.”
As I’m not an NCIS watcher, I’m unlikely to further confuse my DVR by scheduling this one in, and I’m surprised that the show would so willingly dump the estimable 48 Hours brand. For those who feel otherwise, the show returns for its third season with a special two-hour premiere next Wednesday, May 29. -- EB
A woman featured in the Netflix series Jailbirds was arrested after witnesses recognized her from the show. The show, which has been marketed as the real-life version of Orange Is The New Black, depicts female inmates inside the Sacramento County Jail. Among other characters, we meet 29-year-old Megan "Monster" Hawkins, who at the time of filming was serving a 180 day sentence for grand theft auto, transportation of narcotics, possession of controlled substance, check fraud, and committing a felony while on bail.
Though Hawkins was freed, her time outside was shortlived: Her split tongue, face tattoos, and streaming celebrity caught the attention of an Elk Grove, CA bank teller who said Hawkins was attempting to open a bank account using fraudulent identification. Though Hawkins left the scene, police say that when they tracked her, she was driving a stolen card and was carrying multiple credit cards in different names. She was booked back into Sacramento County Jail, with bail set at $55,000. -- EB
Speaking of Netflix, the platform is reportedly at work on a docuseries on TV host turned politician turned alleged murder-for-hire orderer Wallace Souza. Entitled Killer Ratings, the seven-part series will explore the case of Souza, who allegedly arranged murders then rushed to the scene as a “reporter” in the Brazilian city of Manaus. Also a member of the state assembly, Souza was booted from his position when his former bodyguard accused him of heading up a violent criminal organization. (He died of a heart attack before he could be tried). According to Deadline, producers have “assembled a huge trove of information” including never-before seen footage of Souza mid-scandal. The show will drop on Netflic on May 31. -- EB
Coming up next on Best Evidence: On Friday, paid subscribers will learn who The Blotter Presents fans chose for our (fantasy) next season of American Crime Story, as well as hear who we’d would cast in the lead roles. If you’re a free subscriber, we’ll see you next week, and we hope you have a great holiday weekend! -- Sarah and Eve
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