Unicorn Killer · Manacled Mormon · Hustlers

Plus: A true-crime tussle over Truman Capote

Thanks to Sarah for doing the heavy Best Evidence lifting last week — I ended up with a little true crime of my own! Here’s hoping things are calmer this week...at least, as calm as things can get when dealing with an unprecedented global crisis. Onward! — EB

Hustlers is on its way to Showtime. If you haven’t figured out that Sarah and I are big fans of the film by now, you probably got this email in error: we discussed the movie on a recent episode of The Blotter Presents, and I reviewed it in September, back when we went to places called “movie theaters.” As of April 25, the movie will begin its pay-cable rounds, first on Showtime, which says via press release that the movie will make its TV premiere on April 25 at 9 PM ET/PT.

In the release, Showtime’s PR mentions that “Fans new to SHOWTIME can watch through a recently announced 30-day free trial,” which sounds to me that they’re suggesting some sort of zipless free binge. As half the writing team of a subscription-funded publication I wouldn’t ever suggest that on my own, of course, but since they said it… — EB

Unlike Best Evidence readers, most Americans have suddenly stopped listening to podcasts. I was wondering about this a couple weeks ago; hence this discussion thread on how your podcast listening habits might have changed since many workplaces sent people home to shuttered completely.

But while most of you say that a commute that’s pivoted from building to building to bedroom to (maybe?) table hasn’t kept you away from podcasts, data measurement firm Podtrac says that listens and downloads are dropping — but when you get down to specific categories, true-crime pod numbers are actually up, Ad Week reports, a stat that “seems to paint a picture of a listener base stuck inside with family or friends, trying to understand and/or seek escapism or solace from an invisible threat.” Ad Week paints quite the picture, huh? — EB

Joyce Bernann McKinney’s cloned dog languishes at an animal shelter. You likely know McKinney as the former Miss Wyoming at the center of Errol Morris’s Tabloid, a 2010 documentary about her role in the “Manacled Mormon” case, a 1977 kidnapping that you can learn about in this detailed 2019 report from Nicole Henley.

McKinney returned to the headlines last year when she allegedly struck and killed a Holocaust survivor in a SoCal hit-and-run, NBC reported at the time. She was ruled incompetent to stand trial, but the incident was enough to spur LA Daily News reporter Josh Cain to take a deep dive into her life, during which he revived that news that about ten years ago, McKinney cloned her late pit bull, Booger, a $50,000-plus operation that netted her five puppies, the Guardian reports. Things ended poorly for them all, Cain reports, except for one 11-year-old pup that remains at the Burbank animal shelter. He is a “very sweet and affectionate boy,” the rescue organization says. — EB

The trailer for The Innocence Files has dropped. The Netflix series is intended to, per its website, tell “the untold personal stories behind eight cases of wrongful conviction,” as overturned by defense nonprofit The Innocence Project. It’s expected to drop on April 15. — EB

I have absolutely no memory of Hunt of the Unicorn Killer, a 1999 dramatic adaptation of the case of Ira Samuel Einhorn, a man who allegedly killed his girlfriend, fled to Europe, and after 23 years was extradited and convicted. I do remember that Einhorn (his name means “unicorn,” thus the nickname) claimed at this trial that her death was a frame job by the CIA, retaliation for his environmental activism.

Einhorn died in prison last week, but ABC 6 hastens to note that he was not felled by coronavirus. Earlier this year, the broadcast station interviewed several people involved with the case, including the reporters, cops, and politicians on the job when the crime first went down. Like in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, hippies are somehow to blame. — EB

Finally, some longreads…

Like the “Time Enough At Last” guy above, one way I’m trying to silver lining this shelter-in-place time is by catching up on longreads I’ve had socked away. Here are three crime-focused ones worth reading.

Long-Silenced Victim of a Pedophile Writer Gets to Tell Her Story [New York Times] “For decades, the writer Gabriel Matzneff used Francesca Gee’s image and letters to champion his sexual pursuit of adolescents. But her own account was rejected, until now.”

Hoax: Secrets That Truman Capote Took to the Grave” [Sunday Times Magazine/Longform] This 1992 story was surfaced by Longform in 2015, and exhumed by Sarah again this week — and it’s about how Capote’s well-reviewed true crime book Hand-Carved Coffins might have more than a little fabulism between its pages. For a counterpoint to the report, here’s The Washington Post’s David Streitfeld, who says that “this story of Capote's fraud is a bit of a fraud itself.” Fight! Fight! Fight! [“I’d also note that anyone who’s read Plimpton and Stein’s oral history of Capote will see many many direct quotes from the participants, which are not as clearly credited to the work as they might be.” — SDB]

Blurring The Lines Between Criminal Justice And Popular Culture” [CrimeReads] This is a breakdown of 13 properties with true-crime connections, and the impact they’ve had on the real world.

Wednesday on Best Evidence: It’s The Blotter Presents, Episode 138! Sarah and guest Toby Ball take a look at Atlanta's Missing & Murdered: The Lost Children, AND Kevin Smokler returns with an interview with Bob Kolker, the author of Lost Girls. SDB is hoping to get it edited and out to coincide with Kolker’s book drop today, so no show notes this time!

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