When Is It Okay To Contact A Serial Killer?

No, we’re not talking about any of you becoming a prison bride (though, I have told you how Richard Ramirez’s wife once helped me buy plates and napkins at Party Plus, right?). This is a question posed by Staffordshire University associate professor Fiona Graham, who, after watching Des, said, “Contacting a killer or any criminal doesn’t come lightly, but it can be argued it’s what you need to do when trying to tell a story or make a documentary about true crime. But is there ever a right time to do this?”

Graham, who’s worked on BBC true-crime series Crimewatch, then answers her own question, saying, “I think there can be, because developing crime programs should always be about finding the truth and telling an accurate story.” But still, if the victim has no voice, and the killer does, he sort of ends up owning the narrative by proxy, right? It also brings to mind how the New York Times decided to cover the 2019 mass shooting in New Zealand, a journalistic quandary that led many to say that by denying a killer any fame or attention, one might help save lives.

I don’t have an answer for you, but I do know this — if I know a true-crime tale has an original interview with the suspect, I’m far more likely to watch. I assume I’m not alone in that. Does that mean I’m part of the problem? What’s your comfort level when it comes to giving admitted killers a voice, and where do you think the line should be drawn? Let’s hash it out. — EB

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