Why We Snap · Heartland Hell · What's Your Crime?
It's a true crime grab bag
|Best Evidence||Aug 6, 2020||3||2|
We’re clearing the decks. I’ll admit it, I’ve been keeping some stories in my back pocket for a rainy day! Before they start to emit a worrying smell, I’m sending them off to you. If it rains, Sarah and I will figure something out. (She said/she said on why Nancy Grace sucks, anyone?) Unlike fossil fuels or Clarisonic brushes (RIP, my face-scrubbing friend), there’s plenty more where this stuff came from. — EB
It’s kind of the ultimate 2020 tome, as “Fields shows that violent behavior is the result of the clash between our evolutionary hardwiring and triggers in our contemporary world. Our personal space is more crowded than ever, we get less sleep, and we just aren't as fit as our ancestors.” Sounds familiar! Insider has an excerpt here, and National Geographic has a super interesting interview with Fields re his theses here.
Now the brainy tome is getting a TV take, Realscreen reports. The plan is a nine-episode series — one for each of Fields’ triggers “from the ‘desire to obtain a mate’ to the ‘need to correct perceived injustice.’” The show will link real-life crimes to Fields’ hypothetical motivations, they say. No word yet on a network or air date, but I’m a little intrigued! — EB
Paging Australian Best Evidence readers… Was Murder In The Outback all that? The Guardian’s TV critic describes the true-crime doc about the high-profile disappearance of Peter Falconio as “trope-laden” and with “all the hackneyed moves from the Making a Murderer playbook: moody piano arpeggios, slow-mo footage, dodgy audio from prison phone calls and cliffhanger reveals just before the closing credits to keep you coming back for more.”
That alleged hacky-ness didn’t keep viewers away, however: According to the West Australian, the show pulled a ratings coup, bumping Big Brother (!!) out of the top timeslot spot. Folks who live in the UK can stream the show for free here, but there does not appear to be a legitimate option for those of us who live elsewhere. — EB
Planning a pandemic-era visit to Alcatraz East? The Pigeon Forge crime museum/tourist destination reopened in May, with rules around face coverings and social distancing that, tbh, don’t do quite enough to ensure that an already scary place (because of the crime paraphernalia!) doesn’t get even scarier (because you could catch a disease and die!).
But, who knows, if you’re a magically immune daywalker, go for it! And go for AE’s new “What’s Your Crime?” exhibit, which features objects from top true-crime shows, but doesn’t specify what those objects might be. (Is it Alcatraz East that’s driving up the prices at that Fyre Fest auction?) If you go, send us pictures and wear a mask, but be aware that the museum’s politics might not be your own. — EB
Two more new true crime books to check out:
Wilder Intentions: Love, Lies and Murder in North Dakota drops on August 15; it’s about the death of Angila Wilder, a nursing student who in 2015 was killed by her ex-husband with help from his new wife. Author CJ Wynn tells the Minot Daily News that she grew obsessed with the case after it was featured on Dateline, and spent 18 months interviewing “detectives, attorneys, family members and friends of the victim.”
Hell in the Heartland: Murder, Meth, and the Case of Two Missing Girls was released last week and despite its name, it’s not a book about my miserable high school existence. The 1999 disappearance of teens Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible (and the slaying of Ashley’s parents) left investigators without leads until 2018, when some damning Polaroid photos came to light. A week before the book’s release, the alleged killer took a plea deal in which he admitted to one count accessory to murder. That’s some timing. The book’s author also participated in a HLN docuseries on the case, you can catch that show’s four episodes here.
The Daily Memphian and the Institute for Public Service Reporting at the University of Memphis have embarked on an ambitious investigative series on the Memphis Police Department’s covert destruction of hundreds and hundreds of rape kits. So far, there are five parts to the story, which they’re calling “Investigating the Mess,” with more on the way.
There doesn’t seem to be a central navigation to help readers find all the stories, and if you click around too much, a paywall goes up. I’m listing them here to make it easier for everyone:
Memo jogs ex-cop’s memory “Retired MPD official says he destroyed evidence, including rape kits, in hundreds of sex crimes cases in the 1990s”
Debby’s Journey “Rape victim’s search for answers leads to grim discovery that evidence may have been destroyed in hundreds of cases”
‘Raped Twice’ “Aging victims seek justice and the release of records to prove MPD neglected rape investigations”
Chasing Predators “Massive remedial effort seeks justice for victims in neglected and overlooked cold cases”
MPD fixing troubles in Sex Crimes Bureau – but not the ‘bid system’ “Critics say labor union contract often keeps MPD from staffing the best-qualified detectives”
And now, one last longread (or listen). Nina Li Coomes was a longtime producer at a news network, but things changed for her when she covered the slaying of a Japanese tourist in Trinidad, and a local official’s troubling remarks about her death. It was an experience that made her rethink her life in the news-cycle-seeking hustle. Here’s a snip:
Before I had taken this job as a television producer, I was supposed to go to social work school to be a therapist. Empathizing, even over-empathizing, used to be the norm for me. And for the first few months of adjusting to the pace of television, I continued to feel every story. That summer saw a rash of police brutality and school shootings, occurring in eerie one-two synchronization almost every week. Earlier that year, Donald Trump had announced his presidential campaign in what seemed at first to be an elaborate prank. But as the primaries progressed, his message crystallizing around lines of racism and white supremacy, his presence felt less and less like a joke. Among all of these things, I professed my outrage out loud as I worked. Then I began to work silently with breaks to cry angry tears in the women’s bathroom. Finally, I just worked, no longer able to feel rage or sorrow at the unjust state of the world. Before coming to Trinidad and Tobago, Asami Nagakiya’s death felt like yet another tragedy in the string of unfortunate events that seemed to make up the story of world news. But faced with the sincere regret in the concierge’s eyes, I found myself troubled by something knocking at the facade of my numbness. I tossed and turned in the pristine, immaculately made bed, and slept fitfully for a handful of hours.
Friday on Best Evidence: Let’s talk about heists, baby.
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