October 31st, 2018
1. Gun violence is the top source of stress across all generations. – CNN
2. Kathleen Zellner’s biggest revelations about Steven Avery’s case post-Making a Murderer 2 – Digital Spy
October 30th, 2018
1. The hearing about the autopsy reports for Shan’ann Watts, 34, and her two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, will take place at 9 a.m. Dec. 21 before Weld District Court Judge Todd Taylor. – Greeley Tribune
2. Boston gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger killed in West Virginia prison a day after transfer – CNN
Whitey Bulger Is Dead in Prison at 89; Long-Hunted Boston Mob Boss – New York Times
James (Whitey) Bulger, the South Boston mobster and F.B.I. informer who was captured after 16 years on the run and finally brought to justice in 2013 for a murderous reign of terror that inspired books, films and a saga of Irish-American brotherhood and brutality, was found beaten to death on Tuesday in a West Virginia prison. He was 89.
Two Federal Bureau of Prisons employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information was not yet public, said Mr. Bulger had been beaten unrecognizable by inmates. No other details were immediately available.
Mr. Bulger, who had been serving two life sentences for 11 murders, had been transferred to the prison, the Hazelton federal penitentiary in Bruceton Mills, W.Va., on Monday.
He was found unresponsive at 8:20 Tuesday morning, according to a statement from the federal Bureau of Prisons. The bureau said that lifesaving measures had been initiated and that he was pronounced dead by the Preston County Medical Examiner. The statement did not indicate a cause of death.
Enriching the Bulger legend, his brother William became president of the Massachusetts State Senate and president of the University of Massachusetts. William Bulger always denied firsthand knowledge of his brother’s crimes and whereabouts, but said he loved him and could never give him up to the law.
3. #HannahCornelius: Accused minimising roles in crime, says State – IOL
4. Making a Murderer 3: The filmmakers share their thoughts on the next chapter – Digital Spy
Will there even be one?
October 29th, 2018
1. How similar is the Watts Family Murder to the Longo case?
- Longo told police he strangled his fit in a fit of rage after she’d murdered two of her children
- victims submerged in liquid
- Longo strangled his wife and youngest daughter and drowned his two older children
- both families had financial difficulties [Christian Longo was the spendthrift]
- initially worked hard to provide for his family
- Longo appeared to be a squeaky-clean, earnest family man
- “He seemed like a nice, normal guy. He certainly didn’t act like he’d killed anyone”
- both families involved three-children families
- Longo described himself as a damaged, conceited narcissist who “blamed his wife for everything”
- living a lie/in denial
It was not quite Christmas that year, 2001, when he strangled his wife, Mary Jane, and their 2-year-old daughter, Madison, then stuffed them into a suitcase and tossed it off the docks in Newport. He drowned Zachary and Sadie, dropping them off a bridge into Alsea Bay with rocks tied around their ankles.
Ten years later he’s now writing about his dead family. In a letter obtained by KATU News, Christian Longo tells a woman he says he loves, how he’s come to terms with his crimes.
He talks about the trial: “I got up on the stand and essentially blamed my wife for everything. I was still stuck in a phase where I couldn’t fathom the thought of me being capable of doing what I was convicted of.”
He writes that he eventually began “studying what a psychologist said I was and came to terms with it, almost totally agreeing that he was right … his conclusion was the narcissistic personality disorder which he called ‘compensatory’ — basically self-centeredness related to a damaged core sense of self.”
More background on Longo here.
2. Jury screening starts in trial of man accused in McStay family murder case – San Diego Tribune
Joseph McStay, 40, ran a business providing interior water fountains primarily for corporate clients, and often hired Merritt to craft custom-made fountains.
McStay, his 43-year-old wife, Summer, and their children Gianni, 4, and Joey Jr., 3, moved from San Clemente to Fallbrook in late 2009. They vanished in February 2010, leaving food on the counter and their beloved dogs unattended.
The disappearance baffled family, friends and investigators. For a while, detectives suspected that the family had taken off south of the border, and the case was handed off to the FBI. Then on Nov. 11, 2013, a dirt-bike rider came across the family’s remains in the Mojave desert.
Authorities now believe the family was beaten to death with a sledgehammer in their Fallbrook home and then dumped in shallow graves outside Victorville, about 100 miles north up Interstate 15.
Merritt has long ties to the Victor Valley area.
Five years after a long missing Fallbrook family was found dead — beaten and buried in desert graves — screening began Monday for potential jurors in a murder trial for the man accused of killing them. The first week of November marks four years since the arrest of Chase Merritt, who is accused in the 2010 beating deaths of his business associate Joseph McStay, McStay’s wife and their two sons, ages 3 and 4.
Authorities suspect the family was killed in their home in February 2010. The trial is in San Bernardino County, where the family was found buried in shallow graves off Interstate 15 in November 2013. Investigators also found a small sledgehammer in one of the graves.
Merritt was arrested almost exactly a year later. For the last four years, he has remained in jail, awaiting trial in San Bernardino Superior Court.
How the McStay Family Disappeared Into the Desert – but Who Killed Them?
Summer McStay may have been raped before she was killed, buried in desert, court document says
Unanswered Questions About The McStay Family Disappearance
McStay family murder: 4-year-old was struck 7 times on head
3. No forensic evidence links Hannah Cornelius murder accused to her rape – advocate
4. Casey Anthony’s Father Reacts to Her Possibly Having More Children
“Knowing now that she could potentially be a mom again, I hope she does better this time around than what she did last time,” George Anthony said during an interview with television’s “Dr. Oz” scheduled to air Thursday.
George doesn’t sound nearly as outraged as he should.
Get the TCRS take on the Casey Anthony case:
October 27th, 2018
1. 11 people killed in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting – CNN
Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect leaves long trail of hate-filled social media postings – CrineOnline
PITTSBURGH, PA – OCTOBER 27: Rapid reaction SWAT members leave the scene of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to reports, at least 12 people were shot, 4 dead and three police officers hurt during the incident. The shooter surrendered to authorities and was taken into custody. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Attached is the Pennsylvania Driver’s License photo of Pittsburgh synagogue suspect Robert Bowers, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation. From Josh Campbell // SSA Mary Anne Fox and Drew Shenkman
PITTSBURGH, PA – OCTOBER 27: An unidentified woman asks for a status update from Pittsburgh City firefighters a block away from the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to reports, at least 12 people were shot, 4 dead and three police officers hurt during the incident. The shooter surrendered to authorities and was taken into custody. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
2. Member of gang accused of rape and murder of Hannah Cornelius, 21, has PEARLS embedded in his penis which ‘make sex attacks more painful’ – The Sun
3. The Best True Crime on Netflix Right Now – Vice
4. Barbara Tadych: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know about Brendan Dassey – Heavy
Steven Avery Administered Brain Fingerprinting Test – Heavy
It seems like a snazzy way to avoid taking a polygraph test.
October 26th, 2018
1. Cesar Sayoc: what we know about the pipe bombs suspect – The Guardian
56-years-old, white, blue collar worker [mechanic], Trump supporter, extensive criminal records including 8 arrests, from Aventura, Florida, unemployed since January. And this:
Sayoc filed for bankruptcy in 2012 in a Miami court. A note which is part of the filing said: “Debtor lives with mother, owns no furniture”.
2. Christopher Watts’ attorneys want Weld DA out of autopsy battle – Greeley Tribune
Attorneys for Frederick triple-murder suspect Christopher Watts filed a motion Friday objecting to Weld District Attorney Michael Rourke’s attempt to intervene in a civil case between the Greeley Tribune and Weld County Coroner Carl Blesch.
The Tribune, along with a coalition of print and broadcast media partners, contested Blesch’s attempt to keep sealed the autopsy reports of Shanann Watts, 34, and her two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3….on Friday, the public defender’s office filed a motion arguing Rourke has not met a three-prong test to join the lawsuit as required by the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure.
Those rules state a party may intervene into an action as a matter of right if he “has an interest relating to the transaction that is the subject of the action, his ability to protect that interest is impaired or impeded, and his interest is not adequately represented by the parties to the action.”
Should Chris Watts face the death penalty? A look at capital punishment in Colorado
3. JonBenét Ramsey Family Attorney on Ex-Boulder DA’s Subpoena in CBS Suit – Westword
“I believe Mr. Hunter was professionally and personally outraged by tabloid accusations made against Burke in 1999 while he was the district attorney,” Wood notes in a Q&A below, “and I expect that he is equally outraged by the accusations made against this young man by CBS.”
Sorry, which young man is Lin Wood outraged about murder accusations? Is it the accusation that Burke Ramsey murdered his sister? If it’s so outrageous, say what the outrageous thing is that’s outraging you.
Westword: Why do you think Alex Hunter has been subpoenaed in relation to the lawsuit?
Lin Wood: CBS issued the subpoena, so only CBS can state why the subpoena was issued to Mr. Hunter.
Wow, he’s unwilling to venture an opinion on why CBS would subpoena Alex Hunter.
The CBS documentary concluded that Burke Ramsey killed his sister based on CBS’ representation that a full re-investigation of the evidence had been undertaken by its team of “experts.” In his libel lawsuit, Burke challenges not only the accusation, but also the legitimacy of this alleged “re-investigation.”
CBS has apparently realized that the evidence relied upon by its “experts” does not support the accusation against Burke.
Now he’s venturing an opinion on CBS’ behalf. When they they have this “change of heart”?
The recent discovery efforts aimed at Boulder officials, including Mr. Hunter, confirm that CBS is still searching for evidence to support its false and defamatory accusation against Burke. Stated differently, if CBS had enough evidence to support its accusation being broadcast to the world in its 2016 documentary, why in the world is CBS searching for more evidence in 2019?
Brilliant use of semantics. CBS is still “searching for evidence” is another way of saying CBS is trying to get hold of the evidence file. Naturally the way he frames it, it creates the impression there isn’t any evidence. That’s what the Ramsey case mostly is – impressions [mostly false, starting with the Ransom Note…]
The answer is obvious — the 2016 documentary was rank speculation unsupported by any credible evidence and CBS knows it. CBS is in search of a defense it will never find.
Maybe he’s right. Maybe he knows the file is all sewn up and the key figures lips sewn shut.
Why is it important that Alex Hunter cooperate with the subpoena?
Mr. Hunter is a third party to this litigation and has the right to question whether there is a legitimate need for his testimony and/or whether the subpoena imposes unnecessary trouble and expense.
WHAT THE FUCK?
I do not view Mr. Hunter’s motion to quash as being based solely on inconvenience to him or as an effort on his part to be uncooperative. CBS has the burden of convincing the Court that there is a legitimate need for discovery from Mr. Hunter.
4. 75-year-old Millionaire Robert Durst To Stand Trial In The Murder Of His Longtime Friend. The arraignment will be sometime in November 2018. So there’s a possibility Durst will stand trial and perhaps even serve time in jail for his crime before he dies.
5. Serial and Making a Murderer Look for Redemption in New Seasons. Only One Finds It – TIME
Season 3 of the true-crime podcast Serial doesn’t explore any brutal murders where the facts don’t add up.
What a fantastic opening, setting up the other case where the facts don’t match up.
Both Serial and Making a Murderer faced backlash for lending a too-sympathetic ear to potential perpetrators. The two shows have since taken different paths: Making a Murderer returned to Netflix in October to follow Avery’s appeals process in new episodes, while Serial has wisely ventured into new territory.
Making A Murderer hasn’t.
The second season of Making a Murderer struggles to find the right balance. Avery’s post-conviction lawyer Kathleen Zellner combs through every potential lead — including the personal life of victim Teresa Halbach — to find other possible perpetrators. She’s doing her job. But in front of the cameras, her work can feel tasteless, even reckless.
Making a Murderer is also muddied by the media frenzy it created. The filmmakers often interrupt Avery’s appeals process to show his onetime fiancée soliciting relationship advice on Dr. Phil, or the man who prosecuted Avery promoting his book on Dateline. “It all became a part of the story,” says Moira Demos, who co-created the documentary with Laura Ricciardi. “How do headlines compare to what’s really happening on the ground?” But these side plots distract from the very real obstacles Avery faces.
The visual nature of the medium doesn’t help. Cameras tend to linger on bloodstains. Though some podcasts indulge in lengthy descriptions of corpses, the audio format feels less prurient. And podcast hosts can establish an intimacy with the listener that filmmakers cannot: they can express skepticism or empathy during interviews. Some documentarians, in their determination to remain objective, run the risk of removing themselves from the narrative to their own detriment. Making a Murderer‘s creators use a montage of newscasters debating the ethics of their show, but they stop short of responding to that criticism themselves.
If there’s one thing weird and in my opinion, deceitful, about Making A Murderer, it’s this “distance” the filmmakers keep from their subject while tacitly asking the audience to fill in the vacuum with their imaginations.
Narratives are visual, there’s audio [argued here as more effective], but there’s also the classical version – the book. As an author I’m biased, but I’d say in something as rich in detail and information as true crime, the only medium that does it justice is effective written narrative. You need a lot of time to get into the texture of true crime. A ten-part documentary series covers a fraction of a 50 000 word narrative. It may convey more in a shorter time, but a book ultimately conveys the whole story, or it should.
And if audio does the job better of awakening the imagination of the reader, good writing trumps all. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are proof positive that writing stokes the powers of the creative mind more than the best cinema or CGI.
I also believe the true crime writer, like someone writing about religion, has to be honest and lay his cards on the table. He has to take a position and be able to defend it, otherwise what’s he doing? So – where does he stand and why? If he’s going to deal personally with the accused or the victim, he must be prepared personalize the narrative otherwise all it amounts to is finger pointing. Knowing how and where to strike the balance between meaningful disclosure and indulgence is the secret that separates good true crime from the muddy manipulative stuff.
6. Kathleen Zellner’s Tweets Show She’s Far From Giving Up On Steven Avery – Bustle
7. Hannah Cornelius begged gang-rape killers to let her go if she said yes to sex – Metro
8. What investigators are looking for in nationwide hunt for would-be bomber – CNN
October 25th, 2018
1. This is why we need True Crime Rocket Science. Because the mainstream media is clueless. Of course the 15-man hit on journalist Jamal Khashoggi was premeditated – answer the question WHY was it premeditated?
2. #HannahCornelius said it was ok to have sex with her, getaway driver tells court
Do you believe him?
‘I’m sorry for what I did,’ says Hannah accused
3. Amanda Knox to host new true crime podcast: ‘I tend not to be a fan of the genre’ – Ottawa Sun
They commit crimes [or are accused of committing them], and all they want to do once acquitted is carry on with their lives. So what do they do with their criminal-themed celebrity? Casey Anthony moved in with the private detective who was hired to investigate her and worked for him as a professional lie detector, Raffaele Sollecito became a television crime “expert” – true crime is chock-full of prime suspects who’ve made hefty pots of gold out of the cottage industries that have sprung around their crimes and criminal trials. The same thing is happening around the Steven Avery case right now.
4. Chris Watts Case: ORDER (C-21) filed on October 22, 2018 Weld County Court Grants Motion to submit health-related information “under seal”
5. Finally, a comment posted today on reddit. Sometimes reading one true crime book leads to reading several:
October 24th, 2018
BOULDER, UNITED STATES: Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter announces 13 October 1999 the end of the grand jury hearing the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation. He said they did not find enough evidence to make an arrest. He met with reporters outside the Boulder County Justice Center in Boulder, CO. AFP Photo/Mark LEFFINGWELL (Photo credit should read MARK LEFFINGWELL/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Ramsey case DA cites Hawaii trip in bid to avoid defamation case subpoena – Daily Camera
Former Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter is fighting a subpoena in a $750 million defamation suit arising from the JonBenet Ramsey case by arguing, in part, that it is an “annoyance” that would interfere with his annual relocation to Hawaii.
So much for the vaunted ethics of a district attorney’s office that would stop at nothing in the pursuit of justice in the Ramsey case. What was that thing Hunter said on February. 13, 1997 about “the list of suspects narrows; soon there will be no one on the list but you”?
To fully appreciate the double standards and double dealing in how the district attorney favored the Ramseys way back in 2000, another Daily Camera article – Hunter answers attacks – is worth reviewing.
But back to the present the article.
Hunter’s arguments also assert that compliance with the subpoena could compromise an “open investigation and potential prosecution” of the person or persons responsible for JonBenet’s death.
Hunter is one of several parties targeted with subpoenas by both sides in the high stakes defamation claim made by Burke Ramsey — he was 9 [and 11 months] when 6-year-old JonBenet was killed — against the CBS Corp. and additional parties who produced the September 2016 docuseries “The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey,” which suggested Burke Ramsey was responsible for his sister’s death.
Hunter was the district attorney in office over the first four years of the beleaguered Ramsey investigation, but has been retired since 2001. Lawyers for CBS and its co-defendants are seeking a deposition and documents from Hunter as part of the discovery process underway in Burke Ramsey’s lawsuit, which was filed in December 2016 in the Circuit Court for Wayne County, Mich.
So more than a year after the lawsuit against CBS was filed, Hunter is still kicking the can that is the Ramsey case down the road.
The Boulder Police Department also is subject to a far-reaching subpoena for Ramsey case records out of the same lawsuit. That subpoena and the one served on Hunter are both subject of an ongoing battle in Boulder District Court.
In a reply to the subpoena filed there Friday, Hunter’s attorney states “Mr. Hunter is 81 years old, has been retired from the District Attorney’s Office for approximately 18 years, and he is a non-party to the underlying action.”
It also states that “Mr. Hunter normally spends November to May in Hawai’i and has plans to leave Colorado on November 5, 2018. Any deposition that does not have a strong basis upon which to take place is an undue burden to him, is oppressive, and is an absolute annoyance.”
You’d think Hunter would take some time out of his busy retirement schedule and finally deal with this case – the one he fucked up almost 20 years ago.
The filing adds that it’s “hard to imagine” CBS lawyers don’t already have every shred of information they need to defend themselves “without distressing a retired, elderly gentleman about statements that it already possesses.”
Attorney Dea Wheeler, on Hunter’s behalf, argues that CBS lawyers’ interest in Hunter centers on “two public statements” made by Hunter more than 18 years ago. One came in a news release in May 1999, while he was still in office, in which it was noted that then-Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner had said in a press conference that police were not looking at Burke Ramsey as a suspect, and that “To this day Burke Ramsey is not a suspect.”
Interesting, Hunter doesn’t wish to defend his statements made then on Burke Ramsey. Seems pretty simple to do. There are just two statements. Just provide reasons for why you made them. So why not do it?
Secondly, Hunter signed an affidavit in October 2000, shortly before leaving office, which stated in part, “From December 26th, 1996 to the date of this affidavit, no evidence has ever been developed in the investigation to justify elevating Burke Ramsey’s status from that of witness to suspect.”
The shortly before leaving office bit is interesting, isn’t it? Hunter made a grand gesture, one of the grandest in a case with few legal milestones, just before stepping off the plate and effectively scuppering the case. If Patsy was a suspect due to fibers found on the inside of the duct tape, why wasn’t Burke – even if only in lieu of his fingerprint on the pineapple bowl and glass tea found on the kitchen counter [given JonBenet had undigested pineapple fragments in her stomach].
Hunter’s recent filing argues that any information he might be able to offer now relating either to his 1999 statement or 2000 affidavit “is privileged and confidential because the Boulder Police Department investigation remains open.”
Really, the Ramsey investigation is still open. Who or what are they investigating now?
“…the list of suspects narrows; soon there will be no one on the list but you…”
Who is the you Hunter is referring to? Surely not Burke Ramsey?
Although a grand jury indicted both parents for child abuse resulting in death in October 1999, Hunter declined to prosecute the indictments due to his belief the evidence would not support a conviction, and every member of JonBenet’s family has always denied any involvement in the crime.
2. Saudi officials: Team planned to hold Khashoggi in Turkish safe house for up to 2 days – NBC
3. In the Hannah Cornelius case, disturbing information emerges from the suspects about how and where the Stellenbosch student was raped and murdered. I’d always assumed the rape and murder had happened outside, in the bushes alongside a road. Now, if the accused are to be believed, it turns out she was raped in-turn inside the vehicle, and according to the suspects, was raped withing making a noise and without putting up a struggle.
She was stabbed twice in an upward motion by one of the gang members, because, as he put it, she was apparently taller than he was. The accused describes blood shooting out of her neck after stabbing her.
The trial has been postponed to Monday.
More coverage below:
Hannah Cornelius stabbed because she refused to get out of her car boot – accused (WARNING: GRAPHIC DETAILS)
October 23rd, 2018
1. Court orders police to make Adam Lanza documents public
Sandy Hook shooter’s writings and belongings must be released to public, court rules
Although the release of the documents has been ordered, there’s no clarity on when that might happen. Why does it matter?
Adam Lanza proves the extent to which a severely humiliated child/young adult would seek sadistic revenge and retribution. His violent fantasies were developed over a long period of time, in terrifying detail.
I profiled Lanza in Slaughter, researching in-depth his notes, radio interview, therapy sessions and the online artifacts that are out there. Now those writing will be released in full.
Lanza was clearly inspired by the Columbine shootings, and modeled his own deadly spree on theirs. He considered those we consider monsters and most monstrous his heroes.
According to CBS:
State police searched the Lanza home and seized guns, ammunition and his belongings, including his personal journals.
Among the belongings were a spreadsheet ranking mass murders and a notebook titled “The Big Book of Granny.” The notebook contains a story that Lanza wrote in fifth grade about a woman who uses her “rifle cane” to kill people at a bank, hockey game and Marine boot camp.
The book also contains several chapters with the adventures of “Dora the Beserker,” influenced by a popular children’s television show. When Granny asks Dora to assassinate a soldier, she replies: “I like hurting people … Especially children.” In the same episode, Dora sends “Swiper the Raccoon” into a day care center to distract the children, then enters and says, “Let’s hurt children.”
The FBI files that are currently available, can be viewed at this link.
The excerpts below are from this excellent Daily Beast article.
2. More coverage on the Khashoggi body double – he was wearing Khashoggi’s actual clothes, just not the same shoes. Khashoggi’s body remains missing three weeks after his disappearance.
3. Crime by social media? Both suspects caught on a dashcam executing two security guards in cold blood thirteen days ago have been shot dead. The footage was widely circulated on social media. Police took cellphone photos at the scene, showing the tattoos matched those on the dashcam. These too spread like wildfire on social media.
According to a police spokesman:
“When police tried to arrest the two suspects….they resisted‚ which resulted in both suspects being shot dead. There are no reports of any police officers being injured at this stage.”
Does anyone really believe the police made a real effort to arrest them so they could stand trial?
4. The state has completed its submissions in the Hannah Cornelius case. One the accused’s letters to Cornelius’ family was subsequently read into the record. It looks like the writing of a child, not a gangster/rapist/murder.
Ironically Hannah’s murderer can’t even spell her name right, scratches it it out [just as he scratches out her life], and then rewrites it, getting it wrong on his second attempt too.
In the letter he asks her parents for forgiveness, and says Hannah was like a friend to him, and he was scared of what the other accused would do to him. He doesn’t say anything about what he did to her.
5. Strictly speaking, this isn’t news. But I was contemplating last night the elements involved in JonBenet Ramsey’s murder. There were four:
a) A garrote
b) She was smashed heavily on the head with a heavy object
c) She had three sets of burn-type wounds that were thought by some – like Detective Lou Smit – to have been inflicted by a stun gun. Detective Kolar, on the other hand, thought the abrasions were caused by the sharp ends of an electric railways track.
d) She suffered some sort of sexual assault at the time.
No one has been able to put together a scenario to date that arranges all of these elements in a cogent execution. I will be blogging in more detail about this particular aspect of the case in the near future.
4. How does history become myth? In the case of Van Gogh, an assumption – in this case Van Gogh’s mental illness – is hijacked and then adapted to suit a particular compelling narrative.
…the reason for Van Gogh being so tormented was that he was plagued by literal monsters; an extra-terrestrial element to Vincent’s gift. Could the monster not have taken his ear off or something? That would have made it more fun, right?…
In this retelling of the myth, the idea Van Gogh’s mental illness has been elevated to a given, a non-negotiable historical artifact used to illustrate other mentally titillating ideas in the fantasy-horror genre. Mental illness isn’t irrelevant when it comes to Van Gogh, but it’s hardly as foundational or fundamental as the popular mythology suggests. After all, Van Gogh continued to write lucid letters through his single year in the asylum [handwritten too], and he painted perhaps his most seminal work during his time in the madhouse. People who are truly mad or mentally compromised cannot consistently write sensibly or paint evocatively, and Van Gogh was nothing if not consistently. In the last months of his life he was painting a picture a day, each painting – literally – a masterpiece.
October 22nd, 2018
1. CHRIS WATTS’ MOTION FOR ALTERNATIVE RELIEF IN THE EVENT THAT HIS MOTION TO INTERVENE PURSUANT TO COLO. R. CRIM. P. 24 IS DENIED IN 18CV30907
2. TCRS publishes its 50th post on the Chris Watts case.
3. Making A Murderer II debuted on Netflix over the weekend. The filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi were interviewed recently by People as part of the PR to promote their docuseries. Part of what they told People included gems like this:
“Our focus is not on people having a better understanding of this case,” she says. “Our focus is on people having a better understanding of the criminal justice system.”
Why on earth would you make not one but two series about a crime and not attempt to get a better understanding of the so-called “wrongly-accused”? I dare say the filmmakers have failed in giving people a better understanding of the criminal justice system. They can be credited for boosting interest in true crime among the general public [the majority of whom seem quite ignorant about the nuances of true crime, especially regarding Avery and Dassey].
What they have done, instead, in my opinion is they’ve given a very biased view criticizing a case where justice did actually prevail, but under the pretense of politically correct neutrality and objectivity. Ultimately the filmmakers are pushing the law to favor the defense side more. Give suspected murderers and criminals more rights and give them more benefit of the doubt.
Really? Should we?
4. Surveillance footage shows Saudi ‘body double’ in Khashoggi’s clothes after he was killed, Turkish source says – CNN
Notice the body double is wearing similar clothes, has a similar build and similar general appearance. No wonder the consulate were so brazen and adamant by insisting Khashoggi the consulate left alive. They’d intended it to look that way! It was part of the plan.
We’re often surprised by the lengths criminals go to to conceal their dirty deeds. The dirty the deed, the more devious it seems the deceit. People who aren’t criminals tend to find this treachery and trickery difficult to swallow at first. But if there’s one thing experience in true crime teaches, it’s often that the bad guy [in this case a hit squad of about 15 bad guys] is a lot worse than anyone suspected.
October 21st, 2018
1. 4 years ago today Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to just five months [effectively ten months] in jail for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.
October 19th, 2018
1. Thus far Chris Watts’ defense has sat back and allowed the prosecutors to do all the work, in terms of holding back the media [who have been baying of the autopsy reports]. Well, today that’s changed.
The defense has just filed a civil motion opposing the release of the autopsy reports, which can be read here.
2. Four new developments in the Khashoggi Case: Firstly, one of the 15-man hit squad apparently arrived at the consulate with a bone saw. That says something about intentions beyond a “botched interrogation” doesn’t it. Secondly, poor Khashoggi’s remains have likely been moved from the first burial spot to somewhere else. Turkish cops are not searching a nearby forest. Time to bring out the cadaver dogs.
Thirdly, a high-level intelligence official who masterminded the crime, who failed to commit “the perfect murder” will be taking the fall for the killing. But it’s not the same guy as the head of a forensic department in Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services.
According to the Guardian, the head of the Saudi Scientific Council of Forensics is this guy, Dr Salah Muhammed al-Tubaigy, who was trained in Britain.
Tubaigy studied at the University of Glasgow and he spent three months in Australia in 2015 as a visiting forensic pathologist at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in Melbourne, its director confirmed.
He can allegedly be heard on an audio recording of Khashoggi’s death from the consulate telling others in the room that he likes to listen to music while he works to ease the pressure of the job, and encouraging others to do the same.
Fourthly, there’s this from the New York Times:
Four of the suspects Turkey has blamed for Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance belong to the security team that travels with Prince Mohammed. One of them, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, has been photographed or spotted near him during recent visits to at least five cities — Paris, Madrid, Houston, Boston and the New York headquarters of the United Nations.
On Thursday, a pro-government Turkish newspaper published a leaked, time-stamped photograph of Mr. Mutreb entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul just hours before Mr. Khashoggi entered. The photograph is one of the most striking pieces of evidence linking Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance to the crown prince.
Other photos published in the newspaper Sabah showed Mr. Mutreb outside the Saudi consul general’s home, leaving a Turkish hotel with a large suitcase, and leaving the country from Istanbul’s international airport — all later the same day.
Three stories worth reading on Khashoggi are from the Guardian, New York Times and BBC.
October 18th, 2018
1. Jamal Khashoggi’s Last Words – CNN
Khashoggi criticized the tightening space for free speech in the kingdom, and recounted how he was fired from a newspaper and forced off Twitter for being too critical of government policies.
According to CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen, MBS has moved Saudi from a consensus based absolute monarchy — where criticism was limited but not unheard of — “toward a totalitarian dictatorship in which all aspects of society are controlled by him and all forms of dissent are stifled.”
This was a topic Khashoggi had written about as well. As a member of the Saudi elite and former adviser to the royal family who was still influential inside the Kingdom, Khashoggi was becoming more and more of a rarity under MBS, and his criticisms may have stung more than those of a regular, unconnected dissident, and sparked a more extreme reaction.
In his final column for the Post, he warned that the “Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power.”
Is the same thing not happening through identity politics and populism elsewhere in the world – the USA, Britain, Russia, South Africa?
Below is an extract from his final column published in the Washington Post:
Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression
I was recently online looking at the 2018 “Freedom in the World” report published by Freedom House and came to a grave realization. There is only one country in the Arab world that has been classified as “free.”
That nation is Tunisia. Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait come second, with a classification of “partly free.” The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as “not free.”
As a result, Arabs living in these countries are either uninformed or misinformed. They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives. A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.
True crime also preoccupies itself with the false narrative. Very often large swaths of the population – even in an apparently free society – also falls victim to false narratives.
Especially where massive PR is the order of the day, such as the JonBenet Ramsey, Madeleine McCann, West Memphis 3, Steven Avery and the Amanda Knox cases, a large majority of the population falls victim to a false narrative.
October 17th, 2018
1. Turkish investigators search Saudi Consulate where journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished – Washington Post
Turkish officials had complained publicly in recent days that the Saudis were refusing to allow a search of the property. An agreement allowing the inspection came after Salman called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday. Salman thanked him for welcoming the kingdom’s proposal to set up a “joint working group” to probe Khashoggi’s disappearance, a Saudi statement said.
But hours before the Turkish forensic team arrived, journalists photographed a cleaning crew entering the consulate, hauling buckets, mops and what appeared to be bottles of cleaning solution. When the Turkish investigators entered the consulate, some wearing white protective gear, they “smelled chemicals had been used,” according to two officials in contact with the investigators.
More on this topic, and how it relates to the Watts Investigation here.
2. Photos that appear to be of Chris Watts’ Mystery Mistress were posted recently by a forum group member on the ‘Chris Watts – accused killer of Shan’Ann Watts’ Facebook page and then removed.
3. Ever wonder where the pedophile narrative comes from regarding Madeleine McCann? Gutter journalism – like this:
A PAEDOPHILE who fantasised about kidnapping Madeleine McCann has walked free after being caught with child abuse images – The Sun
Shaw was jailed in 2012 after investigators searching his laptop uncovered the largest collection of indecent images from the most extreme category ever.
The court heard he had fantasised about kidnapping toddler Madeleine McCann and downloaded thousands of horrific child sex abuse images, showing disturbing acts including between adults and children as well as bestiality and sadomasochism.
He has now moved to Southampton and was caught by officers again who discovered he downloaded an image of a teenage girl dressed in stockings and underwear before moving it to the recycle bin of his laptop.
Shaw was convicted at Southampton Crown Court after admitting one count of making an indecent photograph of a child.
Not only is Shaw completely unrelated to the McCann case, he hasn’t been convicted of an offence besides an addiction to pornography
Judge Gary Burrell QC gave Shaw a 24-month community order and ordered him to carry out 15 days of rehabilitation requirements.
What The Sun is trying to do here is link one offender with a famous high-profile crime to sell newspapers. They do it because it works, and what it does is create a false association between pedophiles and this particular case.
The large rock used to kill Hannah Cornelius. Above the numbers 1, 2 and 3 are the four murder and rape accused.
3. Hannah Cornelius killed by rock dropped on her head‚ says pathologist – TimesLive
Such a disturbing case.
At about 6:30am the next day‚ Cornelius was lying by the borehole with her face in the ground. Her heart was pumping blood through two neck wounds‚ possibly from the swift penetrating thrust of a screwdriver‚ but this was not what killed her.
According to Dr Deirdre Abrahams‚ the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Cornelius’s body‚ the fatal blows came when her murderers twice dropped the rock covering the borehole on the back of her head.
“The blunt force injuries to her head were very rapidly fatal‚” said Abrahams.
When Matthee and Booysen arrived at 8:20am‚ the area they had been working in the previous day was a mess. “I saw something that looked like a white bag. Then I saw it was a person‚” said Booysen. They left to find the foreman‚ who thought it was a doll lying on the ground. But they soon realised it was a young woman.
Cornelius’s jeans were pulled halfway down. There were bruises on her knees and legs‚ and bruising on her arms from the strong grip of the men who had killed her. On Sunday May 28‚ the crime scene was further explored by Ethan‚ a Labrador trained to detect bodily fluids‚ and handler Sergeant Jerome Timmy.
Timmy told the court that Ethan helped him to detect body fluids around the murder scene. They also found used condoms and condom wrappers.
Hannah Cornelius would have died quickly from heavy blows to the head, court hears – News24
‘There’s a person lying there’ – tragic discovery of Hannah Cornelius – News24
October 16th, 2018
1. Two months to the day after Chris Watts’ arrest, and with one month and three days to go to his next court appearance on November 19, the Weld County Coroner has decided to hold onto the crucial autopsy reports. Although completed on October 1st, they’ve been contested over the past two weeks.
The prosecutor and coroner want them to remain sealed while the defense doesn’t seem to mind either way. Colorado’s press are going nuts trying to find a way to force the court to hand over the public documents.
The coroner has until October 17 to field his response in court.
2. Missing journalist could shape Mideast for generations – CNN
Audio and video evidence show journalist Jamal Khashoggi murdered and dismembered at Saudi consulate in Istanbu.
There’s a saying in true crime when prosecutors or the public are frustrated with a corrupt or disabled justice system: even a video of the crime couldn’t secure a conviction. Sometimes – disturbingly often – there are videos. Well, thanks to Turkish bugs and cameras in the Saudi consulate, there’s one here.
The Khashoggi case has been explained away as a “botched interrogation“. It reminds, frankly, of the Amanda Knox case [in terms of the interrogation claims] and the Durst case, in terms of the allegation that he was accidentally killed [and then accidentally dismembered, and his remains accidentally concealed somewhere else!]
Amanda Knox because she turned a few head slaps into police brutality and coercion. The opposite is the case here, they’re trying to imply he died of a casual hand slap. In Robert Durst’s case we’re meant to believe an accidental death would be followed by the gruesome job of dismemberment. A jury famously fell for that con job.
Khashoggi was an important journalist in that he was critical of the Saudi regime, so critical he left the country in fear for his life [ a fear that was well-founded as it turned out] and settled in America. He’s a modern Salman Rushdie – or at least, was. There hasn’t been any official confirmation that Khashoggi is dead. He remains currently, officially, missing. But it doesn’t look good. According to the Turkish media, Khashoggi was the target of a 15-man assassination squad. Someone very powerful wanted this guy dead very badly.
The Khashoggi crime matters because of what it says about America’s narrative regarding Saudi Arabia. Since the start of 2018, Saudi Arabia has devolved into the Wild West [well, the Wild Middle East], thanks in large part to President Trump’s gracious acquiescence.
CNN provides an excellent analysis of why Khashoggi matters to the West, and just how rogue Saudi Arabia have gone of late:
The mysterious disappearance of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, raises important questions, not only about the nature of the Saudi regime, but also about the Trump administration’s uncritical embrace of its 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a close alliance that was engineered by President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was awarded the Middle East portfolio during the presidential transition.
Two weeks after Trump’s trip to Riyadh, the Saudis led an Arab blockade of gas-rich Qatar, closing all border crossings and cutting off air and sea travel. This was a long-term goal of the Saudis who have long found their enormously wealthy, tiny neighbor to be an irritant because it hosts the TV network, Al Jazeera, which is often critical of other Arab states, and because it is sympathetic to Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
Trump cheered on the blockade, tweeting, “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding……extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”
This was the green light that the Saudis needed to keep up the blockade that continues to this day. In international law, a blockade is an act of war.
When Trump made his celebratory tweet about the blockade, he seemed to have no idea that Qatar housed the largest US base in the Middle East, which was also the most important base in the counter-ISIS fight, a base that is almost entirely paid for by the Qataris, according to a US diplomatic source.
Lately Trump’s been rallying to Saudi Arabia’s defense:
Trump: Saudi King denies knowledge of Khashoggi
Trump: ‘Nobody knows if it’s an official report’
ANALYSIS Trump has a huge denial double standard
3. After her child is the target of bullying at the famous and prestigious Grey College, a mother sends her son back to school with a bodyguard. The school has refused to expel the bullies, and refused to allow the pupil to attend school with a bodyguard. The injury suffered appears to be quite serious: a ruptured eardrum.
Now the mother is threatening legal action. The school seems to be quite clear – if you don’t like to be here, go to another school. Who’s right?
Mother sends bodyguard to school with her son [Right-click and hit “Translate to English]
Mother threatens lawsuit after smack at Grey
Bullied Grey College pupil sent to school with bodyguard [UPDATED]
4. Willem Dafoe – in the role of Vincent van Gogh – argues that 70 is the new 40. He makes a decent point that in Van Gogh’s era the average age of mortality was 70 years.
According to Variety a woman told Dafoe:
“The age discrepancy takes away from the idea that Van Gogh died so tragically as a young man.”
Dafoe’s response: “My point is: 37 wasn’t young in those days, particularly if you’re drinking absinthe every day.”
5. Stellenbosch cop recounts dramatic chase that led to arrest of Hannah Cornelius murder suspect – News24
A gang of four were caught within 12 hours of committing rape, murder, robbery and abduction.
Sergeant Clifton Adams was on duty on May 27 last year when he became aware of a hijacked blue Citi Golf being pursued in the student town early that afternoon, he testified in the Western Cape High Court.
He and his partner spotted the car and gave chase, joining a convoy which had already been chasing the car as it headed toward the Devon Valley Road, eventually coming to a stop at Dwars-in-die-Weg Farm.
CCTV footage showed officers, including Adams, jumping out of their vehicles and chasing after two suspects who deserted the stolen car inside the venue and fled in different directions.
Adams estimated that the pursuit was over a distance less than a kilometre, snaking through the farm’s function venue, vineyards and towards the farmworkers’ homes. A fellow officer had shouted for the suspect to lie down, and he complied.
He pointed out Geraldo Parsons as the man he had cuffed that day before taking him to the holding cells of the Stellenbosch police station. Parsons, Vernon Witbooi, Eben van Niekerk and Nashville Julius face a string of charges including murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and rape.
The men allegedly accosted Cornelius and her friend Cheslin Marsh in her VW Citi Golf at the corner of Jan Celliers and Bird streets in the early hours of May 27, 2017…when her body was discovered, Cornelius had been lying on her stomach. One of her earrings was missing from her ear and a large rock was close to her remains.
The site where Hannah Cornelius was gang-raped and murdered.
Numerous condom wrappers were photographed at the scene of the rape.
He also photographed her car after it was deserted by the suspects. The photos show an Okapi knife, a screwdriver, drugs and drug paraphernalia, an empty cooldrink bottle and cigarette butts in the car.
The trial resumes on Tuesday.
October 15th, 2018
1. Willem Dafoe, 63, takes on Vincent van Gogh, 37, in drama ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ – USA Today
It seems Dafoe’s biopic on Van Gogh is the true crime equivalent of Making A Murder [I & II] on Steven Avery. Thick on sentiment, thin on facts.
…attempts to mythologize the art icon with more mysteries: Did he really cut off his own ear because of frightening hallucinations, or was it to win back an old friend, painter Paul Gauguin (Oscar Isaac)? And did he actually shoot and kill himself, or was he attacked and murdered by teenage boys while painting outdoors?
“Eternity” makes no attempt to give answers, frustrating some critics who complained that it “offers little excitement or fresh insight” and is a “disappointingly self-indulgent exercise.”
If the above questions are worth asking about one of the world’s most beloved but misunderstood artists, aren’t they worth the effort of answering?
It also seems disingenuous to have a 63-year-old playing a 37-year-old, no matter how worn-out Van Gogh was said to have been at the end of his life.
October 14th, 2018
1. Is Killing Vincent, self-published on September 25, 2018, a rip-off of The Murder of Vincent van Gogh published on May 3, 2018?
The cover image of Arenberg’s book also uses the same self-portrait as its main image as the one used in The Murder of Vincent van Gogh. An overview of the content also suggests Arenberg has accidentally [or purposefully] stumbled on the same premeditated motive elucidated in The Murder of Vincent van Gogh.
Did van Gogh take his own life in a fit of madness? Or did something much more sinister happen to one of the world’s greatest visionaries?
“Everyone is fascinated and intrigued by the iconic Vincent,” said Arenberg. “But when you substitute premeditated murder and an elaborate cover-up, then add to that an intriguing romantic twist that could provide a motive for his murder—you will really have everyone’s attention!”
Killing Vincent also features interactive elements, including social media platforms as well as a website, allowing readers to interact on a dedicated forum and discuss various theories about van Gogh’s life and death. – Officer.com
2. Hannah Cornelius case covered in RAPPORT by Julian Jansen
Unfortunately Jansen’s article is written in Afrikaans. However if you right-click and hit “Translate to English” you can read the article in English.
The graphic below provides useful insight into the set-up inside Cornelius’ vehicle. Apparently there were condoms in the dashboard of her car.
There are a few inaccuracies worth pointing out:
The illustration represents a right-wheel drive Citi Golf.
Also, one of the 4 accused was wearing a hoodie during the attack. Were two of them wearing baseball caps as illustrated here? In CCTV footage none of the four appear to be wearing caps.
3. Two Security Guards Shot Point-Blank Outside Mall
[WARNING: GRUESOME AND EXPLICIT CONTENT]
The video clip below [which will likely be removed soon] provides a rare glimpse of the true horror of murder. It’s not only the terror of being killed that’s so disturbing, but the coldness and callousness of the killers.
It takes a heartless, mindless second to extinguish a person’s life permanently, forever, and the perfunctory way in which it happens here shows why true crime investigations matter. It matters to know and remember how the lives of others were lost, to preserve not just the lives and legacies of the innocent, but to put on record what really happens in real life and real death, despite the efforts of criminals to distort reality in order to save themselves.
In our efforts to understand these horrors, we show our capacity to care about others in this world, and what happens to them. And in our capacity to care for others, others will care about us. At least, that’s the hope.
4. You’d think the folks behind a true crime documentary series ten-years-in-the-making would at least have an opinion about whether or not Steven Avery is guilty. But they don’t.
“…do we have an opinion about who might have killed Teresa Halbach? Absolutely not. We have no idea.” – Variety
And yet the public turns to them – the filmmakers and the documentaries – as their default setting for why they believe Steven Avery is innocent. As far as I’m concerned this isn’t only a cop-out from any authentic true crime investigation, it’s akin to cowardice. It’s pleading the the convicted murderer’s case, and then hiding behind semantics to argue that’s not what you’re doing.
October 13th, 2018
1. On this day 19 years ago, the JonBenet Ramsey grand jury is dismissed after 13 months of work with prosecutors. The official narrative at the time that jury was dismissed, was that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge anyone in the 6-year-old beauty queen’s 1996 slaying.
14 years later it turned out that the grand jury had voted to indict both parents on two separate charges each. According to the Denver Post on October 25th, 2013:
Count four of the indictment said the Ramseys [child abuse resulting in death] “did unlawfully, knowingly, recklessly and feloniously permit a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation which posed a threat of injury to the child’s life or health, which resulted in the death of JonBenét Ramsey, a child under the age of sixteen.”
Count seven of the indictment said the Ramseys [accessory to murder] did “unlawfully, knowingly and feloniously render assistance to a person, with intent to hinder, delay and prevent the discovery, detention, apprehension, prosecution, conviction and punishment of such person for the commission of a crime, knowing the person being assisted has committed and was suspected of the crime of murder in the first degree and child abuse resulting in death.”
Neither Hunter nor John Ramsey returned calls seeking comment on Friday.
October 12th, 2018
1. CCTV footage revealed in court shows the moment 4 men broke into Hannah Cornelius’ car and abducted her. Hours later she would be gang raped, tortured and murdered.
Although the initial incident is hidden slightly behind a white car parked in the upper right corner of the scene, what can be seen is the four suspects walking right past the CCTV camera and then circling back to Cornelius’ blue Citi Golf.
The Citi Golf can also be seen turning and parking, and the headlights turned off. The moment the car heads off, apparently mounting the curb, is also captured.
The incident occurred on May 27th at around 03:23 in the morning, clearly not the safest time to be out, especially for a young women.
2. The Making A Murderer II crew have clearly done their PR homework. Their trailer continues to make international news.
Once again this is an indictment of the Mainstream Media, who are too dumb and misinformed to know that the “news” they’re recycling is misinformed, biased and misleading.
There are rare exceptions. In 2016 the New York Times noted:
The prosecutor in the case, Ken Kratz, said viewers convinced of Mr. Avery’s innocence did not get to see important evidence that led a jury to convict him. The series “really presents misinformation,” Mr. Kratz said in an interview on Monday.
He portrayed the program as a tool of Mr. Avery’s defense and accused the filmmakers of intentionally withholding facts that would lead viewers to see his guilt. Much less than a dispassionate portrayal of the case, the film is a result of the filmmakers’ “agenda” to portray Mr. Avery as innocent and stoke public outrage, Mr. Kratz said. “That is absolutely what they wanted to happen,” he added.
He portrayed the program as a tool of Mr. Avery’s defense and accused the filmmakers of intentionally withholding facts that would lead viewers to see his guilt. Much less than a dispassionate portrayal of the case, the film is a result of the filmmakers’ “agenda” to portray Mr. Avery as innocent and stoke public outrage, Mr. Kratz said. “That is absolutely what they wanted to happen,” he added.
Making A Murderer portrays Steven Avery as a victim, an innocent victim. But is the junkyard prince really the pillar of his community that he’s portrayed to be?
Ms. Ricciardi, Ms. Demos and one of Mr. Avery’s lawyers, Dean Strang, disputed Mr. Kratz’s remarks in interviews on Monday, arguing that the documentary couldn’t have included every facet of the case. “Our opinion is that we included the state’s most compelling evidence,” Ms. Ricciardi said. Mr. Strang echoed that view. “No one’s going to watch a 600-hour movie of gavel-to-gavel, unedited coverage of a trial,” he said.
No one is asking a 10 part series to include EVERY titbit of information, just the most important aspects that support the prosecution’s case, as opposed to the most important aspects supporting the defense case minus the pillars of the state’s case.
3. Weld District County Court denies DA’s request to keep Watts family autopsy reports under seal – Denver Post
October 11th, 2018
1. Is Making a Murderer’s Steven Avery innocent? – BBC
The creators of the hit documentary series Making a Murderer say they believe they have “an educated opinion” on whether Steven Avery is innocent.
Talk about hedging your answer.
I have a serious problem with narrators and storytellers profiting from bogus narratives. Unfortunately it’s in the very nature of true crime that the defense side of a narrative involves exclusive interviews and exclusive access with the criminal-as-celebrity. It’s obviously in the criminal’s interest to participate as much as possible in a narrative that’s sympathetic to his cause, and stokes the idea of the criminal as the innocent victim.
It’s in the filmmaker’s interest to subtly press as many buttons as they can to support their side of the narrative. Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos have done an incredible job at deceiving the masses first with Making A Murderer, and now with their follow-up.
Prosecutors, judges and law enforcement are generally frowned on for talking to the media in the same way, and when they do they’re accused of leaking. As such it’s easy to see how much screentime is devoted to the defense players, and defense lawyers, and how much to the prosecutor side of a case.
In the Making A Murderer series, thanks to Ricciardi and Demos’ efforts, the defense lawyers became sex symbols while the prosecutor – Ken Krantz – has lost his job and become a pariah.
This tends to skew the narrative disproportionately towards the defense propaganda, and PR can be a powerful tool to control the narrative in the court of public opinion. PR played a decisive role in getting Damien Echols off death row, and delivered Amanda Knox from her original 28 year prison sentence.
Get the true story and the real Rocket Science behind the Avery story by reading FOOL’S GOLD, THE STATE VS STEVEN AVERY.
2. The Hannah Cornelius case is a relatively low-profile true crime case that played out in Stellenbosch, South Africa in late May 2017 in the same general area as the Van Breda axe murders, the Rohde suicide/murder case and the still unsolved Inge Lotz murder case.
The circumstances of the Cornelius case are heartbreaking.
Hannah’s life ended in the most brutal and horrific way. The trial of her four murder and rape accused is currently underway.
Sidenote: At one point while in Cape Town covering the axe murder trial last year, I strongly considered approaching Cornelius’ family about writing a book on this disturbing case. In March 2018, Hannah’s mother drowned in the sea off Scarborough beach. It’s uncertain whether Anna’s death was accidental or suicide. She was 56 at the time. Hannah’s father is a retired magistrate based in Simonstown.
I still feel it’s a tragedy worth paying attention to, because in this one case is the beauty and holocaust of South Africa’s human condition rolled into a single story.
55900744 – scarborough coast, south africa
3. Mark Fuhrman, Racist Ex-LA Cop From OJ Simpson Trial, Lands His Own Fox Nation Show – Daily Telegraph
“Former Los Angeles detective Mark Fuhrman reveals private thoughts and analysis on criminal cases that have defined America this past half century in ‘The Fuhrman Diaries,’” Fox said in a press statement.
OJ’s Dream Time basically won the case for him by sinking the key detective on the case, Mark Fukrman. By casting Fuhrman as a racist, the msotly black jury felt comfortable in dismissing his testimony, which was great for Simpson, who was ultimately acquitted.
Although – racism aside – Fuhrman’s a decent detective, cops, lawyers, ex-FBI agents aren’t necessarily the best storytellers, either in books or in front of the camera.
In the clip below Fuhrman makes a fantastic point comparing the Scott Peterson case with its minimal evidence, and polished defendant, to the Casey Anthony case, with its truckloads of evidence and train wreck defendant.
Jurors however are less interested in evidence than they are in stories. Which story resonates with them? Which story, given the evidence, feels right?
October 10th, 2018
1. Legal battle looms between multiple Colorado-based news organizations and Weld County Court for release of Watts family autopsy reports– Daily Camera [CHRIS WATTS/JONBENET RAMSEY]
In the early stages of a criminal investigation, before anyone is arrested or charged, the judge may seal the autopsy reports, Zansberg said. Law enforcement may be questioning suspects and want to keep certain details about the cause of death private, he said.
“But Mr. Watts was charged with these crimes. I’m not aware of any case where that concern has been recognized after charges have been filed,” he said.
I don’t believe holding back the autopsy evidence has got anything to do with preserving the prosecution’s case [or the defenses’ case]. It’s all about constraining publicity. It’s noteworthy that even defense counsel aren’t opposed in principle, to the release of the autopsy reports to the media.
Zanberg’s argument is new to Stan Garnett, the former district attorney for Boulder County. Garnett said he always felt the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act trumped CORA through the end of criminal trials.
While he could understand why the media would go after the reports, he doesn’t know how the court will review the argument, though he isn’t hopeful it will succeed.
Garnett was district attorney in Boulder, responsible for investigating [or not investigating] the JonBenet Ramsey case, as well as for releasing [or not releasing] the police file to the media. 22 years after JonBenet’s death, the police file into her case remains under lock and key, partially thanks to Garnett, and the district attorneys [Mary Lacy and Alex Hunter] that preceded him. This dogmatic lack of transparency even in high-profile cases doesn’t bode well for for the notion of a proper trial, or of justice prevailing in Colorado, does it?
When a Boulder reporter sued for the partial release of documents in October 2013, the entire Ramsey case was turned on its head. Despite statements to the contrary in the media and in books written by the suspects, it turned out the Grand Jury had decided to charge the Ramseys with child abuse and accessory charges after all. That this came to light was no thanks to Garnett.
The defense attorneys for Watts are not opposing the release of the autopsy reports, according to a motion they also filed Oct. 4. His attorneys argue that the reasons offered by the prosecution to keep the reports from the public are contradictory to its previous positions.
The defense says they have no knowledge of witnesses who the prosecution have not yet interviewed. If the court makes its ruling based on this criteria, Watts’ attorneys have asked for a hearing to determine whether this position has any merit.
The defense also says the prosecution’s position that this could affect jurors and thus Watts’ rights is incongruous with its “indignant objection to investigating prejudicial media leaks.”
While the court denied their requests, Watts’ attorneys have requested an investigation into possible media leaks from law enforcement agencies. Watts’ right to a fair proceeding has “been so substantially damaged in this case,” his attorneys say, that the “narrow issue” of releasing the autopsy reports wouldn’t salvage anything. The reports will most likely be revealed at the preliminary hearing, ahead of any jury trial, they also point out.
The prosecution has an obligation to protect the integrity and right to a fair trial, according to Garnett, and will be focused on minimizing publicity throughout the case.
2. Netflix drops Making A Murderer II trailer – and yes, it starts off with baby photos of convicted murderer Steven Avery.
3. Rumors about Ben Affleck making a movie about Scott Peterson, and starring as Laci Peterson’s murderer now appear to be unfounded.
“Ben’s career has been on a downslide for the past few years while he battled personal demons and dealt with the failure of his marriage,” a so-called source said. “He’s convinced a psychological thriller about a seemingly normal, handsome young man who slaughtered his pretty wife and unborn son is a ticket to the top.”
The insider added Affleck wanted to go to San Quentin Prison to interview and pitch his idea to Scott. Jennifer Garner’s former husband is said to be “taking full control” of this alleged movie and aimed to write, direct, produce, and star the real-life film.
But there is no truth to this story at all. The supposed insider seemed to be suspicious. Affleck’s rep even told Gossip Cop that the source’s revelations are just “made-up.”
Shauna Sexton’s boyfriend has no plan to make a movie about Scott. The publication claimed the rumor might have a connection with Affleck’s resemblance with the convicted killer. – Business Times
4. Serial Killer Couple Identified in Mexico
When authorities searched their two houses, they found human remains in cement-filled buckets and wrapped in plastic bags inside a refrigerator, as well as articles of clothing apparently belonging to some of their victims.
The man told investigators that he and his wife lured their victims, many of whom were young mothers, with offers of discount clothing for their babies.
“They were single mothers and they needed someone who could help them find inexpensive baby clothes,” said Gomez. Investigators tracked down the couple by tracing cell phone calls the missing women had placed to them, he said. – AFP
October 9th, 2018
1. Chris Watts Keeps Bible & Photo of Slain Family in Cell, Source Says: ‘Nothing to Do but Reflect’ – People
“He doesn’t have much to do in jail,” says a source who has spoken to Chris. Chris, who occasionally speaks with guards and can talk to other prisoners, is keeping a low profile as he awaits his eventual trial. “He sleeps a lot,” the source says. “He can just sit there and look at the picture and read the Bible.”
What is going through his mind in those hours alone in his cell? Does he look at the bible and the family photo, or does he ignore them? What is echoing in that head of his, stuck day after day in the cell? What does he dream about, or are there nightmares?
The answer I think is straightforward: he’s got all day everyday to think about his defense, and fine-tune it. To play devil’s advocate, to find answers to inevitable questions, to come up with a defense case that will play well at trial. This is why, during the same period it’s useful to a true crime writer [ahem] to be thinking about the same thing, non-stop, and thus being able to second-guess the defense narrative not in a reactionary way, but from an educated, informed and intuitive perspective.
Incidentally, this is the job of the prosecutors as well, except they will have more than one case on their roster to attend to.
Also worth noting: People magazine has been the most consistent at providing ongoing coverage of the Watts case thus far. Just yesterday I posted a rhetorical question on Instagram – do tabloids hinder or help in true crime investigations?
2. Madeleine McCann ‘captive and alive’ theory picked apart by former editor – 9News Australia
…the recently retired editor of The Sunday Express, Martin Townsend, today described Edgar as being “wedded” to that theory since being hired by the McCanns in 2008.
Appearing on Channel Nine’s TODAY, Townsend was asked if there was any evidence which backed up Edgar’s belief. “No, none whatsoever,” he replied. “It is a theory that David Edgar, this detective, has actually expounded before. He is absolutely wedded to it,” Townsend added.
Edgar, now aged 61, worked for Kate and Gerry McCann from 2008 until 2011, which is when London’s Metropolitan Police launched Operation Grange to review and investigate Madeleine’s mysterious disappearance. Of all the British newspapers, it was The Express group, including Townsend’s The Sunday Express, which took the most aggressive stance on Madeleine’s case, and unproven theories about the possible involvement of her parents.
The McCanns also sued The Express for libel, as a result of their “aggressive” stance.
That’s Edgar on the right. His body language says it all: “Who knows?”
Additional Note: Australia’s
As a result of
3. Amanda Knox marks anniversary of prison release – Topix forum
This is no longer new news, but on the topic of Amanda Knox “celebrating” her freedom 7 years after being released from jail, it’s worth noting:
- When Knox was originally sentenced, she was given the harshest and longest prison term of her co-accused, yes, longer than Rudy Guede and Raffaele Sollecito respectively. She was originally sentenced to 26 years in jail for the murder of her housemate, Meredith Kercher [this sentence was also longer than that of her co-accused]. During the third trial and conviction her sentences was raised to 28 years and 6 months.
- Although she describes herself as innocent, and an “exoneree”, Knox spent 4 years in jail for slandering her boss [accusing him of the murder].
- She was also accused of slandering the police, but ultimately acquitted on that charge.
- When Knox was “exonerated” she wasn’t able to claim compensation for unjust imprisonment because the Italian courts upheld her sentence for the slander of her boss.
- Both Knox’s parents were also accused of slandering the Italian police in the media.
Get the Rocket Science behind the Knox case here.
October 8th, 2018
1. Frank Rzucek to collect Shan’ann Watts’ Estate [CHRIS WATTS]
During a Weld County Court telephone hearing, Shannan’s father requested that he be appointed as the personal representative of her estate. That means he will collect all of her assets, but it doesn’t mean he’ll automatically receive them.
“Once that estate is collected and he’s figured out whether she owed any money or needs to pay any taxes — after that, then he’ll distribute to who is entitled to receive it,” said Dan McKenzie, an attorney with McKenzie Law Firm.
“It’s typically the spouse and that’s probably where the disagreement is going to arise depending on how the criminal prosecution of Mr. Watts goes.” – KDVR.com
We know the Watts family had plenty of debt, and also that Chris Watts didn’t object to her father being announced as executor of her estate.
2. The autopsy results in the Chris Watts case remain under seal.
The last time a Colorado judge ruled the release of autopsy reports would adversely affect the public was the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, 19 years ago. – Greeley Tribune
Read the #tcrs analysis of this news items here.
October 7th, 2018
1. Amanda Knox celebrates 7 years out of prison. This is slightly overdue, as it was actually posted to her social media on October 4th.
At the same time, Knox also posted a picture of a doormat to Instagram. She received it from the Arizona Justice Project. It reads, “Come Back With a Warrant.”
NOTE: #tcrs has interrogated Knox’s innocence in Despicable.
2. Making A Murderer Season 2: What Story To Expect – Screen Rant [STEVEN AVERY]
One aspect that’s interesting is the appointment of new legal counsel for Steven Avery. The first season of Making A Murderer made virtual celebrities of the defense duo Dean Strang and Jerry Buting. Some even went to far as to call them sex symbols. Will Kathleen Zellner, well-known for her work in overturning wrongful convictions, enjoy the same notoriety?
According to Zellner, Ryan Hillegas, Halbach’s boyfriend at the time, is the real murderer.
Does Hillegas really not have an alibi?
Zellner’s accusation contends that:
Hillegas reportedly snuck into Steven Avery’s trailer on November 3rd, 2005, found Avery’s blood (that was not cleaned up after an accident), planted it on Halbach’s vehicle, then snuck out without being caught. Yet, according to Officer Leslie Lemieux of Calumet County Sheriff’s Department, Hillegas had an airtight alibi , leading up to almost the time he’s accused of sneaking into the trailer.
So for all the Making a Murderer fans, in order to believe Avery didn’t kill Halbach, some else had to break into Avery’s trailer, steal Avery’s blood [because he knew blood would be in his trailer] and plant it on Halbach’s vehicle, then sneak away without being seen.
What this conspiracy leaves out isn’t how Avery might be innocent because someone else is guilty, but how, where and when Hillegas killed Halbach if he did? Did Hillegas also rape and kill Halbach in Avery’s junk yard?
More info here and here.
Read #tcrs analysis of the Avery case here.
3. “Killer paedophile Charles O’Neill had to be moved to a new jail in 2013 after prisoners plotted to murder him over fears he snatched Madeleine McCann in Portugal in 2007.” – The Sun
Leave it to the British tabloids to wring every drop out of the bogus pedophile narrative in the McCann case. The American press did the same with the JonBenet Ramsey case.
4. Does the world famous story of Vincent van Gogh qualify as true crime? It’s a popular misconception that it isn’t. His ear slicing, admission to the madhouse and suicide are all controversial. The tide is shifting significant right now on all three of these narratives.
The madhouse narrative has been studied in detail by Martin Bailey. Published today in the Daily Telegraph, there’s this:
[Bailey] found himself amazed by van Gogh’s extraordinary feat in producing almost one painting for every day of reasonable health he enjoyed during his year at the asylum.About 150 paintings from that period survive, while Bailey surmises that more than a dozen have been lost.
What is the pertinent insight to this? Van Gogh spent just one year in the asylum, admitting himself, and letting himself out when he was ready. If he painted over 150 paintings in a year, including arguably his best and most famous Starry Night, then his painting output was roughly one picture every second day. Not bad for a madman, is it?
Read #tcrs research on Vincent van Gogh here.
5. Relatively new developments in the Chris Watts case. The location of where the phone was left has been established.
Besides this, a phone call to discuss Shan’ann’s estate took place on October 5th. Chris Watts and his two defense attorneys Kathryn Herold and John Walsh sat in on that call, along with Frank [Shan’ann’s father], Sandi [Shan’ann’s mother] and Frankie [Shan’ann’s younger brother] and presumably their lawyer. Weld County district attorney Michael Rourke unexpectedly also sat in on that conversation.
It’s likely certain aspects of the estate are complicated, one of them being the largest and most significant asset – the Watts home. If they were married in community of property, even if Watts did kill Shan’ann, he’s unlikely to lose his stake in the home. He may however have agreed to dispose of the house, as along as the parties agree to split the principal 50/50. If so, his defense attorneys would be very interested in brokering this particular aspect, because it would allow them to get paid, as well as to hire expensive experts.
October 6th, 2018
1.A BUSKER who sparked fury after singing about Madeleine McCann being “in his freezer” today slammed “snowflakes” for being offended by his lyrics. – The Sun
Proponents of the theory that Madeleine was killed as early as a week before her disappearance, believe her body was placed in freezer until it was moved elsewhere.
There’s definitely been an uptick in Madeleine McCann related coverage, no matter how asinine or irrelevant. The McCann has been a cash cow for the newspaper industry, and with a new documentary series coming, there’s more hay to be made. There’s something to be said though for how clueless the news media are, or, assuming they know the truth behind this saga, how cynically they pull the public’s strings while making a tidy profit.
2. Accused Murderer Chris Watts Could Inherit Slain Wife Shan’ann’s Estate – InTouch Weekly
This means there may well be another trial running parallel to the criminal trial. Whether he does or doesn’t inherit is contingent on the outcome of the criminal trial, and so any hearing dealing with inheritance issues will likely deal with freezing assets rather than making any available. This does raise the question, how will Watts pay for his defense? Could he hold up the Watts house as collateral?
OCTOBER 5th, 2018:
1.Madeleine McCann may still be alive in Portugal, says former detective – Metro.co.uk
Dave Edgar worked on the three-year-old’s disappearance from 2008 – 2011 after being hired by her parents Kate and Gerry McCann. Mr Edgar, who stopped working on the case when the Metropolitan Police took over, is optimistic detectives could still solve the case. Edgar has previously made several claims about Madeleine’s disappearance, including suggesting she was taken by a ‘gang of paedophiles’ and the culprit was being protected.
After 12 years, with no substantial clues, he’s optimistic? Deep Into Darkness [coming soon] deals with the merits of the pedophile narrative in the McCann case.
2. Top detective reveals shock Madeleine McCann theory – New Zealand Herald
Missing Madeleine McCann is likely to be still in Portugal but unaware of who she is, says a former top detective who worked on the four-year-old’s disappearance for her family.
David Edgar believes Madeleine is still alive and well, 11 years after she disappeared from her family’s holiday villa in Portugal. “She could literally be anywhere in the world but my hunch is that she is in Portugal,” Edgar told The Sun.
Since she was 4 years old when she disappeared, the idea isn’t baloney. Taken in lieu of the evidence, including the cadaver traces, well, that’s another story. Edgar’s “expert-ise” makes him one of the critical characters that can shape public opinion, and thus control the true crime narrative. What do you think? Is he misleading the public, or informing them?
3. Red Alert! The New Season Of ‘Making A Murderer’ Is Just Weeks Away [STEVEN AVERY]
Making A Murderer: Part 2, will premiere on Oct. 19, 2018. A brief trailer for the new season says, “once somebody’s convicted, they have to move mountains to get out of prison. When you’re fighting for your innocence, you need to prove that and it takes time.”
I consider my efforts – two books dealing with the Steven Avery case – to be monumental failures. It’s not that the narratives lack merit, it’s just that these excellent documentaries have addled peoples minds, permanently. The same applies to the Paradise Lost apologia in the West Memphis Three case.
Bill Cosby departs after a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. Cosby’s retrial will be delayed as his new legal team gets up to speed on the case. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
4. OJ Simpson living life of LUXURY in Las Vegas 23 years after SHOCK verdict
23 years ago today [well, almost, give or take a day] O.J Simpson was acquitted of double murder. His case basically launched the true crime genre as we know it today.
Just as Cosby’s heading to the slammer, OJ’s out, more or less. Funny world we live in, isn’t it?
5. And then there’s this…