Author: Samantha Sanders

BLOTTER | Group Therapy, an Alien Con Man, and the Man from the Train

Hello, Early on this year, in a fit of either productivity or self-improvement, I decided I’d aim to read 50 books before the end of 2017. I was most likely inspired to do it because I knew I already had a healthy head start; in January I’d already managed to read seven. As the year went on, I noticed a defined inverse relationship between the weather getting nicer and the book totals barely budging. So this week’s two editions of Blotter will both focus on good reads to inspire me to hit the magic, arbitrary number (13 more to...

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Need a Good Scare Today?

Fall begins tomorrow and even though New York City weather refuses to acknowledge it, I can feel it; the spooking season is near. This week I’ve been catching up on back episodes of Snap Judgment Presents Spooked, a spinoff of the addictive storytelling-focused, Snap Judgment podcast. Each show features two scary stories told firsthand by those who experienced them. They’re all fantastic, but the one I listened to on last night’s commute was next-level creepy. Scroll down to the September 8 episode, Lost in Time and check out the first story. Is it true? I don’t care. But I...

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BLOTTER | The Grim Sleeper and Dragging the Lake

Hi, hello. First, let me just say that I’ve avoided talking about this so far. It may actually be fine. Good, even! (It’s getting reviewed well) And Netflix knows its way around a story. It’s even alleged to have reinvented the dick joke, but still I don’t think it’s enough to get me to watch the true crime parody American Vandal. What if I don’t want to rethink my stance on true crime, Bustle? What then? That said, maybe you’ll dig it. It began streaming September 15. Just let me know if I’m wrong. In a much more serious...

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Strong Island Continues Netflix’s Streak of Strong True Crime Work and Imperative Race Commentary

Overview: One man looks at the traumatic event that changed his family forever, his brother’s murder. Netflix; 2017; Rated NR; 107 minutes. A Collective Grief: In the final minutes of Strong Island, filmmaker Yance Ford’s exploration into his brother’s murder, Ford asks “What are the contours of fear?” According to his brother’s killer, fear is what motivated him to shoot him William Ford, Jr. during an altercation at an auto body shop in 1992. His brother’s killer, a then 19-year old white auto mechanic named Mark Reilly, earns little attention from the filmmaker within the narrative. It’s a decision both...

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BLOTTER | Liquid Matthew

On a Sunday night in December 1983 in Miami’s Hialeah neighborhood, a pair of joggers found the body of Francisco Patino Gutierrez, who’d been murdered and dumped in a parking lot. It was the start of what became known as the “Liquid Matthew” case. A nasty rainstorm was passing over Miami that night making the search for clues difficult. It wasn’t until the next day that police returned to the scene and tried to piece together what had happened to Gutierrez. A few things were known at this point: the victim was a Colombian national, he’d been a seaman,...

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BLOTTER | Fall TV Preview

Hi again. It’s time to ease into our final fall preview of all things true crime. If you missed the updates on podcasts or film, there’s still time to catch up. But today we’ll be looking at what’s ahead for fall. I’ve got cable recommendations (do you still watch? I’m trying to cut the cord), network, and for variety’s sake, a few from streaming services, as well (more of those in the film preview, too). First up is a great roundup by Esquire that includes some upcoming shows of interest to true crime and scripted dramas, including  10 Days...

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The Confession Tapes Takes You Behind the Curtain

Overview: A seven-part documentary series examines cases involving alleged coerced confessions from all sides of the justice system. Netflix; 2017; Not Rated; varying runtimes. Behind Closed Doors: For many years, the police interrogation room was off limits to the public. You were unlikely to ever see footage of the process of questioning a suspect unless you were on a jury or in that precarious situation yourself. But something changed in recent years. Scratch that; many things changed. For one, a viewing audience has demanded greater authenticity in its entertainment. I’m sure I’m not alone in watching an old Law &...

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BLOTTER | Fall Film Preview

If your film tastes tend toward the grim, the murky, or the unsettling, then right about now is the time you get the itch to start double checking release dates. For those of us who fall into that camp, the arrival of fall means the movie offerings get better—and often darker. True crime fans will still find the most to watch on the small screen, but you won’t be sacrificing quality. Longform true crime will continue to be dominated by Netflix, which seems to have separated itself from the pack by producing a string of thoughtful and unhurried documentaries...

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BLOTTER | Fall Podcast Preview

Hello again! I’ve been away for a bit and was so excited to pop into my Google News Alerts and see that our long, national nightmare of podcast drought seems to be ending. Suddenly, they’re everywhere again and I’m excited for what this new crop promises. Today, we’re going to take a dive into some of the newest potential obsessions and commute comfort foods of the audio world: For fans of cold cases, check out the brand-new monthly podcast Gone Cold, which will take an in-depth look at a new crime each broadcast and focusing, for now at least,...

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BLOTTER | Sharks, Murder Hostels, and Natalee Holloway

Hi guys. Want to know a secret? I’m on vacation. I hope a lot of you are too, or at the very least, eking out as much of what remains of summer as possible. The point is that I needed to find you a few links in advance. And since there are now anywhere between 4 and 17 news cycles between when we wake up and when we sleep, there’s just no way to keep things timely. But I can keep them reasonably topical for a holiday weekend. Here are a few stories of crimes that happened on vacation:...

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“This is the Zodiac Speaking”: Fincher’s Film Ten Years On

Originally published on March 2, 2017. The story of what came to be known as the Zodiac murders began on December 20, 1968, though no one knew at the time how significant that particular shooting was to become. There’s no agreed upon date when the murders ended because the Zodiac—a moniker the killer gave himself—has never been identified. His shadow stretches until it just reaches into 1970, though attacks beyond 1969 have never been substantiated. For a period of just a bit more than a year, the Bay Area was paralyzed by the randomness and viciousness of these crimes....

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BLOTTER | AUGUST 29

For today’s Blotter, we’re going to move away from our usual media—films, books, television, podcasts—to take a look at the shadowy corners where the worlds of crime and art intersect. First let’s get in the mood. Throw some jazz on and pour yourself a [Googles old time drinks] …Rob Roy (?) and let’s begin by taking a look at the visual arts. The Guardian compiled a short but compelling list of ten crime scenes depicted in art. Not all are pictured, but all are worth an image search and a few moments of contemplation—and maybe a trip down a...

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BLOTTER | Fall TV, Vigilantes, and S-Town Updates

Hello! It’s Thursday link time again. It’s a quiet time of year, media-wise. The big, loud movies have all come out, the Oscar-bait hasn’t yet released. TV is just willowy women in glasses nodding at blandly handsome men using those giant touch-controlled computer screens on CBS crime shows (why do all they all have those screens?), while better shows wait in the wings. It’s a real sit-and-wait time. So mainly I have forward-looking links for you, but a few cover old favorites (did John B. really have mercury poisoning?). Either way you’re looking these last weeks of summer, I...

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How Sad, How Lovely: The Disappearance of Connie Converse

The Greenwich Village of the 1950s was 185 acres packed dense with the beats, bohemians and artists whose names are now legendary—Cage, Pollock, Motherwell, Kerouac—laying the groundwork for a folk scene that would explode in the coming decade, largely thanks to a young Bob Dylan. But Dylan wasn’t among the first singer-songwriters to flock to the Village. A young woman, fiercely introverted and uniquely talented, named Connie Converse preceded him by more than five years. Connie had been born in New Hampshire in 1924, a time that now may seem improbably far away, though plenty of her contemporaries are...

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BLOTTER | AUGUST 17 Fraud, Charade, and Whataburger

Hello! It’s a film-heavy week of links below, leaning hard on the classics, as I’d argue we often should. Plus, I’ve got some lovely longer pieces for you to open in a tab on your phone and maybe discover two weeks from now excited you forgot to read it. Or at least that’s how I most often read things. I’ve had some trouble lately digging up quality podcasts to share with you. If you have a recent fave that’s (even tangentially) crime-related, fictional or not, we’d love to hear about it. Tell us at @WeTalkMovies so we can spread...

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