There’s an appealing same-ness to the quality of content you can find on Wikipedia. It’s the McDonald’s-bathroom-on-a-road-trip of websites. Never flashy, sometimes of suspect quality, but reliable enough. And, similarly, relaxing there for a minute or two, isn’t going to bother anyone. Is this too much information?
If you’re a fan of true crime, urban legends, or just possibly specious ephemera, Wikipedia offers plenty of diversion and the kind of casual browsing that won’t attract attention pulled up on your desktop at work.
So let’s get through Tuesday by taking a look at some of Wikipedia’s most intriguing crime-related or curiosity-piquing entries, some with film connections:
Numbers Stations first began popping up on shortwave radio across the world roughly contemporaneously with World War I. Though their sources and meaning are still debated, these stations always featured a voice saying a series of seemingly random numbers, and would also sometimes ramp up the creep factor with musical intros.
YouTube offers up countless recordings you can listen to that, even if you had no context, would nevertheless be creepy. Treat yourself?
If you were disappointed by the 2011 film The Battle of Los Angeles, first, you weren’t alone. Secondly, the film took very broad liberties with what was some pretty compelling source material—the theory that the battle that took place over the skies of Los Angeles in 1942 was really one with an extraterrestrial enemy.
On July 26, 2009, Diane Schuler drove the wrong way for nearly two miles on an upstate New York parkway, killing eight people (including herself) when her minivan collided headfirst with another car. Toxicology reports would later indicate she was heavily intoxicated and had marijuana in her system. But the whole story is much more complicated than these tragic facts would indicate.
HBO’s There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane makes is a gripping and heartbreaking documentary about the crash and its aftermath.
Every few months I attempt to again understand this concept, but it is unwieldy to my philosophically uninclined brain and just when I grasp its edges, it slips away again. Which, if you think about it, is almost a hauntology itself.
His death, in a West Virginia motel room, was ruled a suicide; he’d slit his wrist and left a note. But the reason journalist Danny Casolaro was in that motel room in the first place was to meet a source who was going to tell him more about The Octopus.
Often conspiracy theory and rumor surrounding crime victims are perpetuated and spread by amateur sleuths who have no real connection to the case. The disappearance of Johnny Gosch—as depicted in the film Who Took Johnny and covered by countless podcasts—is notable in that the story veers so far from its expected course in the years following his disappearance, and because most of that is due to his mother’s beliefs about what happened to him.
While the notion of a CIA mind control program might seem the standard stuff of conspiracy theories, what makes this particular project different is that it’s openly documented. More than 80 institutions participated during its twenty years of unethical and often illegal experimentation. If you’d like a bonus entry to read, peruse the wiki for Jonestown conspiracy theories, where MKUltra also makes an appearance.
Thanks for killing some time with me. I’ll be back Thursday with plenty of new true crime links covering screen, page, and pod.
Featured Image: FilmBuff