BLOTTER | JULY 11

Hi! Hello.

It’s time for your Thursday roundup of all things true crime across page, pod, and screen to see you through the weekend. This week’s links are a healthy mix of the good (Ava DuVernay doing her thing), bad (1970’s Satanic Panic actually panning out), and the ugly (a family that lost two sons to the same police department).

Also as an 80s baby forced to amuse myself at my grandparents’ house for hours pre-internet, I loved whenever I could get my hands on some Reader’s Digest survival stories.  Before you click that link, know that I have something from Smithsonian Magazine that’ll scratch that itch much better.

PODCAST

  • Another meditation on why we’re so “obsessed” with true crime. Skip the intro and head to the links for some new listening suggestions.
  • Bay Area crime didn’t begin or end with the Zodiac Killer. If you’d like to listen to some stories about San Francisco before 1 bedrooms were renting for north of 4K a month, here are two:  Bay Area Mystery Club and a standalone episode about the San Mateo Slasher from Misconduct pod.
  • Finally, I’m aware that I mention the podcast Criminal nearly every week, but aside from In the Dark (go listen to that if you somehow missed everyone recommending it), this is the best true crime podcast (and among the best of any genre) hands down. Here’s an inside look at the program.

TELEVISION

CRIME

  • Here’s the link I teased earlier about the satanic murder: In 1974 a woman was ritually murdered inside Stanford’s campus church. The details of the crime are bizarre and disturbing. Worse, it remains unsolved.
  • An old friend of mine named Chuck, a lifelong huge true crime fan, used to be in the habit of corresponding with serial killers. He wrote to John Wayne Gacy (who happily wrote back) and others, though his hobby ended abruptly when he got a phone call one afternoon while he was at work. His wife picked up the phone and heard a recorded message asking if she would accept charges for a call coming from prison. A ‘Richard Ramirez’ was trying to reach them. Chuck’s wife put an end to it that day. This is not Chuck’s story. But it’s a good one. And apparently Richard got around.

FILM

  • Another list of worthy true crime docs. You’ve probably heard of most of these, but a reminder never hurts.
  • With the man who falsely accused the Central Park 5 and called for their execution being in the news so much lately, a fresh look at the case has never been more relevant. And based on her earlier work for Netflix, the documentary 13th, I can’t imagine there’s anyone better to tell their story than Ava DuVernay. She’ll be writing and directing a miniseries about the case set to air on the streaming service sometime in 2019.

BOOK

  • Expect to hear good things about the new book about LA’s most prolific serial killer. “The Grim Sleeper is the frill-free work of a veteran LA Weekly journalist who gave the subject of this book, Lonnie D. Franklin Jr., his name in a 2008 cover story for that alternative weekly, just as he seemed to be concluding his second killing spree.”

LONGREADS

See you on Tuesday for Part II of our piece about the Lonely Hearts Murders. If you missed Part I, here’s your chance to catch up.