Category: Onlooker

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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BLOTTER | Suggestions for More Diverse Crime Series

The world of crime fiction, despite some notable inroads made by women the past few decades, is still dominated by white men—many of whom are quite capable of writing complex characters and weaving nuanced storylines all while compelling you to keep turning pages. If you want to find a good work of crime fiction by a white male author, you can. But it’s good for the industry—and even more so for the readers—when we broaden the scope. For today’s Blotter, I want to offer up a few suggestions for series, or individual works from a more diverse group of...

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BLOTTER | AUGUST 10: Outlaws, X-Files, and Murder

One of the most pleasant things about New York in the summer, great smells aside, are the rooftop movies that seem to be showing nearly every summer night. My pal and I have been trying to coordinate a meet-up to catch one for months, but with only a few weeks left to the season, we each had to compromise a little and just commit. On Friday, we’ll be catching a showing of Dirty Dancing, which I don’t think I’ve seen since I was about 11. I guess they won’t pause on Swayze’s butt like we did in junior high,...

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All the Queen’s Horses: A Huge Crime You Never Heard About

Overview: A city comptroller in small town Illinois perpetrated the largest case of municipal fraud—some $53 million; Kartemquin Films; 2017; NR; 71 minutes. Small Town: Dixon, Illinois (pop. 15,135) is quintessential small-town America. The town sits a bit more than an hour and a half west of Chicago and used to be most well-known as the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan (know those pictures of a young Reagan lifeguarding? That’s Dixon). At least until 2011, when a city employee noticed a strange discrepancy in some bank paperwork and stumbled headlong onto a co-worker’s $53 million secret. For more than 20...

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BLOTTER | 7 Weird Wikis to Get Through Tuesday

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...

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BLOTTER | The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar and Great Longreads

Hello again! Earlier this week, we checked in on the latest true crime onscreen. There was so much news and so many links, we decided to do a two-parter and send you into the weekend with plenty more to read (and hear). Onward. Let’s turn first to some crime news. At the risk of sounding glib, I couldn’t help but consider this Margaret Atwood quote when I heard about this story. It’s always felt true in the gut sense to me, though I wish that weren’t the case. You can read more about the confusion initially surrounding this homicide,...

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BLOTTER | August 1 – Women Who Kill, Top of the Lake, and Son of Sam

Hi, out there. Are you reaching true crime critical mass? It happens. I won’t hold it against you if right now you’re more into GLOW (it’s good), or constantly refreshing Twitter out of fear, or working on your gut biome (love having another body problem I’m supposed to fix). I think I could use a break from all the grim, so I’m going to read the classic How to See: Visual Adventures in a World God Never Made. It was just re-issued earlier this year and a friend who has the best, non-try-hard Instagram recommended it. I’m hoping it will help...

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BLOTTER | July 27: Santoalla, F. Lee Bailey, and American Fire

Hello! It’s Thursday, which means I give you all the true crime links you can handle (and that I can find and deem worthy of you). I hope you got the chance to read this Tuesday’s feature on real estate with a murderous past, but if not, take a look back now. And if you’ve been in that situation and have a story to tell, I want to hear it. TV: First up, this article about a casting call to be a dead body on TV is pretty charming. I’ll never watch SVU the same again (I never watch...

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BLOTTER | July 26: Cult Properties, Hell Houses, and the Restless Dead

Over three successive days in 1997, members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass suicide, with 15 dying the first day, 15 more the next, and the final 9 ascending to what they hoped was an extra-terrestrial spacecraft on March 26. During each of these suicidal waves, the dwindling number of members would do what they could to clean up after those who’d died that day. There was no one left to clean up after the final group. Eventually the bodies were discovered and in the following weeks, police, pundits and armchair psychologists struggled to make sense of what...

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BLOTTER | JULY 20: Tarantino, Manson, Erol Morris, and H. H. Holmes

Whether it’s true, there’s something about the depths of summer that makes it seem like a time violent crimes are more likely to happen. It’s hot, everyone’s on edge and out much later than they should be. Zodiac, Manson, Wonderland—and of course every fictional summer camp in a horror movie ever. It makes a kind of sense. Later on, I’ll mention one of my favorite memoirs, written by a woman tangentially related to one of these infamous crimes. It’ll make for good summer reading if you’re in need of that. Now, onto the links. FILM:            You’ve probably heard and,...

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“My story is a love story”: New York’s Lonely Hearts Murders, Part II

The story ends with Raymond Fernandez. When we last checked in on the pair, Raymond and his lover, Martha Beck, had moved in together. Raymond had confessed his scam; he regularly lured women he’d found through lonely hearts ads back to his place where he robbed them. But he’d not yet advanced to killing. That wouldn’t come until Martha entered the picture. Women who met Raymond and his “sister” first began disappearing in 1949. * It’s possible their first murders were accidental, the work of criminals who didn’t really know what they were doing.  Of course, that doesn’t excuse...

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BLOTTER | Ava DuVernay, Satanic Panic, and My Dentist’s Murder Trial

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,...

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“My story is a love story”: New York’s Lonely Hearts Murders

The story begins with Martha Beck. Born in Florida in 1920, her childhood was lonely and difficult. The social isolation she felt because of her obesity—much rarer then than today—made its first painful inroads there, and it was a problem that would dog her throughout her life. The cruelty of the outside world even followed her home. When she told her mother that her brother had been molesting her, instead of intervening, Martha’s mother beat her and blamed her for her own victimization. Martha left home. What followed were years of fits and starts. A career in nursing fizzled...

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Blotter | Truman Capote, A Fugitive Hunter, and Oscar-Nominated True Crime

Hello! Thanks to everyone who read AE’s first go at some original true crime coverage earlier this week. If you haven’t taken a look, the story of Sarah Fox’s unsolved murder is both confounding and complex, and I hope worth a few minutes of your time. I’ll be back Tuesday with something new. In the meantime, I have plenty of links to true crime across page, pod, and screen(s) to hold you till then: TV Dust to dust, book to movie to TV reboot. The True Story Behind Capote’s In Cold Blood Is Coming to TV. The description of...

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Blotter | The Unsolved Disappearance of Sarah Fox

On May 24, 2004, a rented school bus made its way from the Pennsauken, New Jersey, a suburb of Philadelphia, to Inwood, a neighborhood at the very northern tip of the island of Manhattan. The bus was filled with family, friends, and strangers who just wanted to help, to do something for Sarah. Five days earlier, Sarah put on her sneakers, loaded a CD into her Discman and told her roommate she was going for a run—something she did often. This time she never returned. * At the time of her disappearance, Sarah Fox was a 21-year old student...

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