A well-written account of a true crime has twice the chilling impact of fiction.
--Time Magazine, 1955
The Makers of Villisca Movie Coming to TV Crime historian Edgar Epperly and filmmaker Kelly Rundle will appear on CourtTV's "Catherine Crier Live" Tuesday, Nov. 21 to discuss their terrific true crime documentary Villisca: Living With A Mystery. I thought very highly of that film and look forward to seeing their appearance. In the meantime, they've posted an article by Dr. Epperly on the film's official website that explains why the murder of a family in 1912 impacted so many lives.
If you happen to live near Iowa, the movie is being played on Iowa Public TV Sunday, Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. and Nov. 26 at 10 p.m. Get a sneak preview at YouTube.
Pretty Young Thing killed in Pinup – uh, Holdup Our mainstream media strongly prefers its rape and murder victims to be young, white, middle-class, and gorgeous. This is not a new phenomenon; Susan Brownmiller, who wrote "The Police, the Press, and Roseann Quinn," found this to be true in her analysis of New York tabloids circa 1978:
Women who die violently in New York City and who fall into the category of young, white and beautiful are memorialized in tabloid headlines and story copy that attests to their physical appeal to men, whether or not their physical appeal was actually related to the crime.
I'll add that the New York City press has always eroticized violence against women. When a case actually does allow the city's reporters to legitimately dwell on sex, they've done so with gusto. My favorite example: the murder of Helen Jewett. She was very beautiful and a prostitute and murdered and it was gruesome, and the New York media slobbered all over itself. This was, by the way, 170 years ago.
Explains historian Patricia Cline Cohen (who wrote a book about the case) in an article entitled "The Mystery of Helen Jewett: Romance Fiction and The Eroticization of Violence":
A New York City prostitute named Helen Jewett died in 1836 when an ax crashed down on her head three times and cracked her skull; her bed was then set on fire by the killer. Seven hours later her half-burned body was subjected to a full autopsy directed by the city coroner, right in the room where her murder took place. It must have been a fairly gruesome scene.
Yet something about this particular murder captured the fancy of New York newsmen, and their insistent coverage of the crime produced a public sensation that quickly spread the length and breadth of the nation...
Read the rest here.
Once you're dead, everyone owns your likeness. Or so it seems. And if you were a prostitute, one of those girls (or boys) who sold it, then everyone owns your full, um, unedited likeness, in life and/or death. Or so it seems if you can judge solely by the "16 PAGES OF SHOCKING PHOTOS!" that appear in all of my favorite paperbacks.
Count on Him For an Opinion District Attorney Josh Marquis writes a blog about the justice system, politics, and the media, with a piquant prosecutorial bent. If you like a strong mixture of zingers with a dash of Nancy Grace zeal, check out his archives.
A Pop Quiz Here's a website that has several fun true crime quizzes. Better than yoga, I say. I got only 4 right out of ten questions about Madeline Smith and must now assign myself some Roughead rereading. But I know my Lizzie Borden.... TTFN.