It has been observed, with some truth, that everyone loves a good murder. The class of persons to whom the very word does not give a certain not unpleasing thrill is so small that it may be ruled out for the purposes of discussion, and the rest of the world may be divided into two classes -- that in which people frankly admit a vivid interest in murder as the most curious of the phenomena of human nature, and that in which are those who, while secretly thrilled, disclaim any such interest and condemn it as "morbid." To the true student of the ways of humanity nothing is morbid, as long as due balance and proportion be kept in the sudying of it, and anyone who eliminates as an object of interest the most strange of all the phenomena of social life, is ruling out his chance of developing a comprehensive view of that life.
--F. Tennyson Jesse, the English queen of early 20th century true crime, in Murder and Its Motives, 1924
Besides Jack, there's one other infamous Ripper that still captivates imaginations. He's the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe. There's a new book in the works about him. It's Sandra Lester's The Ripper Unmasked: Confessions from Sutcliffe to a Hypnotist. The letters here include his "pen-affair" with the attractive author, who was "badly hurt" by the curious relationship when she learned that he had a harem of women. Having emerged from her self-hypnosis, she's campaigning to restrict men like Sutcliffe from victimizing women from prison. For details, you can email her at sndr_lester AT yahoo.co.uk or check out this website.
Skirting the Scaffold
Cheating the hangman hasn't gone out of fashion. The punishments for drug trafficking in Asia are strict, and yet some Australians have dared the rope for profit and pleasure, and it's amazing that anyone lives to tell the tale -- or will admit to it. One of them, Wade Agnew, recently released an autobiography with the intriguing title Cheating the Hangman: True Confessions of a Heroin Trafficker.
Umm... a bit too much, even for me
The Nashville Knife Shop, which offers self-evident retail services, recently offered me a sum of money to place an ad on one of my true crime stories about a woman who slashed another woman to death with a straight razor. I have to turn it down; the juxtaposition is just a wee bit... well....
For the Free Father Robinson Club
Word on the street is that some organizations dedicated to freeing innocent men might be taking a look at Father Robinson's case.
Meanwhile, his case is about to go before the Ohio Court of Appeals, District 6. This court is located in Toledo -- so undoubtedly the judges already know something about the case from the media. Three of the district's five appellate judges are former prosecutors; only three will be assigned to hear his appeal. From the looks of it, the oral arguments have not yet been scheduled.
It was a "one-man crusade" by a retired detective in Toledo that was, in part, to blame for the eventual (and in my opinion wrongful) conviction of Father Robinson. Harry Smith of the Early Show interviewed that detective, Dave Davison, and the video from that appearance can be found here (look on the right side of the page for "Cop On Nun Murder Case"). (Harry Smith is very sharp and one of the nicest people I have ever met. He interviewed me on the show in 1989. But that's a story for another day.)
The Wikipedia entry on the case was full of factual errors, which I've taken the liberty of correcting, trying very hard not to introduce my own opinions but to accurately and fairly summarize the case. We'll see how long that lasts.
Court TV was strongly in favor of the prosecution "satanic abuse" theory while it was covering this trial. Indeed, while the trial was underway, Court TV brought in an "expert" who believes that satanic abuse exists and is characterized by "(1) sadistic sexual abuse by multiple perpetrators, (2) international organizations of pedophiles/ pornographers/traffickers, (3) desecration of religious institutions, (4) electroshock, (5) mind control, (6) bestiality, (7) sensory deprivation, (8) forced drugging, (9) human and animal mutilations/sacrifices . . . even cannibalism."
Ritual cannibalism? Organized human sacrifice? In America? In the late 20th, 21st century? Hm. You'd think that a journalist would be skeptical. Yet this "expert" was given what she herself calls the "unique opportunity to speak on live TV about the reality of ritual abuse without being discredited, demeaned, or disbelieved by Court TV anchors Lisa Bloom and Vinnie Politan" (emphasis added). From what I could determine, it was her first and only mainstream media interview.
The transcript of the Court TV interview of "our ritual expert" (Vinnie Politan) affirms that Court TV made no attempt to look at the issue objectively. Some of the comments included these:
Lisa Bloom: "Frankly, I never knew what to believe. What I did know was these cases would be very, very hard to prove because people just don’t want to believe it."
Me again: Ms. Bloom, maybe they don't want to believe it because there's no objective evidence to support it.
Vinnie Politan: "Either someone’s trying to make it look like a ritualistic killing or [it] actually was."
Expert: "And of course it could be a coincidence that Sister Margaret, - this woman who was married to Christ was . . . brutally murdered on this, I think what is – Called a Holy Saturday –"
Vinnie Politan: "That, that would be a – HUGE coincidence."
Me again: Come on, Mr. Politan. How many holy days are there in the Catholic calendar?
What's next on "Court" TV -- a show about astrologers and psychics solving crimes with ESP? Oh yeah.... that show started a few months ago. Maybe that "mainstream" in "mainstream media" needs qualification.