February 23, 2016
[murder] The murderers next door … Engrossing true-crime story about a couple who murdered the wife’s parents for money to buy celebrity memorabilia …

The couple admitted manslaughter, but not double murder. They said 63-year-old Patricia had shot William, 85, during a late-night row. In their version of events, Patricia had then turned on Susan, saying she was having an affair with Christopher, taunting and provoking her into turning the gun on her mother. Susan told the police she’d been sexually abused by her father until she was 11, and that her mother had been complicit. The couple said it was a crime of passion and claimed that Susan had acted alone. She told Christopher only a week after the shooting, they said, when they returned to Mansfield from their home in Dagenham, ate fish and chips, watched the Eurovision song contest, and got up at 2am to bury the decomposing bodies.

“They’d had 15 years to prepare a story that would bring them the least amount of time in prison,” DCI Rob Griffin, who led the case against the couple, tells me. It was his job to prove this was a calculated double murder, motivated by greed and deserving a long stretch in jail. But proving anything in a case this historic is a challenge: there were no phone records, no CCTV, no emails for him to trawl through (“The footprints people tend to leave behind nowadays weren’t there for us”). So Griffin turned to what he calls “old-fashioned detective work”: tracing relatives and neighbours from 1998 to try to piece together what had happened.

February 4, 2016
[true_crime] “Not Guilty” Pleasure: Why We Love but Distrust True Crime … Rex Sorgatz on the powerful appeal of True Crime … ‘In the first season of Serial, the foundational story to disassemble is that Adnan Syed murdered his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. That’s the authoritative version, reported by newspapers. What Serial does, through a dozen spellbinding episodes, is slowly dismantle the official story, until eventually you have no idea what happened. At that exact moment — when you say I don’t know! — crime transmutes into true crime. (You can tell the difference between highbrow and lowbrow true crime by the degree to which a narrator professes I don’t know! The greater the narrative self-doubt, the higher the brow.)’ 
January 7, 2016
[truecrime] Serial thrillers: why true crime is popular culture’s most wanted … a look at the rise of True Crime … ‘Even now, true crime magazines tend to be displayed by newsagents closer to porn titles than the Economist. In publishing, a market leader is John Blake Books – a firm whose lists are unlikely to come under scrutiny by judges of the Man Booker prize. Currently touted Blake titles include Doctors Who Kill and The Yorkshire Ripper: The Secret Murders. But an almost universal fascination with the extremities of human behaviour means the loftier parts of the arts also push through the police tape at crime scenes. In the 1930s, the New Yorker, the most literarily pristine of American magazines, began to profile killers of the sort that obsessed pulpier rivals. Next month marks the 50th anniversary of Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood, which investigated, in a manner that has clearly influenced Serial, a mass killing in Kansas.’
April 4, 2015
[serial] Dana Chivvis: ‘We were at the centre of this whirlwind and we were just hunkered down’ … Interview with a Producer of the Serial podcast‘There isn’t a whole lot happening right now. Adnan has a hearing, at the June session [of the court of special appeals], which will most likely lead to an appeal, because if he wins then the state will appeal, and if the state wins he will appeal. Deirdre from the Innocence Project is in contact with Sarah about Adnan’s case on and off.’ [via Feeling Listless]
February 9, 2015
[murder] The Chelsea Girl, the Playboy, the Honest Cop and the Proven Lawyer … a fascinating true crime story from 1967 about the murder of a young French woman in Swinging London … ‘Her body was discovered on the Tuesday by a Mark Shaw Lawrence, the landlord. She had lived in a bedsitter at 17 Walpole Street since July. She was face down on a divan, naked except for a bra and a pyjama top. Dr Donald Teare, the pathologist, after a post-mortem on Wednesday said that death was due to “suffocation following cerebral haemorrhage as a result of blows to the head”. Claudie Danielle, as she was known, a French girl, was said by a neighbour who didn’t want to be named to have “masses of boy friends”. And “her clothes were so extraordinary. She wore long vests like skirts and sombreros”. The police were visiting clubs and discothèques (then a word just coming into English usage) in Chelsea with photographs of Claudie. A ‘vital clue’ taken away by the police from the bedsit was a bundle of some 200 letters and cards, many from boyfriends. No murder weapon had yet been discovered at the crime scene. A description of a man in ‘a red military tunic’ and ‘mod gear’ and with long blond hair had been given to the police. He had been seen waiting outside Claudie’s room at 3am some two weeks earlier. A description that must have fitted half a million guys in the London autumn of 1967.’ [thanks Phil]
January 15, 2015
[crime] The murder that obsessed Italy … Engrossing true crime story from Italy about the investigation of the murder of Yara Gambirasio‘The investigation was, by Italian standards, unusually secretive. Locals couldn’t understand why police hunting the murderer of a 13-year-old girl were taking DNA samples of elderly women. Bonicelli – a fan of the fictional detectives Maigret and Montalbano – says that the investigation “was lacking the traditional, human element: the sort of person who goes into a bar in the village … and puts someone at ease so that something slips out.” Locals felt there was something cold about this investigation, with its invasive demands for DNA samples. And it was changing the atmosphere in these small communities. People thought, says Bonicelli, “that the murderer was here, amongst us. So there was a sort of – not panic, but fear.”’
January 2, 2015
[serial] Jay Speaks Part 3: The Collateral Damage of an Extremely Popular Podcast about Murder … Jay On life after Serial: ‘What’s so frustrating about this is that there haven’t been any clear fights. It hasn’t been confrontational. It’s been a hundred little things that have happened, like cars parked outside my house for an hour, somebody just stops talking to me at work before I was let go, people taking pictures. It’s the doorbell ringing, and my wife jumping up six feet into the air, because she’s so scared. It makes me feel paranoid. And it also makes me really angry, because the mistakes I’ve made are on me and not on my family. And there’s a part of me that just wants to break away from them and live in the bushes or the Appalachian mountains, so they can be safe.’
December 31, 2014
[crime] Exclusive: Jay, Key Witness from ‘Serial’ Tells His Story for First Time [Part 1 | Part 2] … ‘From the way he carried himself, at least, it looked like he had never lost anything before. And it was really hard for him to deal with being on the losing end. In that situation, he was the loser. And people were starting to find out he was a loser, ‘Oh, you and Hae aren’t together anymore. She got a new boyfriend?’ And he didn’t know how to deal with that. And the other thing about it, I mean, there looked like there was real hurt and pain. What else could motivate you to choke the life out of someone you cared about? He just couldn’t come to grips with those feelings. However he ended up doing it—whether it was premeditated, an involuntary reaction at that point in time—he just couldn’t come to grips with being a loser and failing. He failed; he lost the girl. I know that he came from a very strict religious background and that he was uneasy with some of the things he was doing. He was having a hard enough time with that itself. There were some big forces going on that didn’t have anything to do with Hae.’
December 27, 2014
[serial] ‘Serial’ Podcast Finale: A Desire for ‘Eureka’ as the Digging Ends … More thoughts on the conclusion of Serial‘The last episode was a tangled and heartfelt yet frustrating hour of radio in which Ms. Koenig hemmed and hawed and pored back over old evidence and asked, “Did we just spend a year applying excessive scrutiny to a perfectly ordinary case?” The answer to that question, apparently, is no and yes, and yes and no. Unlike the conclusions of Agatha Christie novels, real life can make only murky puddles.’
December 22, 2014
[serial] The ‘Serial’ Ending Never Belonged to Us, or Even to Adnan — It Was Koenig’s All Along … Another article on the conclusion of Serial … ‘But the most heartbreaking thing about “Serial” —and what made it so uncannily engrossing in the wake of Eric Garner and Michael Brown — is its portrayal of a system that is more powerful than it is fair. Yes, it’d be satisfying to know if Adnan did it, and if he didn’t, who did. But the more interesting question—and the scarier one, too—is how he ended up in jail despite nobody being sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt, if he was guilty.’
December 17, 2014
[serial] Serial nears its end, but the Reddit detectives keep working … a look at the impact of Serial as it concludes on Thursday …

Recently Tanveer actually found himself on the phone with Adnan, trying to explain the online furor over Serial. Adnan has no experience of social media, he says, so Tanveer had to find another metaphor to explain things. “Reddit is like road rage,” he says he told Adnan. People were very reactive and emotional. And under cover of anonymity, lots felt free to say things they would never say to Adnan’s face. “For Adnan, it was hard to fathom because Adnan’s been in jail,” Tanveer said. “Adnan said: ‘In my world, if you’re not ready to say something to someone’s face, you don’t say it.’”

December 6, 2014
[serial] Serial podcast and the genre question: investigative journalism, character study, or legal procedural? … a look at why Serial can’t settle down on one particular genre … ‘I think there’s a deeper meaning to the way Serial has moved from a project that requires answers and resolutions to one that doesn’t. Maybe the uncertainty is even a small rebuke to us overeager fans, as if the powerlessness in not knowing might bend our minds back to one of the only things we know for sure: that a young woman, Hae Min Lee, was taken from her friends and family forever.’
December 3, 2014
[serial] Charts for People Obsessed with Serial … useful info-graphics for people obssesed with the Serial podcast

The odds of getting a charming sociopath as a defendant