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Maura Murray podcast, Maryland murder plot, Kristin Smart lawsuit

Maura Murray podcast, Maryland murder plot, Kristin Smart lawsuit
Ric McArthur/Creative Commons

Best Evidence readers know that the end of the month isn’t just for panicking when you remember you forgot to mail in the rent check. It’s also when we clear out the document we keep of true crime news, longreads, and press releases — all stuff that we think we might want to tackle at some point, either in an article or on our podcast, The Docket (the return of which is nigh).

As the calendar flips pages (between that and the “mailed check” remark, I’m on a retro roll!) we take all the links we didn’t get to and unleash them on you, our faithful readers. With our move to this lovely website, we’re also playing with the format a bit. We hope you like the tweaks, and eagerly await your feedback in the comments or by phone/text at 919-75-CRIME.

Lawsuit: The family of slain Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Kristin Smart is suing the school, saying the campus cops ignored warning signs that fellow student Paul Flores posed a threat. [LA Times]

Longread: Lela Mailman is fighting to raise awareness of an epidemic of violence against Indigenous women, but even she is overwhelmed by how hopeless the battle can be. [New Yorker]

Upcoming podcast (with pedigree probs): Media Pressure Season 1: The Untold Story of Maura Murray will launch on February 9, creators are the family of the University of Massachusetts student who disappeared 20 years ago this month. Ashley Flowers is apparently involved. [CBS]

Casting news: Annaleigh Ashford will play Melissa Moore, the woman who discovered her dad was the Happy Face killer, in an upcoming adaptation of the real-life Moore’s 2009 memoir. [THR]

Audio essay: Polly Klaas’s sister, Annie Nichol, argues that the popularization of true crime not only re-traumatizes victims’ families but also helps the far right’s agenda of increased policing and incarceration. [NYT gift link]

Mean world incubator: To Nichol’s point above, local Fox stations will air Warner Brother weekly series True Crime News starting this fall. Brace for “52 weeks of original programming with breaking crime news, all the cases making headlines, and the latest updates on evolving crime stories, tapping into Warner Bros. Discovery’s vault of crime footage.” [TVNewsCheck]

Inside media baseball: Dateline was late to the true crime podcasting game, but is freakin’ crushing it now. The folks behind its audio juggernauts mull why they enjoyed such instant success. [Washington Post gift link]

Prestige commentary: The folks behind HBO’s documentary arm suggest that the “premium true-crime movement” started with them (your comments welcomed!), and say they’re into “crime with a conscience.” [Deadline]

Surprising history: We’re sorry for his loss, but Harry Connick Jr.’s recently deceased father, the DA of New Orleans from 1973 to 2003, sounds like a wrongful conviction case study. [NYT gift link]

Wait till they see my yard: In this longread, reporter David A. Taylor tells us about a crime I never knew existed: international sand trafficking, a new organized crime area that’s messing up coasts and ecosystems. [Scientific American]

Here’s to you: Parts of a statue of baseball great Jackie Robinson stolen last month from a public park in Kansas were found, burned, in a nearby trash can. “If it turns out it was racially motivated, then obviously that is a deeper societal issue and it certainly would make this a much more concerning theft,” said a spokesperson of the group that commissioned the statue. [AP]

How to bump your numbers: Linda Fairstein’s defamation lawsuit against Netflix will start in June, and the streamer is asking the jury to watch When They See Us before arguments begin. [Daily Beast]

First person longread: 25-year-old engineering student Karim Mahmoud explains his journey from Andrew Tate fanboy to person who thinks Tate’s running a scammy cult. [Vice]

This needs to be adapted: Estella Ybarra says that while on a jury over 30 years ago, she was pressured into declaring the accused man guilty. In recent years, she’s worked to set him free. [Texas Monthly]

Questionable judgement: Judge Judy is endorsing Nikki “slavery, what slavery?” Haley for president, saying she is “principled, measured and has that illusive quality of real common sense.” [Deadline]

Podcast scuttlebutt: My Favorite Murder’s Amazon Music/Wondery partnership appears to be over. Not answered (but I’m wondering) is what that means for their rumored $100 million deal, and who broke up with whom. [PND]

Genre demographics: Two decades ago, Ron Stodghill wrote a book about the slaying of Black tech exec Lance Herndon. (We talked about its Taye Diggs-starring adaptation last year.) Stodgehill argues that in the years since, true crime has blown up, but the kinds of stories it tells remain shockingly non-diverse. [LA Times]

Long con longread: Boulder entrepreneur Aaron Clark disappeared in 2022 following a Denver Post expose that claimed wage theft and worse. Reporter Chris Walker’s search for Clark led him through claims and allegations across the Napa Valley, Berkeley, and Kenya. [5280]

Basic training: People are apparently holding trains up again, and we have Amazon (etc) to thank. [NYT gift link]

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Happy discussing!

Sharky (Heather)

Saturday 3rd of February 2024

I do tend to like HBO docs more than other outlets -- it is confident and looks good -- but I don't think they're more ethical or conscientious than everyone else. Certainly more ethical and conscientious than, say, Oxygen crime shows, but that's not a high bar to clear, since they flat-out fabricate. For example, let's take The Vow. I love The Vow to a fault, but there are definitely a few things that would make me feel better about it. Here are the two biggest for me:

1. The Tourette's episode should have been more explicit that Raniere and Nancy Salzman didn't cure anyone. They let that rest on the shoulders of Isabella Constantino, but one person's results alone cannot illustrate that NXIVM's methods were dangerous.

2. Too much time was spent humanizing Nancy without the counterpoint of exposing the absolutely monstrous things she did to people. I think by the end, people think Allison Mack had more power and did more evil things than Nancy, and that was not remotely true.


Friday 2nd of February 2024

That whole Kristin Smart case breaks my heart. Cal Poly fucked up SO BADLY.

Claire Pancerz

Friday 2nd of February 2024

@Reva, I totally agree. But we are all so afraid of confrontation and whether we might be wrong and if so, could we be sued, etc. It’s a big mess.