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You’ve watched Lover, Stalker, Killer. What now?

You’ve watched Lover, Stalker, Killer. What now?
Dave Kroupa as seen in “Lover, Stalker, Killer." (Image via Netflix)

Lover, Stalker, Killer is certainly a sensational-sounding title, isn’t it? Based on the name, you can be forgiven for assuming the Netflix documentary feature is more ID in nature than streaming prestige. But the film (a concise 90 minutes, thanks be to god) is a surprisingly thoughtful look at a romance turned stalking case that did indeed involve a homicide, so the name describes what’s in the tin.

Welcome to Pairings, a new Best Evidence feature in which we suggest reading, viewing, or listening related to a recent property that people seem excited about. Have a book, show, or podcast you’d like us to pair? Email us at editorial at bestevidence dot fyi, or call or text us at 919-75-CRIME; if you have pairing recommendations for today’s main course, we’d love to hear them in the comments.

It’s a tin that a lot of folks are opening, if the number of emails I’ve received since my interview with Lover, Stalker, Killer‘s director and one of its producers ran on Vanity Fair’s website. People are into this doc, even more than I expected! Perhaps you are too?

With its Midwestern setting (the central figure, Omaha mechanic Dave Kroupa, could be Larry Bird’s nephew, he’s that classically middle America), twists and turns, and tech adjacent themes, there is a lot of worthwhile true crime that shares a little of L,S,K‘s DNA. Super Bowl? What Super Bowl. Do this instead.

For Tony Kava fans

The then-volunteer at the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office who arguably cracked the whole case wide open, Kava isn’t the first tech guy to track down a killer.

If you haven’t read the classic cybersecurity chase that is The Cuckoo’s Egg (Cliff Stoll, 1989), now is the time. Stoll, a staffer at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, started with an accounting error and ended up chasing down a brilliant hacker engaged in the theft of sensitive national information. (Better yet, the audio version is free from Amazon if you have Audible credits, it’s read by seasoned audiobook pro Will Damron, who always does a nice job.)

Worm: The First Digital World War (Mark Bowden, 2012) deals with a digital matter more relatable than the Stoll case: in 2008, the Conficker worm infected millions of computers across the world so pervasively that — if a bad actor had wanted to — it could have been used to literally crash the world. Local governments didn’t seem to understand the threat it caused, so, in a Kava-like move, a group of programmers, computer enthusiasts, and infosec folks came together to form the Conficker Cabal and to knock the worm offline.

Online dating got you down?

Some of my favorite people fall in love after meeting via dating app, so let’s be real: it’s not a dangerous cesspool of scary people, any more than a local bar, grocery store, or house party is. BUT. Online dating gone wrong is also an extremely compelling true crime area!

It’s so hard to unpair the 2010 documentary Catfish from the nearly 12-year-old MTV series of the same name, but it’s worth making the effort if you somehow passed up the film when it was first released. (It’s sort of like re-viewing The Blair Witch Project in this current age of found footage ubiquity. Challenging, but worth it!)

Was the doc, itself, a fake? Publications like Salon attempted to separate the truth from the marketing as the filmmakers insisted that it was a straight telling of online dating deception. Check out this 20/20 interview with Angela Wesselman, the catfish who started it all, for some chilling commonalities with the L,S,K killer.

Initially published in 2020, Courtney Shea’s longread “Meet The Women Trying To Catch One Of Canada’s Most Prolific Romance Scammers” has benefitted from a couple updates in the interim. Honestly, there’s a lot of great journalism about love fraudsters out there — anyone who’s been reading Best Evidence over the last five years has seen us link to slews of stories like this one.

The Marcel Andre Vautour case is especially interesting because folks he’s allegedly scammed even made a website about him; he’s also the subject of podcast Catch Him if You Can, if you really want to go down the Vautour hole.

The dark side of Omaha

I’m sure Omaha is a very nice place! The British makers of L,S,K seemed to find it almost exotic, which is a change from its use as filler term for a place witness protection folks end up or whatever.

We noted the Heartland Darkland podcast when it launched in 2022, and I was happy to see that Omaha-based hosts Casie Powers and Shannon Benzel are still at it. This is a gentler, less toxic version of the pod style popularized by shows such as My Favorite Murder, an attitude I credit to the hosts’ roots in the region. Their approach and polish has progressed a great deal in the years they’ve been doing this, so if you’re looking for hours and hours of Midwest true crime storytelling, this is a comfort food podcast that could fit the bill.

Finally, one for the why haven’t they adapted this yet files: the Anthony Garcia case. A doctor turned serial killer who was convicted in two Omaha double murders in 2016, he remains on death row. His wikipedia page is succinct and fairly well-sourced, but there’s never been a definitive take on the story, just a Dateline from 2017 and the 48 Hours ep I embedded above.

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Claire Pancerz

Friday 9th of February 2024

Well, I was very dissatisfied with this documentary. Coincidentally, I had just ordered - and read - A Tangled Web, by Leslie Rule. (Ordered from Exhibit B, no less!) That book definitely digs deeper into this case to reveal even more things that were done to Cari’s family, such as texting her mother that she was at a local woman’s shelter and would be waiting for her mother there (clearly, Cari was already dead). There was so much more depth. I agree that not everything needs to be six hours long but this documentary really, really skimmed the surface.

batkat

Saturday 17th of February 2024

@Claire Pancerz, Completely agree with you. I, too read A Tangled Web and NF really dropped the ball. They could have had twice the show on this case that is a lot deeper than the skim-the-surface treatment they gave it.