Thursday, October 25, 2012

True Crimes...Not the Fake Stuff

I've always been intrigued by true (real-life) crimes and forensics.  I find them absolutely fascinating.

Before I had my son in October of 1999, I had gone back to college to study forensics. But having a baby nixed the college idea but didn't deter my interest.  Which thanks to television and books, I could at least get my fix that way.  A real fix that is. I don't watch the fake C.S.I. or any of those other faux crime shows.

One of the first ones that hooked me was HBO's Autopsy. Which detailed various crimes investigated by famous forensic pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden.  Then I was hooked on 48 Hours Mystery on CBS and Dateline NBC. Both documented true crimes.

Which leads me to today, where there is now a channel, Investigation Discovery that airs older episodes of 48 Hours and Dateline NBC programs.  But also shows newer versions as well.  Along with new programs called:  Sins and Secrets, Scorned: Love Kills, Fatal Encounters, Blood Lies and Alibis, Deadly Affairs, Nightmare Next Door, Unusual Suspects, and I (almost) Got Away With It.  And that's just some, there are tons more that air all day and night.  My DVR is in continuous recording mode.  

Another one that is really good is SNAPPED on the Oxygen network.  This one is solely dedicated to women who have essentially snapped aka lost it.  Wives, girlfriends, sisters, moms, this show doesn't discriminate when it comes to the murderesses.  The best thing and most ironic about the women on this show is that 99% of the time, they get caught.  Finding one who got away with it is a rarity. Another interesting tidbit is the amount of women who kill their spouses/lovers with anti-freeze, whose main ingredient, ethylene glycol is more often than not...lethal. I can't tell you how many cases (on other shows as well) where anti-freeze was the poison du jour. And apparently the medical examiners won't find or even look for it unless a special request is made by family or police.  I would hope that eventually it would become routine, since it's use is on the rise.

I am also fascinated by the mind of a serial killer.  Which I think I missed my calling by NOT being an FBI criminal profiler.  One of my favorite movies of all time is The Silence of the Lambs, which the character of Jack Crawford is based on former real-life FBI profiler, John Douglas. This movie is all kinds of awesome. The ability to get inside a killer's mind and figure out what makes him/her tick, has got to be both enlightening and frightening at the same time.  I read a book written by Douglas called Mind Hunter:  Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit.  He talked about his long FBI career, which included interviewing famous serial killers such as, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, and Ed Gein.  The latter was used as inspiration for the character of Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs and Norman Bates of Psycho fame.  

I also read a book called The Ultimate Evil:  The Truth about the Cult Murders: Son of Sam and Beyond.  And I'm just going to flat out tell you, this book scared the shit out of me. It was written by Maury Terry and once I began reading it, I couldn't put it down.  But afterwards, I couldn't shake it either.  I read it back in 1999 and still to this day, if I think about it, I get a chill. The book eludes to a possible connection between Charles Manson, Son of Sam aka David Berkowitz, and satanic cults.  Don't know how true it was, but it sure made me think.  And stuck with me.

End note:

These two books are fascinating reads, both excellent.  Just somewhat disturbing, especially if you are easily spooked or faint at heart.

And if you have never seen Silence of the Lambs, I wouldn't necessarily call it scary, just a creepy yet effective thriller. And though Anthony Hopkins' Dr. Hannibal Lecter is the epitome of evil and amazing in this film, the character of Buffalo Bill aka Jame Gumb, played by actor Ted Levine was terrifyingly terrific.

The I.D.  (Investigation Discovery) shows are well done and even when the same crime is detailed on two different shows, its still interesting to watch how each one plays it out.

- Heather

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