True Crime During Quarantine
While some people may opt for trying out yoga and dusting off puzzles during the COVID-19 coronavirus quarantine, it’s also a great time to catch up on all things true crime!
As a full-time college student living in New York City, it's fair to say that life has done a complete 180 these past few weeks. Out of an abundance of caution, I have been self quarantining, and spending most of my time doing my online school work for the semester.
As I'm adjusting to this new temporary reality, I've come up with some ways you can pass the time, and still stay involved in the True Crime community!
Let's look at the sheet.
1. Listen to True Crime Podcasts
Now that you’re staying home and probably only hearing the voices of family, friends, and coworkers, why not throw some podcast hosts into the mix?
Turns out, true crime podcasters could also use the extra listeners during this pandemic.
Podtrac, a data analytics company that follows the trends and listens of podcasts, found that overall episode downloads have dropped an average of 10 percent across all genres since the beginning of March. In the true crime genre alone, listeners have fallen almost 30 percent, as reported by WWD.
I recommend The Ballad of Billy Balls, a podcast collaboration between Crimetown Presents and Host & Producer iO Tillett Wright, where iO is on a mission to uncover what really happened in her mother's former boyfriend's murder, where the NYPD was involved.
I also recommend Dr. Death, a rollercoaster true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch, a Texas surgeon. The podcast features some of his patients who were left seriously injured after Duntsch's operations. The story, unfortunately, takes a deadly and criminal turn.
2. Support Podcaster's Patreons to Get New Content
Many podcasters post extra content that you can access by donating through their Patreons. Sarah Turney's Voices For Justice Podcast, for instance, gives paying Patreon listeners access to extra evidence in the case of her missing sister, Alissa.
Alissa Turney went missing in 2001 after being picked up early from school by her stepdad, and she has never been seen or heard from again. Her case is still unsolved.
On the Voices for Justice Podcast Patreon, supporters get access to additional case documents, home videos, and audio extras.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Sarah to discuss her sister's case, while Sarah took me through the inner-workings of their family, the day Alissa went missing, and the evidence against their father, Michael Turney. If you want to hear more of that conversation, check out that YouTube video here.
3. Catch up on Netflix Documentaries
It’s completely normal to want to veg-out and watch A LOT of TV during this time. After all, it’s a pandemic, and there’s no pandemic rule book that says you can’t watch true crime shows and documentaries back to back, right?
Here's a list of some new and popular features:
"Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" on Netflix
This show has absolutely everyone talking right now - even those not in the true crime community know about this show.
From the memes on Twitter, to the undeniable characters, Tiger King takes viewers into the world of big cat breeding and wildlife sanctuaries, and the moral and legal dilemmas that come with it.
In this 7 episode docuseries, nothing and nobody are like they seem.
"The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez" on Netflix. I must warn you, this is not a documentary to watch if you're looking for "just another" true crime documentary. You cannot watch this show without tissue boxes (yes, plural).
This documentary covers the murder case of 8-year-old Gabriel, and the trial against his abusers. it will leave you questioning the power of the systems that are put in place to protect us.
"I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter" on HBO.
Despite being released last summer, this HBO documentary takes you into the inner workings of then-17-year-old Michelle Carter's mind, the teenager who convinced her then-boyfriend 18-year-old Conrad Henri Roy to take his own life.
Michelle Carter was released from prison this past January, putting the case back in the spotlight.
4. Read True Crime Books
Now is the perfect time to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and that true crime book that has been sitting on your shelf for some time.
For me, that book has been "The Killer Across the Table" by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. John Douglas is a pioneer for criminal profilers, as he worked in the FBI for over 25 years in the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). This book divulges "never-before-revealed" details about how Douglas profiles individuals, and he shares how he got some of the most prolific serial killers to open up to him.
It's a fascinating read, and one that will definitely hold a spot on my desk.
If you're not in the mood for some reading, or if you’re craving a voice in your head that’s not your own, download the audiobook version of something you’ve wanted to read!
Pro Tip: Some true crime podcasts are sponsored by Audible, so if you're looking for a deal to start your subscription on, keep an eye (or ear!) out for those coupon codes.
5. Research True Crime Groups Online
Do you have your own theory about what happened to JonBenét Ramsey that has kept you up at night? Can you offer an idea of how to identify the Zodiac? Take it online so your voice can be heard!
Since you're not the only person staying home and practicing social distancing right now, this creates a unique opportunity where other Citizen Detectives are also scouring the internet for the next crime to solve. Now that you’re online at the same time — team up and share!
Check out Facebook, Reddit, or Websleuths to find a community interested in the same case.
For example, on Websleuths alone, the forum to discuss the heartbreaking case of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony has 5,777 discussion threads and over 1.1 million messages. In other words, a lot of people are willing to converse!
6. Find Future True Crime Events to Attend
While the current situation developing in our country is heartbreaking and frustrating to many, it's important to remember that this is temporary. During this uncertainty, it may be helpful for some to have something to look forward to, to boost morale, because — let's be honest — this is a difficult time for everyone.
Like many other conferences and events that were planned for the spring and summer of 2020, CrimeCon had to reschedule their Orlando conference due to the coronavirus.
Thankfully, after weeks of hard work and organization, CrimeCon was able to postpone the Orlando conference so that it'll now take place over the long weekend of October 30 - November 1, 2020.
If you're an avid listener of true crime podcasts, you might have already heard of this Podcast Festival taking place in Kansas City through July 11-12, 2020.
The weekend event gives listeners a chance to meet and interact with their favorite true-crime podcast hosts, and see episodes recorded live.
By looking into attending events like these, it'll give you something to look forward to, much like a light at the end of the tunnel.
Journalist and Podcast Host Billy Jensen has started a Twitter and Instagram firestorm where he has been posting about a different unsolved case every day since mid-March.
"If every person in America takes a good look at these videos," Jensen writes in his #QuarantineSolve Instagram captions, "we will identify these suspects."
In these posts, Jensen typically includes photos of suspects and other relevant information you need to spread the word to your own followers, and to help solve the cases.
If you're stuck and not sure if you want to focus on a case, #QuarantineSolve can help educate you on some unsolved murders that you didn't know occurred. For example, Jensen's Instagram post featured above is regarding the 2017 unsolved double homicide of Abby Williams and Libby German from Delphi, Indiana. Even though law enforcement has a video of the suspect, they have been unable to identify their killer.
8. Research a Local Cold Case
Unfortunately, there's no shortlist of cases that need to be solved. If you're at home in quarantine to flatten the curve, there's no better way to spend your time, as a Citizen Detective, than to lend your DIY Investigative skills to a local cold case.
Even by doing a quick Google search of “Unsolved Murders Near Me” in New York City, it produced 25,400,000 results, and, a lot of those results are articles that list 5 - 10 cases per article.
As always, when doing any Citizen Detective work, don't ever name names publically, and don't reach out to family members or persons of interest directly. The police must always be your point of contact for any online digging you choose to do.
For me, I have a soft spot for a 1998 case of a missing woman, Anna Marie Scivetti, from Staten Island. I have a few plans and projects in the works for her case, so stay tuned for more.
Overall, as I mentioned above, there is no right or wrong way to spend your time at home during this pandemic. Take deep breaths, have patience, wash your hands and, as always, stay safe! We will get through this together.
Thank you to all of the healthcare workers who are putting their lives on the line during this pandemic, and thank you to all essential workers braving the storm like journalists, store clerks, delivery drivers, pharmacists, public transit workers, law enforcement officers and firefighters, and to many more!