What the Study of True Crime Does to You
If you are a regular reader of this blog then hopefully you know that while I try to give all of the information that I can about a case, I also try to be equally fair. I do not always agree with the outcome of a case, and there are times where even after all of the information that I can obtain is in I am still conflicted as to what I believed may have happened. If you also read the comments you may find from time to time that I am chastised about my opinion of a case, and I am good with that. Conflict and debate are good in an evolving society. I also try to be very open minded when someone comments indicating they have information that I have not included to which they must believe would change my opinion. In cases like those I most generally welcome the poster to elaborate and enlighten me and yet more often than not they fail to do so. Reality of it is that all of the information that I obtain comes from things available on the Internet (whether it is news articles, appeals papers, etc..) or from a book on the subject that I have read. I am only able to report what I can find, and if I can find it so can anyone else. If there is a different side to things either that side was not out in public, or it was buried very deep and not easily found. In those cases, I would encourage people to tell what side that they know so that it is out there and can be judged accordingly.
I will be the first to tell you that obviously not everything you read or see on television is 100% accurate. I find myself extremely frustrated at times as I research a case and often want to yell through my computer to the author of something that we are no longer (or at least not supposed to be) living in a time of yellow journalism. You will find quite often where I may give some information but will say I could not confirm this anywhere else. There are so many sites out there that are not accurate and sometimes I have to piece together whatever information I can find to come as close to the facts that I can. I am sure there have been times that I have failed, but again I welcome anyone who can give me a more accurate account.
When you do look into or study true crimes it often makes you jaded. When you hear a story on the news you are automatically skeptical. For example, there was a murder in a city in my state not long ago where the victim was the wife of a minister. He husband was at the gym and came home to find his wife brutally murdered. My first instinct was he was involved some how. How did I come to this decision? Well, sadly statistics tell me this. Statistically when someone is killed the spouse or significant other is most often involved. How many cases have we seen where a spouse is conveniently somewhere else for a short period of time and while they are gone there is a murder that they return home to find, for us to discover later that they had either committed the murder themselves or had hired someone to do it? This particular case in a sense reminded me of the David Camm case which also occurred in my state. The ex-state trooper claimed to be at the gym playing basketball only to return home to find his wife and two children murdered. Now, some will tell you that after three trials (two convictions and one acquittal) justice was finally served but personally I am not so sure of that. How often do we hear of copy cat cases?
While my list of cases to blog about seems to get bigger all the time, I generally do not do cases that have not reached their conclusion for a few reasons. First, it would require that I go back and edit and to be honest sometimes I just simply fail to go back but it also prevents me from having all of the information that I can to not only inform my readers but for myself to make an informed decision. It would be unfair for me to make a judgement on a case without all of the facts. For example, a few months ago in a nearby town a man was found murdered in the street. A few weeks later three men were arrested. Immediately what I call my "spidey sense" went up and I just did not feel like something was right with the case. The prosecution theory seemed flimsy at best and I found it suspicious that one of the men arrested had been mentioned in the news lately. In 2012 the local police had received threats and would later take their SWAT team to storm a house in which they believed the threats were coming from. They later discovered that the owners of the home had an unsecured IP address and it had been used by someone else. They later found the person responsible, one of the men they later arrested for the murder of the man in the street. The homeowner filed a suit against the police for not only damage to her home, but because the police had obviously not done due diligence in their investigation before using flash bombs in her home. Just a few days prior to the man's arrest for murder the Indiana Supreme Court had ruled that the woman's case would be allowed to continue through the courts (the police were arguing for dismissal) and a judge had chastised the officers involved all but calling them "Keystone Kops." Two days after this ruling by the judge, the SWAT team was called to the home in which this man was arrested again, only this time with two others, for murder. Of course the media coverage was all about how they had arrested the murderers of the man. A few months later all murder charges were dropped against the men saying they did not have sufficient evidence to bring charges. Two of the men were released, while the third, the one involved in the previous case, continued to be held on other charges that he had violated his probation. Had I reported this case, as the media had portrayed it at the time of the arrests, and believed it, I might add, then I would have published something on the Internet proclaiming the guilt of these men without all of the information there was to receive. In the same respect, it would have been just as irresponsible of me to blog about the case stating my opinion that the officer's had rushed to judgment or simply made the arrests out of spite after the recent court ruling. Neither of those position would be informative or based on facts.
In the same respect, there was another high profile case in my area recently that I am waiting to blog about until not only it reaches it's conclusion but also likely until an appeal is filed, which could take years. My reasoning for this is that I need to know what happened in the courtroom. A woman had been missing from the area for a few months. She was later found and recovered and claimed that she had been held hostage by a couple in their home. The couple was charged and the man has been convicted and sentence to several decades in prison. I believe the woman is still awaiting trial. It is a case in which I believe there is way more to the story than the media has allowed. Is this because reading about true crimes has jaded me? Maybe. But, in the same respect I believe that it has also opened my eyes to all sides of things as well as allows me to be a little more objective. If studying true crime has taught me anything, it has taught me that you do not take a story at face value.
As I continue to research and posts about true crimes I hope that I can provide the reader the most accurate stories as well as allow people to be open minded. Our legal system has been based on the "innocent until proven guilty" motto but we all know that is not exactly accurate. For the most part when someone is accused of something we make judgments without all the facts. It is almost human nature. However, the one thing we do need to remember and cherish is that everyone has the right to a fair trial and an adequate defense. Without that everyone is at risk. When we allow things to be brought into trials in order to "get" that one person we all know is guilty, we are opening the door to allowing things in that should never be entered or made law because you have "gung ho" prosecutor who is convinced he has "his man."
I recently read a book by the lawyer who defended John Wayne Gacy, the infamous "clown killer." The man was guilty as sin...everyone knew it... even his lawyer. They found dozens of bodies buried under the man's house; he confessed to several more. But, the man deserved to have a fair trial. Debating on whether he deserved the death penalty is another story but the fact of the matter is that by law he was entitled to a defense and a fair trial. We have so often seen cases where defense attorney's grasp at straws for things and quite often we have seen cases where both sides seem to come up wild stories or theories that we know cannot be true. Gacy's lawyer knew he was guilty of murder and yet he still provided him an adequate defense. This is what the law and the justice system should be about!