True Crime


On this season, we'll be covering our vehicles of hysteria, how pop culture and media shape our psychology society and how our national mythologies manipulate the realities we share sometimes the realities dull. I'm your host Chelsea Weber Smith, and this is American history. Who Killed Jon Benet Ramsey Zodiacs alerts and cryptograms to favors and the fully Darren Muddy has dedicated herself to keeping the killers. Chris. There was some real deep intense work that she did just a bigger sense of justice in the universe. Jon Benet Ramsey has one of the most recognizable faces in American history permanently glossy from both her heavy pageant makeup, and the fact that we saw her most often on the cover of chigney tabloids as we waited in line at the grocery store set forever next to the rows of bright. Gum and candy bars on Christmas of Nineteen Ninety, six Jon Benet was found missing from her room and a strange and rambling ransom note was discovered on the stairs, the longest and American crime history. But the little girl just six years old was not waiting somewhere to be rescued. She was downstairs in the wine cellar already bludgeoned and strangled to death this monumental mystery that came in the middle of the nineteen nineties. True. Crime Boom had everything a rich and possibly twisted perfect American family a strong with of stranger danger with a man possibly climbing through the window to find her a ransom note to dissect conflicting testimony and eye witness accounts both a lack of strong evidence and author of tiny pieces that. So many of us believed and still believe may one day at up to an answer and as we hear again and again in these highly publicized true crime cases doesn't America deserve an answer Our current true crime boom has given us anlysts, Docu series and films, podcasts and books some that breathe life back into cold cases some that expose injustice and exonerate the wrongfully accused and others that seemed to exist for pure and lucrative entertainment, many sociologists and psychologists both academic and share theorize at length about the reasons were drawn to these gruesome stories. A common explanation is that people especially women who consume the most true crime are looking to learn. How to avoid dangerous situations, the warning signs that can show us the future like a hand of Terro cards some believe that through examining these American monsters we can also explore our own shadow selves others say it releases are anxieties about the world in a controlled setting the way that horror movies can, and then there are those who claim that it's all shod and Freida a gross fascination, the visceral insensitive thrill of seeing people worse off than you. The feelings about the morality of true crime run the gamut but I'm not here to shame anybody today because if I did I would be a hypocrite. I don't think that there's any singular reason that people love true crime. It's a combination of so many factors but there may be another important underlying need that true crime soothes in us a hunger for justice that may mean more about us on a biological psychological and political level than it does about the tragedies of others that we'd love to digest. But in our fear of these American monsters who else is caught up in the Duality of victim and criminal, and how are these stories used in ways we may not even notice public fear is a very useful tool especially when it's lens is focused on the most sensational boogeyman. UNCAUGHT sadistic geniuses hippie colts smearing ritual blood on the walls allegedly handsome men with broken arms calling you sweetly into their car and silent psychopaths slipping in through your window at night in the case of the child beauty queen found murdered in her Colorado Home Boulder police detectives have now returned from interviewing about thirty people in. Georgia where Jon Benet Ramsey has relatives and of course, she was buried. Jon was polished and precocious part of a world involving children paraded before their friends and parents. She was named Little Miss. Colorado. Meanwhile, people who didn't even know Jon Benet are stopping by the house too late tributes just. Really touches your heart. Documentaries and shows made for. Movies and tabloid accusations about Jon, Benet Ramsey. Still crop up in what seems like a constant stream of content revealing very little that we didn't already know in two thousand, sixteen on a large scale. CBS. was able to sway public opinion about the case almost violently toward Burke Ramsey who was nine years old at the time of his sister's murder. With, a smattering of criminology stars there documentary called the case of Jon Benet Ramsey premiered to us. Still Hungry audience twenty years after the murder amassing ten million viewers outpacing the emmys of that year. The mini series presented evidence that Burke had killed his sister in a jealous rage and that his parents had covered it up, they ran through the typical gamut. The ransom note that jarring nine, one, one, called the pineapple in the belly of murder girl. But then they did something no one else had yet. They took it to the next level. They attempted to construct a replica of John as head starting with a replica paper skull, which was then wrapped in pig meat and grotesquely affixed with terribly askew blonde wig. Enter a ten year old boy the. For Burke who was instructed to bash the head of this nauseating version of a six year old girl with what the show purported to be the murder weapon, a heavy flashlight, and he did and like any kid getting to smash anything he enjoyed it. It was shocking. This shaky accusation was not helped by an interview with the smirking Burke, clearly a strange and uncomfortable person and a nervous smiler like me. Oh he came across perfectly, CBS could not have asked for a better villain. Burke would go on to sue the network and win but I haven't really heard anyone talk about the case since who did not immediately express their confidence that it was indeed a year old boy who did it someone who would have never faced jail time who never went on to commit any other crimes if you follow the case with any passionate all you might even be mad at me for saying that maybe he's not the killer and that we will almost certainly never know who the killer really was put I wanted so bad maybe you do to. True crime has always been a genre that begs involvement. It has a call to action. True crime asks you to be a part of history to help figure it out. In fact, it was Jon Benet Ramsey case the began the phenomenon now known as the Internet sleuth marking the greatest advancement in community involvement in each and every new crime of the century and those that have gone cold us Net emerged at the heart of this movement. A movement before Youtube before facebook before read it when the web was almost completely made up of taxed and photos rarely equipped with training or credentials these armchair. Detectives would upload documents and pictures pour over transcripts, analyze the ransom notes handwriting, and of course, post their theories and argue prolifically by late nineteen, ninety-seven USA Today had found that at least two thousand websites were dedicated to solving the case of very big number for the early Internet era. A leader soon emerged North Carolina housewife named Susan Bennett. With the earliest Jamison would plaster across Popular Forum called Web sleuths as well as other websites that she would later create herself in the vast recesses of the Internet. This sounds pretty unremarkable but not. So when we follow her journey into newspapers and television into her role as a de facto expert on the Jon Benet Ramsey case this day at home mom from north. Carolina calls her addiction somebody says you know put you're addicted you're addicted well, everybody's gotten addiction now has fans following in her footsteps. So we're online detectives and were so involved with the case that we. Have it solved. She starred on a late nineties episode of forty eight hours where she was presented as a serious authority actually there to try to discredit the handwriting analysis of experts in the case. All these years later, tens of thousands maybe hundreds of thousands of serious online sleuths are still trying to crowd source similar crimes becoming these de facto experts in tragedies that have absolutely nothing to do with them. With the Internet, we got to add our own voices, our own opinions on who done it, no matter. How uncouth into the snarling Internet in the name of justice. Before our recent boom, the nineteen ninety s were the heyday of true crime and of order commonly referred to as media circuses as trials by media like the deeply polarizing trial of O. J. Simpson after a televised police, chase his white Bronco driving at modest speed down L. as I five freeway followed by a handful of cop cars matching its pace. This chase would actually interrupt the nineteen ninety-four Mba finals game five taking up most of the screen with a corner dedicated to the game. This is a by news special report California. Highway Patrol is in pursuit of a white Ford Bronco car that was reported to be one that might contain OJ Simpson and a friend earlier today nobody. Ninety five million people more than any NBA championship or Super Bowl. Prior tuned into watch the coverage causing that one thousand, nine, hundred, ninety, four championship series to receive a record low in viewership. Maybe you remember that it was nuts and suddenly we all kinda felt like we were a part of it. Court TV had made its premiere a handful of years before as laws around the use of cameras in the courtroom disappeared. In this way, any person with that channel could watch it all unfold as if you were there as if you were part of the trial, but watching mysteries being solved and punishments play out live has always been a huge part of our culture, an import from the brutal gallows of England but with our very own. American Puritan flair. The most famous in vocal puritan, there ever was the man I like to call which trial bitch cotton mather was the beacon of morality in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, a minister author and all around stuffy dramatic. He orchestrated the devastation that was the Salem witch trials, but he can also be remembered as the first American man who popularized stories of true crime through a written medium. His most famous work was a collection of crime stories modestly called those of salt, an history of some criminals executed in this land for capital crimes with some of their dying speeches, collected and published for the warning of such as live and destructive courses of ungodly us where to is added for the better improvement of this history, a brief discourse about the dreadful justice of God in punishing of Sin with sin. Uses. Several examples of salacious crime some based in fact, and others likely fabricated in the form of cautionary tales. Women who murdered their children men caught committing bestiality servants, murdering their masters with an axe and a handful of other shocking offenses. More of the taxed however is concerned with the criminals monologues confessions made during the day of there hanging their expressed regret and final attempts at the mercy of God in the taxed cotton also takes a paternal tone asking about the slippery slope of their sins that led to this final crime often drunkenness skipping church and cursing you know the drill. Could, in fact, be called the first American criminologist a man talking about the criminals pass where he or she went wrong the root what made him or her deviant enough to such a transgression. Puritan colonists didn't really care for prisons preferring capital punishment for serious crimes like murder rape or assault, but also minor crimes like blasphemy trading with indigenous tribes being a quaker practicing witchcraft, of course, and the theft of any goods specifically for whatever reason vineyard grapes and neighbors, flowers and food needed because of hunger it says that. From the sixteen hundreds all the way up to the nineteen hundreds tens of thousands could show up for the more salacious executions getting shit faced together brawling to get the best view and stealing pieces of the ropes and scaffolding to hang above their fireplaces, buying up souvenirs like broadsides, containing poems allegedly written by the criminal while he was waiting for his death. The last public execution in America would come in Kentucky in nineteen, thirty six. Back man named rainy Beth thea was convicted of the rape of a seventy year old white woman and it was estimated that twenty thousand people came to watch reportedly chewing on hot dogs and drinking sodas and Beers. Handed out by the vendors heading off after to what one reporter called all night hanging parties it would take up until the second half of the Twentieth Century as the Progressive Movement came into prominence and these public events would disappear. But at the same time, the most famous men in all of true crime history or starting to seep out from the shadows almost begging to be caught by people like you. More after this. If you haven't heard about anchor. It's the easiest way to make podcast. Let me explain it's free. There's creation tools that allow you to record and edit your podcast right from your phone or your computer, and then anchor will distribute the podcast for you. So it can be heard on spotify apple and many more, and you can make money from your podcast with. No minimum listenership, it's everything you need to make a podcast in one place and trust me anchor has been working. So well for our show that I WANNA recommend it to everybody. So download the free anchor APP or go to Anchor Dot FM to get started. Now that's anchor DOT FM or find the free anchor APP and get started with your own podcast today. Now back to the show. The late nineteen sixties through the nineteen eighties surge of serial killings unprecedented in the years before or since with its mysterious peak in one, thousand, nine, hundred, seventy, four known as the year of fear the year before law enforcement estimated that there were eighty nine active serial killers. But by this year of fear, there were estimated to be a hundred and nine. Most of us know that are often called heavy hitters, many of which have already graced the haunted halls of American hysteria have been boiled down to singular sinister traits John Wayne Gay. See Our family man clown murderer of boys, Ted Bundy the allegedly handsome man hiding in plain sight Jeffrey Dahmer the Outcast Cannibal son of Sam the delusional lovers lane murderer commanded to kill by a satanic dog. The media had long known that scary and exciting stories sold like hotcakes especially when those hotcakes presented as salaciously as possible covered in thick bloody. Strawberry Syrup no juicy detail left unreported but none sold better than the papers that literally inserted you the reader into the story unfolding live a momentous event a chance to be a part of justice with the capital J. anyone could be this prerequisite to the Internet sleuth, a breakfast nook detective if you will. So there you are sitting down with your coffee trying to crack the code of an uncaught murdering mastermind leaving the Sunday crossword untouched search goes on in San Francisco for the man known as the Zodiac. Killer the elements involved today. Chris astrologists and please guards for school buses. Zodiac killer seems to crave publicity. The psychotic killer has already murdered five. Zodiac loved attention. He sat out tons of correspondences to law enforcement in the media dares that came in the form of codes and ciphers that he wanted the public to try to crack the first for he sent out to authorities in the press came in three parts printed in three different. Area, newspapers. Only. A handful of days. Later, it was actually cracked by a history teacher and his wife to regular people like you or me though cracking the code did not lead to an arrest. It did give confidence to investigators that sharing these ciphers with the general public involving everyone might mean that the collective power of a nation of sleuths could be a good thing after all. However of the four puzzles sent only one has ever been solved for certain. The final Cypher has become an obsession and just like the Jon Benet case, it spawned endless amounts of content that attempt to crack the code. The code that many believe will reveal the identity of this uncaught psychotic genius. The evil mastermind archetype that we see in horror movies has been fueled a lot by this elusive figure but a quick revisit to a couple letters published by the San Francisco Chronicle paint slightly different portrait in a late June nineteen seventy example Zodiac threatens to blow up a school boss if his demands are not met on the back of a card featuring two prospectors riding on a dragon and a donkey with the phrase. Of endearment quote. Sorry you're ask is a dragon. This alleged genius wrote. If you don't want me to have this blast, you must do two things tell everyone about the bus bomb with all the details I would like to see some Nice Zodiac buttons wandering about town everyone else has these buttons like black. Power. Melvin. Needs Blubber, etc while it would cheer me up considerably if I saw a lot of people wearing my button. Thank you. and. Then not long after another letter arrived with a slightly different tone this is the Zodiac speaking. I have become very upset with the people of San Fran Bay area. They have not complied with my wishes for them to wear some Nice Zodiac buttons. No one trait. No one event can link all of these men together. But one truth stands alone. Serial killers are fucking losers. These correspondences were peeks into the minds of society's most reviled and it was around this time that the study of criminology and criminal psychology began to. Take up the torch starting to shirk off those simple categories of an almost biblical, good and evil looking at their childhoods and early behaviors their head injuries, their motives is they related to major life events, their animal killing mining, that great mystery of why but many in law enforcement felt like all this stuff about criminal minds didn't matter. These guys were just born pure evil full stop. Then they found an ally in a rising. Movement calling out for the opposite of investigating the childhoods of the criminal to steer the focus back to the actual victim, the deceased person and their families who seemed forgotten men in the long shadow of those the had made them into victims in a scene described by one investigators reminiscent of a weird religious right five persons including actress Sharon Tate were found dead at the home of mistake and her husband screen director. Roman Polanski. We all know at least the bones of what would become the Manson family murders, the drugs, the sex, the unapologetic almost gleeful carnage acted out against movie star Sharon Tate Coffee Heiress Abigail, folder Hollywood hair stylist J., C. bring eighteen year old Stephen Parent Leno, and Rosemary Labianca the owners of an l. a grocery store chain and Holocaust survivor Vojtech for Kofsky. We've heard the way that these often underage girls left their families chasing A. Dream they didn't understand spending years of their life like this ending up trapped in bombast ick orgies shaking with drug addiction spaced out beyond repair the coal tick mind control the too radical political and spiritual ideology that led them to all of this. The took them out of reality we know that on August Eighth Nineteen sixty-nine, the pregnant Sharon Tate was stabbed sixteen times in the stomach in her mansion in beverly. Hills. We know. The headlines of Satanic Rituals Beatles race wars, Dune buggies abandoned movie sets the failed albums of their band and the chilling harmonies that the girl sang as they stood outside the courtroom during Charlie's trial there blurry belief in the savior. Their hauntingly dopey is what many of us don't know. However what I didn't know is how the aftermath of this outrageous story and the serial killers of the coming decade that we just talked about who? are waiting in the wings help to change everything about criminal justice in America as Rachel, Monroe writes in her outstanding book, savage appetites these crimes hailed in the nineteen seventies with a rise of more mainstream feminism with new laws designed to protect women and give them more rights to safety and personal choice. It goes without saying that this was an is of vital and overdue revolution around sexual assault and domestic violence against women an. Approach that included redefining and focusing on those that had suffered the most at the hands of abusers and killers those who to this day are faced with a very court proceedings that are supposed to provide healing, but are often emotionally destructive. But the coming conservative backlash to these rights claimed by women just like in the satanic panic and with pornography, we'd see political feminism John Forces again with the right wing movement of law and order. Before this, the Kennedy Administration had passed a handful of laws to ensure rights for defendants, facing trial and limit the powers of law enforcement. These laws included the required reading of Miranda rights the right to a public defender in the law that evidence be obtained with a search warrant. Only JFK was also taking a more progressive approach to criminal justice attempting. To solve issues of poverty that were believed to lead to crime building new opportunities for low income, inner city residents to find scarce work and stay in good schools, funding education and vocational programs in prisons and allowing families to visit inmates. But running parallel were those lobbying for the rights of victims and giving all of this to offenders felt like an affront. As far as this problem of law and order is concerned. I am for law and Order Hubert Humphrey. For Longer George Wallace's for law and order how we do. It would be quite different and as far as my program is concerned, I am the only one of the candidates who has laid out a precise program for stopping the rise in crime and re-establishing freedom from fear. That's the difference between Nixon and Wallace, so senator. Against I am for that's the difference just seven months after Richard Nixon was sworn in as president the Manson murders would seriously and sensationally reinforce his staunch law and order platform as with the antiwar racial justice movements raging all over the nation and his new favourite battle against the drugs that were such a visible part of this inconvenient counter culture. It was Manson family victim, Sharon Tate's mother Doris. A charming suburban grandmother frequently described as baking cookies who would take up the victim's rights torch with a fiery vengeance as the movement gained six esteem in the latter half of the nineteen seventies at the height of the serial killer hysteria La County Deputy District Attorney Steven Kay arrived at Doris, his hair salon with a petition to deny any of the Manson family members parole at any time this. was because despite the Manson families death penalty sentences shortly after a California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional and replaced it with life in prison with the possibility of parole. It was then after years of depression and helplessness that Doris realized, she was ready to do something more something in the name of victims. Luckily, there was already a movement going strong for exactly what Doris was hoping for A. Focus on the victims of crime rather than the criminals. Suddenly Doris was everywhere securing positions on the Board of Citizens for truth, justice for homicide victims, the California Justice Committee and believed that children. Yes. The one of recovered satanic ritual abuse fame she was on talk shows and radio shows rallying for the death penalty to be upheld in. California for all members of the Manson family as well as murderers. At Large victimhood was beginning finally to also encompass the living left behind to provide services for the family members of the deceased to give them a voice and very soon Doris Tate would be the very first person in. America, to give a victim impact statement during a parole hearing and it was four Manson family member Susan Atkins Sharon was sentenced to death without a fair trial are without a jury. I was sentenced to life in prison without any possibility of parole. And I to you should Susan Atkins sentence the any less. Doris was furious when she found out that Manson family murderer tex, Watson had gotten married and fathered children in prison, and they often came to visit him soon after the state would ban it's family visit program and ban prisoners from receiving pell grants seriously preventing access to higher education. California previously at the forefront of progressive approaches to crime would soon have some of the highest death penalty sentences in the country without foresight. This rising movement was incidentally supporting the war on crime and conservative administrations broaden the archetype of the criminal until nuances of crime began to fade away and more and more inner city Black Brown, and to a lesser degree poor white people were incarcerated at unprecedented rates tough. On crime policies became staples of both Republican and Democratic Administrations and policies like mandatory minimum sentencing two and three strikes. Laws became the new norm in. America. As we've talked about many times on our show, the rhetoric around victims and criminals amped up even further through the nineteen eighties with Reagan's Task Force on victims of crime report. Some of the document reads in second person inserting you the reader right into the unfolding horror, which is more graphic than I decided to include here and smacks of an episode of forensic files. You are a fifty year old woman living alone. You are asleep one night when suddenly you awaken to find a man standing over you with a knife at your throat. Start to scream he beats and cuts you. He rips out the telephone line threatens you again and disappears into the night. More after this. So this wouldn't be an episode about true crime if I didn't advertise a true crime podcast, right? I think you'll be interested in this thrilling new show that's full of twists and turns it's called case closed each season it looks at a new murder from crime to conviction all the crimes case closed have already been solved. So you're never left wondering who really did it it's very satisfying this season of case closed focuses on a tight knit community shrouded in mystery. That's right the. Barbara Weaver was known to be a loyal wife and mother, but her husband ally had a reputation for breaking the rules. He had a number of affairs with women that he would meet and seduce on wine. So in Barbara was found killed in her own bed, all is ron ally until someone else entered the scene of the crime sex betrayal and a cold blooded murder. Amish. Country are waiting for you and certainly for me on case closed. So listen to case closed wherever you get your podcasts and now back to the show. True crime has always been in my blood I was one of those secretly serial killer obsessed tweens that scour the Internet for every detail John Wayne Gracie's childish prisoner Te The Wild Primetime prison interviews with Charles Manson on Geraldo Rivera Tom Snyder Barbara Walters and Charlie rose whose time with Manson would onto win the Emmy for best interview twenty years after my obsession with serial killers began on. April twenty fourth two, twenty, eighteen after forty, five years of avoiding arrest a former police officer who had come to be known as the Golden State killer was apprehended in Sacramento County a man responsible for at least thirteen murders and at least fifty sexual assaults between nineteen, seventy, three and nineteen eighty, six right in the heart of the serial killer boom much of the time he crawled through the. Windows of suburban women and terrorized his victims with unimaginable psychological and physical brutality just like Reagan described in his task force on victims of crime report this landmark event this cracking of such an old cold case came at a time when I was fulfilling my thirteen year old dream writing about true crime and interviewing those who worked in the genre for a podcast including the writer and researcher. Who helped finish the late Michelle McNamara's beautiful posthumous book all begun in the dark. That's now a huge HBO series Patton Oswalt sitting here with the lovely and intelligent the show. McNamara. My wife and creator of one of the estrogen written and creepiest crime logs on Web I just obsessed over it. What drives me is a need to put a face gone a unknown Keller. There was some real. Deep, intense work that she did. In terms of. Benefiting the victims of these crimes and you know just a bigger sense of justice in the universe. So I didn't want the book to be left Undone. The book was about the man who she named the Golden State killer about his victims about his crimes about the attempts to find him but just as much. It was about Michelle, her own obsession, her own confusion over why this case had gotten under her skin. So deeply why she kept looking for justice right up until the very day, she died just two years before he'd finally be caught. I had written an article for a true crime magazine was scheduled to come out the day he was arrested, and we actually had to rush an addendum in the pages that made the story into something. Suddenly, an entirely different unfolding live at that moment if felt like a collective success for all of us who poured over evidence is amateur Internet sleuths defacto online experts trying to carry on the work that Michelle left behind the day. The golden state killer was caught was one of the. Most. Exciting days of my life I got to like I was a part of it. It was very exciting. The word justice kept coming up again and again in the news reports and press conferences and it's true that that day the world felt more balanced if felt like there were consequences for these horrific actions and it didn't just seem like justice for the victims but it felt like justice for America at large researchers interested in the human need for in the experience of justice have. Long, studied and expanded upon what social psychologist. Melvin J Lerner coined the justice motive in one, thousand, nine, hundred, eighty, one, the justice motive purports that a communal structure for justice evolved alongside our hunter gatherer ancestors the dominance hierarchy that was in place for thousands of years with the toughest and meanest at the top gave way to a system that simply worked better for the survival of the group. Our more recent ancestors lived in communities that shared important resources and came together to reject in. Many different ways those who were too greedy to self serving or just plain dangerous those who broke the cultural rules that the group set in place to help them thrive to the best of their combined ability. The crimes we've talked about today, our worst cultural transgressions feel personal to our giant national community. They still feel like our crimes, our hometown murders, and like our hunter gatherer ancestors, we want to join with the group to try to identify those that seek to harm our collective health. As a part of the justice. Psychologists and sociologists have also studied how true crime reinforces to cognitive biases with what is known as mean World Syndrome, which is usually explored in relationship to the media studies have shown that those who consume TV news reports or other media involving crime are more likely to believe that the world is by nature cruel and unforgiving, and that they themselves will be victimized probably soon by the rising. Criminal Class, not only that, but it appears that the more of this kind of content a person watches the more likely. They are to support increases in law enforcement presence in power, more willing to support law and order policies, and then on the flip side, there's something called the just world hypothesis. It's hard to dispute that most of us are desperate to believe in kind karmic justice that. What comes around goes around that everything happens for a reason that consequences will be served to the bad people who deserve them and blessings will come to the good. It's the simple belief that the world itself that the universe that God that whatever you WanNa call it is just and that justice will be served on a cosmic level one of the most vital studies used in the just. World hypothesis was conducted by Lerner in nineteen, sixty five, and it involved a group of volunteers watching a woman on closed circuit television who was allegedly participating in a learning test but was really a graduate student working with learner. She was seated in a room fitted with electrodes and asked a handful of questions with each incorrect answer. The subject would act as if she'd been shocked her screams were. Her body twisting in pain. One Group of volunteers was allowed a choice to transfer her to a different kinder method of learning without this negative reinforcement without this suffering, and almost all of them chose to save her identifying her with words like innocent victim someone who didn't deserve what was happening to her another group of volunteers however was not given the option to save the woman from the electric shocks and they were told that she was being paid for her participation in this learning test. Interviews with volunteers showed that the less money they were told, she was receiving the more they began to blame her saying that she either wasn't paying enough attention wasn't a good learner or that the pain was justified because she'd become smarter as a result I know what's a little confusing but here's what learner concluded from the experiment quote the site of an innocent person suffering without the possibility of reward or compensation motivated people to devalue the attractiveness of the victim in order to bring about a more appropriate fit between her fate and her character. To put it plainly those who are victimized make us uncomfortable if we're unable to help them and so it becomes easier to blame the victim because if the victim receives no money or more broadly, no justice, it shakes the foundations of our belief in adjust world we realized the world can be horrifically random and that any of US could be next with no real way to expect or prevented, and since everything happens for a reason, the victim must have somehow brought this upon themselves. In Reagan's Task Force on victims of crime report victims were presented with words like in. Pure and we're buying large white women sexually assaulted by a stranger at night or old ladies robbed at gunpoint while shopping downtown those who are far less likely to be harmed and far more likely to receive justice than at risk groups like sex workers and drug users in the unharmed those who rarely received the title of innocent victim those who subscribe most strongly to the just world are also more likely to feel negatively toward oppressed groups and less likely to categorize them as innocent victims trying instead to find reasons that their treatment is justified unable. To face the discomfort that the world itself may not always be just just like those who believe in the mean world those who believe in a just world are also more likely to support law and order political leaders in social institutions like the police and prisons as they exist. Now, it's like public hangings, publicized trials, True Crime Investigations, and even victim blaming are these dark magic rituals aimed at restoring the cosmic order away from cosmic chaos all the way back to early colonial life where small sins that held death penalties stealing from your neighbor blasphemy witchcraft. Beside murder and rape as if they were crimes on par with each other, whatever you feel about the correct punishment for sensational crimes like serial murder, the conditions are cultural monsters deserve to live in after their sentencing. The fact remains that are prison policies aided by the Mirage of rampant true crime events have affected all inmates, many of whom are there for drug crimes or robberies folks who with the right social programs with family visits educational opportunities financial investment in communities would all be less likely to become repeat offenders or to even enter prison in the first place? Governor Jerry Brown was a politician who pushed for tough on crime legislation in the nineteen eighties alongside the victim's rights movement and Ronald Reagan. But by the two thousands, he realized that it had been a mistake quote what we did what I did. We didn't fully grasp the consequences. We just didn't know and I say it's an error that should be corrected. It's important to remember that true crime has helped solve cases. It has brought closure to families. It has helped to get the wrongly accused out of prison. It's helped to hold law enforcement accountable to expose huge flaws within the legal system, and it's fueled vital changes in the name of victims rights. But at the same time, we know so much of it is exploitive and horribly insensitive like the case of Jon Benet Ramsey that had no problem implicating the brother of murdered girl and turning him into a villain for profit unleashing the wave of often rabid calls for. Justice in what sometimes starts to feel like Internet, hanging parties and the negative effects of true crime are ever present because it sells and it always has for better or for worse as a result were inundated with it because we want it and that cycle has seriously skewed our perception of crime and the potential for our own inevitable victimhood rates violent crime have been dropping steadily since the early nineties. But the majority of Americans in poll after poll believed the exact opposite and according to true crime, the threat is constant and it's coming to a suburb near you. A quick glance at the investigation discovery lineup tells us just how frightened we should be with shows like evil lives here the killer beside me fear thy neighbor and of course, stranger in my home. The root word of victim comes from the Latin Victoria Thima meaning sacrificial animal, and it seems sometimes politicians and our culture again, and again can sacrifice our archetypal American victims and all of us who are said to be future victims to the gods of law and order, and we can even use past indiscretions real or imagined to sue the our own fear that perhaps the universe does not hand us our justice instead many seek to create this justice to find ways to create a. Just world for all of us in our messy national community, we are hardwired to do this and that at its core is a beautiful thing but a lot of things can be wrapped around our fear around our ideas of justice because these ideas have always been ordered politically socially and culturally. So sometimes, our ritual hope becomes nothing but the upholding of an unjust status quo while further cementing our strict and dangerous categories of us and them of good and evil of victim and criminal. People like Doris Tate those actually affected by sensational true crime events have every motivation to march headlong and courageously into their activism so that these horrific events might never happen to anyone else ever again. Then there are people like Michelle, McNamara, and Susan Jameson Bhanot who became de facto experts and cases that had nothing at all to do with them, and yet somehow lived at the center of their world's all different kinds of people history teachers, solving Psychopathic Ciphers, armchair detectives, Internet sleuths, bloggers, and writers, and directors and podcasters and journalists people like me and maybe people like you. The murder of Jon, Benet Ramsey, and its subsequent investigation has crystallized into something that feels closer to fiction. Than fact, it's become a movie of itself. There are characters, costumes, quotes. There are moments we know are coming. We wait for the footage or we wait for the reenacted moment where Patsy Ramsey says through tears in televised news report we know exactly the way she says it. Babe. If you even occasionally give into your sensational side. You'll have seen a dozen patsy Ramsey's this line, a dozen John, Ramsey's run into the wine cellar and fall to their knees a dozen mysterious sinister men crawl through the window in the night. But none of us have ever met this little girl this family and yet when the question of ethics comes up after a little boy smashes a fake skull covered in Pigskin we have our response. Doesn't America deserve an answer? Maybe, the question really is don't we need one? Standing in the Line now my items pulled toward the register full of cash I'm still pulled toward those tabloids beaming her same face back at me again and again year after year, and maybe you are too. She will always be hours. Jon. Benet she will always belong to us an American legend a dramatic sequined mystery in full red white and blue. This was American history. Next, time on the show, I'll be talking with the brilliant Rachel Monroe the author of savage appetites for true stories of women crime obsession a huge inspiration for this episode. Don't miss it and then join us in two weeks the night before the election for our long awaited episode on Fake News. The nonprofit we'd like to highlight for this episode is called the insight prison project, which works to transform the lives of those impacted by incarceration by designing and implementing rehabilitative programs designed to develop emotional and vocational skills and reduce recidivism learn more and donate at insight prison project, dot org, or click the link in our bio American hysteria is written produced and hosted by me Chelsea ever. Smith sound design by clear. Kamo. Studios Co researched and written by Riley Smith Co produced by Miranda Zickler with voice acting by will rogers were so excited to be back for season four and we wanted to remind you that you can become a patron and support our show. You'll get extra content every month like interviews, extra episodes, videos, and all the hot gossip before everyone else we. Also have some very cool merch available on our website right now t shirts tank tops and tote bags. So make sure you head to American hysteria DOT COM and check that out. Make sure you also follow us on social media always doing weird interesting funny things over there and you'll learn a little bit about the episodes before they come out also consider leaving us a review it. Really helps our show out in one God. I'm just so excited to be back with y'all thanks as always for listening and this wouldn't be a show about true crime if we didn't pay. Oh my gosh to podcast patron. Saints. Karen, and Georgia of my favorite murder. So let me leave you with this stay sexy and don't worry too much because you're probably not gonNA get murdered. Pinky, you want a cookie. A?

Coming up next