It’s okay to dabble in and experiment with from time to time, but the few who dare to actually get heavily involved with true crime will learn that it slowly creeps on you until you’re hooked. Then it’s too late. The song plays in my head, Unsolved Mysteries was a show that not only hooked the nation with both real world and imagined horrors, but it shaped my young mind forever. The original theme would scare me stiff in my chair and when it was time to go to bed, when excuses to stay up no longer worked, there was extreme caution upon entering my room. For me, it wasn’t so much the fear of aliens coming through walls or some menacing poltergeist coming to harass me. The only time I feared spontaneous human combustion was my first bout with straight 151 at sixteen. It was real people that exist. The things they did. Things they could do and eventually will do.
That is what scared me.
To be completely honest, to this very day the hair stands up on the back of my neck when that theme plays… but only when no one is around. Seriously, I certainly could go on and on with memories of the theme song and the show- how these fifteen minute episodes captured the spirit of a ‘true mystery’ and haunt most for days and for some of us it appears; like me- many years. Nostalgia and all that jazz seems to be a recurring dream and theme these days. Wait, Deja Vu? I must admit that I intended to omit my childhood and fascination with True Crime and the Unknown when I took it upon myself to look into a case. I’d be foolish and a damned liar for failing to mention that these situations and circumstances piqued my inquisitive mind years ago as a child. I didn’t just happen upon an intriguing True Crime story or some “adult make believe” seeking “higher emotional truth”.
I grew up in a time where violence was the norm. The street wasn’t friendly and people just weren’t nice. Staying out past 8 pm was rolling the dice, with the odds of making it home, going to prison and/or getting killed was in how they lie. Sadly, friendly and nice was a weakness that could cost you. Even an overprotective mother who thought getting me in private school a mile or two home with the neighbor boys would at least minimize exposure to the real world. Admittedly, while I longed to live in Brooklyn Heights on the same street as the Huxtables or in Mayfield with the Cleavers, the world right out my front door in a neighborhood that didn’t have an identity fascinated not only me, but my friends next door. Despite all the protections we first had, the isolation wasn’t enough and there we were. In a world and time we didn’t belong, but then again we fit right in. My grandmother or ‘Gramma’ lived in the city housing projects on the same block and she lived by the rules of the street. Not a bit of fear in her. With a single mother who worked every extra hour she could and tried her damnedest to make sure I wasn’t sucked into it, Gramma made sure I was in the middle of it and taught me how to survive it. What school, TV and everyone preached to a child, wasn’t real. It was skewed. There was no one to trust. It was backwards. The police wasn’t exactly clean and sometimes the real heroes of the neighborhood were the ones we were to fear.
Regardless, it wasn’t the place for children. The world was suppose to be different for us. It was nothing like our parent’s world, and what our private school spoke of. It was foreign. Crime itself fascinated me, because it was nothing like what the establishment propagated. Some of these people were good just trying to survive. Others sometimes tried to hit hard in the “rule of escalation” just hoping to ultimately be left alone. Then shows like Unsolved Mysteries, 48 Hours, Dateline, 20/20 and etc…, would show a world somewhat familiar. As a child, for hours on end I would ponder, visualize and imagine the horrors of the cases presented. Many stuck with me and continues to haunt me.
For years I’ve dug into cases not for book deals or to even call attention to it. It’s something you have to know. Murder leaves a void not just in families and friends of victims, but communities and a generation from it. By some miracle, I made it to college fresh out of being in the gutter with my little world crashing around me. Relationships suffered and some were even ruined. Without ever intending to join the Law Enforcement Community, I decided to major in Criminal Justice.
This wasn’t a career move or some need to save the world. It wasn’t to get a badge to gain that missing piece of respect I didn’t get from my peers. This was to help me find the truth and learn. While I didn’t finish my degree, I was grateful to learn and finally appreciate those who seek the facts, truth and justice. I realized that misconceptions by the establishment and Law Enforcement on those they deem criminals. The strategy and tactics employed that dehumanized the lives of these people by the perceptions of those who cherry pick facts and statistics. Equally I learned that community perpetuated for years was born out of fear-mongering and rage.
My True Crime hopes to explore cold cases without the bias or misconceptions. Having experienced loss, seen the horrors and witnessed the voids left by these crimes.
Over the years I’d exchange with others like me about these cases. Years we were few and far between, but with the ‘true crime boom’ of the past two years, many of these cases are coming into the light.
It enrages me to my core when dabblers of the art refer to True Crime as a “genre” and fanatics who decide it’s an interesting ‘high brow’ subject this week because Johnny Depp made some movie ‘inspired by’ such horrible events. Now I’m a bit older and slightly more mature (maybe), I realize that it’s much more than cheap thrills and a good mystery to ponder. In this game you’ll hear an overused and abused phrase of “jumping down the rabbit hole” by wannabes and moonlighters. I grew up in it and never left, because you can’t. What makes one a True Crime Junkie you may wonder? It’s not just a hobby you may have spent perhaps, a little too much time making it a tad bit unhealthy. When you’ve committed personal resources unable to pay rent or skipped a meal, like a junkie- you have yourself a problem. If you’ve lost a job or missed out on family functions, you’re obsessed. When family vacations are centered around obtaining police reports, court records, visiting old crime scenes and places related to a particular case, you’re not down a rabbit hole or in a magical place called Wonderland. There’s no next train outta here. If you’ve come this far and you’ve been in it long enough, you’ll finally realize that you’re not a junkie. Instead, you’re a realist in the real world. There are real victims and families destroyed. You know dangerous people are real and can be anyone. They can be anywhere. It can happen anytime.
One of the most important things a junkie knows, our flawed justice system. Not cause of chants by politically motivated ‘social justice warriors’ who are caught up by the allure of a ‘handsomely dark misunderstood figure’, subject of a Hollywood documentary. One that tells you how to perceive the characters involved and how to interpret evidence with colorful innuendo. Unlike Hollywood crime porn, the ‘ordinary and forgotten’ innocent get locked up and the ‘ruthless and outright’ guilty go free- but there isn’t a happy ending and there are no heroes coming to save the day. Not these cases. Villains don’t make epic speeches unveiling the grand scheme here. Real life. Inconvenient facts. Perplexing mysteries and one dangerous world. Most aren’t here to quite fix it, nor are they better than anyone else. They have a higher state of awareness.
My True Crime researches, investigates and reports on the missing, murdered, lost and forgotten. Together we’ll examine, interview and speak of personal experiences about the world of crime, the figures behind it and hope to educate those on a misunderstood and culture that blanket words and slogans fail to illustrate. For there to be change, we must educated and understand. We must look for the root cause of crime and find a common ground. There are good people lost and caught in the fray. One day we may have to ask is good and evil really transparent?
This is reality.
Thanks for joining me!