CRIMECON 2018 AND THAT TIME I TRIED TO PLAY GRAB ASS WITH PAUL HOLES
One week before I attended CrimeCon 2018, one of America’s most notorious and prolific suspected serial killers, the Golden State Killer, was captured. And the detective who solved this 44-year-old case is really fucking hot. I mean REALLY HOT. I mean if you could imagine what it would be like to walk on the sun without a single electrolyte sports drink available, that’s the kind of thirst you'd experience sitting in the same room with Detective Paul Holes. He is so dang sexy that ladies are excited to be #hotforholes and I am IN. TO. IT.
But, more about him in a minute. CrimeCon’s first event was last year and I loved it! This year the convention, sponsored by Oxygen channel, was twice its original size (a.k.a. BALLS!) and they hosted it in Nashville, Tennessee, one of my favoritest cities in AMURICAH! When my crime fighting partner Nat and I arrived at the hotel, we were like, “DAYUMMMMM, this place be fancy!” It had two waterfalls, 19 restaurants, an arcade, and a dang ol’ boat you could ride in INSIDE the hotel. It’s what I imagine it would be like in a Trump hotel, but with less trash - IF YOU GET WHAT I’M SAYIN.
Last year, we met this cool chick named Sara, who shared the expense of our hotel room this year because that was no joke. At $189 per night, plus $20 per night for parking, PLUS taxes, the three of us decided CrimeCon needed to have more sessions on robbery so we could pay for this mess.
We all got there on Thursday night so that we could be up bright and early and catch the first sesh at noon. Yes, girl, I said noon, I was away from my family and not at work, this bish is gonna sleep. DON’T JUDGE. The noon session was the opening ceremony and slightly strange. I get why events need an opener to get things all hyped up but it was weird because we’re talking about murder and death. I’m not sure I need a cheerleader to get me all rah-rah to learn about serial killers collecting heads. But, my boyfriend from CrimeCon 2017, Jim Clemente, was wearing a cowboy hat so I was like FINE.
Nat and I split off from Sara to see Maureen O’Connell: FBI Evidence Response Team & Crime Scene Tips and we were like, “YAS!! SPECIAL AGENT LADY.” There’s nothing that hits my heart harder than being reminded that as a young woman, I wasn’t allowed to have dreams. My fam is of the poor people kind and, honestly, the biggest thing my mom thought I could accomplish was finishing college. Boy! Was she wrong about that!
O’Connell is everything I thought a real life Cagney would be - sharp, hilarious, forward. A special agent for 25 years and from a long family of public servants, she delivered some great stories, including one about pulling a footprint impression out of mud with AquaNet from a 70-year-old resident near the scene because WOMEN ALWAYS BE SOLVING PROBLEMS. Maureen decided to cut her presentation short because she must have heard the tiny explosions of women’s panties as we could all sense Paul Holes was nearby.
Holes took the stage and the room went crazy. Then it was blah blah blah career, blah blah blah decades, dna, great team of detectives, blah blah blah caught the killer. Bottom line is that this dude is real focused, passionate, smart, and has perfect skin.
While Nat decided to attend a session about the Unabomber, I thought the best use of my time was to try to smell Paul’s hair so I went to a session called Golden State Killer: A Deep Dive. The original idea was to discuss the case of the Golden State Killer, similar to last year with more updated information. This was going to feature Paul Haynes and Billy Jensen, who helped Michelle McNamara <3 on her book I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. PLOT TWIST! The alleged killer was caught and the focus changed.
Of all the sessions I attended, this one felt the most personal and important to me. At CrimeCon 2017, I sat in a session with two women who were directly affected by the Golden State Killer (GSK), Debbi Domingo, who’s mother and mother’s boyfriend were murdered by GSK, and Jane Carlson-Sandler, who was his fifth victim. They both expressed their pain and frustrations about this case and how much they wanted justice and closure. I held my breath while they spoke so that all my energy was focused on them. To see these gals, almost a year later, floating into the room was exuberant. There was no need for lights because they shined so brightly in their joy! Immediately, my eyes began to water because GOD DAMN IT, JUSTICE, YOU GOT ME.
While the killer hasn’t been convicted, technology lead to an ex-police officer, suspected of burglary, rape, and murder between 1974 and 1986 in California, to be arrested. During the conversation, we learn that the murderer was meticulous at the scene, but obviously didn’t know anything about DNA at the time. It was DNA collection and the use of reverse genealogy that caught this mofo, proving once again that science and technology can be used for so much more than porn.
Over the next few months, I think we can safely assume that you’ll be reading a crap ton of information on this case. Honestly, I’m scared about what we’ll learn and we’re likely to hear much more about the killer than we’ll ever know about the victims. I’ll wrap this up by sharing what Jane said about what she’d do if she saw him, “I wanna grab him and punch the crap out of him. I don’t know if I’ll ever get that opportunity, but I’m gonna pray on it.” GIRL, ME, TOO. That dude deserves a good dick punch.
CrimeCon decided to pack Friday with programming and I was loving it, but I also was feeling a bit icky since Thursday night, the gals and I decided to live it up in Nashville proper. What I do remember is standing on a corner, eating a sausage, while scrolling through Bumble for a random dude in a camouflage hat who likely had a gun hidden on his person. If that ain’t America, I don’t know what is.
Forensic linguistics was the next event we hopped into. It was great. THIS is the kind of stuff I truly enjoy about the convention. Profiling, behavioral sciences, finding the right type of life insurance on your spouse, that’s the kind of learnin’ that makes me SQUEE! Natalie Schilling is cool AF and academic. Like if I had kept reading after high school, I totally could have been her.
The Delphi Murders hit this mama of two young girls too close to home. I almost had to walk out. This is a current case where Abby Williams (13) and Libby German (14), went on a hike and never came back. My normal self would make a joke about this is why I never go camping, but I can’t even with this story. As a matter-of-fact, I probably would have cut it out accept, that Abby’s mom and Libby’s grandparents begged the audience members to talk about this case, especially because some folks think the case has been solved but it has not. This is a story that has a lot of information on the case and who to call if you know something.
Now, hungover, tired, and definitely getting hungry, I was ready to be done because THAT is a heavy way to spend a Friday, so I thought the best solution was DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Dear god! Honestly, next year I have to pay closer attention to the descriptions. DON’T JUDGE A SEMINAR BY ITS TITLE, amirite??? This one was Laura Richards: Preventing Murder in Slow Motion. If I were to rebrand it, it would be “You in Danger, Girl.”
If you’re a true crime fan, you may recognize Richards from the podcast Real Crime Profile or from the docuseries The Case of JonBenét Ramsey. She basically came into the room and was like 1. Are you in a relationship? 2. Is he an asshole? 3. Girl, you best GTFO. Richards has done an incredible amount of research and you can find out all about here because damn, the numbers were real depressing. This also hit close to home so I went back to the hotel room to go to bed because being a woman sucks.
The next day, I woke up with the right attitude and a renewed spirit for educating myself with information that I will never use! I skipped the first few morning sessions because DANG! DEM BEDS WERE NICE. I pulled back the curtain of our hotel window and stared at the Disneyesque landscape of the inside that’s supposed to look like the outside. Honestly, I don’t trust places that are created so that you never have to leave. I’M LOOKING AT YOU, TARGET SUPERSTORE.
Kimberlie Massnick was first on my schedule and shit got cray with her. Quick aside, I was super pumped about the number of ladypants that presented this year. Kimberlie is a criminologist that specializes in sexual offenders and serial killers. What made her seminar so unusual was that it was considered a “sensory” experience, which frankly, I think was extra AF. The idea was to be empathetic to victims and consider their experience. To that I say that most true crime fans already do which is why I most certainly do not to be blindfolded and put on restraints to hold up my arms in the air listening to Gerard John Schaefer reading his short stories. YES, THIS IS WHAT WERE ASKED TO DO.
To Kimberlie’s credit, she turned it around and explained that her goals as a teacher is to make sure that students understand how horrible these crimes are and that the victims matter so that’s where the focus should be. I often wonder where the line is when it comes to how interested I am in crime cases. Surprisingly, it’s not wearing a sleeping mask splattered with blood and a magnifying glass.
There’s so many things to run through, so I’m going to make them quick. Nat and I checked out How to Catch a Liar because I have kids and she’s still dating. We decided to go hate watch Nancy Grace for her Lady Justice is Calling! It’s shocking how many people love her and as equally shocking to find out how many people hate her. For me and Nat, we went back and forth. Here’s a picture of her standing at the podium.
HAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s funny because she’s real short, y’all! After listening to her, though, Nat and I turned our attitudes around. While she’s quite the pistol and there are a ton of reasons to dislike her, she also has done the work. That deserves respect. She’s helped put real criminals behind bars by working with victims and their families, conducting investigations, and prosecuting cases. What have I done? Binge watched Mindhunter trying not to fart in front of my husband. I rest my case.
We went to see super sexy Mike Dowd to talk about Situational Awareness. Sadly, his co-host for this segment was Darren Kavinoky. I said Darren Kavinoky. If you didn’t know, Darren Kavinoky was there, he was going to make sure you did know by playing a 5 minute video of clips of him on t.v. repeating his name about 30,000 times. I mean seriously, Darren Kavinoky, WE GET IT, YOU’RE FAMOUS, but do you have to be an obnoxious, too? He was constantly interrupting Dowd’s answers and I couldn’t help but wonder what he’d look like with his mouth taped shut.
I stayed in that same room to listen to producers from Oxygen and Buzzfeed discuss a new docuseries about Jessica Chambers. I’m not gonna talk about it because I gots feelings all over the place on this one. Let’s move on...
Live DNA Collection was our last stop on Saturday but a great way to close. We saw a CrimeCon fav presenter, Laura Pettler. She showed us how to get DNA off some shorts. We had the pleasure of meeting Sheryl McCollum. Call her Mac for short. She founded the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute, which is a “registered 501(c)3 non-profit that assists families and law enforcement with unsolved homicides, missing persons and kidnapping cases. This one of a kind band of all volunteer crime fighters are students and nationally recognized experts. The nonprofit organization is made up of experts such as profilers, detectives, crime analyst, prosecutors and crime scene investigators.” Simplified, she’s basically a badass bish.
Then we went to eat at Princes for some Nashville hot chicken with our pal Jamie, who’s a goddamn delight. While he went to watch “the game” - whatever that means, we went to drink and drink and drink and drink. We met these ADORABLE ladies from Kansas - Hey, Heather and Jenni! - who were CrimeConning for the first time and waited for Sara to return from a date because she got swag like that.
The hotel bars were closing one by one so that basically all guests end up in one central part of the hotel, where a sign that read “Nightlife” was back lit in a reddish pink neon and directed us to MORE DRINKS. We picked up some more folks and headed back to our hotel room because nothing says safety better than picking up strangers at a Murder Con.
True Crime Obsessed Podcast had left some frisbees on their table. As we passed Podcast Row on the way to our rooms, we grabbed one. Naturally, we started playing frisbee in the middle of this massive convention center and hotel with the security guards and these strangers, dodging a man who was vacuuming the rug in what looked like a Zamboni. What a world!
Sunday morning was sad because we knew it was time to go and did all the regular things - bought a t-shirt, took our final photos with goofy backgrounds (like dressing up as a Mennonite with a brick of cocaine for the show Pure), purchased our tix for next year in New Orleans, and patiently waited for waves of nausea to pass. We stuck around for Juan Martinez, who was there to discuss the Jodi Arias case because that story is bonkers. We said goodbye to Sara and Jamie and headed on our way.
We had to stop at a gas station before making the voyage back to Chicago. When I walked into the store, I saw Aaron from Generation Why Podcast. I love Aaron. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Last year, I was super sad because he wasn’t at his booth when I went by. This year, I was like I already wrote about these guys, so maybe not this time. When we met at the gas station, I wanted to take my photo with him but tried to play it cool by yelling, “OH MY GOD! I wanted to take my picture with you but I’m trying to be cool!” And when he’s cutie patootie galpal offered to take my photo with him, I yelled, “NO! IT’S OK!! IT’S OK!!!” as I clumsily fumbled through the door turning beet red and slightly peed myself because I’m 44 and this is life now.
As the road laid ahead of us on our journey back to Chicago, Nat and I chatted feverishly about the things we loved and didn’t love. We agreed again that the merch was meh, CrimeCon did a better job at spacing out the events, we dug the opening day swag, there are still a crap ton of white women who attend, and that we really could have used way more Mennonite cocaine and even more Paul Holes.