ELIZABETH WENT TO CRIMECON AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE
I love a good murder story. Oh, c’mon, you know you do, too. If you didn’t, we wouldn’t have shows like Criminal Minds, Law and Order, or Dexter. Hell! Let’s go back even further with Alfred Hitchcock, Murder She Wrote, heck! We even created a game called Clue - IT’S A CHILDREN’S GAME ABOUT MURDER.
Back in the fall of 2016, I heard about a convention happening in Indianapolis called CrimeCon. There was no need to find out what it was, the words Crime and Con had me giving them money faster than Charlie Sheen to Heidi Fleiss. Luckily, I had a very close friend who also follows true crime stories and when I said, “There’s this thing called Crim---,” Natalie already had her ticket booked from Toronto to Chicago so I wouldn’t have to go alone.
The weeks leading up to the event had us giggling like a Karadashian in a Ray-Ban store. We had no idea what to expect, but we were sure whatever CrimeCon would offer, we’d like to have 1 of each please!
We had to be there on Friday at 9 am for the Steven Avery Experience with speakers Ken Kratz, everyone’s favorite defense lawyer to hate, and Tom Fassbender, everyone’s favorite investigator to despise. In order to do so, we had to get up EARLY AF, so we opted to drive as far as we could from Chicago to Indianapolis on Thursday night and landed at a Motel 6 in Lebanon, IN. The ONLY reason I mention this is not because I want to brag about their towels that feel like cheese graters or the fact that all I kept dreaming of was bedbugs all night. The reason I mention this is because as we readied ourselves for the day, we literally had to pause for 12 seconds as a woman moaned and groaned in ecstasy from the floor below. TWELVE SECONDS. This is why women hate men. PUT A LASTING SPRAY ON IT DUDES. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.
The Steven Avery experience was more than I can even go into right now because I could write about that all by itself. As a matter of fact, I could write about every segment of it individually. However, we live in a world where your attention span is short and most people stop reading after the first paragraph. So, I’m going to give you the story in pictures. Listen, I WILL TALK YOUR EAR OFF ABOUT CRIMECON AND HOW MUCH I LOVED IT, but you’re gonna have to email me, set up a date, and buy me drinks, which will probably cost you more than just buying a weekend pass to next year’s event. That being said, I’m a sucker for new people who care what I think, so go ahead and email me if you want more info.
Where was I? OH! MURDER. The event was surprisingly not all grim and gore as we thought it might be. As a matter of fact, we learned a lot of useful things like how “blood spatters not splatters” and how “blood belongs on the inside not the outside” and how all this works within the realms of investigative research. I want you to know this because if you have a weak stomach, no worries, you won’t see anything gory and most of things I’m going to show you are about the people and animals that are hard at working cases and educating regular citizens. If you were hoping for murder photos, you’re a sick fuck and you can go away now, thank you, k….bai!
The first thing we did was register. We got to the event way early, easily 4 minutes before the talk was supposed to start. This was the first year of CrimeCon and we assumed this was going to be a rough weekend of mistakes and mishaps. Turns out that there are this many people who are interested in crime. You’ll notice there are a ton of white ladies in this line. That was a striking thing to both me and Nat. The event was easily over 85% woman, so don’t come here looking for a husband unless you want him to be a white woman.
Here’s Ken Kratz after his extensive presentation of his involvement in the Steven Avery case, including evidence we didn’t see in the documentary Making a Murderer; the effects of the film on the people, the town, and Hollyweird; and a small promotion of his new book where he shares a letter from Avery asking Kratz to be his lawyer after the documentary. WHAT??? More importantly, while Nat and I aren’t sure what to believe, we both admit that we don’t think Ken Kratz is the douchenozzle we assumed he was. LOOK AT THAT SMILE!
As we walked out, we saw Justin from the Generation Why podcast. If you don’t listen to it, I will say hands down, it’s a fav. Aaron and Justin cover true crime and mystery stories and try to dissect them. They do a great job staying away from the gore, sticking to the facts, and reminding the audience that these stories have victims, which is key to remember when being a true crime fan. I like Aaron more than Justin, but Aaron was too busy being cool and talking to other fans so we only got Justin in this photo. Admittedly, Justin’s pretty cute, so I’d still lick his face.
The rest of the day went by so fast my head spun. CrimeCon is sponsored by Oxygen TV, a station dedicated to this kind of crap. They had just a few interactives that were pretty fun:
And for those of us, who spent WAY too much money at a hotel, there was a fake murder of a fake speaker for us to solve. Literally, this was the only reason we decided to stay at JW Marriott, because, GIRL, that wasn’t cheap.
Then we listened to a talk about the the Long Island Serial Killer with the makers of the documentary The Killing Season and Robert Kolker, the author of Lost Girls, which I need to read. We followed that up with listening to Jim Clemente, the FBI agent who inspired, writes, and produces Criminal Minds. He was extremely charming, funny, and WOW! WOW! WOW! Has he had a life! He showed us photos of growing up, from cases of him undercover, he gave us a rundown of infamous cases he worked on, when he got cancer from being a first responder on 9/11, and of course his life now, where his rich and famous - HATE HIM.
Then Nat and I needed a nap. After waking up, we ran downstairs to finish day 1 with a preview of Snapped Notorious: Drew Peterson. AND YOU GUYS! That dude is a whacko! Did you know Stacy was SIXTEEN when she started dating this forty-something-year-old cop and NO ONE SAID, “DUDE! THAT’S FUCKED UP.”
Nat and I then collected all of our evidence from the murder scene and went to have tacos because that’s how you erase your disappointment in humanity - margaritas. Before going to bed, I sent this to my husband so that he knows that even though we weren’t going to make our mortgage this month, I was learning things.
Day 2 started super sparkly and optimistic. After day 1, we knew that even though it was the first year for this convention, they had their shit together, plus we were gonna see PUPPIES!!!! The morning started with a talk about the Golden State/East Area Rapist. You can find out all about the case here (and maybe even help). This is the part of the convention where you cry a lot and realize you’re an a-hole for being so obsessed with true crime.
Not only was this talk presented by researchers, but by brave and bold victims: Jane Carson-Sandler, who was the 5th victim and was not only bound and assaulted, but her 3-year-old son was bound, too, and she managed to escape with him; Michelle Cruz (pictured below in the middle) had a sister, Janelle, who was murdered at the age of 18 by this monster; and then there was Debbi Domingo (pictured below on the left), who delivered the most heart wrenching speech, an open letter to her mother, who was also a victim. Debbi described the horrors of seeing crime scene tape at your home and what it represents. As every drop of water fell out of my face, Debbi closed with a message that that yellow tape “fuels [her] and reminds me of the thousands of investigators and police that are working on this case...and it reminds [her] of you and the other victims...and it reminds [her] that the victims deserve justice,” and she finished off with a roar that she will keep searching and then I LITERALLY FELL ON THE FLOOR and worshipped at her feet because she is my hero.
Next we listened to Jon Ronson, the author of The Pscyhopath Test, to find out if we were psychopaths. I mean, OBVIOUSLY we were because this is stupid way to spend a weekend and a ridiculous amount of money, yet here we were wanting to hear about psychopaths. To our dismay, we found out it’s very rare to be a psychopath and failed the test. However, Jon was smart and had everyone stand up who scored a certain amount and out of the hundreds of people in the room, there were some who kept standing. FREAKY!
PUPPIES!!!! OMG!!! PUPPY! PUPPY! These dogs are so FREAKING CUTE! We watched them do some training exercises, like find the box with the cadaver scent (WHAT’S IN THE BOX??) and how this is a completely volunteer group and how dogs are just the coolest EVER! Seriously, you’re dog isn’t doing anything but licking its own balls, SIGN UP TODAY!
For the sake of brevity, I’m gonna fast forward throughout the rest of the day. We went to see the Gen Why Podcast - supes adorbs. Then back to see Ken Kratz chat it up again about false confessions vs. reality, where he talks about how interrogators make you tell the truth, even if they can’t handle the truth! Next up, was a blood spatter demo! WHAT??! I KNOW!!!! This chick, Laura Pettler, is smart AF! She invented a system to help with blood spatter investigations, her dad used to make her build things from trash, and she taught us how to properly bludgeon someone. JUST KIDDING, but sorta - all part of the demo. Anyway, check her out because she has ONLINE CLASSES!! I know where my next mortgage payments going! Again - I have hella more details, but we don’t have time here so buy me drinks!
Nat and I decided to retire back to the room before meeting my favorite Indianapolis octogenarian, Sue, whom I had met on a previous trip to Indy. She’s like the coolest - SHOUT OUT TO SUE! OH! And shout out to Sara, a gal we befriended during the convention and adopted for the rest of the day. Anyway, back in our room a mysterious envelope had been slipped under our door that morning. The note was part of the mock murder investigation we had seen on Day 1. We read the material that noted we needed to find the number to a hotel room where we would be given our next clue. Since, at this point, we were basically detectives, we went through the hotel lobby asking other hotel guests if they knew the answer and drank beer.
By Day 3, we decided to skip the early morning session because JACUZZI!!! After a nice rinse, we took a look at the schedule and decided we would try ONE MORE session before going to eat at Milktooth, a local spot recommended by an amazing and devilishly handsome food source we know. We opted to see the seminar on the effects of the media on trials, so it seemed to be completely appropriate that CrimeCon booked F. Lee Bailey to lead that discussion. For those of you who don’t know, F. Lee Bailey is one of the most infamous defense attorneys in America. He has worked on the Sam Shepard case, Albert DeSalvo, Patty Hearst, and O.J. Simpson’s case. He understands much about media and trials. He was delightful and funny and one extremely grouchy mother pucker.
On our way out the door, Nat and I discussed a few flaws of the convention: they should have had a mixer or two for convention goers to meet each other, up the ante on the mock murder with some live action where we could watch some of the characters, and to have better merch. We discussed the events that we were sad to miss like the mock jury or the luminol demonstration. Overall, we decided we killed it at CrimeCon and immediately registered for 2018. I mean, Nat’s never been to Nashville, so she’s dying to go.