If I had to share three key things about myself, the following would absolutely make the cut:
I grew up binge watching “Law & Order: SVU”.
Like, if I were to fake sick to stay home from school, you could bet the calendar would say Tuesday. Laying around any day there wasn’t an all-day marathon on USA was just a waste of a fever.
Keep in mind I’m old and this was pre-Netflix. Beggars, choosers, yada yada.
This was also before the themed marathons became a regular thing, which what the heck! Every time I see commercials touting the following week’s focal point—Shirtless Stabler, Mad Mariska, Future Supporting Cast Members of “Grey’s Anatomy”—my inner 12-year-old feels super gypped.
But that’s nothing compared to what I felt every day for the next 16 years.
Enjoying shows like that and documentaries like “Making a Murderer” and podcasts like “Serial” always felt wrong (even if my 9th grade term paper about forensic science totally ruled).
I’ve always been fascinated by horrible people doing terrible things to other humans, but why? How? There’s nothing normal about that, right?
Well, ‘normal’ is defined as conforming to a standard; usual, typical or expected.
Expected? Definitely not. But accepted? You’d be surprised.
Now, before we go any further, I have one small request.
As we talk about this interest of mine, let’s refer to it as true crime, not just murder.
Contrary to how my hobby may manifest itself, I don’t “love murder”—nor do I plan on making the act a pastime of my own. But when people narrow it to that, to “loving” cold-blooded homicide, I get upset. It makes me feel like a freak, like the things I like aren’t allowed.
It’s not fair and I kindly request you not.
Because when things like the capture of the Golden State Killer happen, you’re going to want answers.
AND GUESS WHO HAS THEM? The girl who loves true crime.
Not to mention the millions of other people around the world listening to the same podcasts, watching the same docuseries and reading the same articles about society’s all-time worst humans.
Over the last 15 months, I’ve realized that having those answers and knowing I’m not alone are reason enough to no longer feel weird.
Now if I could explain why I enjoy these stories so much, I would. But it’s hard to put into words. It’s not a matter of empathizing with the perpetrators, nor do I relish in the victims’ deaths.
(This should go without saying, but I mean that last part with every ounce of my being.)
What I think it comes down to is the total mystery that is their minds.
Why do they do these things? Are they aware of how awful it is? Could they ever stop? Or do they not care about getting caught?
We know one guy, the aforementioned Golden State Killer, did stop. But we’re still waiting to find out why.
Did he ever think he’d get caught?
A lot of people—including the formidable Michelle McNamara—knew he would, even without knowing exactly who he was.
And just like that, another reason I find true crime so interesting: Each case is a series of puzzles, and I love puzzles.
But these puzzles aren’t just pieces cut out to fit back together, nor are they a set of predetermined clues with a very clear answer in the end.
These puzzles are a mess of DNA, discarded items, meaningless interactions with total strangers, an open window, an abandoned car—things that may or may not be related, but the only way to know is to analyze every. single. piece. until it simply can’t be analyzed any further.
You want to be the one to figure it out before anyone else. Even if it’s a case that’s already been solved! As you read about it or listen to someone else recount the tale, you’re trying to pick up on small ticks or phrases that could point directly to the person responsible.
But when hundreds of thousands of other people are just as obsessed as you, the chances of cracking any case are pretty slim.
That doesn’t dilute the rush at all. If anything, you’re more invested because of it. You have other people feeding that need for facts and clues, playing off of your theories and presenting their own, all in the literal race to reach the undeniable truth that THIS person did it.
Sometimes I wonder if my true calling in life has something to do with cracking those cases. Maybe I should’ve been a forensic scientist or a criminal psychologist or just a badass law enforcement officer.
Or maybe my true calling is simply worshiping those who are.
That one seems more likely. Please don’t judge me for doing so.
Would something by The Police be too creepy?