REPORT: The 5 Coolest Things I've Learned about CrimeCon (So Far)

CrimeCon is already one of the most exciting events of the year. As the nation’s first convention for true crime fans, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience for all who attend. After lurking in the shadows of CrimeCon Headquarters for several weeks now, I've learned at least five things that I just can’t wait any longer to share with you. Total true crime geek meltdown in 3. . .  2. . . 1 . . .

The Puzzling 3-Day Mystery Game

If you’re staying at the JW Marriott Indianapolis hotel during CrimeCon, you’re in for a treat! Not only is the hotel itself amazing, but CrimeCon attendees staying there will be able to participate in a fun mystery-solving adventure. I’m still sniffing around CCHQ for more details about this, but I can report that the game will span the entire duration of CrimeCon and is being developed in conjunction with Red Herring Games, purveyor of murder mystery dinners and themed interactive events across the country. Clues may show up anywhere, but only those staying at the JW Marriott will be invited to help solve the mystery, and space is limited.

Informant’s Note: Our group rate with the JW Marriott will expire in the weeks ahead. Don’t miss your chance to get in on the fun: click here to book your room for the lowest rate.

Wine & Crime

I recently pressed CSI Sheryl McCollum to spill some details about the VIP-only experience that includes all of my favorite things: cold cases, wine, good people, and the pursuit of justice. *Cue inspiring orchestral crescendo here*

Of everything I’ve learned while sneaking around headquarters, Wine & Crime may be the event that I’m most looking forward to at CrimeCon. It’s exciting because we -- just normal, regular ol’ armchair detectives like you and me -- will get our hands on the evidence of a real cold case. And we’ll have a chance to help solve it. Check out my conversation with Sheryl McCollum here for all the juicy details (ha! Wine pun!).

Be the Jury

There are a couple of reasons why I accepted the mission of the CrimeCon Informant. One was because, well, obviously, I’m a borderline-obsessed true crime enthusiast. The other was because I’ve been impressed time and again with the producers’ dedication to showing different sides of many stories. That dedication has manifested in several ways. Not only are the producers giving airtime to decidedly controversial figures whose stories (good or bad) have been drowned out by public opinion, they’re giving us an opportunity to experience the legal process from some perspectives that we may not have considered.

In The Jury Experience session, you’ll become a member of a jury and hear an abbreviated presentation based on a real case. After deliberations, you’ll hand down your verdict and learn whether you reached the same conclusion as the real-life jury who heard the case. How cool is that?! I’ve never been called for jury duty, but until that day comes, I’m just going to assume it’ll be as fun as this session.

The Lead Investigator Experience

Don’t think you’d fare well as a juror? Try on another hat! In the Lead Investigator Experience, you’ll make your way through a meticulously-staged crime scene. You’ll sort through a scene where anything may be a clue that will lead you to the perpetrator. From the information I’ve gathered, you’ll need to bring your investigating A-game to this one. It won’t be easy!

Payne Lindsey

Okay, confession time: I’m a podcast junkie. Thinking Sideways, Generation Why, Missing Maura Murray, True Crime Garage, the whole gang; if I’m in my car, that’s what’s coming out of my speakers. Sometimes I create errands to run just so I can get in a few minutes of podcast time. And while I’m delightfully giddy at the idea of hanging out with Team Sideways, the one bringing the really good stuff is Payne Lindsey of Up and Vanished.

If you haven’t obsessively analyzed every minute of his podcast like I have, allow me to explain. Payne Lindsey created Up and Vanished with the intent to investigate one cold case per season. He began with the disappearance of beauty queen & history teacher Tara Grinstead, who vanished from her Ocilla, Georgia home in 2005. Her case went cold almost immediately and remained so for twelve years. Until Payne Lindsey came along.

Payne hit the streets of Ocilla to see what he could dig up. He produced twelve episodes of Up and Vanished before the pressure of his investigation helped crack through the frozen tundra surrounding Tara’s case. On February 23, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced that they had arrested a suspect in Tara’s disappearance based on information from an anonymous tipster. The suspect confessed, and a week later, the GBI brought his named accomplice into custody, as well.

This is the pinnacle for every true crime podcaster and enthusiast. Using the resources at his disposal, Payne sat out to simply put pressure on the case and stir up some new leads. In doing so, he helped crack a case in six months that had investigators stumped for twelve years.

Whew. That’s a heavy credential. Payne will likely be one of the only amateur investigators at CrimeCon who can claim it. I am beyond excited to watch the events of this case unfold and to hear Payne speak of this incredible experience during CrimeCon.

Can you see now why I couldn’t keep this stuff to myself anymore? There’s so much to see and experience, just in these five small pieces of CrimeCon! One last Informant’s tip for you: if you’re not registered yet, stop reading this and go register and reserve your room now. With fewer than 100 days until CrimeCon, we're filling up fast.

--CC Informant


BONUS: The JW Marriott Hotel

I can’t believe I almost forgot this. Have you guys seen this place?? This isn’t the conference room at the Days Inn, guys. I’m an unapologetic hotel snob, and this hotel exceeds even my highest expectations. The JW Marriott is stunningly beautiful and ranked #5 on Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the best hotels in the U.S. It is 33 stories of pure luxury, boasting one of the largest hotel ballrooms in the world, and I can’t wait to see what the CrimeCon team fills it with! Whatever it is, I’ll be there lurking somewhere in the crowd. Will you?