I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s not often that I run out of words. Yet I’m struggling to describe the first day of CrimeCon. I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun, learned so much, or met so many amazing, passionate people, and I’m overcome with amazement. I’m so grateful to be here. I’ve had a beautiful time meeting you all, and it’s only. the. first. day.
The day began with a whopper - an intensive 3.5-hour dive into the unseen evidence that led to Steven Avery’s conviction. Former FBI forensic investigator Bobby Chacon opened the session with a gentle reminder: we’re all here for the same reason - because we’re passionate about justice for victims. Considering the details portrayed in Making a Murderer and the polarizing and passionate opinions of its viewers, the packed audience was respectful and insightful during the presentation that explored some of the gruesome details left out of the Netflix docuseries juggernaut.
- “I walked in convinced. I walked out convinced. I won’t say of what either time.”
- “Why wasn’t that in the series?!”
- “I don’t know what to think now.”
If we all weren’t fired up enough from that mind-bending session, former FBI profiler and jack-of-pretty-much-every-trade in the world Jim Clemente kicked off the official welcome address with the enthusiasm and animation that we’ve all come to expect from him. We learned about his newest venture, X-G Productions (as in “ex g-men.” Get it?!) and their mission to accurately portray law enforcement and investigations on our favorite shows like Criminal Minds and CSI (and Lie to Me, if you’re a fan from the olden days. Wish they hadn’t canceled that so quickly).
WARMEST, FUZZIEST MOMENT
“You’re part of an historic event. Nobody else can ever say they were part of the first convention for true crime fans.”
Next, Indianapolis Police Department Detective Toth (funny, adorable, and engaging, BTW) and his team of homicide crime scene investigators took us through a mock crime scene based on a real-life homicide right here in Indianapolis. This team investigates at least one homicide per day here in Indianapolis, and you could tell that they operate like a well-oiled machine. We saw the stuff they don’t show you on TV: hundreds of photos, detailed measurements, obsessive detail and machine-like coordination and teamwork among the team of investigators.
The luminol demonstration. It makes you wonder how much blood we’re really hanging out with on a day to day basis. Hey, sleep well, by the way!
Hotel guests and VIP badge holders have some work to do in their downtime this weekend. It turns out a featured CrimeCon speaker was MURDERED just YESTERDAY right here in the JW Marriott Indianapolis. It’s our job to bring her killer to justice. We had a chance to examine the grisly crime scene and photograph the evidence (using the techniques we learned in the CSI: Indianapolis session). Guys, this is a tough one. The only thing I know for sure is that the room service receipt must mean something.
A few weeks ago, I overheard the CrimeCon team say that they think this mystery may go unsolved all weekend. I accepted that challenge with a firm “harumph!” but I gotta tell you, so far, I’m stumped. If you have any insights on this one, find me (I’m the one you’ve never seen before).
MOST HEAD-SCRATCHING CLUE
The feather. What? Keep an eye out for a large duck, I guess? Help?
If you’re a podcast junkie (just mainline ‘em to me at this point), then Thinking Sideways is probably on your Must-Listen-Every-Week list. What I love about Sideways is:
- They cover all manner of mysteries, not just unsolved crimes
The chance to see them produce a live episode was eye-opening. This whole time, I thought they’d probably edited together their content, cutting out all the times when Steve veers off topic or Joe starts talking about the two weeks he spent in Tortuga or Itcheegoomee. But nope. They are seriously just. that. good. In this live episode, they discussed an Indiana mystery that’s been plaguing us Hoosiers for years (no spoilers. Watch for it to drop soon!)
CLASSIC SIDEWAYS MOMENT
Next, the ever-entertaining Jim Clemente gave us an intimate look at the real life of an investigator. Sure, what we see on Criminal Minds and NCIS is interesting and entertaining, but its resemblance to real life is minimal. Jim took us inside his work as an undercover agent investigating everything from drug trafficking to gang violence (and admitted to some pretty snappy early-70s fashion choices).
THE MOMENT I CAN'T FORGET
Jim killed a fox once. His coworkers still haven't let him live it down. Bring it up every chance you get.
Unless you were an overworked medical resident or lived on a hippie commune circa 2002, you know about the unthinkable death that beautiful mother-to-be Laci Peterson suffered at the hands of her all-American, dapper husband Scott just before Christmas. True crime author, correspondent, and television host Aphrodite Jones gave us her unique insight into the mind of this despicable killer (now serving time on San Quentin’s death row) and the callous disregard he displayed for his beautiful wife and their unborn child, Connor.
“Scott Peterson was a twerp.” Amen, Ms. Jones.
Folks. I’ve been to some murder mystery dinners in my day (hey… I’m a nerd. So are you. Don’t judge.) But I have never laughed as hard as this at any of them. Or met so many funny, friendly, and outgoing people. Or fallen under such heavy suspicion in my life. Red Herring Games produced a top-notch experience here hitting on all the things that set our crime-solving nerd heart aflame: murder, mystery, gore, humor, elaborate dance moves, hilarious nicknames. The mystery dinner was produced by The Dinner Detective, purveyor of brilliant and hilarious murder mystery dinners (and now you know why!), and I’m positive not one person in that dinner had a terrible time.
BEST MOMENT OF THE ENTIRE CONVENTION SO FAR, PROBABLY
Carl Marino and Ken Kratz as witnesses reenacting the murder in slightly modified fashion that includes pirouetting, the worm (or the slug, to be fair), and just, man, what a good sport Ken Kratz turned out to be.
You know what? Tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll regain the power of the full vocabulary my overpriced education earned me. But right now, all I can say is. . . thank you, fellow nerds. I encountered not one ounce of negativity, disrespect, or intolerance today that can so often be found in the polarizing communities we frequent. And I appreciate you. And I appreciate the investigators and LEOs that keep us safe from the killers who still manage to capture our attention. After all, it’s people like you who ultimately keep us safe from the very real monsters under our beds.
Not that there are monsters under your bed. It’s a very nice hotel.
I’m checking just in case.