Field Report: CrimeCon 2017 Recap

First, let me tell you how awesome you all are.

During a tweetchat a few weeks ago, someone asked me a curveball question: “Is there anything you don’t want to see at CrimeCon?” The only thing I didn’t want to see was disrespectful discourse and combative negativity between people who may disagree with each other or with the speakers and their presentations. As a true crime fan, you’re likely aware that we tend to defend our theories with… let’s call it “enthusiasm.” It can lead to some contentious moments.

I’m beyond proud to announce that I observed none of this at CrimeCon. To be sure, there were some polarizing true crime figureheads in the lineup. Yet, for the most part, every question asked of the speakers was well-reasoned and contributed positively to the conversation. Debates were friendly. Conversations were productive. Even your tweets and Instagram posts were welcoming and nearly devoid of negativity.

That’s how you made CrimeCon a world-class event. And I thank you sincerely. You made my little morbid heart flutter all weekend.

CrimeCon may be finished for now, but I’m still walking on air. I’ve taken some time to let the magnitude of this event sink in and, to be honest, I’m not sure how Team CrimeCon is going to top themselves in 2018, but I cannot wait to see what happens when they do.

Day One of the convention officially kicked off with a characteristically rousing introduction from X-G Production’s Jim Clemente (following a lengthy session on the Steven Avery case from Ken Kratz and Tom Fassbender that was more than many of us expected. Lots of changed minds in that room, it seemed). And somehow the day ended with Ken Kratz doing his best ballerina/breakdance in the Murder Mystery Dinner at the instruction of Carl Marino. #OnlyAtCrimeCon, I guess.

Day Two began bright and early for the VIPs with a crash course in self-defense from Leah Severson of The Bulletproof Mission. As true crime fans, we’re all a little jumpy, right? But now that we know what to do if we’re attacked, we can walk a little more confidently down all those dark alleys we frequent. The day wrapped up with a cocktail hour featuring plenty of facetime with the likes of Nancy Grace, Kirk Nurmi, Josh Mankiewicz, and tons of podcasters.

Which brings us to Day Three. The saddest of all days because it was the end of CrimeCon.

There’s not much I can say about the interrogation experience without spoilers, except that it’s not what you’re expecting. So here’s a frustratingly vague review.

X-G Productions are aces at creating unique and transformative experiences. They have a knack for teaching you things in ways that surprise you (sometimes in a wonderful way, sometimes in a terrifying way). X-G Production’s Tim Clemente introduced the session in the maximum-enthusiasm style that must run in the Clemente bloodline.

Following a couple of heart-pounding moments, the session became significantly more intense than we’d thought it would be. It tested our stamina and observation skills and made us rethink the reliability of eyewitness testimony. If the organizers are able to bring this session back in Nashville next year I urge you in the strongest possible terms not to miss it.

Sheryl McCollum’s Wine & Crime gave us a chance to help solve a real-life murder case under investigation by Mac’s Cold Case Investigative Research Institute. Participants reviewed every piece of evidence (and there was plenty of it!) and leant their ideas to seasoned investigators. The coolest part: CCIRI will put all of our suggestions into action in an attempt to bring the case to resolution. How cool is it that we may have legitimately solved a cold case at CrimeCon?!

The CrimeCon award for Most Quotable Session goes to defense attorney legend F. Lee Bailey. Bailey delivered a courtroom-worthy impassioned address about the effect mainstream media has had on court proceedings as high-profile cases become reality television. He knows a little bit about this subject since he defended a little case in 1995 that a few news outlets picked up here and there. OJ something… can’t put my finger on it. It’ll come to me.

Bailey’s presentation was peppered with some of the most creative humor I’ve heard. Just a couple of his best lines:

“He has more important things to worry about than a dwarf behind a big desk.” (I honestly don’t remember the context of this one because it caught me so off guard, but wow.)

“The thing I hate most about being 84 years old is that Darth Vader is waiting just over the hill. I’m gonna outrun that sonofabitch as long as I can.”

Fair enough, Mr. Bailey.

Next, Thinking Sideways teamed up with Websleuths’s Tricia Griffith, crime author Cathy Scott, and Defrosting Cold Cases blogger Alice de Sturler to give us a new moniker: Citizen Detectives. “Armchair Detective” is now officially retired, so sayeth the CrimeCon Informant. This panel of some of the most well-informed amateurs in the biz reminded us of the merits of our work and fired us up to keep contributing. Griffith summed it up best, I think:

“One hundred amateurs have one hundred perspectives to look at evidence with. Investigators have as many perspectives as they have investigators. Amateurs solve crimes, too. We can still help.” Applause, Tricia.

Finally, CrimeCon came to a close with another energetic address from Jim Clemente. He sent us on our way with fond memories, new friends, and a renewed passion for the pursuit of justice.

He sent us on our way on Cloud 9.

He sent us on our way as slightly different people than we were on Friday.

He sent us on our way until CrimeCon 2018! Passes go on sale Monday, June 19 at 10:00 am, so join us in lovely Nashville, Tennessee at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, May 4-6 for more of the best speakers, guests, podcasters, and citizen detectives that the world has to offer.

You thought I was getting all sentimental there for a minute, didn’t you?