This was CrimeCon’s second year. I didn’t attend last year because I was unsure just what it was going to be all about. This year I was on panelist for the Colonial Parkway Murders and, having reviewed the images and reports from last year, I felt pretty sure I was not attending some crazed weirdo cult gathering.
I had a good time. Incorrect. I had a GREAT time. CrimeCon is one of the few places on the planet when you can say, “I write true crime,” and people don’t wince or say things like, “Oh, that’s nice…” while backing away slowly. I get it, for decades true crime has been a secret pleasure for a lot of people. The people here were fans – some were die-hard fans. Others were dipping their toes into the true crime waters. It was a very friendly group.
A bit about the demographics. Most of the attendees were female…I don’t know the exact ratio but it seemed like 12 to 1. Many were younger than me, which is easy because I’m 55. There were fans of a wide variety of sub-genre’s too – TV crime show fans, author fans, serial killers, cold cases, podcast groupies, you name it.
The night we arrived at the Gaylord Resort in Nashville we were told we couldn’t go out to dinner at the mall because there had been a murder there. I admit, I thought they were joking at first. They weren’t. Talk about mistakes. We had a large number of FBI, law enforcement, lawyers and 3,500 armchair detectives only a half-a-mile away.
Victoria and I attended the session with Dianne Lake about her time with the Manson Family. It was an interesting presentation. It is hard to emotionally bond with Ms. Lake given where she was and who she was with in the summer of 1969. You get this weird feeling with her of sadness, pity, yet some degree of distaste given that she was a member of the Manson Family. I have to admit, I was fascinated on how Charlie got his talons into her. Dang it – I will have to buy her book now.
The next session I attended was by Jim Fitzgerald on cracking the Unabomber case. That’s right, it was “Fitz” himself. He explained to us what parts of the show were not based on real life and did it in an amusing way, with actual Facebook and Twitter posts he had received. Great stuff. His insights and role in cracking that crime were incredible to listen to. I want to go on Netflix now and re-watch it over again.
I talked to Fitz about a serial murder spree that Victoria and I are working on. More on this as we move forward…but our discussion was promising!
At the same time my co-author daughter attended the session on the Golden State Killer. They had a great panel including one of the officers involved with this scumbag’s takedown. New facts not in the press yet were presented. I won’t take her thunder, she promised me a blog post on it, but I was intrigued to learn they had recovered some of the souvenirs this bastard had taken from his victims. Oh, and that wheelchair? Totally for the press. I think his lawyer knows he’s going to lose the case but they want to try and mitigate the sentencing with a, “poor old feeble man,” routine. Well, it’s a routine…and not very convincing.
I met with Gemma from The Keepers. She was very nice. We are cold case comrades.
The panel on the Colonial Parkway Murders that I was on was outstanding. Bill Thomas and Joyce Call were on it; relatives of victims of Cathy Thomas and Keith Call respectively. Both were outstanding as was expected. We were moderated by former FBI agent Maureen O’Connell who did an admirable job of keeping us on task (no small feat mind you.) We had over 520 attendees for the session – which is outstanding. Get the word out about these crimes!
We both sat in on the Delphi Murders panel. Kudos to the family members and the Indiana State Police for coming. Deeply moving. I met with the grandfather of one of the victims later and offered him a couple of suggestions that he might consider. The guy looked like a truck driver for some reason. I suggested checking with the weigh-stations near the town. You never know…
Victoria and I attended the early morning podcast session with Nancy Grace on the Delphi Murders…which we totally enjoyed.
While the rest of my family took in the Country Music Hall of Fame, I sat in on a session by Steven David Lampley on How to Catch a Liar. Holy crudstunk – that was useful. Not only is it something I can use as a true crime author when I interview people – it is something I can apply in my day-job as well. Book purchased!
I attended the Nancy Grace Meet and Greet. Wow has she got some great fans. We were in line all talking and chatting about cases etc. A young woman was there telling us about her cousin and a highly suspicious suicide down in Mississippi. It was heart wrenching. We offered her some advice on how to proceed. I promised to post her information – so here it is. Spread the word true crime fans!
Nancy didn’t just do a meet and greet, we actually had a good conversation…so much so she asked for and got my phone number so we can talk at a later date. It helped that I had a little gift for her – an autographed copy of A Special Kind of Evil. It has been so long since an attractive lady has asked for my phone number, I was humbled by that alone.
Later, I attended a fantastic session on Serial Killer profiling by Jim Clemente and John White. They hit on some cases that I was unfamiliar with which made it interesting. Their banter was funny, but not disrespectful to the victims (a line some podcasters need to learn from.) I really enjoyed Dr. White’s perspectives on what make these killers tick. I need to touch base with him on some work we are doing.
During the time there Victoria and I connected with quite a few podcasters and got approached for autographs – which is always good. It is nice to meet our “fans.” True Crime has never been this popular and CrimeCon helps make it more respectable. Next year is New Orleans!