true crime

“Serial” – the founding of true crime podcasts ?

As I’ve always been interested in the field of true crime for a while though after watching many documentaries, visiting crime feed regularly and avidly reading news articles, so I decided podcasts should be the next format I should try. Since one of my friends is really into podcasts she said I should try possibly the most famous true crime podcast of all time – Serial. I decided to give this a go since it had ten star reviews on most websites and an avid fan following and so it overall took me about a week to finish it as it replaced my regular music-listening on my walk to and from sixth form. So far, I have only listened to the first season of Serial as I am apprehensive to start the second as it didn’t get as good reviews, but maybe one day I will get around to it…

The podcast Serial is hosted by Sarah Koenig who is everything you would want from a host – funny, endearing, interesting and definitely passionate about the topic she is talking about. The first series of Serial follows Koenig’s journey  to try and discover the truth surrounding the murder of 18 year old South Korean high school student Hae Min Lee in Maryland in 1999. It is commonly believed that her ex boyfriend Adnan Syed committed this horrendous crime as a witness confirmed this (Syed’s ex best friend Jay) but there are serious loose ends surrounding this case, which are put forward by Koenig.

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Throughout this podcast, Koenig foretells her mission to try and uncover the truth surrounding this saddening case including befriending Syed in prison through a series of phone calls, interviews with witnesses and ex-classmates of Syed and Hae, forensics and court records. If anything should be highly praised about this podcast, it should be Sarah’s emphasise on detail – it is amazing how much information and depth she goes into about the case and it is thoroughly interesting. The main reason I was apprehensive about starting this podcast is the length: 10 episodes of about an hour each just to cover one mystery(?) and after starting and hating making a murderer for its slowness, I was sceptical; however, as Koenig supplies a lot of information throughout each episode, this podcast does keep your interest the whole way through.

Perhaps the reason why Serial is possibly one of the most successful podcasts of all time is because of its technique to make you change opinion of each person it introduces, throughout. At first I was determined that Syed was guilty due to a firm witness statement but now after other witness alibi and the police’s faulty timeline of the case, I’m not so sure.  The story surrounding Serial is definitely an intriguing and deeply upsetting one as it does concern the murder of a teenage girl, so it definitely hit home for me as I myself am in the same environment as Hae would’ve been in. It is also upsetting how lots of teenagers became highly involved in this case, as it is definitely something no teenager should have to go through.

Overall, if you ask me whether Serial is worth all the hype surrounding it, I would say yes for the detail and Koenig’s ability to keep a listener intrigued; however for me, I don’t think podcast listening is an activity I would actively take up in replacement of TV or reading. If you don’t focus entirely 100% on this, then you can easily get lost (which I most definitely did), and as an avid multi-tasker it took a lot for me to stop doing what I was doing, in order to listen to Serial. Therefore, I don’t think I will become an avid podcast listener, but I would recommend this podcast if you’re into podcasts/true crime.

lifestyle

Watch or Not – TV Series I have completed

After my exams, I am going to have a lot of time on my hands and as an escape from the reality of getting my results in August, I will be binge watching a lot of shows on Netflix to pass the time by. In the past I have not been the biggest TV watcher as I was always a bigger fan of documentary series or movies, but in the past two years I have been getting more into TV series and I have always had some all time favourites. Therefore, here is a list of all the TV Shows I have completed in the past and whether I recommend them or not…

Outnumbered: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (7/10)

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Outnumbered was definitely a programme I grew up on. It was always a family favourite in my house, as I think we could all relate to at least one of the family members. It is a British family sitcom which is definitely very relatable, and the kids are hilarious. However, as the kids grew up, the show did unfortunately lose some of its original magic but series 1-3 are definitely worth the watch.

The Inbetweeners: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (5/10) Image result for inbetweeners poster

The Inbetweeners was the very first TV series I probably “binge watched” and at age 14 I don’t think it was the most appropriate. This is a short British series about a group of misfit teenage boys in sixth form and in my opinion, it’s alright. Yes it’s funny but it’s very much “teenage boy” humour and if you don’t get or don’t like that humour then this isn’t the show for you. However, this certainly is a British teenage classic and I don’t know a single person my age who hasn’t seen at least an episode.

Misfits: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (8/10)

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Whenever I think of my year ten years, I always think of Misfits. I would say Misfits was the first TV show I ever properly fell in love with and to this day, it is one of my all time favourite TV shows. It is about a group of young adults on community service, who one day experience a freakstorm and all inherit these crazy superpowers as a result – therefore, the premise of the show is about how their lives are shaped because of this storm as well as the people around them. This show definitely has everything I love in a show: British humour, slight horror and a gripping plotline but it slips the ten star rating as it definitely got weaker as it continued, especially as the original main cast started to leave.

Favourite Season: 2

Favourite Characters: Nathan, Simon and Kelly

American Horror Story: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (8/10)

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I started watching American Horror Story just after Coven premiered and it was my all time favourite show for a while. The first two seasons are excellent, which are set in a haunted house and an asylum, however it does start to go downhill after that. Unfortunately the only thing I enjoyed about Coven was Stevie Nicks’ cameo as I’m a massive Fleetwood Mac fan, Freak Show was brilliant until the ending, I gave up on Hotel as not even Lady Gaga could keep me watching but I did enjoy Roanoke, even though again I hated the ending (and the lack of Evan Peters and Denis O’Hare). However, this show will always be one of my favourites for its originality, the cast and definitely the first two seasons, which I would highly recommend alone. I am apprehensive about the new series as its meant to follow the US 2016 Election but I will definitely be watching.

Favourite Season: 1

Favourite Characters: Larry (Murder House), Kit Walker (Asylum) and Sister Jude (Asylum)

Catfish the TV Show: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (8/10)

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Honestly, Catfish is one of my favourite TV shows and possibly my favourite MTV show. I am quite embarrassed to admit that I’ve seen every single episode as it is far-fetched at times but it is interesting to see how quickly you can form an attachment to a person you have only communicated with online and overall it is an incredibly addicting show, if you just want something easy to watch. I have seen the original documentary which was alright but honestly I prefer the TV show and it is definitely something I watch on a regular basis.

Bad Education: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (5/10)

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One thing’s for sure about this show, if Jack Whitehall wasn’t in it, this would flop. If you want a light-hearted, British teenage comedy then this could be a fun show to watch as it’s set in a school with a bunch of misfits and their hopeless teacher, but honestly it is not one of my favourite British comedies as it really is nothing too original, however Jack Whitehall and Matthew Horne did make me laugh…

Orange is the New Black: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (7/10)

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I picked up OITB just before the third season started and it pleasantly surprised me as I never thought I would like a show like it. OITB is about a woman called Piper Chapman (who is possibly my least favourite main character in TV history) who gets a lengthy prison sentence for a crime she previously committed a while ago and so the show follows her time, as well as her inmates time and the guards around them, in a woman’s prison. The humour in this show is fantastic as well as the drama – especially in its latest season. I will definitely keep watching this show until the end.

Favourite season: 4

Favourite characters: Poussey, Crazy Eyes and Taystee

Some Girls:  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (7/10)

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Some girls is another British teenage comedy, about girls in sixth form, which again, is very relatable, especially going through the process myself, but is very predictable. This show certainly is fun and easy to watch but nothing too special or original, however I would say it’s worth a watch, for Saz, Amber and Rocky alone.

Gossip Girl: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (7/10)

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In the time I should’ve spent revising for my GCSEs, I instead spent binge-watching Gossip Girl, which I developed a love-hate relationship with. If one thing is certain about this show, it is highly addicting and be prepared to hate every single character at one point. Overall, this show is worth a watch for its star-studded fashion taste and its slightly cringy premise, however be prepared to also hate the ending as it definitely did not make sense..

Favourite season: they all kinda blended into one tbh

Favourite characters: Blair, Nate and Dorota

Freaks and Geeks: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (10/10)

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The greatest TV tragedy and one of my all time favourite TV shows, Freaks and Geeks. With a cast including a young James Franco, Seth Rogen and Busy Phillips and a heart-warming, if relatable at times 1980s storyline that appeals to everyone, including parents, Freaks and Geeks will certainly make a place in everyone’s heart. It follows the lives of two very different misfit friendship groups and I guarantee you, you will definitely relate to at least one, if not both, of the groups.

Favourite Season: the first as it only has one (!)

Favourite Characters: Sam, Kim and Daniel

My Mad Fat Diary: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (7/10)

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My Mad Fat Diary combines both emotion and light-heartedness in a show to produce one of the most original British series I’ve seen. It is about an overweight girl called Rae who has a history of mental illness and about how she copes in a 1990s British Sixth Form. With great characters and a great romance, My Mad Fat Diary is worth the watch.

Favourite Season: 1

Favourite Character: Archie

Skins: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (9/10)

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What a surprise, another British, teen drama, but Skins is certainly the best. Perhaps the reason why this show is so well loved is because of its ability to tackle a range of topics and I’m sure everyone can relate to at least one. Over the seasons it follows three sets of teenagers, and generation one is definitely my favourite. I think Skins is something every British teen should watch at some point; however, don’t bother with the American remake at all, it’s shit, just watch the original, British version as it was certainly one of the best things that has been made for British screens.

Favourite Season: 2

Favourite Characters: Pandora, Chris and Effy

Bates Motel: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (8/10)

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As embarrassed I am to admit that I had never seen Psycho before watching the so-called prequel Bates Motel, I was pleasantly surprised by this show. It follows a young Norman Bates and his relationship with his mother which eventually will escalate into the movie Psycho (which I have now seen). This show definitely explores a wide range of themes including horror, suspense and even a touch of romance and I would highly recommend it as every episode will make you want to watch the next one.

Favourite Season: there wasn’t a bad one so don’t particularly have a favourite

Favourite Character: Dylan

Easy: 🌟🌟 (2/10)

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As I love anthology series, I thought I would love this Netflix, romance show and with a cast like Orlando Bloom, Dave Franco and Emily Ratajkowski it seemed like a feel-good winner – however, I didn’t like it. Altogether, I didn’t grow attached to any of the stories presented and the story lines were very weak so this is definitely one to miss, especially if you’re below the age of 18.

11.22.63: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (10/10)

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Possibly the most underrated show ever! This eight part series I adored as it explored a lot of my favourite things including  James Franco, Stephen King and the history and presidency of JFK. The premise of the show is quite confusing as it follows an ordinary man who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK and is definitely a show where you need to give your full concentration. However, it is incredible, so well made, so interesting to see the history around the time period around Kennedy’s tragic assassination and definitely a journey you won’t forget.

Favourite Character: Bill

Stranger Things: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (9/10)

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If there’s a show which is worth the hype, it’s Stranger Things. Stranger Things is set in a small American town, in the 1980s, where a young boy goes missing and the situation surrounding his disappearance affects everyone and is very extra-terrestrial. The writers of Stranger Things based this series on Stephen King’s works, which is possibly the reason why I loved it so much as Stephen King is my favourite author, and even though it is  a little slow at times it is definitely worth a watch, especially as the child actors are sensational – I am very excited for Halloween 2017.

Favourite Character: Dustin

Black Mirror: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (8/10)

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I started watching Black Mirror when Netflix picked it up in October because I love dark anthology tv series and this show is incredibly haunting and very well done. It is written by Charlie Brooker, who I think is one of the best TV writers, and the whole premise of it is to warn the public how dangerous technology is becoming, and how it will eventually shape everyone’s life, not always in the best way. My favourite episodes are White Bear, Shut Up and Dance and San Junipero, as they definitely stayed with me when I stopped watching. However, with this show I either love the episodes or I couldn’t get into them and had to give up on a certain episode so therefore Black Mirror is not my favourite anthology series.

American Crime Story: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (8/10)

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I had been wanting to watch American Crime Story for a long time before I actually watched it, when it became available for Netflix and it didn’t disappoint me. Even though it is a little bit slow, I thought it was very interesting, incredibly well done and Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark was amazing. The premise of American Crime Story is to follow a famous American crime and the events that follow around it, and the only season out now is The People V OJ Simpson, which I did thoroughly enjoy and it did bring me to tears at the end.

Crazy Ex Girlfriend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (9/10)

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To this day I am still obsessed with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It is the most refreshing, funny and relatable show I have seen in a long time and Rachel Bloom is amazing, hence why she won a Golden Globe for her role as Rebecca Bunch. This show follows an unstable woman who gives up an amazing job in New York in order to move to West Covina, California to follow her ex-boyfriend from Summer Camp and about her attempts to try and get him to love her. This show is a dark romantic MUSICAL (!!) comedy which is hilarious and so well written and yes this show is a bit of a cringe-fest but I adore this series, even though my favourite character left the show, and I can’t wait for it to come back. The soundtrack to this show has also become an all time favourite of mine and I definitely listen to it on an everyday basis.

Favourite Season: 1

Favourite Character: Greg 😦

Pride and Prejudice: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (7/10)

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After my mum’s horror of finding out I had only ever seen the Keira Knightly version, she immediately made me watch this and I am very glad she did. This TV series/adaption is definitely better than the film, especially Colin Firth as Mr Darcy who is one of my favourite actors, and even though it is a little slow it is a very heart-warming take on the classic, British story.

Inside No.9: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (9/10)

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I had no idea what this show was before I clicked on it on Netflix, apart from it was a dark anthology series which I love, and I am so glad it did. It is my favourite anthology series of all time, nearly every episode shocks me and the episodes Sardines, Tom and Gerri, La Couchette, the 12 Days of Christine, Cold Comfort and The Devil at Christmas kept me up at night. This show also has an all star British cast including Luke Pasqualino, Gemma Arterton, Mark Benton, Jack Whitehall and Sheridan Smith to name a few and I guarantee at least one episode will leave you shaken.

The Santa Clarita Diet: 🌟🌟🌟 (3/10)

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Unfortunately, I was so disappointed with this show after being excited by the teaser trailers. This show follows a normal, suburban family whose life gets turned upside down by their mother becoming a zombie and even though I did finish the first season, I didn’t enjoy it really. It had a lot of potential but quickly became very predictable and I didn’t grow to love any of the characters, so therefore I will not be watching it when the second series comes out.

13 Reasons Why: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (6/10)

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I was very hesitant to start watching this show, after not loving the book but after I saw all the hype on social media, I had to start watching. I am not going to get into the whole stigma surrounding this show as it is very controversial, but I do not believe it is an accurate, realistic portrayal of mental illness. If you are easily triggered please do not watch this show, as even I had to skip “the scene” in the last episode, however, if you can handle the topics included in this show it is worth a watch as the cast is fantastic. I am interested to see where the show will go in the second season even though I don’t think it was necessary to pick it up for a second series.

Favourite Character: Tony

Riverdale: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (8/10)

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I took such a long time starting this show as I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t want to give into the hype and I am not a comic book fan; however, I binge watched this whole show in two days before the finale, and I am so glad I did. Don’t be put off by the fact that this show was based on a comic series, as it definitely has no relation to it apart from the same characters, and it is very gripping. It follows the teenage characters of the town Riverdale, who get affected by the murder of one of their classmates and take it into their own hands to solve the murder. This show also has romance and family issues within it, and even though to me the killer was very predictable, I loved the cast and the stories inside.

Favourite Character: Jughead

Gilmore Girls: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (10/10)

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I cannot put into words how I much I adored Gilmore Girls as I picked it up last year and took two months to finish it – it is now my all time favourite TV show. It follows a mother called Lorelai and her daughter Rory of whom she gave birth to at sixteen and their lives surrounding romance (team Jess!), work and family issues and it is honestly so heart-warming, I would love to live in Stars Hollow. My favourite characters are Lorelai, Paris, Kirk and Luke and yes, I did cry my eyes out at the finale of the revival series, and I would love them to make a sequel to the revival.

Favourite Season: 3

Favourite Characters: Lorelai, Luke, Kirk and Paris

 So there is a list of all the series I have seen all the episodes of, as to now, and my TV watch-list is a mile long and hopefully by the end of the summer, my TV knowledge will have grown. There are a few shows I did start which I gave up on, which weren’t my thing and honestly don’t recommend which are Jane the Virgin, The OA, Scream, Parks and Recreation (sorry), The Crown, Making a Murderer (surprising I know) and Scream Queens. I have also seen every modern Doctor Who up to the second Matt Smith series and I loved it up until then as I did not like Matt Smith, the new doctor or the story writing anymore 😦

lifestyle

“The Most Important Month of my Life”

Throughout the short time my blog has existed online, I haven’t spoken about my main occupation, which has been in place for the last two years now – my life as an A Level student. I am currently a full time sixth form student who has been studying for my A Level examinations in three subjects, for the past two years and it has been the most stressful and hopefully rewarding experience of my life. I study philosophy and ethics, psychology and history and if all goes to plan I will be studying law and criminology at university, starting in September of this year.

Now I am nor will I ever be the best student, after achieving 11 A*-B grades in my GCSEs and spending two years in my sixth form, I am currently predicted BBB for my A Level Grades and I need ABB to get into university – therefore, I am not currently predicted to get the grades I need to get into university. I know teacher predictions aren’t meant to dictate how well I do in the three weeks I have left until my official A Levels start, but I have never been more scared in my life. I have always wanted to go to university and if I do not get the place I so badly want I honestly have no clue what I will do – this uncertainty terrifies me. To hopefully make this not a reality I have been studying possibly the hardest I have done in my whole life but as I lie in bed at night, I think to myself what have I learnt today in my revision? What if I open the official exam paper and I do not know how to answer the first question? What if I do not like the look of the 16 mark essay question which I have to do? ….

I am also so badly guilty of another “revision sin” – procrastination. At this very moment I should be completing my witchcraft history booklet or writing an essay about utilitarianism but I am writing this post instead. I know I am not the only student who does this, but I also think to myself, what if I hadn’t wasted that half an hour I spent writing a blog post and I spent it revising the working memory model so I can now answer this question confidently in the exam rather than make an educated guess? My whole life people, including my family and friends, have said you will be fine in your exams, you work so hard…but what if they’re wrong? People all around me, have always had high expectations of me and luckily, I have always met them (i.e. getting into my Grammar school and getting good grades in my GCSEs), but what if this time I am not so lucky?

Now I know these thoughts are all normal and every student has this, but what if they really come true? My first exam is in 5 days so I guess we’ll see how we get on, I’m a firm believer in what’ll be will be and everything happens for a reason, so whatever happens in these next four weeks, I’ll be okay. As to not make this blog post all doom and gloom to read, I will share what my mum has been telling me the past few days – “that these exams are just small indication for the rest of all life and your next step towards a life adventure as a young adult”…

Good luck to everyone else taking A Level Exams

We Got This

 

true crime

A new type of documentary – Casting JonBenet

Within the new Netflix documentary, “Casting JonBenet”, director and writer Kitty Green offers a creative, but haunting outlook on possibly one of the most high profile child murder/mystery cases of all time, the saddening death of JonBenet Ramsey.

JonBenet Ramsey was an American child beauty pageant queen who was  born on August 6th 1990 and was tragically killed in her family’s home in Colorado on Christmas Night 1996, at the age of 6. Sadly, her killers have never been identified due to mishap of the crime scene and the mysterious circumstances around her death, including the ransom note that was supposedly written by JonBenet’s killer(s). Due to JonBenet’s image as a famous child beauty queen her case generated national and even worldwide attention, which led to many conspiracies surrounding the nature of her death. Perhaps, the most popular suspicion is that JonBenet’s parents had something to do with it as handwriting experts have identified that the handwriting on the ransom note could’ve been written by Patsy Ramsey and rumours about the family including abuse and jealousy have been circling in Colorado for quire a while. Casting JonBenet explores these theories, using public opinion as a major running theme throughout.

The concept of this documentary consists of several dozen professional and nonprofessional actors that audition onscreen for the roles in the movie you are watching: Patsy Ramsey, John Ramsey, Burke Ramsey, the police officials involved and JonBenet herself. Green proceeds to record one actor after the other, usually sitting down, directly facing the camera, reciting dialogue from the real case but when speaking freely (which is more often) offering their theories and personal experience directed to the case. Whilst some of these theories may seem incredibly far-fetched (i.e. when one police chief wannabe explains his whipping tactics for rough sex in great detail) some are very haunting (i.e. when those auditioning to play the brother Burke try hitting a watermelon as hard as they can, to see if a boy their age can severely hurt a little girl’s head, as this is a popular theory into JonBenet’s death).

However, this isn’t really a film in search of the definite truth of what happened on Christmas Night 1996, it is a film to remind the public  how influential public opinion can be. Many of the actors involved believe that JonBenet’s parents had a major part to play in the death of their daughter, and thus Green highlights how the Ramsey’s reputation was thoroughly damaged after the case. No matter what the actors involved in the documentary say about the case, it is evident that their conspiracies intertwine together to create a blurry picture of what unfolded on that fateful night – highlighted in the ending scene, which I thought was the best and most haunting moment of the whole documentary.

Therefore, if you want a true crime documentary outlining the events and aftermath of Jonbenet’s death then this isn’t the viewing for you, instead it offers a unique perspective into how influential conspiracies are for specific crimes – including a historic one like JonBenet’s. Overall even though this show didn’t teach me anything new about the case, it highlighted how important public opinion is in cold cases in the history of crime. As a result of these conspiracies many stories arise in the field of crime, and therefore people can easily jump to conclusions about the real truth, which is very dangerous in my opinion. I would also say, just watch this show purely for the ending, which is one of the most chilling endings I have ever seen and thankfully emphasises a major factor in this case which people often forget about – no matter what the conspiracy is for this case, the most important and saddening factor is that a little girl’s life was tragically cut short.

 

true crime

Amanda Knox: a psychopath in sheep’s clothing or an innocent person caught up in a nightmare

When Netflix launched the Amanda Knox documentary on the 30th September 2016, I didn’t know too much about the tragic death of Meredith Kercher, the arrest of Amanda Knox, the media attention, the trial and the eventual acquittal but based on the small amounts of information I knew, I thought that Knox was caught up in something awful that didn’t involve her, and instead involved Rudy Guede  – however, after watching the documentary I’m not too sure.

Meredith Kercher was born on the 28th December 1985 and her life was tragically cut short at the age of 21, in Perugia, Italy. She was a British exchange student visiting Italy who shared a flat with Knox. On the 1st November 2007, it was a public holiday in Italy and so Meredith’s Italian flatmates were out of town, as were the occupants of the downstairs flat. According to Knox, after she spent the night with her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, she arrived back at the apartment she shared with Meredith on the 2nd November 2007, finding the front door open and drops of blood in the shared bathroom. Meredith’s bedroom door was also locked, which Knox took as indicating that Meredith was sleeping. However, when Meredith didn’t answer the door after a while, alarms were raised and Knox was advised to call the 112 emergency number. Meredith’s body was found around 1:15pm by a male friend where it was lying on the floor, covered by a duvet.

At the crime scene, the fingerprints of Rudy Guede (an Italian known to the police) were found and Guede was immediately labelled as a suspect. Guede stated that he went to Meredith’s home on the evening of her death, after meeting her the previous evening but he claimed that he then developed stomach pains and then went to the bathroom. As he was inside, he then claims to have heard Meredith scream and that upon emerging, to help her, he saw a shadowy figure holding a knife and standing over her as she lay bleeding on the floor, whom later fled. The court later found that that his version of events did not match the forensic evidence, and that he could not explain why one of his palm prints, stained with Meredith’s blood, had been found on the pillow of the bed, under her body. Therefore Guede was found guilty in October 2008 of murder and sexual assault and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment.

Before my viewing of the documentary, and acquiring more knowledge surrounding the conspiracy that Meredith’s flatmate Amanda Knox was also involved in Meredith’s death, I had the faint belief that she was caught up unfairly in this case as Rudy Guede was the obvious perpetrator, but now after my viewing I’m not 100% sure. In Guede’s statement he originally said that Knox had not been at the scene of the crime, but he later changed his story to say that she had been in the apartment during the murder where she argued with Meredith – which doesn’t match up with Knox’s story that she spent the night at her boyfriend’s (Raffaele Sollecito). As Meredith’s murder look like a break in to the public eye since glass was shattered all over the floor, from a window in Meredith’s room (which adds more evidence to support Guede as the perpetrator as in his criminal history had broken into a nursery school and a flat), this was deemed a set up by the police to sway from the obvious perpetrator who must’ve been close or in the flat – the only person who fit this description is Knox and her boyfriend. Therefore, Knox was interviewed and declined a lawyer over the next four days, and later was arrested and charged with murder on the 6th November 2007.

 

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Knox during her trial

During Knox’s lead up to trial she became the subject of intense media attention including being labelled “Foxy Knoxy” by the press due to claims of a party girl lifestyle in Italy as well as an ever-changing relationship with her roommate Meredith due to arguments over boyfriends and flat hygiene. Both Knox and Sollecito pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder during their trials, which started on the 16th January 2009. According to the prosecution, Knox had attacked Meredith in her bedroom, and forced her to endure a sexual abuse attack by Guede. Knox had then cut Meredith with a knife before inflicting a fatal stab wound and that she had staged the crime scene to look like a burglary gone wrong. On the 5th December 2009, both Knox and Sollecito were convicted of murder and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Less than two years later, on the 3rd October 2011 Knox and Sollecito were acquitted due to insufficient proof that they had any involvement in the death of Meredith.

Whilst it is most clear that the evidence incriminating Amanda Knox into the case is ambiguous, I’m not sure of Knox’s total innocence because of her portrayal in the Netflix documentary. I’m not expecting Knox to have an emotional breakdown every time she discusses Meredith but I think her behaviours leading up to and during the event were incredibly suspicious, including making out with her boyfriend whilst the police were inspecting the crime scene. During police interviews, Knox’s boyfriend Sollecito could not back up Knox’s alibi on the night of Meredith’s death as he can’t remember whether she spent the night or not. Even though assuming his memory was hazy because of the marijuana both him and Knox admitting to smoking that night, it seems odd that a young man who had just embarked on a new relationship could not recall whether she had spent the night or not. However, I think the main aspect that incriminates Knox into the crime is the staged break in, as the broken glass from the window was found on top of clothes scattered on the floor, suggesting the window was broken after the contents of the room were messed up – prosecutors later accused Knox and Sollecito of staging the break in to make the murder look like a burglary gone wrong. During the Netflix documentary, every time Knox looks into the camera I keep getting a horrific feeling that she’s lying due to her lack of emotion whatsoever when discussing the crime and her final statement towards the end of the documentary which is enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine: “you’re trying to find the answer in my eyes when the answer is right over there. You’re looking at me. Why? There are my eyes – they’re not objective evidence…”

Overall I cannot make the conclusion that Amanda Knox is 100% guilty in the tragic story of Meredith’s death, but I can’t fully believe her tale of events of that fateful day due to reasons including a total lack of emotion and the suspicious matter in the crime scene (including a staged break in). Whilst I believe some of the blame towards Knox’s incrimination is the bad press towards her (let’s not discuss Nick Pisa who had an orchestral role in this and whose interview in the documentary caused a lot of controversy) and the fault of the Italian police, Knox’s story of the night of the 1st November cannot be fully believed due to these and I think there will always be a suspicion that she did have a slight involvement, even if it can never be fully proved.

lifestyle

Reflections: Washington DC 2 months on…

Two months ago, I was lucky enough to travel to Washington DC, with my sixth form, for our history course where we study 20th Century American history – i.e. politics, the struggle for civil rights and the development of media. With the inauguration of Donald Trump freshly in everyone’s mind (agree with him or not), it was possibly one of the most educational and interesting times to visit the district and I felt very lucky to be there.

Monday 13th February:

After travelling all day on Sunday from London, we first visited the National Museum of American History where we saw memorabilia from some the biggest events in American history including the Star Spangled Banner, Dorothy’s Red Slippers and the First Ladies Dresses. We were also able to visit and go inside the US Capital building where we had the worst luck of missing seeing the official White House speaker Paul Ryan by a few minutes and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was speaking with Trump, by about twenty minutes. However, it was a surreal experience going inside the dome and our tour guide was amazing. In the evening, we visited the Kennedy Centre to see a free performance and had dinner in the Hard Rock Café (which was very overrated!!!)

Tuesday 14th February:

On Tuesday, we were able to see the outside of the White House itself and then we were given free time to explore around the Smithsonian area. Therefore myself and my friends visited the Air n Space Museum, where we saw lots of famous historic aircraft and space equipment including the Wright Brothers Plane and Amelia Earhart’s, and then ventured inside the Natural History Museum also. In the afternoon we all visited the new African American Museum which was opened by the Obamas(!), where it had information and memorabilia about black history in America, including politics, music, film and protest.

Wednesday 15th February

Wednesday was possibility the most surreal day for me as we were able to do the monuments tour. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time or energy to walk around all the monuments but we saw all the main ones including the World War Two Memorial, the Reflecting Pool (I felt like I was in Forrest Gump!), The Lincoln Statue, the step where Martin Luther King delivered the “I Have a Dream Speech” and the Korean and Martin Luther King Memorial. We were also able to visit the White House Visitor Centre and were able to shop in an American Shopping Mall in Virginia.

Thursday 16th February

Our last full day in Washington DC was on the Thursday. We first saw and went inside the Supreme Court and as a lot of the girls who were on the trip do politics, they were all very excited to see the official court room where the Supreme Judges sit. In the afternoon, we all visited perhaps my favourite place in Washington DC, the Newseum (which I am considering doing a whole blog post about it). If you love all things crime, journalism and news reports, the Newseum is the place to go and there is everything from famous FBI artefacts from famous cases to the official Pulitzer winning photographs – there is also an incredible 4D movie featured in the museum!

Altogether, Washington DC was one, if not the best week of my life and I couldn’t have asked for a lovelier group of people to go on the trip with 🙂

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Check out my friend Laura’s vlog from our trip to DC !!

 

true crime

What happened to Caylee Anthony?

The realisation that your child is missing is perhaps one of the worst feelings a parent can go through. When and if in the rare case this happens, a parent would surely do everything they can to make sure their child is safe and returned to them as soon as possible, which includes contacting authorities immediately if needed. However, in the case of the Caylee Anthony, this procedure was not followed through, which is perhaps what drew America into the “biggest social media trial of the century”, including dividing opinions on the main suspect of the case – Caylee’s mom Casey Anthony.

Caylee Marie Anthony was a beautiful 3 year old little girl, born on the 9th August 2005 and lived with her mother Casey Anthony and her maternal grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony. Since Casey gave birth to Caylee at a young age, Caylee’s grandparents took a significant role into looking after the young girl. Therefore, when they Casey took off with Caylee (on the 16th June 2008) and George and Cindy didn’t hear of or from her granddaughter in a month, suspicions were raised. This lead to Cindy making a sudden visit to Casey’s to check up on her and her granddaughter so when she heard that Caylee had been missing for 31 days, had apparently been kidnapped by a nanny and had smelt death in Casey’s car, Cindy immediately alerted authorities, on the 15th July.

During police investigation into Caylee’s disappearance, Casey Anthony started to become a high point of suspicion because of her consistent lies – when questioned by police Casey said Caylee had been kidnapped by “Zanny the Nanny” who in fact never existed and she had also lied about having a job at Universal Studios. Therefore, Casey was first arrested on the 16th June 2008 and charged the next day for giving false statements to law enforcement and child neglect.

Throughout this whole period, Caylee’s grandparents and America had hoped for the little girl to be alive but unfortunately her body was discovered on the 11th December 2008. Foul play was immediately suspected as investigative teams recovered duct tape hanging from Caylee’s hair and some tissue left on her skull – death was then ruled a homicide but listed as undetermined. Casey was shortly indicated by a grand jury on charges of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse and manslaughter and four counts of proving false information to the police.

During her trial, four hundred pieces of evidence was presented to try and determine Casey guilty – including a strand of Caylee’s hair that was recovered from the back of Casey’s truck that showed “root-branding” (in which hair roots form a dark band after death). Casey’s computer history was also presented to the jury which included Google searches for the terms “neck breaking” and “how to make chloroform”, which all were deeming factors in trying to prove Casey guilty of her daughter’s murder.

However, Casey’s defence opened with a stunning claim, that Caylee drowned in the family’s swimming pool and the reason why Casey didn’t report her daughter’s disappearance was because she never went missing, she accidentally drowned and Casey and her dad helped dispose the body, in order to avoid a possible manslaughter prosecution. This defence was deemed false by Casey’s dad himself, George, as he claimed that he would have done everything humanly possible to save his granddaughter if that had really happened, including alerting the authorities straight away.

 

Casey Anthony on July 1, 2011 [Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/MCT]
Casey Anthony in court, she was found not guilty on the 5th July 2011

After sixteen days of deliberation, the jury (7 women and 5 men) found Casey Anthony not guilty on the counts of first degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse but found her guilty on the charge of providing false information to the police. Casey’s sentence was one year in the county jail and $1,000 in fines for each of the four counts of providing false information to law enforcement. Casey was released on July 17th 2011 on the account for good behaviour and time already served.

Nowadays, George and Cindy Anthony do not speak to their daughter and her father has deemed her a repulsive liar. Casey lives and works for Patrick McKenna, the lead investigator for the defence in not only her case but OJ Simpson’s case also.

In my opinion, whether or not Casey deliberately intended to cause harm to her daughter that fateful day, she should take full responsibility into her daughter’s death as if it wasn’t for the neglect that Caylee suffered, she would’ve still been with us today.