In case you missed it, the story goes like this:
- Man serves 18 years in jail for crime he didn't commit
- Man is released
- Man sues the county and its sheriff
- Woman disappears while on that same man's property
- Man allegedly is framed for the murder by the very sheriff's department he's suing
Basically, as always happens, the government is saying, "Whatever" to the fact that the public is outraged about this. Which only makes the public more outraged. Usually the public goes away eventually and the government gets away with it...not sure if that will happen this time.
Unfortunately, there are people sitting in jail all over this country who aren't guilty. The fact that so many convicts have been released based on advances in DNA evidence tells us that. False confessions happen. Detectives take shortcuts to get cases closed. Juries are swayed to convict by prejudices and ignorance. It happens.
I'm a true crime fanatic. I'm on Book 11 of Ann Rule's Crime Files series. I just finished marathoning every episode ever of Cold Justice. I've seen so many Dateline NBCs, I can't even remember if I've seen one before when I start watching. And I love, love, love the Maura Murray podcast I'm always telling you guys about.
Like the Serial podcast that was 2014's obsession, both Making a Murderer and Missing Maura Murray have brought a community of amateur detectives. That's a good thing...but it also can be a bad thing. Because, as police are always quick to point out, the public rarely gets the full story on any of these podcasts or documentaries. Not only can the producers/writers not capture every single fact in the limited time they have on air, but they also are only handed information that police have released publicly.
As one police officer put it when the uber-creepy Elisa Lam story went viral:
“The problem with amateur sleuths is they make their assessment(s) based on the limited amount of information law enforcement provides…The media outlets then manipulate the materials to accommodate their needs, leaving the sleuths with only partial truths. When viewed by someone that WANTS to support their agenda or conspiracy theory, they will overlook the reasonable/probable and jump to the possible."
As the public (including celebrities) continues to demand justice for the Making a Murderer "victims," I can't help but think of that quote. Yes, it's good that we now live in a society where people can call public officials on their BS, especially if it actually helps get an innocent person out of jail. But I also can't help but wonder, what if the guys featured in Making a Murderer are actually guilty of brutally murdering this woman?
And what if the public screams so much that they finally let them out of jail? In that instance, is crowdsourced crime fighting really a good thing?