Filed under: open thread

Because I’m a glutton for punishment: Open Thread Redux, The Meredith Kercher Murder

Well, since the previous thread is up to an astonishing 4,354 comments and counting, I figured it was time to let you intrepid folks who are bound to discuss the murder of Meredith Kercher last November in Perugia, Italy have a new open thread. Here you can bicker, get all nationalistic, sleuth, and generally pontificate to your hearts’ content. I guess.

Though I haven’t written about it, my feelings, my opinions about this crime have changed over time. For instance, while I think Amanda Knox may be a troubled young woman, possibly mentally ill, I’m more doubtful than I once was that she took part in any kind of murder plot. Truth is, we still don’t know, though. Hence my willingness to let you have another open thread. (There is another entry in this blog — about another crime — that is just as popular, but due to the acid, ugly nature of much of the commentary, I’ve never even considered opening a new thread for general commentary on that case.)

FYI — I’ve noticed that several posters in these threads about Meredith’s murder are better-than-average writers and incisive thinkers. Please check out this post and think about what I’m asking, if you have the time.

I always reserve the right to delete any comments on this blog for any reason. Please remember that before you go off half-cocked.

As usual, please keep the following sane, civil, and on-topic.

OPEN THREAD: Continuing Discussion of the Murder of Meredith Kercher

I must admit I’m not fond of open threads. Essentially, it’s like letting a bunch of strangers take over a blog post, and I guess I’m territorial enough to be bothered by that. But I can’t deny that some readers love them. I’ll never be able to put up with the anarchy of a generalized open thread, where people can theoretically discuss whatever is on their minds, but certain subjects covered by this blog tend to demand open threads.

So, since folks have remained relatively — and I mean relatively — civil, here’s a new open thread for discussion of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy last November. You can click the tags at the bottom of this post to find past entries in this blog about this case.

Please maintain a civil dialogue, and please do NOT bring arguments from other blogs to this one. In that respect, I remain apologetically protective of this space. If you started an argument elsewhere, finish it there, or forget about it. Please be courteous to any new posters, and if you express suspicion of who they really are, what their purpose is, please have a grounded, rational reason.

This post is yours, now — have at it.

OPEN THREAD: The Murder of Meredith Kercher

Anyone interested in continuing the discussion begun in the previous open thread about the November, 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy can begin posting below.

Few crimes about which I’ve blogged or even written about professionally have generated the sort of ongoing discussion this case has. In the most recent open thread about this case — more than 3700 comments long — it seems like there are posts from just about anyone you can think of who might have even the most tangential association with the story — from the stepfather of American student Amanda Knox, one of the suspects in Ms. Kercher’s murder, to commentary from one of my favorite novelists, Douglas Preston (I’ve read every book Mr. Preston has written with Lincoln Childs — in FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast they created one of my favorite modern fictional detectives).

It’s the numerous regulars who make these open threads interesting reading, though. You know who you are.

When I first began researching and writing about this case, I felt a great deal of suspicion about the guilt of the main suspects — Amanda Knox, her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede.

But in the months since the story broke I’ve begun to feel that the facts of the case as reported by the press are now confused, and confusing.

I can also understand the mistrust that Douglas Preston has expressed regarding the prosecutor on the case, Giuliano Mignini. If you familiarize yourself with Preston’s own Mignini-related troubles while researching one of Italy’s greatest unsolved serial murder cases, you quickly “get” his suspicions about the prosecutor’s trustworthiness.

Yet I can’t say my suspicions about Ms. Knox or Mr. Sollecito have been completely eliminated, and I feel almost certain that Rudy Guede is probably just where he should be — in jail, accused of being the main actor in Meredith Kercher’s murder.

I wish I had the wherewithal to go to Italy and see what I could dig up as an investigative journalist, but I don’t.

So discuss away. I do try to read each post, but I generally don’t comment much myself unless things get crazy. Please keep it civil, sane, and most of all, on-topic. Please know, too, that I reserve the right to delete any post for any reason.

Natalee Holloway: It Ain’t Over? (OPEN THREAD, Y’ALL)

Radio Netherlands is telling the world that the mystery of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway from the island of Aruba has been solved. Peter R. de Vries, a Dutch TV journalist, seems to think that his hidden camera investigations in Aruba have uncovered what really happened the night of May 31, 2005.

The journalist has turned his info over to the Aruban prosecutors, and he plans to tell the story during a TV special airing on Sunday in the Netherlands. While de Vries has not made a public statement about the past suspects in the case, it is interesting to note that he recently had a televised run-in with the former prime suspect in the Holloway disappearance, Joran van der Sloot. The video of the incident is at the bottom of this post. It took place on a Dutch news program after van der Sloot underwent what he apparently thought was some pretty rough questioning by de Vries.

This is an open thread. So anyone out there not tired of discussing the Holloway disappearance, start yer yakkin’ in the comments on this post.

UPDATE, 02/01/08, 11:44 a.m. ET

MSNBC is reporting that Joran van der Sloot has been re-arrested. Aruban prosecutors will neither confirm nor deny the report.

UPDATE, 02/02/08, 10:33 a.m. ET

CNN corrects the record here. Joran van der Sloot’s arrest has been requested by Aruban prosecutors.

UPDATE, 02/03/08, 11:23 a.m. ET

This blog outlines what it says are the basics of Joran’s alleged confession. Essentially, Joran supposedly told an acquaintance that Natalee died on the beach that night, after sex with Joran. A panicked van der Sloot called his buddy, former party boat DJ Steve Croes. The pair then allegedly took Natalee’s body out to sea on this very boat, where they dumped her, presumably in deep water.

OPEN THREAD: The Mummification of the Crime Library

It’s not that The Crime Library is going anywhere. Apparently, it’s just that it will be frozen, as is. Cyber-mummified.

Quoting Crime Library writer David Lohr, a post from his MySpace blog:

[The] entire staff at CrimeLibrary.com, myself included, has been notified that their positions will be terminated within the coming weeks. It is my understanding that Crime Library will no longer provide daily crime news and that the site will be used for archival purposes. According to an internal memo, CNN.com has no plans to add additional staff to operate it.

Anyone who has followed my blogging for a while may think that I feel a certain amount of schadenfreude about this development, but I don’t. David is correct when he says that it’s the end of an era. Marilyn Bardsley, the executive editor of CrimeLibrary.com, gave me my first professional opportunities as a writer, and I have remained grateful for those opportunities, even when I was not so happy about other things.

To give you some perspective on the apparent abandonment of The Crime Library, here are some links to the site as it appeared throughout the years:

This moment from my hiatus was just to post that news for anyone who might not know, and to provide an opportunity for discussion, if anyone wished to do so, in the comments on this entry. For further reference, here’s David Lohr’s longer entry about these developments at In Cold Blog.

Check the comments on that ICB entry — someone asked a question about MyCase.com (link goes to a True Crime Weblog entry about that show) there, and I answered — I simply don’t know what’s going on with the show at the moment. Whatever happens, I’m not worried, though. I’ve got plenty of work to do.

So I’m going back on True Crime Weblog hiatus now and doing that work — I will be reading comments and replying, if need be.

Open Thread: The Murder of Meredith Kercher/READ THE EDIT

[Edit, 12/17/07: Back to the old system for now. Go here to take a look at the comments you’ve made during the interim: http://truecrimeweblog.disqus.com/.]

For this inaugural open thread using the new commenting system, I’d like to suggest readers discuss the “Foxy Knoxy” murder — the alleged murder of Briton Meredith Kercher by Rudy Hermann Guede, Amanda Knox, and Raffaele Sollecito. Click here for the previous entry or simply go here for the comments.

Please keep referring to this blog entry for updates on how to use the new commenting system.

NOTES ON THE NEW COMMENTING SYSTEM

1. You can ignore the points. Unless people vote you deep into the negatives, your comment will not be buried. Don’t be a troll, and it will be visible. Points are awarded by other commentators, which can include me. And you know what? I like the point system for one reason — it’s a good way to let a-holes know they’re being a-holes without actually engaging them (which is often exactly what they want).

2. Frankly, I think the threading thing is self-evident. If you click through to Disqus, you can select the “flat” view, if you like — then the comments will look more like what you’re used to.

3. THE COMMENTS ARE NOW PAGINATED. AT 25 COMMENTS, THEY GO OVER TO A NEW PAGE. LOOK FOR PAGE NUMBERS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE COMMENTS SECTION.

4. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE A DISQUS PROFILE. You may remain anonymous. However, you should know I take a close look at anonymous commentators and won’t hesitate to delete them or mark them as spam if they get really obnoxious. If this gets really bad, I will not hesitate to change the settings so that all commentators must be registered.

5. You can sort comments by oldest, newest, hottest, and something else. I just use old or new and ignore the other settings.

6. The box where you enter your comment is now at the bottom of the entry rather than the bottom of the comments. This may be a little confusing, but you enter your comment then check the usual location, if you’re sorting by “oldest.”

7. Once you’ve left a comment, be sure to refresh the page to see what you and others have written.

8. If you do choose to use the points — only vote another person up one time. If you wish to vote one person up multiple times, you’ll probably have to make multiple profiles, which most people will not do. An attempt to vote a person up twice will actually reduce the point you just gave them.

*************

In a way, I truly appreciate it when readers feel proprietary about my blog. More than some other weblogs I’ve read, that seems to be the case here. People refer to “their” forum, or whatever.

But as I have had to say too many times — this isn’t a message board. On message boards, you may have admins and moderators, but essentially, the readers run the show, add the content, and the admins and mods are there to keep order. On a blog, the blogger, the person who writes the posts, runs the show. That’s me.

I actually installed this commenting system to make comments slightly more like a certain type of message board. Even though I have insisted (and do insist) that people remember this is a different format from a message board, I still went ahead and tweaked things to make the comments feel more like that type of forum, because it seemed to be something the readers might like.

It always happens, though — some people have absolutely freaked about the change. There was a time when I would have apologized for that. This is not that time. I like this change. It’s more in keeping with the way much of the rest of the Web looks now. I found the new format self explanatory and easy to use, and I’m not a skilled webmaster — I’m a writer, first and foremost, and a researcher. My wife, who is a skilled webmaster, can tell you — frequently, me farting around with my blog may end in disaster. This time, the blog has turned out precisely as I wanted it to (ok, not precisely, but I’m referring only to some issues with fonts and colors).

I do read other weblogs, about other subjects, and I’ve rarely seen another blog where the creator and author has had to explain changes the way I’ve had to do. Either they’re ignoring complaints or their readers roll with it. Frankly, I suspect the latter.

I constantly make it clear that I am deeply grateful to the readers of my crime blogs, past and present. I am. And when I make changes, they are usually for aesthetic reasons or usability issues. The comments were changes for usability, and fortunately, a few readers do agree with me. I’m not making any other changes here anytime soon, so hopefully people will grow more accustomed to the new format.

A New Open Thread For Madeleine McCann: Six Months Later

Madeleine McCann disappeared from the Mark Warner resort on Praia da Luz in Portugal six months ago today. And half a year later, it seems as though no one is any closer than they were on May 3, 2007 to finding the girl.

Madeleine is perhaps the most widely-discussed missing child since the Lindbergh baby. At this point the McCann disappearance may be more infamous than that crime from the early 1930s.

Few blog commentators are as dedicated as commentators who chat about Madeleine McCann.

The previous open thread here at The True Crime Weblog has 1,239 comments and counting (the first link will permit you to comment on the weblog proper; the second link takes you directly to the haloscan-hosted thread). Many comments are left by European readers and readers in the UK, but plenty of Americans are discussing the British toddler, too. Another crime-centered site, Websleuths.com, has a huge number of U.S. readers, and there is an entire forum there devoted to Madeleine.

Currently, a Google search yields nearly 2 million hits on the little girl’s name.

Commentators who have followed the discussion: You should no longer post to the previous open thread. Please continue below. If you wish to reference comments left on the previous post, each comment has a number sign beneath it. Click that to directly link a particular comment.

Please, as always, keep the discussion civilized and on-topic.

NOTE, 12/13/07

LINK TO THE HALOSCAN HOSTED COMMENT THREAD. You may use that for reference, or you may wish to continue leaving comments using the new threaded, more forum-like system.

By Popular Demand: Open Thread for Madeleine McCann

There is no end to public fascination with the disappearance of the little British girl from Praia da Luz early last May.

Because several requests have been received, the purpose of this post is to simply start the discussion and let readers go.

To give some focus to the discussion, this article could be considered suggested reading.

The piece relates the news that Portuguese police may be looking for DNA and fingerprints the Britons who were at the Mark Warner-owned resort when Madeleine disappeared.

Apparently there were samples found there that investigators would still like to identify.

Detectives may be chasing signs of a kidnapper, after all.

If they are… well, what the hell happened to pointing the finger at Madeleine’s parents, physicians Kate and Gerry McCann?

If you prefer to read comments in-line — beneath the entry, on the blog itself, do the following once you’ve entered your comment:

* Instead of clicking “comment”, click the title of the post (“By Popular Demand…”), then scroll down and enter your comment in the box. Some people seem to find the pop-out box that comes when you simply click “comment” from the blog’s main page confusing;

* After you press “publish”, press “F5” on your computer keyboard. You may also click the “refresh” button on your browser — usually a looped arrow
.

Comments have a 3,000 character limit, and the Haloscan format doesn’t like overly-long URLs.

I am considering opening a thread to discuss the murder of Chicago-area pharmaceutical sales rep Nailah Franklin, but there were a few trolls following those entries before. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem, but while I’m adding old entries to this site and making other improvements I don’t have the time or patience to mess with that sort of nonsense.

As always, please keep the discussion civil and on-topic. Any off-topic, offensive, or frankly, just plain stupid posts may deleted and the user banned.

The way you close comments with Haloscan doesn’t really close them. The previous thread at this blog (TrueCrimeWeblog.com) can be reached here.

Open Thread: A photo of Madeleine McCann?

Madeleine McCann disappeared in May of this year. Since the 4-year-old vanished the mystery of what may have happened has consumed people all over the “Western” world. CrimeBlog.US has always had a good number of visitors from outside the United States, but hits from readers in places like Portugal, Spain, and the U.K. have risen exponentially. (Though the second highest number of visitors have usually come from the United Kingdom.)

Recently, Portuguese authorities made it clear that they were targeting Madeleine’s physician parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.

Yet like so many supposed developments in this case, this one has seemed to lose its spark since it was first announced.

If a full-blown blog entry here was devoted to each turn and twist in the McCann mystery, this would just be a blog about Madeleine McCann, and it is not. (When I say “blog,” I do NOT mean a single post, I mean the entire body of the weblog. A “blog” is not a single entry, it is the whole shebang. Again, this is an area where people get confused. You are reading a blog post. It is part of a weblog. Any questions? Ask me later.)

However, open thread discussions do provide a forum for intelligent, thoughtful people to talk about new developments, to debate, and update one another. Open threads also come close to letting commentators do what they sometimes think they are doing — blog about this case. If you are unfamiliar with my pet peeve about commentators who write as if they are blogging (“I’ve never blogged before, but…”), just go here.

Most current developments in the search for Madeleine:

* Is Madeleine McCann in Morocco? It seems like a bizarre question, a non-sequitur. Yet I must admit that this photo gave me pause. That’s saying something, because I usually am a skeptic about new developments in this particular mystery. At the same time, I must admit — the picture of a little girl who may look like Madeleine smells a lot like many other past (non) developments in the case. It’s vague, suggestive, anything but concrete.

* How reliable is the lead detective in the case? Joana Cipriano, age 9, vanished from the Algarve in Portugal in 2004. The circumstances seemed to resemble those surrounding the McCann disappearance. Her 36-year-old mother Leonor was eventually convicted of Joana’s murder. Now Leonor is apparently saying that Gonçalo Amaral, one of the main investigators in the McCann disappearance, sat idly by as police literally beat her into confessing to her daughter’s murder.

There’s always plenty to talk about where the McCann disappearance is concerned. So, talk amongst yourselves. Please keep it civil and on-topic.