Filed under: Radar Magazine

Heath Ledger Found Dead in Manhattan

According to both Radar and TMZ.com (among others), Heath Ledger was found dead today in his Soho apartment.

The Brokeback Mountain star and 2006 Academy Award nominee was only 28 years old.

Ledger was found unresponsive in his bedroom by a housekeeper. Police said pills were found near his body.

Heath Ledger most recently completed filming his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight, a new Batman movie starring Christian Bale. He leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter.

At the moment, police do not suspect foul play.

UPDATE

Comprehensive NY Times blog post about this tragic death.

Web Exclusive on the Murder of Meredith Kercher at RADAR Online *UPDATED*

I’m excited to let readers of The True Crime Weblog know that RADAR has published a web exclusive by me on the investigation into the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. I first covered that still-unfolding story here, and it has proven one of my most popular blog entries (1,644 comments and counting) in quite some time.

This will explain why there have been no more blog entries, though:

Sex, Lies, and Videotape: Inside the Amanda Knox Murder Investigation.

The article is an overview of the case so far. If you like it, you should know it was subject to some excellent editing and thorough fact-checking along the way, so I can’t take credit for the best parts of the piece.

Go check it out and leave a comment there, if you have something to say.

UPDATE, 11/20/07

Add to the above this bit posted on RADAR’s “Fresh Intelligence” about the arrest of Rudy Hermann (Guede), the most recent suspect added to the investigation into the Kercher murder.

The Times Online had updated their article with info about Rudy on YouTube by 8 p.m. ET yesterday, but the post I submitted to RADAR was sent in several hours before the Times updated their article.

I’ve also added Rudy’s crazy, disturbing “vampire/alien” video to my own YouTube account.

There’s a weird symmetry to Rudy’s and Amanda Knox’s YouTube accounts. Both posted one video only, and in both instances, the video was embarrassing and seemingly pointless.

**********

Another post by me is up on “Fresh Intelligence” this morning. It’s not related to the story above at all. No, this one is about — of all people — Bill Nye the Science Guy.

It’s one of the stranger stories you’ll read today…

Monday Morning Quickies

There’s some more “Fresh Intelligence” up at RADAR Online. It’s about an Anchor, a Madam, and a Captain.

**UPDATE TO THE ABOVE** John Cook at RADAR completely disposes of the rumor about the Madam and the Anchor here: “Donaldson’s Digits: Wrong Number.

It’s not mentioned by RADAR, but blogger Joseph Cannon has something to say about the source for the Sam Donaldson/DC Madam story here. Worth noting.

Long story short, as far as I know, Sam Donaldson’s clean.

I’m no longer a contributor to Corey Mitchell’s In Cold Blog. But it’s a cool situation, not a frosty one. I’ve simply got too much to do now, and Corey understood that. I wanted to be able to give ICB original content, exclusives, but I couldn’t.

African Americans vanish. Latinos disappear. The blogosphere screams in specious indignation when a “missing white woman” story like Stacy Peterson’s makes and then dominates the news. But I think that along with people of color, missing men in general, even missing white men, also get short shrift in news coverage. A little boy vanishing is usually a major news story, and should be. Teen males who disappear cause concern. But it sometimes seems to me (admittedly, being a man, I may have a bias here) that men 18 and older disappear and very few news outlets outside of local TV want to cover the story.

I’ve actually discussed this issue with a producer from a major TV news magazine. My guess was — and still is — that there is a subconscious perception on the publics’ part that males are often the authors of their fates. That through misadventure or bullheaded choice, men are more likely to have vanished of their own accord. The producer agreed with me.

I think there are logical reasons for this perception. Men sometimes do just say “to hell with it” and walk away from everything. Men (of all colors and creeds) still don’t know how to deal with mental illness, with depression or bipolar disorder.

But that doesn’t make it right. Every missing person matters, regardless of their color, regardless of their gender.

That’s why I have to point out that local (to me) boy Justin Gaines, age 18, is still missing.

Justin vanished after leaving one of his favorite Gwinnett County GA haunts late on November 1, 2007. Friends and family have searched, cell phone pings have been attempted — still, no sign of Justin.

There are message board discussions about Justin’s disappearance, other blogs with a more local focus are covering the mystery, and Justin’s family has put together a website as well:

http://www.justingaines.com/

It seems like the guy just dropped off the face of the earth.

That just doesn’t happen. Someone knows where Justin Gaines is, what happened to him. They need to speak up. It’s obvious both from the response to my previous entry about the young man and from other discussions on the Web that Justin was well-loved, had many friends, and was incredibly important to a number of people.

If you are here in the North Georgia area and following Justin’s case, keep an eye on his site, as it seems to be updated pretty regularly. Again: JustinGaines.com.

A Note of Thanks and Some "Fresh Intelligence"

Check out my new post at RADAR Online’s “Fresh Intelligence”:

Conan Priest’s Stalky Online Homily.”

The headline gives you some idea of where that piece goes, but you have to check it out for yourself — and leave a comment there, if you like. Now.

I’ll wait.

Back? OK — sorry to tease, but more crime-blogging here soon — the first of the late Fall/early Winter illnesses is making its rounds through my household and I’m feeling a little poorly, but I’m still working on stuff.

I’ll sign off this note with the following:

To everyone who watched MyCase.com [MyCaseDotCom.com] and sent a note, made a comment, or added me on MySpace, thank you, very, very much. I was very happy with how the show looked and sounded and proud to be a part of it. What will happen in the future? I’ll just have to keep you posted.

Tips!

The True Crime Weblog wants your tips.

I don’t meant donations this time (though those are always welcome), I mean information. On any story blogged about here, or related to crime stories you’d like me to cover.

I can’t guarantee that I will cover every story sent my way, but I can guarantee that I’ll take each message I receive seriously and may respond in depth if needed.

If you have a tip for something covered by RADAR Magazine, they do have their own address to use, but I’ll welcome a tip you might think RADAR-worthy as well, and pass it on, if needed. Sometimes writing for the Crime Library was hard because I couldn’t decide whether to pitch a story to my editor there or blog about it. RADAR’s crime/scandal coverage is pretty specific, so I don’t worry about any conflicts in content between this blog and paid work for them.

This post is to reiterate something I’ve told tipsters via e-mail in the past, but rarely touched on in the blog: In addition to referencing traditional media stories, this blog also contains original research and reporting.

That may explain to you to some degree why I’ve also been fortunate enough to do professional true crime writing since I began this endeavor in late 2004. The True Crime Weblog isn’t about regurgitating news you can get from Reuters or the AP, unlike many other news-related weblogs. Here, I seek always to add to what those sources have already told you. I don’t hesitate to use traditional media sources to check my work, to validate it, and I don’t mind using mainstream media reports as starting points. But I don’t see any point in crime blogging most of the time unless I have something new to add to the story.

All tips and story ideas are welcome, but I really prize original information. If it is already being reported on your local TV stations or in the newspapers, it is more akin to background on a story, or perhaps an idea for a story. If you send me something you think may not be public knowledge save to you, that is a tip. And those are pretty damned important.

When we’re dealing with original reporting, information sent from a reader that may first see light of day on this weblog, I need to know these things as well: Whether or not you want me to use your name or screen name; Your source for the information, preferably with a URL if you have one; Why you think it’s a worthwhile tidbit.

If these things aren’t included, I need a real e-mail address to which I can respond. I may have to write you and ask where you found your information, and I will ask if it’s already been published.

It occurred to me to make this post after I received several requests and suggestions in relation to the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, in the Chicago area. The 23-year-old woman vanished last Sunday and national media quickly picked up on the story, mainly because her much-older cop husband Drew had several previous marriages and his wife before Stacy died under mysterious circumstances.

The cable news nets or major papers picking up on a story like that will not always stay my hand from doing an entry — I’ve proven to myself that I can take on big stories and still break news in the past. You just have to watch MyCase.com Wednesday night at 10:30 ET on Court TV to see one big example of what I’m talking about.

So far, though, I can’t add anything to the unfolding story of Stacy Peterson’s disappearance. At the moment, anything I post here about Stacy or her husband would be information already published or broadcast elsewhere. Most of the time, I just don’t work that way. I’ve made some exceptions — the open threads for readers interested in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are the most recent ones that come to mind. But those exceptions are few and far between.

Hopefully I’ve illustrated why I don’t always write about what seem like crime stories ripe for true crime blogging, and I’ve clarified what it is I’m doing here.

Any questions, just like tips, can be sent via my contact form.

(Unrelated note: I made it into my hometown newspaper today! Along with Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn, and the Smashing Pumpkins, to name a few. Yes, I’m originally from Nashville, and the last time I recall being in the Tennessean was more than twenty years ago, in a review of some theater thing I did.)

Radar Magazine!!

This feels like a killer birthday present (no pun intended, seeing as how this is a crime blog).

It looks like I’ll be writing for Radar Magazine.

Not only that, I recently discovered that fellow Crime Library alum Seamus McGraw is writing for Radar, and there may even be opportunities for Seamus and I to tag-team some stories that will be of interest to any reader of this blog. Seamus occasionally gave me great advice about this kind of writing when we both were publishing for CL, so it will be awesome to share either online or print space with him again — because not only does Radar have an excellent website, you can find it on the shelves at your local bookstore, too. I will be submitting both web exclusives to the mag as well as print pieces.

I’m serious about the birthday feeling.

This blog isn’t going anywhere, of course, in case that question popped into your head. The sorts of stories Radar might like and what makes it to print here are not always the same, so there will be no overlapping of content, though I will certainly point you towards anything I publish online for Radar.

I’ve had two professional goals since I realized what I was doing with this whole crime writing thing. One is writing a book. Hopefully more than one. The other goal is writing for a publication like Radar.

More later, I’m off to float around a bit.