I didn’t have much contact with Janet Pelasara (Taylor Behl’s mom), at all when she was in the news, talking about her daughter’s disappearance, but I’ve been in touch with her since, and she’s a truly impressive woman who has weathered an unimaginable blow. I was glad she was willing to participate in making MyCase.com — I only wish I’d had the chance to meet her in person.In some respects I’m just as fascinated as anyone else would be with this show, so far — I can’t recall seeing Taylor’s friend Glynnis Keogh much before, and the cops who investigated this crime are awesome. To hear one of them say the information being blogged about was “incredibly accurate” is pretty damned satisfying. 10:45 PM My wife, Dana: “Your beard looks really red on TV.” In the comments OPI asks what I think of the show so far. I’m surprised at just how much I like it. Not because I thought it’d be bad — having seen one other true crime-related production from some of the same people at Optomen, I knew this would be original, have a visual style that really set it apart from other true crime shows — but because I was nervous about my part in it. I’m also happy the cops participated so much in the taping. The folks at Optomen did a fantastic job of weaving in the separate elements making up the investigation into what happened to Taylor. The re-enactments work well, too — I particularly liked the way they used projection of text in some scenes. 10:59 PM I have never seen that shot of Ben Fawley appearing to cry as he enters his Alford plea. Now it sticks with me, because it crystallizes just how psychopathic this guy was. He’d screwed up his face and was speaking in a hushed, strained voice. Any casual observer would think Ben was crying. But there wasn’t a tear to be seen. I’m sure there never was. What may have been hard to capture in 30 minutes — heck, even an hour — was how trawling through the kind of vast online presence created by a psycho like Ben will worm into your brain. I’ve investigated and written about two killers who had particularly complex online lives — Joseph Edward Duncan and Ben Fawley. With both, there were moments when I wanted to go peel the guys out of my brain. Even their most innocuous writings would leave me queasy. Ben’s performance in that courtroom video only crystallized that feeling from him — that he was so profoundly soulless that even across the Web he left me feeling nauseated, seasick. I still react badly to any website containing more than its fair share of skull images. 11:11 PM Someone e-mailed to ask if it was weird to see myself on camera in that capacity — not as a talking head on a news show, but in documentary made with real flair, cinematic style. In a word, yes. A few things about some of the scenes where I was on the computer. I don’t want to break “the fourth wall” or anything, but I don’t own a fly Mac like the one I used during those shots and no office of mine anywhere has ever been that stylishly furnished or neat. That said, after just using that Mac for footage, I’d go back to Macs again in a heartbeat. The cyber cafe was in Manhattan, and if I lived in Manhattan, I can guarantee you I would indeed be parked in that place on a regular basis doing my writing. The day we taped there I kept getting refills on my coffee, and after a while I was holding up shooting because I kept having to use the restroom. TV. It’s all about the glamor. My verdict on MyCase.com? After finally getting to see the whole thing, I’m enormously proud to have been any part of it at all. I know it may seem like I’m supposed to say such a thing, but I’ve never been the kind of guy who would just say what he’s supposed to if I didn’t feel it. If I’d thought the show stank, I wouldn’t be writing about it after that last update. Instead, I think documentary-style shows that fall into the true crime genre need to be more like MyCase.com. The show took a truly unique angle of the story and told it with style and with incredible pacing. They managed to find a way to tape me that I didn’t wince as I watched my part of the show tonight. And I was ready to wince. If there were a series like this I’d watch it every time it was on, and wouldn’t care whether I was a part of it or not. NOTES Answering some comments… What was this like for me? Well, you’d never know by watching that half-hour that this show was pretty much nearly 2 years in the making. My part was done 10-11 months ago, too — I’m not shaving my head anymore, I wear a full beard now. I look different, so there’s something peculiar in seeing myself captured at a particular point in time. On the whole, it was exciting and humbling. Exciting to travel and talk about this thing I do with smart people who got it (they obviously did, based on the way they presented my portions of the show). Humbling in part because you’d never know that while I was in NYC to tape MyCase.com my back kept trying to go out, and I had to navigate around that the entire time. That was my body reminding me I was an out-of-shape dude nearing 40 and didn’t have any reason to start getting cocky now. Would I do more? In a heartbeat. But I’d also want some other folks who do what I do to be a part of it. Frankly, I love the idea of being the person who talks to them, something like that. Generally, though — if I could do something like this show and also continue writing — I’d be a pretty happy blogger, indeed. Will I be on every week? At the moment I don’t know of any plans for such a thing. If you want that, just write Court TV and tell them you loved the show and want to see more. If there do end up being plans for some more shows, I’ll let readers know as soon as I’m able. OPI asked in the comments if this case changed my life. Here’s my answer (which is also in the comments section):
My writing about Taylor got me my first paid freelance writing work, and I’d not even tried to get the gig — it fell in my lap. That was life-changing. As popular as my blog was becoming at that time, I’d still only considered writing for a living in passing. I think my understanding of what I was doing changed. I realized just how serious it was, for one thing. Taylor’s youth and the pain in her mother’s eyes whenever I saw Janet on TV brought that home. I also realized that there might be times I was the first to come up with something. That was a responsibility I’d been aware of, but Taylor’s disappearance and the blogging I did in relation to it really slammed the point home. One has to really think about the information they’ve discovered and use some judgment when you make it public.