Sweet baby angels in the woods

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this in a blog post before, or if I have, it’s been only briefly touched on, but this is actually for a college class. Most of my blog posts have been assignments, although I do hope to continue this blog when the semester ends. We were allowed to pick whatever topic we chose – my topic is pretty different from the rest of my classmates’.

This week’s assignment was to edit a Wikipedia page. Obviously, I wanted the page to be related to murder. At my professor’s suggestion, I took a look through the “stubs” category, which are unfinished Wikipedia pages with minimal information. I went straight to the crime stub and quickly found a stub that caught my eye: “Babes in the Wood murders (Wild Park).”

There are two crime stubs titled “Babes in the Wood,” but I chose this one because the other, while similar in style and equally tragic, was older and would be more difficult to learn more about and research. Unfortunately, young children turning up dead in parks is common enough that “Babes in the Wood” has turned into a subcategory of sorts for murder. The one I chose was about two young girls found in a park by their homes in Britain in the the last 1980s. It remains unsolved.

The victims, Karen Hadaway (left) and Nicola Fellows (right). Photo from The Argus.

The victims, Karen Hadaway (left) and Nicola Fellows (right). Photo from The Argus.

The Babes in the Wood murders in Wild Park had minimal information, so I scoured the internet for any extra details on the case. The most recent item on the Wikipedia page was that an unnamed man had be arrested in connection to the murders in May 2016, but I was unable to find any more information on this man and why he was arrested after all this time.

I had never contributed to a Wikipedia page before, but in middle school I had friends who would joke about inserting pop culture references into pages about World War 2. The point of the assignment was to add something truthful to the page that furthered the discussion. I googled the case and combed articles for anything that wasn’t on the Wikipedia page. I found that one of the father of one of the girls had been arrested over 20 years after the murders for sexual assault unrelated to the murders, but evidence of sexual assault was allegedly present on that girl’s body. I added that bit of information in, along with the day the girls went missing and were discovered (previously, only the month and year were on the page).

Editing a page is shockingly simple. Wikipedia is very user-friendly and makes it very easy to add internal hyperlinks, citations and more. I barely had to read any of the tutorials to figure it out. Or maybe I’m just a fast learner.

Working on this assignment really got this case under my skin and I want to do more research into it. The process was really exciting and made me feel like some of my favorite murder media content creators, like the women of My Favorite Murder or the guys from Buzzfeed Unsolved. I’m also a bit of a research nerd – when I want to know about something, I go to the far reaches of the internet. I’m inspired to go through more crime stubs and try to expand on more unsolved cases. Maybe I’ll even solve and get a movie made about me. Or not. A girl can dream.

— Caroline

Stay sexy and don’t get murdered

Social media is my lifeblood. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, you name it. I’m addicted to it the way many people are hooked on coffee or heroin. Facebook is by far my most private social media account because I was raised on the “you can’t trust people on the internet, they could have fake pictures and names” rhetoric that arose in the early 2000s after teenage girls were getting catfished by gross old men. So many of the stories of children getting murdered start with the child trusting an adult they don’t know simply because they are an adult. My parents, like most, taught me to never talk to strangers, both in person and on the internet.

I didn’t have a Facebook account for most of high school and made one a few months before graduation to stay connected with soon-to-be former classmates. I’ve since deleted most of them since I don’t really care about them getting engaged to their football player boyfriends in Idaho or turning into uninformed morons once they were legally allowed to vote.

Like most people (I hope), I’ve never accepted a Facebook friend request from someone I don’t personally know. Facebook proved to be invaluable before entering college: I could message my roommates and talk to them months before move-in day (Spoiler alert: They seemed like nice girls. They were not.) or chat up students in my major in our “Class of 2017” group. My first year of Facebook I posted a lot statuses that I thought were funny or shared my favorite music. Then I started to become more passive, only uploading photos and sharing articles. I used Facebook more for groups than it’s intended purpose. A group for my dorm building, a group for a club I rarely went to, a group for the school newspaper staff.

But my favorite Facebook is the My Favorite Murder group.

The "My Favorite Murder" podcast cover

The “My Favorite Murder” podcast cover

I’ve probably mentioned the My Favorite Murder podcast in every post so far, but I just love it so much. I listen to each new episode the day it comes out and I’m still working through a few of the old episodes that came out before I started listening. During one episode, the two women who host the podcast, Karen and Georgia, said they had created a Facebook group for listeners, which they have dubbed “muderinos,” to share stories and hometown murders, since they get sent more stories than they have time for on their podcast.

I immediately went to Facebook and requested access to the group. It’s a small community of about 58,000 people and a treasure trove of creepy murder stories, personal stories about why people are fascinated with murder and how happy they are that this group exists, and memes with funny quotes from the podcast. My favorite quote is “You’re in a cult. Call your dad.” People sign their posts with “SSDGM” which is an abbreviation of the podcast’s signature sendoff, “Remember: stay sexy and don’t get murdered. Byeeee!”

I love indulging my obsession and seeing how many people share the same excitement for murder. When I finish an episode of the podcast, I can go to the Facebook group and continue the conversation with my fellow muderinos. I’ve never joined a Facebook group full of strangers but for some reason, joining this one didn’t feel weird. There are group moderators and a set of rules, like “Don’t say negative things about other podcasts,” and “Don’t share any graphic photos without a warning.” The other group members are all very honest and genuine – there is no fear of judgement, because it’s a safe haven for us to talk about a weird obsession we all share that most people who judge us for.

I also feel more connected to the subject matter and I’m inclined to expand my knowledge of true crime more now that I’m in this group. I try to read all the articles the other muderinos share and comment with my thoughts. If there are already a lot of comments I agree with, I’ll reply to those comments and start conversations. It’s fascinating to see the theories others have and how different people interpret evidence different ways. It really enriches my learning experience to not just read an article about a serial killer, but have an in-depth discussion with people who come from different backgrounds.

Ten years ago, talking to strangers online often made you into a cautionary tale, but now it is a lot more safe and secure. Unless I get murdered by someone else in the group, which would be some pretty twisted poetic justice.

— Caroline