It can be proven that Ted Cruz is *probably* not the Zodiac killer

I’m not picky about which form of media I consume when learning about murder. Like I mentioned before, I recently discovered a great podcast called My Favorite Murder. I’ve also seen some good documentaries (but actually haven’t watched “Making a Murderer” yet!) and read countless articles.

However, one of my favorite ways to learn about creepy unsolved murders and other odd cases is Buzzfeed Unsolved.” Sadly, there are only 10 videos, but I included my favorite one above. This 20 minute analysis of the Zodiac killer is incredibly in-depth and one of the longer videos the two Buzzfeed employees who created the series, Brent and Ryan, have done.

In every video, Brent and Ryan start by explaining the crimes concisely but creatively before moving on to previously held theories, what the police thought at the time, where the evidence leads and then discuss which theory they each agree with most. They explain the crime briefly but well so that people who already know the story, like myself, are still interested but those who haven’t heard of the famous murder or serial killer they’re discussing don’t feel alienated.

What I like about the format of the “Buzzfeed Unsolved” videos is that they do incredibly detailed research and have the visuals to back it up. Each video includes photos of anyone mentioned, from victims to suspects. There are also original crime scene photos, but never anything too graphic. Just enough so you get the feel for what happened in the moment. In this specific video, they also have scans of letters the Zodiac killer wrote to the San Francisco Chronicle. Obviously I have the internet and know how to use it, but it’s great to have all that information neatly packaged in an easily accessible video that I can watch while I fold laundry or eat a snack.

There is footage of Brent and Ryan, but most of the videos are comprised of voiceovers, mostly Ryan’s, meshed with key phrases written on screen, photos and video footage. In some of the videos, like the Zodiac one and their Black Dahlia video, Ryan and Brent have the opportunity to go to the actual crime scenes (well, the spots that were crime scenes 40-50 years ago). The Zodiac video starts with them at the first Zodiac crime scene, which immediately sets the stage. I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to keep watching a video with an opening like that than an opening of someone sitting at a table with pages of notes in front of them.

Many key phrases and quotes, like lines Ryan picks out of the Zodiac letters, appears on the screen in an easy to read and large font. When talking about suspects, there are often bulleted lists shown next to either photos or drawings of said suspect. Comprehensive closed captions are also available, which makes the video accessible to anyone. Between the captions and photos, it is possible to watch the “Buzzfeed Unsolved” videos without sound if necessary.

I’m not a big Youtube commenter – I don’t want to get stuck down a rabbit hole – but these videos have thousands of comments from others regarding theories. Viewers also suggest other cases for the pair to cover, give feedback on the video format and more. The videos also have exponentially more “thumbs up” than “thumbs down” – the Zodiac video has over 90,000 upvotes versus 800 downvotes – and upwards of three million views each.

The presentation is a perfect combination of multiple elements and much more engaging than just watching one person sit at a desk and spout theories. Ryan and Brent are obviously friends as well as co-workers, with Brent often being the logical straight man to Ryan’s more imaginative nature and tendency to grasp at straws or believe the likely impossible. I also appreciate that casual language (and occasional swearing), because I feel like I could be friends with these guys. Especially when they mention the Ted Cruz is the Zodiac killer meme. In fact, if they need another member for the team, they need look no farther.

— Caroline

Murder? That’s a messed up obsession.

I love murder.

Well, I love reading about it. And talking about it, listening to podcasts about it and watching tv shows and documentaries about it. Serial killers, famous unsolved murders, you name it. I don’t remember when I first realized my love for true crime, but my friends and family are so aware of my interest in it that one year for my birthday, my sister bought me a notepad shaped like a chalk outline.

"Murder Ink" by Fred & Friends

“Murder Ink” by Fred & Friends

Recently I have experienced a revival of sorts due to a podcast my co-worker introduced me to called My Favorite Murder. The podcast is run by two women who love to talk about their favorite murders and are delighted to learn that other people they know share this passion. They ask for listener submissions of the worst murders in their hometowns and discuss every case in a hilariously off-color way. I listen to it while I’m cooking, at the gym, etc.

I’m a journalism major and advertising minor who isn’t sure if she wants to go into either of those fields post-grad. I very much enjoy consuming media of all types and always try to stay informed on news and pop culture. This is true of both current culture (memes, the election, etc.) but also of major cultural events in the past, like the murder of JonBenét Ramsey. My first memory of that case is seeing a 10-year anniversary news report with closed captions on a tv in a busy airport. I was on my way home from my mom’s cousin’s wedding in St. Louis, with my parents and sister, and I read the captions on the screen while we waited to board our flight.

Since then, I’ve read and heard more about it occasionally, but haven’t been obsessed with it. When all four of the television specials about the murder air this year for the 20th anniversary, I will probably be glued to my laptop, obsessively tracking the details and composing a narrative in my head of who I think killed her.

I don’t have a preference for solved or unsolved cases, just the ones with the craziest juicy details. If it’s a one-off case, I like it to be a messed up as possible. If it’s a serial killer, it can be a bit more mundane. Honestly I can’t tell you why I love murder so much.

With this blog, I hope to learn more about why people are so captivated by true crime, myself included. What it is about hearing the grisly details that is so enticing? Why do we have a fascination for an act so heinous, we can’t even begin to imagine committing it ourselves?

Maybe I’ll understand why at some point. But even when I do, I’ll keep being obsessed with murder.

— Caroline