Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

Too Much Tube

Posted February 15, 2007

This week I came to the conclusion that criminals are watching too much television, and as a result, they're picking up bad habits.

Take the brutal murder of a Wendell woman who was found stabbed to death in her home Tuesday morning for example.  Investigators say the man charged with killing his wife enlisted two teenagers to help him cover up the crime.   Then, in a gruesome move worthy of a prime time television crime drama, investigators say the suspects wrote a threatening note in the victim's blood on the kitchen floor.  The goal was obviously to make everyone believe that the killer meant to get revenge against  the woman's husband- the man ultimately charged in the crime.

Then, almost as unbelievable as the note written in blood, the husband called 911
to report finding his wife's body.  He sobbed into the receiver as he recounted his horror to the dispatcher.  At times, he was so frantic that his words were impossible to understand.  The dispatcher had to keep telling him to slow down and speak clearly.  Investigators now say the call was a hoax.  If it was, it was an Oscar-winning performance, one ripped right out of a Lifetime movie.  Clearly, it didn't pass muster with detectives.

The final element that proves criminals are getting too much information from television is that the murder suspect spent the day "cooperating" with investigators, the assumption being that if you talk you couldn't possibly be guilty.  By midday, they say information about the two teens involved in the cover-up came to light.  They also found items taken from the crime scene that were disposed of in a nearby field.  They ultimately confronted the suspect who was speaking freely without an attorney present, and charged him with murder.

Not unlike television viewers who think crimes can be solved in an hour (because that's how it's done on C.S.I.), I think criminals take cues from what they see on television.  They learn what they think are plausible evasive moves that will keep them from getting caught.  But in the end, most of the time, especially in serious crimes, the techniques don't work, the bad guys get caught, and they go to jail.

So grab the remote, keep on watching boys.  I know some people in law enforcement who would gladly pay your cable bill.  

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  • sevenspringsseven Feb 24, 2007


    I am beginning to believe you are one of those people who believe everything you read - translation, for a TV News Reporter, you are not very smart.

    How dare you imply people believe DNA research is done in a matter of minutes and cases are solved in under an hour. Despite your high and mighty attitude, we viewers aren't idiots, nor do we take everything at face value (as you appear to). People who are stupid enough to commit crimes are exactly that - stupid. They aren't thinking they can watch TV to try and figure out how to explain away murder. Anyone who watches TV (not all TV is trash like C.S. I.) is likely aware that even a toxicology test takes two weeks to be completed. And not everyone who watches TV watches CBS - Or do you not believe folks can decide to watch other channels than yours?

    You have a lot of nerve but not a lot of common sense.

  • Lizard Paw Feb 19, 2007

    Good article,, Amanda. Right on target! Let 'em keep coming up with their stupid stories. Just another example of how smart they "know" they are.

  • couldbeanyone Feb 19, 2007

    i was disgusted by wral's coverage of this event. the police were not releasing details so what did wral do? sent the helicopter with a zoom lens to pry into the crime scene AND checked the tax records to see what name the property was listed under. once they found that part out they broadcast the names which means if anyone close to the family DIDN'T know what was going on then they sure did at that point.
    it's not just TV - it's the media feeding the obsession with gore - WRAL disappointed me with the "if it bleeds it leads" coverage of this horrible crime.

    ms. lamb's reporting on the michelle young autopsy photos was also proof of the media adding to the interest in gore. i loved how one anchor said "we're not going to SHOW you these horrible pictures but here's amanda lamb to tell you all about how horrible they were" - what's the difference guys? honestly.

    before you point to fictional crime shows look at how your own organization chooses to handle crimes.

  • true american Feb 17, 2007

    This country is lacking in character , morals and values, sad to say but I think the counrty has seen its best days long ago.We seem to give in rather than to take a firm stand for whats right, I think that our desire for more and more has hurt us. My great grand parrents bought their farm on a hand shake , when a mans word meant every thing but those days are long gone. Folks in 5 years you'll look back and wont be able to belive the changes you;ll have seen, it's time to stand up , are we waiting for some one else to do it for us .

  • sakeravihn Feb 17, 2007

    So because of watching to much tv, they are picking up the ideas on how to murder someone? Okay...

  • MarvinsWife12 Feb 17, 2007

    I think the media is just as guilty as Hollywood when it comes giving criminals ideas.

  • BIG YAWN Feb 17, 2007

    "Big Yawn".....he's guilty.

  • observor Feb 16, 2007

    In the real world, some crimes are actually committed by girls.

  • ajh20 Feb 16, 2007

    whoa...whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty. you need to stop biasing the juror pool.

  • CestLaVie Feb 16, 2007

    Isn't it amazing how the truth ALWAYS comes out in the end, and how stupid people ALWAYS think they are so smart??!!

About this Blog:

WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.