Sunday, November 16, 2014

When Humanity Became Entertainment

I was in Akron last weekend, went to a rather dinky convention with some big names. Normally that type of venue I wouldn't hit with a 10 foot pole but this time I was in town to meet some big names in my book. I'll get to that event another time. Something happened while I was there that really made me sick.

A guy selling his normal run of the mill booth had a huge stack of B/W photos of the old serialized Batman investigating crime scenes. If you've never seen it don't bother it's a huge bore of a serial it doesn't even have the camp value of Adam West's series. This batman doesn't drive a batmobile and his pointy ears don't even stand up. It's all rather forgettable but again I digress. As I was rummaging through the stacks of photos I was struck with the strangest sense of deja vu, thinking I'd seen these pictures before.
Typical Comic Book guy seeing my interest saunters over and helpfully explains that these images weren't from the Serial but actual super-imposed pictures of the Serial Batman in crime scenes from Chicago in the 1940's.
Looking at them more closely I saw that all of the images were from the crime scene of the Lipstick Murders. I found this to be in incredibly poor taste and I told the seller as much. He was mostly taken aback mostly because he obviously had no clue what he was selling. He was just proud of his cheap photoshop hack job and selling his "stack" for $20 bucks a pop.
Lipstick Murders 1945 Frances Brown a single woman was found murdered and stylistically butchered in a bathtub in her Chicago apartment. Above her body crudely written in lipstick were the words: "For Heavens sake catch me before I kill again I cannot control myself." This was the supposed killers second victim the first being Josephine Ross also killed and left in a bathtub with no message. The third and final victim a six year old girl strangled and dismembered with her body disposed of in the sewers.
Setting aside the absolutely repugnant act of selling real crime scene photos with photoshopped Batman in them and seemingly proud of the "accomplishment." You have to ask just where did humanity go? These women had names, they were people and this man made a crass attempt to capitalize off of something he knew next to nothing about.
Going back to the nature of the crime a man was eventually found and convicted of the Murders under duress. A petty thief by the name of William Heiren's who recently died. Was he the killer? Most likely not. He was interrogated and tortured into confessing and recanted his involvement for the remainder of his life to no avail. Few things to consider in short detail in regards to the Lipstick Murder case. 1. The MO's for all of the murders are so radically different it's hard to believe that they were all committed by the same person. The first victim was shot then stabbed afterwards and left in a bathtub, no message was left behind at the scene. The second victim was stabbed with no other weapon involved, and the cryptically sensationalistic message scrawled in lipstick on the wall. Lipstick? Not Blood? Odd considering how much there was at the scene. Third victim a pre-pubescent child strangled and dismembered and disposed of in the sewers. Again no message and no matching MO. The victims didn't match the crime scene's didn't match and the kills and bodies bore very little similarities that makes it highly unlikely that this was the work of one man. Let alone a petty thief who could barely do that right. The message was likely written by a newspaper photographer eager to make a headline. Lipstick Killer sounded good and they needed to sell papers. Heinlen looked good for a patsy and they set him up for it. Clear 3 unrelated murders off the books with one fell swoop.
Comic Book Guy selling crime scene photos with Batman pasted on the front knew nothing about this. Woefully in his ignorance he continued hawking his wares completely unaware that these things even though they were old mattered to someone. Everything mattered at one point or another otherwise it wouldn't have existed in the first place. When we blur the lines between entertainment and reality we lose a bit of what makes us human. I wish comic book guy understood that. I wish I'd bought his whole "stack" and chucked them in the nearest garbage bin.

In the end he's out there blissfully making his buck and I'm left shaking my head...

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