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Documentaries: True Crime For Your Eyes

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I really need to see that Amanda Knox documentary! I've been meaning to for awhile, but keep putting it off. And then I'll probably be ordering books, just like you!

I'm currently reading a book on the West Memphis Three, which I (oddly) had never really read much about before now. In fact, it was in the Making a Murderer thread that another poster sparked my interest. I love this board!

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5 hours ago, ghoulina said:

I'm currently reading a book on the West Memphis Three, which I (oddly) had never really read much about before now. In fact, it was in the Making a Murderer thread that another poster sparked my interest. I love this board!

Not to hijack the JonBenet Ramsey thread, but you really should watch the HBO documentaries about the West Memphis 3, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood HillsParadise Lost 2: Revelations, & Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. They're excellent.

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On 7/15/2017 at 5:28 AM, ghoulina said:

I really need to see that Amanda Knox documentary! I've been meaning to for awhile, but keep putting it off. And then I'll probably be ordering books, just like you!

I'm currently reading a book on the West Memphis Three, which I (oddly) had never really read much about before now. In fact, it was in the Making a Murderer thread that another poster sparked my interest. I love this board!

The documentary was really good. I hadn't followed the case at all so t was all new to me. I went back and forth between she did it and she didn't do it.  The Italian cop in the show pissed me the hell off the way he kept saying his opinion like it was a fact. I downloaded 2 books, I'm going to start one when I'm finished with my current book. 

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On 7/15/2017 at 1:33 PM, GaT said:

Not to hijack the JonBenet Ramsey thread, but you really should watch the HBO documentaries about the West Memphis 3, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood HillsParadise Lost 2: Revelations, & Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. They're excellent.

Thank you! I think they're available on Amazon? I definitely want to watch, but I'll have to finish the book first. 

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There's also the Peter Jackson-produced West of Memphis, which got a theatrical release.

All three Paradise Lost films are available on HBOGo.  

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On 7/15/2017 at 8:28 AM, ghoulina said:

I really need to see that Amanda Knox documentary! I've been meaning to for awhile, but keep putting it off. And then I'll probably be ordering books, just like you!

I'm currently reading a book on the West Memphis Three, which I (oddly) had never really read much about before now. In fact, it was in the Making a Murderer thread that another poster sparked my interest. I love this board!

That case, man! I've followed it for 100 years and it still never fails to pull me into a deep rabbit hole. And to this day, even knowing the outcome, I become wildly enraged if I watch the very first Paradise Lost.

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10 hours ago, ghoulina said:

Thank you! I think they're available on Amazon? I definitely want to watch, but I'll have to finish the book first. 

Pretty sure they are on Amazon or Netflix; I watched them last fall. I was a college student in Memphis when the murders occurred and remember the crazy media coverage and how the three teenagers were vilified. 

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I only remember hearing about it in passing. NO details. I guess I always assumed the kids were guilty. It wasn't until someone on the Making a Murderer Thread mentioned that the way Brendan Dassey was treated reminded them of Jessie Misskelley, that I decided to look further into it. I'm about halfway into the book, and yea - I'm just shocked at the amount of BS that went on with that case. Those kids were handpicked by the cops from day one. 

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One of the things that really surprised me over the course of the the three documentaries was how the attitudes of some of the parents evolved.  John Mark Byers, the stepfather of Christopher Byers spends part of the second documentary shooting at pumpkins while pretending they're the heads of Damien, Jessie, and Jason.  By the start of the third volume, he's actively campaigning to get them released and acknowledging he'd been wrong.

A lot of the parents/stepparents had unsavory pasts, but, as weird as the guy was, it takes a lot to own up to something like that.

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3 hours ago, ghoulina said:

I only remember hearing about it in passing. NO details. I guess I always assumed the kids were guilty. It wasn't until someone on the Making a Murderer Thread mentioned that the way Brendan Dassey was treated reminded them of Jessie Misskelley, that I decided to look further into it. I'm about halfway into the book, and yea - I'm just shocked at the amount of BS that went on with that case. Those kids were handpicked by the cops from day one. 

Oh, they were absolutely targeted by the police. So much fuss was made about the "satanic angle" because 2 of them wore black clothes and they listed to heavy metal. One thing that was surprising to me from the documentaries is that the 3 weren't really friends before they found themselves in that nightmare. Because if you're going to have a satanic sacrifice, you really should invite some people you don't know very well to participate. 

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According to the book, Damien and Jason were pretty decent friends. They were both sort of outcasts, and bonded over that. But yea, the kid who "confessed" - Jessie - only knew those two in passing. 

There was PO in that town that had a real hard on for Jessie AND this whole "satanic cult" thing before the murders even happened. It's so obvious and gross. 

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Yeah, Jason (I accidentally typed Jessie before) and Damien were friends,  and I think Jessie knew Jason a bit better than he knew Damien (and Jessie reportedly tried to beat up one of them--Jason, I think--when they were all younger, but like many adolescent guys, they got over that).

In the late '80s/early '90s, there was a glut of "Satanic Panic" sensationalism in the media. So weird, especially if you read the actual tenets of satanism (or whatever it's "officially" called).

The WORST is that so-called doctor of the occult, who got an online degree without any actual education. He thinks fingernails and hair that are "painted black" mean something, haha!

Edited by TattleTeeny · Reason: OOPS! I meant that JASON & Damien were friends! Corrected!
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On 8/2/2017 at 9:16 AM, TattleTeeny said:

The WORST is that so-called doctor of the occult, who got an online degree without any actual education.

It was outrageous. He was like Dana Carvey's Church Lady, minus the charm.

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I KNOW! It got to the point in one of the docs (not the first one) that I actually almost felt sorry for him because he seemed just intelligent enough to know that he should probably feel (and certainly looked) incredibly stupid. 

Edited by TattleTeeny

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So I still haven't watched Paradise Lost, but I did finish reading The Devil's Knot last week. And I found a showing of West of Memphis on TV a few days ago, so I DVR'd that. Has anyone seen that one?

What I found very interesting was the theory that animals (specifically turtles) were to blame for all the markings on the boy, and the mutilation of Christopher's penis. When you watch the demonstrations and see the markings next to verified turtles bites - it's a very plausible theory. Which really turns the case on its head. Because that means the crime wasn't nearly as vicious as they were making it out to be. OF COURSE, the loss of 3 8-year-olds boys is.....unspeakable. I have two boys, 7 and 9. I cannot even fathom. Just beyond tragic to lose such young lives. So I don't want to diminish that. But if we're to believe that those boys were cut all over their body and one had his genitals mutilated by the killer; that leaves us looking for a very demented person. Whereas, if those marks were made by animals chewing on the boys while their bodies were hid/dumped, and they were just killed (not tortured, not mutilated) - that opens the door to a lot more possibilities when you're looking for the killer. 

Also interesting was the focus on Terry Hobbs. He was never mentioned in any serious way in The Devil's Knot. John Mark Byers got a lot of attention, but not Terry. I'm only halfway into the doc. I had to keep pausing any time my kids or husband (won't watch anything where kids are hurt) came into the room....and then it got so late I started falling asleep. But I'm curious to hear more about him, because he sounds like a pretty fucked up dude. 

What's insane, to me, is that Jessie seems to have a pretty locked down alibi for that night. Wrestling (shout out to Brendan Dassey!) - verified by more than one person. How was this kid EVER convicted???

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1 hour ago, ghoulina said:

So I still haven't watched Paradise Lost, but I did finish reading The Devil's Knot last week. And I found a showing of West of Memphis on TV a few days ago, so I DVR'd that. Has anyone seen that one?

 

West of Memphis is also good, but you should really watch the "Paradise Lost" documentaries, they really cover everything.

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I just watched the first Paradise Lost documentary tonight (I know, I know, I'm so late to the party!).  All of the Paradise Lost movies are free on Amazon Prime Video if you're a prime member.

I thought the filmmakers did a really good job of showing the situation objectively.  While it seemed clear that the evidence was incredibly weak (or nonexistent), I didn't feel like they were unfairly highlighting one side or the other.  I particularly liked the shot of Damien Echols doing his hair in the court room for what felt like forever.

I got kind of a creepy vibe from Jason's lawyer towards the end when they were waiting for sentencing, but I don't know if that was just me.

I'll watch the rest of them probably next week.

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21 hours ago, GaT said:

West of Memphis is also good, but you should really watch the "Paradise Lost" documentaries, they really cover everything.

Oh I plan on it, but my only streaming device is my tablet and I'm smack dab in the middle of another series right now. So I plan to watch Paradise Lost on Amazon when I'm done. West of Memphis was on TV, so I was able to DVR it and watch it that way. 

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You know, the real tragedy here is - those boys that were murdered seemed to have had horribly shitty lives, followed by a horrible death. Well , I don't know about Moore. But all the things we've heard about Stevie and Christopher's lives just make me so sad. Such short, hard, sad lives. 

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3 hours ago, ghoulina said:

You know, the real tragedy here is - those boys that were murdered seemed to have had horribly shitty lives, followed by a horrible death. Well , I don't know about Moore. But all the things we've heard about Stevie and Christopher's lives just make me so sad. Such short, hard, sad lives. 

Plus, their murders are still unsolved. Who killed them? Why? We'll probably never know because the police screwed everything up by following their prejudices, & now anyone who is associated with the case is going to be a suspect for the rest of their lives. Similar to JonBenet Ramsey. 

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Ugh, yes, I know. I mean, I can say who I think did it. Actually in the case of WM3, I find myself wavering between Terry Hobbs and John Mark Byers. In the JBR case, I am very certain it was Burke, with Patsy and John covering (different levels of involvement). But without actual PROOF and confirmation, there's no resolution. No closure. No justice for those poor children. 

But yea, it's infuriating that the "Satanic panic" drove this case from the beginning. When children are killed, it's almost always a family member. Those six parents should have been scrutinized heavily from the very start. Instead, they had on their eye on Damien, and anyone they could attach to him. They were making the clues fit their killer, and not the other way around. Ironically, the main reason they were thinking "cult" was the so-called mutilation and marking of the bodies. But it's now theorized that those marks, the removal of the penis, were done by wild animals, most likely turtles. Where was that possibility back in 1993??? It's like nothing else was considered. 

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On 8/7/2017 at 5:04 AM, ghoulina said:

But it's now theorized that those marks, the removal of the penis, were done by wild animals, most likely turtles. Where was that possibility back in 1993??? It's like nothing else was considered. 

Forensic taphonomy (study of the postmortem changes to human remains focusing largely on environmental effects) wasn't really a widespread specialty back then, from what I've read. It did exist as a science since the 1940s, but it was mostly applied to fossils and stuff. There were anecdotal case studies about how animals can disperse bodily remains across an area, or how animals interact with a body, but not yet to the degree where law enforcement would think to compare wound types with local animal habits. It was still considered a new and emerging field as late as 2011, according to the itsGOV forensic sciences site.

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Oh okay, I guess that makes sense. Although, it seems to me that it would be logical to at least CONSIDER animal bites, when the boys were found in the water, in the woods, where I'm sure a lot of wildlife roam around. 

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It's crazy they didn't consider turtles, when the word "turtle" is in the name of part of the area the kids were found--or at least someone in one of the documentaries referred to something as "turtle creek" or "turtle stream" or something. 

Edited by TattleTeeny

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Anyone here ever watched any true crime Australia? 

Anita Cobby: You Thought You Knew It All (Oz TV)

It's on YouTube. Probably the best true crime documentary I've ever seen. Produced in a very different way than the USA true crime stories. 

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Is anybody watching Wild, Wild Country on Netflix? It’s about a Hindi guru who became popular in the 1970s and 1980s and built a town in Oregon and then things went very wrong. I watched the first 2 parts last night so I haven’t hit the criminal accusations yet, but man is it crazy.

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1 hour ago, FozzyBear said:

Were they in Oregon?

For six months or so, they are both dead now and I was a child so will have to find out more detaiks from my mother.

Edited by biakbiak

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Not on current topic, but on the Cold Justice episode on the murder of the mother and her 6 yr old child, did the investigators ask the gf of "D" if he brought something home with him that he didn't own before?

Like the missing vcr that was stolen from the murdered woman's home???????

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On 8/5/2017 at 2:26 PM, ghoulina said:

So I still haven't watched Paradise Lost, but I did finish reading The Devil's Knot last week. And I found a showing of West of Memphis on TV a few days ago, so I DVR'd that. Has anyone seen that one?

What I found very interesting was the theory that animals (specifically turtles) were to blame for all the markings on the boy, and the mutilation of Christopher's penis. When you watch the demonstrations and see the markings next to verified turtles bites - it's a very plausible theory. Which really turns the case on its head. Because that means the crime wasn't nearly as vicious as they were making it out to be. OF COURSE, the loss of 3 8-year-olds boys is.....unspeakable. I have two boys, 7 and 9. I cannot even fathom. Just beyond tragic to lose such young lives. So I don't want to diminish that. But if we're to believe that those boys were cut all over their body and one had his genitals mutilated by the killer; that leaves us looking for a very demented person. Whereas, if those marks were made by animals chewing on the boys while their bodies were hid/dumped, and they were just killed (not tortured, not mutilated) - that opens the door to a lot more possibilities when you're looking for the killer. 

Also interesting was the focus on Terry Hobbs. He was never mentioned in any serious way in The Devil's Knot. John Mark Byers got a lot of attention, but not Terry. I'm only halfway into the doc. I had to keep pausing any time my kids or husband (won't watch anything where kids are hurt) came into the room....and then it got so late I started falling asleep. But I'm curious to hear more about him, because he sounds like a pretty fucked up dude. 

What's insane, to me, is that Jessie seems to have a pretty locked down alibi for that night. Wrestling (shout out to Brendan Dassey!) - verified by more than one person. How was this kid EVER convicted???

Possums will make similar markings and will "destroy" a person's private areas, too. Collection of crime scene evidence should've included biological connection to animals, reptiles, insects, etc.

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So I still haven't watched Paradise Lost, but I did finish reading The Devil's Knot last week. 

By the time that I was 35 pages into that book, I decided that everyone that police department had ever arrested for anything, anytime should be released.  What a pack of idiots!  I haven't watched any of the docs, either, though I keep meaning to do so.  The book just made me so angry.  Agree that one of the stepdads probably did it, though I go back and forth on which one.

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2 hours ago, Yokosmom said:

By the time that I was 35 pages into that book, I decided that everyone that police department had ever arrested for anything, anytime should be released.  What a pack of idiots!  I haven't watched any of the docs, either, though I keep meaning to do so.  The book just made me so angry.  Agree that one of the stepdads probably did it, though I go back and forth on which one.

Right??? Oh my gosh, the police were just awful. 

And I agree on going back and forth about the step-dads. I've landed on one of them getting mad and flipping out on THEIR child, then having to "take care of" the others. And animals likely caused all the extra markings on the boys' bodies. 

So so sad that SIX young lives were ruined that night. 

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I'm of the mind that there is no way animals didn't do that damage--and I'm guessing turtles too, as the kids were in the water--and also that a stepdad did this. Way back when, I was sure it was Byers but have since changed my mind on that. So, I suppose it's possible that I could change my mind again in the future. 

The current season of the Truth & Justice podcast is all about the WM3 case; they're basically investigating the investigation itself. I can never get enough of this case.

Edited by TattleTeeny
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Thanks for the info about the podcast, I want to check that out. I RARELY listen to podcasts, because my kids are freaking LOUD. But I think that would be right up my alley. 

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I just watched There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane. Has anyone seen it? Such a strange tale. It's about a suburban Mom who caused one of the worst traffic accidents in New York. She was a very high functioning executive and a perfectionist/control freak at home. Diane managed to drive the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway for two miles before crashing into two other cars. But that's not the story. The investigation that followed and the family's reaction is baffling. It's on Amazon if anyone wants to give it a go.

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1 minute ago, spankydoll said:

I just watched There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane. Has anyone seen it? Such a strange tale. It's about a suburban Mom who caused one of the worst traffic accidents in New York. She was a very high functioning executive and a perfectionist/control freak at home. Diane managed to drive the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway for two miles before crashing into two other cars. But that's not the story. The investigation that followed and the family's reaction is baffling. It's on Amazon if anyone wants to give it a go.

I saw it a while ago on HBO, I believe. It’s a great but horrifying documentary. It was really strange what happened. It’s been a while since I saw it so some of the details are fuzzy. I do know that I looked up what happened to the parents who lost their three girls and they ended up staying together and doing IVF (because her tubes were tied) to have another daughter. I think I remember reading the doctor did it for free because they couldn’t have afforded to do it otherwise. 

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2 minutes ago, glowbug said:

I saw it a while ago on HBO, I believe. It’s a great but horrifying documentary. It was really strange what happened. It’s been a while since I saw it so some of the details are fuzzy. I do know that I looked up what happened to the parents who lost their three girls and they ended up staying together and doing IVF (because her tubes were tied) to have another daughter. I think I remember reading the doctor did it for free because they couldn’t have afforded to do it otherwise. 

Why does the husband steadfastly deny that Diane ever drank, smoked weed on a regular basis, etc. I can't pinpoint if he is trying to avoid being sued. Or if he knew that she was drunk and just let her drive away with all of those kids in the car. He seemed like a real Peter Pan asshole. You know that he was lying because the sister-in-law confirmed that Diane got stoned every night to help her sleep. I worked with so many highly functioning alcoholic women in the past and they all seem to try to be excellent at everything maybe to offset the guilt of being drunk all of the time. I mean the handle of vodka was right there in the footage of the crash site. 

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3 hours ago, spankydoll said:

Why does the husband steadfastly deny that Diane ever drank, smoked weed on a regular basis, etc. I can't pinpoint if he is trying to avoid being sued. Or if he knew that she was drunk and just let her drive away with all of those kids in the car. He seemed like a real Peter Pan asshole. You know that he was lying because the sister-in-law confirmed that Diane got stoned every night to help her sleep. I worked with so many highly functioning alcoholic women in the past and they all seem to try to be excellent at everything maybe to offset the guilt of being drunk all of the time. I mean the handle of vodka was right there in the footage of the crash site. 

The husband came across really unlikeable. I don't know if he didn't want to be sued or if he really was in that much denial. I know a lot of family members of alcoholics are in deep denial about their loved ones. Alcoholics themselves are often in denial about their problem. If it weren't for how horribly he talked about his son (how he was a burden) and how he lied about other things (e.g. the PI giving him the test results) besides Diane's behavior, I could imagine that he was in deep deep denial but his other behavior leads me to believe he's lying in order to avoid being sued. In someone else I could see them just not being able to to accept that the woman he loved recklessly killed their daughter and her three nieces. The brain is not always logical and sometimes in order to protect oneself they can be in denial with all the evidence in the world laid in front of them, but I don't believe it of the husband in this case because of his other behavior.

The whole situation was odd. I just wonder what happened in that car. Clearly she was highly intoxicated and was drinking while driving, but how did she end up that wasted? What made her decide to drink that much while she was driving with her children and nieces. Did she not realize how much she was drinking? Did the marijuana impair her judgement, or was it the combination of marijuana and alcohol? Maybe the marijuana was a strain that didn't agree with her. Or I had a cousin who smoked marijuana until one day out of the blue it started to make him hallucinate. He tried it one more time after that and he had the same reaction and never did smoked marijuana again. Her behavior before the accident was very bizarre. I think they said she suffered from migraines and I know they can have other neurological symptoms so that might explain why she said she couldn't see, and the pain might have been why she decided to smoke marijuana and drink. But It doesn't make sense that she would toss her phone away or continue to drive with the kids. Why didn't she wait for her brother to come get them? There are so many questions we'll never have answers to.

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4 hours ago, glowbug said:

If it weren't for how horribly he talked about his son (how he was a burden) and how he lied about other things (e.g. the PI giving him the test results) besides Diane's behavior, I could imagine that he was in deep deep denial but his other behavior leads me to believe he's lying in order to avoid being sued. In someone else I could see them just not being able to to accept that the woman he loved recklessly killed their daughter and her three nieces.

If memory serves, he also attempted to sue New York State over road signs on the Taconic being confusing, but I may be mixing that up with something else.

I don't have a problem believing that Diane had some kind of neurological event, whether it was a migraine or some kind embolic event like a stroke or a TIA, but her being able to drive, apparently as straight as an arrow, kind of goes against that.

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Yeah, the husband and sister-in-law Jay were both in denial, although I liked Jay quite a bit more than the jackass of a husband - especially after Jay finally bitched about him. Regardless of whether or not Diane had migraines or a toothache or a stroke, she still had a high blood alcohol level that can’t be explained away. I really felt for the families of the victims in the other car who had the grace to forgive Diane but were angry with the husband for insisting that there was some other explanation that his wife was super drunk.

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I want to clarify that I wasn’t saying the high levels of alcohol weren’t responsible for her driving the wrong way going 85 mph. I completely accept that she was very intoxicated. I was just questioning what led her to get to that state. It’s not like she was coming home after hours of clubbing/partying/etc. one early morning and crashed her car, which is how these fatal car crashes usually go. When I lived in LA I remember at least three of them happening (person driving the wrong way on a freeway going 80+ miles an hour) but they were all early morning after a night of partying. In one case I saw the pictures and it literally looked like a bomb had gone off on the freeway. Also, I’m not sure high levels of alcohol would explain her saying she couldn’t see. I think stroke was ruled out but marijuana depending on the strain and the person can have strange effects and migraines also can cause blindness and other neurological symptoms that mimic strokes. The alcohol was probably the reason she was driving on the wrong side of the freeway but I just don’t think it explains all of her bizarre behavior and I still have questions about how she ended up that intoxicated. She is still 100% responsible for her actions regardless of whatever situational or health factors were going on. 

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Oh, I understood what you were saying, @glowbug and agree that it’s still weird, like more had to be going on with her. It seems like she could have been self medicating to deal with her tooth, migraines, etc. 

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If it weren't for how horribly he talked about his son 

I feel so sorry for the son--two awful parents--one who committed suicide more or less and didn't mind taking him out with her and a loser father who doesn't want him.  I go back and forth on Diane--was it a psychotic break?  A toxic mixture of drugs?  Part of me thinks that she was suicidal that day and got so very drunk just so that she could go through with it.  Why she would take out people she loved as well as random strangers will forever be a mystery.

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On 4/13/2018 at 10:30 PM, spankydoll said:

I just watched There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane. Has anyone seen it? Such a strange tale. It's about a suburban Mom who caused one of the worst traffic accidents in New York. She was a very high functioning executive and a perfectionist/control freak at home. Diane managed to drive the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway for two miles before crashing into two other cars. But that's not the story. The investigation that followed and the family's reaction is baffling. It's on Amazon if anyone wants to give it a go.

Yes, I recently watched this too! I think about it often when driving - what she did to those others drivers was compeletely terrifying. I was left with many questions after viewing it though. WHY did she do that to all of those young children?

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I rewatched "Mommy Dead and Dearest" last night, and I was just as creeped out this time as last. What amazes me still is that Deedee was cunning enough to know when it was time to change cities and start over. She obviously was very good at reading the moods of the people helping them, to know which personality to put on. 

I think Gypsy knew about the medical fraud more than she says, at least as she got older. She was smart enough to role play for conventions, and later, sexually, so it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine her role playing "patient".  I also don't think she had intended to cheat people, I think her mother had her so full of drugs she actually was incapacitated, at least early on. When she got older she just lived her "real" life online, and when Deedee interfered with that, that's when Gypsy broke. 

I don't condone what Gypsy did, and she is serving her time, but as someone who has had multiple necessary surgeries and hospital visits knows, every surgery leaves more scar tissue, which causes more pain, and you learn to live with it. So finding out none of it was real or needed, and it was all for show, I can kind of understand the mental break she must have had.

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I'm trying to find a good true crime documentary on the murder of Morgan Harrington. Anyone have any links? I've done a search on YouTube but none of the results have yielded a really good documentary. (Mostly just videos of people narrating their opinion of what happened.)

Edited by chenoa333
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Help! I've been watching Unspeakable Crime: the killing of Jessica Chambers. On episode 2, Ashley Mott is a reporter that they are speaking with about Quinton Tellis. Where the heck have we seen Ashley Mott before? I know I've seen her on another show but I can't remember which one and it's driving me crazy. Thanks so much.

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2 hours ago, lu1535 said:

Help! I've been watching Unspeakable Crime: the killing of Jessica Chambers. On episode 2, Ashley Mott is a reporter that they are speaking with about Quinton Tellis. Where the heck have we seen Ashley Mott before? I know I've seen her on another show but I can't remember which one and it's driving me crazy. Thanks so much.

You might try asking in the General True Crime Shows forum - they know their stuff! 

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On ‎4‎/‎13‎/‎2018 at 10:30 PM, spankydoll said:

I just watched There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane. Has anyone seen it? Such a strange tale. It's about a suburban Mom who caused one of the worst traffic accidents in New York. She was a very high functioning executive and a perfectionist/control freak at home. Diane managed to drive the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway for two miles before crashing into two other cars. But that's not the story. The investigation that followed and the family's reaction is baffling. It's on Amazon if anyone wants to give it a go.

I can't recall if you joined in on this thread over at the HBO Documentaries board or not.

My vote is for psychotic break.  Something was seriously wrong with her that she kept buried deep, and I think it all has to do with her mother (who has since passed away).  Very little is said about her mother, except that she had real issues with her, and didn't deal with her.  Her high school friends say that her mom ran off with the neighbor, and left the family, leaving Diane to be the mother figure at a fairly young age (which is never a healthy situation).  There HAS to be more to that story, but he high school friends say no more.  The friend as an adult they interview says she knows the whole story, but doesn't speak about it.  Any time her mom is brought up, whoever is being spoken to says it wasn't something discussed, other than she had NO relationship with her.  Her brothers, however (including the father of the 3 nieces), did have a relationship with her, and I would be that deep down, that steamed her.

High school friends say that they had a good relationship with her, up until she meets Danny (who she is introduced to by one of the high school friends).  All of a sudden, she does a complete 180 and stops associating with any of them very abruptly, and with no reason given.  She does invite the one who introduced them to her wedding, but she doesn't go out of principle, for the way she's dropped all of them.  Again, not normal behavior.

Everyone says that all she wanted was a family.  It's a chance for her to not repeat the mistakes she experienced growing up.  Her mother-in-law laughs and seems proud that Danny was Diane's "first child".   Danny doesn't want kids.  Diane throws herself in to her career, and makes good bank, allowing Danny to work a job that doesn't pay well and has odd hours, and they're on opposite schedules.  He finally relents on kids, but he flat-out tells her that it's her thing, and her responsibility.  So now she has everything she thinks she wanted.  But she's alone.  He doesn't help with the kids.  He doesn't help with the house.  Mother-in-law says that she would get up, get the kids around and off to school/daycare (fellow daycare mom says kids were impeccable and not a hair out of place or dried toothpaste on their face).  Then go work a high-pressure full time job.  Then get the kids, get them home, feed them, bathe them, and put them to bed.  Then she'd spend the night doing housework, or making gifts for people, etc.  When Danny would get home early in the morning, she'd make him something to eat, then go to bed while he stayed up.  It's a lonely existence.  But she gets attention from people, who shower her with attention and platitudes (I don't know how you do it all!!).  You can keep up the good front....for a while.  When cracks start to appear, you start self-medicating, and do it in relative secret, lest people see you aren't the perfect mom/wife you purport to be.  Once the kids are asleep, and before Danny gets home, there is plenty of time to drink/smoke/etc.  All of this is spelled out pretty clearly in the documentary, supported by friends and relatives.  The weekend in question is where you get to having to inject opinion with what facts there are.

One thing the doc didn't address that I always wondered is if the nieces going along camping happened before, or if this was a new thing.  It also didn't mention if bringing the nieces was Diane's idea (telling her SIL that bringing the girls would be fun), or if the SIL asked Diane to take them because she needed to go somewhere or run errands, etc.  I can't imagine anyone with a do-nothing husband and two small children wanting to add 3 more kids to the mix willingly, unless they had another plan in mind.  Danny says he went to camp the night before in his pick-up, taking with him only the dog and some supplies.  There were reports that EZ Pass showed him not getting to camp until the morning, a little before Diane arrived, but there was some controversy to that info at one time - whether it was accurate or not.  Not sure what was ever determined.  Photos taken that weekend show what appears to be a good time.  Sunday morning, they pack-up and head out.  Danny, again by himself with the dog and laundry, and Diane with 5 kids, all under the age of 12, I believe.  The campground owner says goodbye and claims to not smell any booze, but there's no way for her to be sure, realistically.  Danny heads home, and Diane heads to McDonald's.  Personally, I wonder why she didn't just serve the kids cereal or something, as their drive home was just a few hours, and would have held them until lunch.  She sends the kids off to play, and is flat-out insistent on getting her son the McD's version of chicken fingers, for breakfast.  She's insistent it's his favorite, and it's what she wants (again, this is odd to me, and to many).  There are conflicting stories about whether she was calm or agitated, but they finally gave in, her son got his chicken, and she sat and drank a large orange juice, which many believe she spiked with Vodka.  Their next confirmed sighting was the gas station.  She's on video going in, taking a few steps, turning around, saying two words to the clerk, and leaving.  She's looking for something.  What that is, is up for debate.  It's purported to be Tylenol Gelcaps - supposedly the "only" thing she takes for pain.  That's oddly specific, and something a convenience store is not likely to carry.  Many believe she's looking for booze.  The store clerk refuses to cooperate with police.  The documentary shows her pulling out, but that footage is slowed down.  The real footage shows her pulling out with force, and cutting off other drivers.

At some point, she talks to her SIL, and says they're on the way - the girls need to be back for play practice.  Apparently nothing seems amiss to SIL.  After that, there's eyewitness reports of her driving erratically, and being seen standing in grass medians, looking like she was going to throw up.  I thought I recalled reading somewhere that at some point, one of the nieces was speaking to a parent in a panic, and Diane said the kids were "just playing", but I don't recall where that was.  There were some "wrong number" calls made as well, to a man who lived near where she worked.  I've always wondered about that.  We do know that she pulls off at the end of the Tappan-Zee, talks to her brother, calls him "Danny" and leaves her phone behind, driving off, and in to history.  The nieces did talk with their dad, because he asks them to describe where they are.  He should have told them to get out of the car, but he didn't.  He did tell Diane to stay put, but she didn't.

My opinion is that something happened to push her over the edge.  She'd been riding the edge (and hiding it well) for some time.  She drove around, and drank her conscience away, until she reached the point of no return.  There have been some good armchair sleuth theories that hold water, all of which go right back to her mother and her family growing up, and Diane losing her status as perfect super mom.

1) Either Diane or Danny (or both) were having an affair, which was leading toward divorce.

2) One of the nieces repeated something they heard an adult say that upset Diane (something unkind said by their mother or father, etc)

3) The nieces were to be in a play, and it's not out of the question for their grandmother to be there, as their father and their family had a relationship with her - this could have triggered questions from Diane's kids, Diane could have feared having to face her mother, etc.

4) One of the nieces caught Diane drinking or getting high, and threatened to tell an adult.

5) She had just come to the realization that everything she had thought she wanted in life was not what she really needed, and she saw no way out - divorcing/leaving her husband would make her no better than her mother.  And that could have lead to her realizing she'd been wrong about her mom all along.  That's a tough pill to swallow.  She could have been thinking this out for some time.

6) Being caught drunk/high could cause the authorities to take her kids from her.

As tight lipped as everyone is on this, we'll never know for sure - and even if people did open up, we might not know for sure.  The case reminded me a lot of Diane Downs.  She attempted to kill her 3 kids because they were essentially cramping her lifestyle.  While I don't think that could be said of Diane Shuler, there are parallels.  Diane Downs picked a day when she'd off the kids.  She took them out for a day of fun, and bought a statue with the date engraved on it to commemorate a fun day.  For reasons I can't recall, she opted out of killing them that day, but she just picked another day, took them out for fun, and then when they'd fallen asleep in the car, she got out and shot all three.  She succeeded with one, but the other two lived, and fingered their mom.  Diane Downs then shot herself in the arm, and drove to the emergency room, where she played the part of the grief-stricken mom, saying a drifter shot her and her kids.  This is why I wonder whether the nieces going on a weekend trip was unusual or not.  Diane Shuler made sure there were photos of happy kids.  Her insistence at having chicken fingers at breakfast for her son.  Her taking the kids to play instead of giving them cereal and taking them straight home.  Her having a medical episode just doesn't ring true for me.  A medical episode would not be her fault, allowing her to just pull over and say "Something is wrong.  Please come get me."  I believe there was something far more sinister here.  She was a very broken person inside.  I went through two nervous breakdowns with my husband, who was very badly abused by his mother.  I know what that did to him.  I'm not saying her mother or father abused her, but she had trauma when her mother left, and it showed.  Sad all the way around.

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