Interview with documentary filmmaker Charlie Minn

Charlie Minn is an American director perhaps best known for his documentary on the Las Cruces bowling alley massacre, entitled A Nightmare in Las Cruces (2011). He has also directed the films 43 (2015), Mexico’s Bravest Man (2016) and 77 Minutes (2016).


Minn

Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I’ve been making documentaries since 2010. I’ve made 25 of them. I don’t suggest anybody to try to make three movies a year. It’s bad for your health but I have a passion for what I do.

How did you become a filmmaker?

I’ve been fired more than Al Capone’s gun when I was working on the news. I had my own style and news directors are the most boring people in the world, that’s why they get fired also. They didn’t like my radical style so they fired me before they got fired for poor ratings. I then turned my focus into filmmaking. It was the best decision of my life.

As an activist myself in my normal life, one of the things I appreciate about your films is that rather than adopting a phony “neutrality”, you openly take a stand and demand that wrongdoers be brought to justice. What are your thoughts on the theme of “film-making as activism” ?

Filmmaking is a powerful creative expression. People flock to the movies. In my case, I am here to inform, educate and raise awareness. I am not here to entertain, but rather to inform. Being an informant is another way of being an activist. You can’t solve a problem unless you talk about it. You can talk about something if you’re not informed.

Take us through your process of creating a film. How do you research the topic?

The planning part is beyond critical. You have to know which elements you need. Who to interview, how to film it and what video you need. You have to go four for four, Three out of four won’t cut it. In terms of research, I just simply throw myself into the topic, almost become obsessed with it. Meet people connected to the topic, travel to the city, and watch every single video and read every article possible. In a nutshell, you work your ass off.

A recurring theme in your films is the effect of traumatic events on human communities. What about this theme intrigues you?

Reality intrigues me, we are all human. We all fall under human conditions, no matter the race, religion, nationality, etc. We all get hungry, need our sleep and put our pants on one leg at a time. People normally don’t want to go outside their comfort zone, but it is reality and the hardships that come our way can’t be ignored. My films are about violence and humanity. I love to study the latter.

Your best-known film so far is most likely A Nightmare in Las Cruces (2011). What is the film about? How did you end up making it?

I knew about the case in 1990 when I watched Unsolved Mysteries on NBC. It’s a national show so it carries a lot of reach.

The story examines the largest unsolved shooting in the USA today. Seven people were shot in the head inside a bowling alley, four of them were children. It’s heartbreaking. It needs to be solved. I don’t know if it ever will be.

nightmare

What are your own thoughts as to the perpetrators of the bowling alley massacre ? Where did these two killers come from? Why did they carry out these exceptionally brutal killings? 

These two criminals were animals, period. A two-year old baby was shot point blank in the forehead. Who does that? The killers may have come from Mexico, just 45 minutes from the scene of the murders. I believe this was drug retribution, perhaps a horrific message to the owner of the bowling alley. I can’t prove this, but everything points to that.

Your film 43 (2016) is about a group of Mexican students who were abducted and have not been seen since. What was the process of making this film like? Without spoiling anything for the viewers, do you think you were able to solve the mystery?

43 was a tricky film to construct because I had never been to Guerrero, the most dangerous state in Mexico. I was so used to filming in Juarez, so going outside of there was a bit awkward. One must understand Mexico and it’s culture. Every state is different in its own way, like every state in the USA has its own karma. When I say Guerrero is dangerous I am talking even to the point of the hotel you’re staying at. Your head must be on a swivel or it may be laying on the ground. Putting things together was harder since I was truly on foreign ground. I am at the total mercy of officials who I have never met or come across. Solving the mystery isn’t my job, that’s up to law enforcement officials. I am simply here to inform, educate and raise awareness through my film, now if that leads to solving a mystery, I guess I got more than what I set out to do.

43

You’ve made other films about Mexico. What about the country intrigues you? 

The injustice is so stunning. These innocent people need a voice. Who is speaking for them? The Mexican people are some of the most humble people I have ever met. Having shot ten films there, the country has a special place in my heart. I will continue to represent these poor victims who didn’t deserve this wave of violence. Tijuana today averages almost five murders a day. Who even knows about that? Better yet, does anybody even care about that? This is why I do what I do. To create that necessary awareness.

Do you see a future where the violence in Mexico would end and the people in the killing zones could go on with their lives?

Not without a well-crafted revolution. I am afraid the corruption is way too spread out. The violence has become endemic.

Violence will never end as long as there is poverty, that goes for the world, not just Mexico. The biggest problem in Mexico is not the violence, it’s the lack of jobs. The lack of jobs leads to poverty, which leads to violence. So it’s social decay and the poor people in Mexico are taken advantage of. It’s like a disease, a virus with no end. Just an evil cycle. 2017 will be the most violent in terms of murders for the country of Mexico. How tragic.

You’re from El Paso, Texas, the hometown of serial killer Richard Ramirez (aka the Night Stalker). Ever thought about making a documentary about him?

Yes I have, would’ve been easier had he been alive. People in El Paso have asked me about it. He’s a household name here for all the wrong reasons.

As mentioned above, the topics of your films are often quite grim. Do you ever experience nightmares as a result of covering these topics in your films? Do these topics ever take a toll on your personal happiness and mental well-being? 

You would think it would, but it hasn’t. I am hardly a victim, I didn’t get shot. I am the filmmaker, and nothing else. It does take a mental toll, but not because of the stories, but due to the overwhelming stress of making the film.

Do you have a topic/event you would like to make a film about? A kind of “dream fllm”, if you will?  

Believe it or not, Richard Ramirez.

What are you working on at the moment? 

The Las Vegas mass shooting. The most overlooked angle is why it took police ten minutes to get to the killers room after the security guard who got shot reported that shots had been fired in that exact room just moments into the rampage. The mass shootings should’ve been interrupted just three minutes in.

Where can people keep up with your work? Where can they get / watch your films? 

Amazon Prime. Or you can order films on www.charlieminn.com

And finally, my regular questions to all my interviewees:

Your top 3 films ?

Mexico’s Bravest Man, The Deer Hunter and Raging Bull.

Your top 3 books ?

I am not a books guy. I don’t have any patience, I read a ton of articles, I am an article guy.

 

Interview with Kat Winters, author of Case Files of the East Area Rapist / Golden State Killer.

Kat Winters is an American writer who just released the best, most comprehensive book on the East Area Rapist / Golden State Killer case. Below is my interview with her.

Thank you Kat for taking the time to talk with Books, Bullets and Bad Omens!


winters

Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Kat Winters. I’m a project manager and a consultant by day and a writer by night. My book Case Files of the East Area Rapist / Golden State Killer just came out a month or two ago, and it’s about the strangest, most intense serial killer case that I’ve ever heard of.

How and where did you first come across the story of this killer?

Oh, it seems like an eternity now, but I’ve only been aware of this case for a couple of years. I first heard about it at dinner with my father and a friend of his, who is this really famous cold case detective. And we were talking about some of the work he’d done, and I was hanging on every word because I’ve always been fascinated by this stuff, and he started talking about the East Area Rapist case. He’d consulted on that in the past. And I know California pretty well and I’m there a lot so this became pretty vivid in my mind as he described it. Some time went by and I finally researched it and I just kept getting deeper and deeper into it. It got under my skin big time.

What captured your attention about the case?

The sheer scale of it. Nearly fifty rapes? Ten or more murder victims? Five hundred miles covered? Are you for real? Why are we obsessed with Zodiac when we’ve got this guy? Why isn’t this a household name? Everything about it seemed unreal to me. It still does.

At what point did the idea of writing a book come to you?

Writing a book about this, or at least spearheading the project was like, not even an idea on the table until a few months ago. I just didn’t even fathom it. I’d been collecting the facts and verifying and organizing for several months, but those things were all going on a website. I kept having these conversations with people about demographics and target audiences of the website and you know, this case is forty years old and not everybody in that age group is going onto the internet to read things, so the chances of knocking that clue loose in someone’s memory was kind of slim on the web. It was helping people do research and stuff but I’ve always envisioned it as being multipurpose. So I grudgingly began to accept the fact that we needed something made of dead trees. A book was the perfect vehicle for getting all of the facts into a chronological state and making them accessible to more people. It was a natural progression from the website. The case is so complex, it just needed a book like this. It didn’t have one. And I had the feeling in my gut that I could pull this off so I knew I was in for it, but I started taking those steps.

What was the process of writing the book like?

Excruciating! The subject matter is so dark and there are so many details. Every sentence had to be fact-checked rigorously. When you’re talking about 186,000 words, that’s a lot of work. But the benefit of getting all of this information out there outweighed the cost of my time and my sanity, so I did it. And when the process became difficult and I started to falter, the words of the victims inspired me to keep going. I brought in a cowriter to help me to the finish line and to give me perspective. He saved it. He’s the unsung hero in this. So many other people helped as well. Investigation is a team sport.

Did you meet with survivors and detectives on this case while doing research for the book? What was that like? Did any of the meetings prove particularly meaningful?

Yes, this was the highlight! I have to say, I’m so moved and inspired by the amount of heart and soul that investigators put into this case. This isn’t or wasn’t just a job for them. This case has left a mark on their lives, something you can feel in their writing and see on their faces. Interviewing victims and witnesses was heavy, too. I didn’t really go looking for them. They reached out through the website. So most of them were already familiar with my work in some capacity, so it was easy to explain where I was coming from and what I was doing, and when they expressed gratitude and we talked about what all of this meant, it was so moving. Like, this is what it’s for, you know? Later, those times when I was at my desk feeling used up and trying to get through another chapter, thoughts of them inspired me and motivated me.

When it came to memorable or meaningful time, well, honestly they all had such a profound effect on me. They’re all so different and everyone has been affected in different ways. With a few of the survivors and witnesses, my heart really broke when they relayed how much fear they’ve had to live in. Sometimes suffering in silence, and we know a lot more about trauma and PTSD and stuff like that now, but having a word for it doesn’t make it go away. I’m tearing up just thinking out it. One woman in particular, a sibling of an early victim, has been corresponding with me for several months. We really dove deep into how this affected her family. And as I’m writing the book, I’m thinking, am I even doing this right? I set out to make a book that was only facts and sightings and was held to the same standards as like a master textbook on the subject. That goal was still important to me, but as we were finishing up I couldn’t help but start to add some of these stories in. It was hard because a lot of survivors and witnesses are understandably very private, you know, like I mentioned, the effects are still there. They’ve all moved on and conquered life but this just isn’t a subject that warms them. So a lot of those stories were just between us. But I started putting the heart of the survivors into the book and adding the human element. There’s the story of the cop whose sister-in-law was killed by the East Area Rapist and he the challenges he faced in caring for his brother. The story of the man whose brother and sister-in-law were killed and he spent hours trying to clean up the blood stain that his sister-in-law’s body left. Heavy stuff. It’s not all losses though, we’ve got some wins. Because of the work of a murder victim’s brother, California can now collect the DNA of violent felons, and tons of other cases have been solved. There’s the story of a mother who literally beat the hell out of the rapist before he could attack her daughters. There’s a twelve-year-old that was attacked and no matter what he did, the rapist couldn’t intimidate her. Even hearing about families that stayed together or banded together after the attack or hearing about women who were able to move past it, those are big wins and I’m still like, processing all of that. They still inspire me.

One of the things I loved about your book was that you included strange incidents (sightings of unknown people, weird phone calls etc.) preceding and following the EAR’s attacks, whereas us true crime aficionados often concentrate only on the attacks of serial killers. Can you relay a few of those strange incidents for us?

There are so many! I felt that it was important to include them because a very interesting timeline begins to develop and we can trace his movements. But yeah, some strange ones. There’s one where a suspicious man was dressed in a costume and a cane and he was right by the area of two attacks within the general timeframe. There’s one where a masked man pulls a bicycle out of a dump truck trailer and speeds off. There’s a real early one that might be him where he shouts “Can’t I take a leak in peace?” when he’s discovered in a yard. Sometimes when he was spotted he’d just stand and stare. Other times he’d run away. You know, assuming these sightings are all of him. They might be, or they might not be. I included the most likely ones and it’s clear why they’re likely. There were a whole bunch that I didn’t because the timing or the geography was just too off. I had to draw the line somewhere. After an attack, almost every neighbor had something strange to report.

Another aspect of the case I hadn’t really thought of before reading the book was this: on a few occasions, more than one suspicious person was spotted near a crime scene before an attacks. Can you tell us a bit about this? Do you think the EAR had an accomplice?

It’s hard to think of a guy like this having a partner or a lookout or something. This was a personal thing that he was doing and he wasn’t stealing enough for two people to get a good cut, so you have to wonder what would be in it for someone else if they helped him. A brother or close friend or something might make sense. There isn’t overwhelming evidence that he had help. The crime scenes only had one set of footprints, and no one ever saw two men together at a confirmed attack. Still, there were burglaries and prowlers who would be seen in pairs a couple days or weeks before an attack, and then a nearby house would be hit by the East Area Rapist. It happened a few times, enough times to raise eyebrows. There was one attack where the victims were sure that the rapist was inside, but someone was ringing the doorbell and then knocking on the window. It’s a nagging thing that won’t go away because it’s impossible to know for sure. Did he have help occasionally? You know, the way I wrote this is that I lay out all the facts, and I don’t tell you what to think. I’ll point things out and show you clear patterns, but my opinion doesn’t mean anything so I don’t put my opinion in the book. Not really. I let the facts tell the story, and the reader can decide if there’s something going on with an accomplice or not.

Though all of the EAR’s crimes were horrifying, the murder of Janelle Cruz has always bothered me… We obviously don’t have definitive answers (yet!), but could you speculate: Why did the killer come out of hiding for that one last murder? Why Janelle? 

It’s so strange that he would offend on a regular basis and then stop for five years, then do it again, and then stop, right? What happened there? Did he skip town and commit crimes somewhere else? And Janelle Cruz was killed in that same area as one of the other murders. Why come back to the same place? Or did he ever leave? There are so many questions and I try not to speculate too much because I feel like I have a responsibility to just stick to what we know for sure, so that people who follow my work don’t get fact and fiction intermingled.

janelle

(Janelle Lisa Cruz)

There has for a long time been speculation that there was some sort of a hospital connection to the crimes. Can you tell us a bit about this?

Over fifty percent of his victims had a direct connection to the medical or dental field. That’s statistically significant. There were a lot of doctors in the houses he attacked, and nurses, medical students, people who had just undergone a procedure or a major surgery, people who worked at a pharmacy, and so on. One of the things we wonder is if there was a way that he was selecting victims through the medical industry. You know, was that his career? What can these facts tell us? We still don’t know for sure, but it’s important to note these patterns.

Another thing your book taught me was that there is some evidence to suggest that the killer may have been alive as late as 2001. Can you elaborate a bit?

The killer loved the phone. He would call rape victims before an attack and sometimes threaten them, sometimes he would call them after an attack, and sometimes he would call them years later. That’s one of the ways he made his presence known and scared his victims. Well, in 1982, during the five year break that he took, there was a big article about him published. Several days later, he called up one of his former victims with threats. She knew immediately that it was him. The same thing happened later, in 2001. Some big articles ran about the DNA from his rape cases being tied to DNA from all of these murders, and this was a huge day, it was the day that we learned that these murders in one part of the state were the work of the serial rapist in another part of the state. Well, the next day, he called up another victim. This was the first time he’d been heard from in ten years, so this was a big thing. And this call came twenty five years after her attack. Police believe firmly that he was still alive in 2001 and he could still be alive today.

The FBI recently became involved in the investigation. What is the current status of the case? Is it actively investigated?

Getting the FBI involved in 2016 was an adrenaline shot, and ever since then things have been on an upswing. There are more resources, and there’s more effort put into publicizing the case, and there’s more potential for fancier technology to be used in the case. It’s definitely being investigated in an active way, and it was even before the FBI became involved. Roughly twelve different jurisdictions were hit by this offender, and most of them have never closed the books on him. There are new suspects being tested on DNA all the time, there are great leads being followed, some new computer models are being applied and some of the results from those are already coming back. More things are known about this offender than ever before, and there’s more coordination to find him. It’s an old case, but it’s not a cold case.

fbiphoto

(FBI press conference regarding the EAR/GSK. Photo credit Sacramento Bee)

What do you think, will the case ever be solved?

I’m one hundred percent sure it’ll be solved someday, since we have the DNA profile of the offender. Someday forensic genealogy will become a click it and ticket type of a deal. In fact, this case could be solved today with one of the larger private DNA databases, but there are a lot of legal and ethical questions surrounding those. When it comes to solving the case the traditional way and not relying on a family hit through DNA, I’m optimistic. If the current efforts and resource allocations keep up, then it’s really only a matter of time. How much time, I don’t know and couldn’t even guess. I hope it’s before the victims and witnesses pass on. They deserve closure and justice.

What’s next for you?

The East Area Rapist and Golden State Killer case is something I’ll always be working on in some capacity. I’ve changed gears and now that I’ve done the grunt work of collecting and verifying all of this information about him, and I’m turning energy toward some leads and some technology projects that will help move things forward. I’m a little awkward when it comes to advocating for the case, but my co-author is splendid at it, so he’s been going out and doing some of the television shows and speaking engagements and all of that.

With other stuff, I’m either a slow learner or a glutton for punishment, but I have another book in the works. I have to wait for a few more stars to align before serious writing begins so that’s all I’ll say for now, but writing is such an empowering and productive feeling even though it drains me. I can do good in this world through my words, and I feel a calling, so that’s what I’m trying to do.

Where can people keep up with you and your work?

Kat’s Blog: http://coldcasewriter.com/
Kat’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/coldcasewriter
EAR/GSK Website: https://www.coldcase-earons.com/
The book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075X3G5SD/

Thank you, Teemu! I hope you and your readers spend some time learning about this incredible case, so they can celebrate with us when it’s finally solved!

 

Interview with Dan Cummins, mystery buff, host of Timesuck podcast and professional stand-up comedian.

Dan Cummins is a successful American stand-up comedian. He has performed on television shows like Conan.

Dan also hosts a great podcast named Timesuck, in which he deals with subjects ranging from UFOs to true crime to strange historical incidents.

Thanks Dan for taking the time to talk to Books, Bullets and Bad Omens!


dan cummins

Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Dan Cummins and I am a married father of a two kids, an eleven year old son and a nine year old daughter. I’ve been a standup comic for over 17 years and recently moved from Los Angeles back to Idaho, my home state. I live in Coeur d’Alene and I love it. I’ve performed on late night television, on Comedy Central, and have worked as both a sitcom writer and a reality television producer. And for the last year, my main focus has been a podcast, called Timesuck. And it’s keeping me busier than I have ever been before.

As the audience, we only see the performances, but tell us a bit about what goes into preparing a stand-up “gig”?

Material preparation is different for every comic I guess. For me, I’m perpetually at some point in the process of coming with a new hour’s worth of ideas for material, refining that material, performing it over and over until I don’t have to think about it anymore and it feels “done” and then recording it. And then I start all over again. When the material feels “done”, preparation is minimal. You just go up on stage and do the material you already know works. The only think you fight is boredom with performing it. Building new material is what is really hard. It’s always a grind. It gets easier the longer you’re a comic but I never really know if a story is going to work or not until I tell it onstage. And when it doesn’t work and no one laughs, or laughs very much, it’s painful. And then you have to edit it, rearrange it, restructure it, et cetera, and try it again and hope it works that time. I spend a lot of time on my laptop writing out stories I hope will work on stage. And even the good stories generally take months to really work consistently. 

Is there a specific theme or area of knowledge you like to talk about in your shows?

I usually talk about my family for around 1/3 of the show and then use the other 2/3s to just share either personal stories of something that’s happened to me I think is funny or share observations about the world around me. Some of my stuff is autobiographical and some is social observation. I think my next hour maybe more social critique than it’s been in the past and less personal stories. I change things up. 

You hosted the Playboy Morning Show. Tell us a bit about this job.

Ha. That was such a random job. I went out for an audition like I had done for a hundred other shows and that’s just the one that happened to say yes. It paid well, it was easy, and it allowed me to keep doing standup. And I worked with nude Playboy models, so, not a bad gig! It feels very surreal now. I’m glad I wasn’t single when I worked there. I would’ve probably gotten myself in a lot of trouble. I did have a lot of fun. The production staff I worked with and the models themselves were a fun group of people. And I loved working in an office where almost nothing was taboo. I feel like a lot of people I worked with at Playboy have a much healthier outlook on the world than people I worked with on other shows. It’s just sex. 

How did your interest in true crime and mysteries develop?

I’ve always been very curious about the world around me and who doesn’t love a good mystery? I think almost everyone is interested in true crime. There’s such a strong element of “Why did they do that?” and “How did they get away with that?” Most of us follow the rules in life, partially because we’re afraid of the consequences of not following the rules. So it’s natural for us to be curious about the people who just break the rules left and right. And break the most taboo of all rules, like murder. 

Do you have a “favorite” case in true crime, one that keeps you up at night?

Hmmm. The DeFeo Family murders in the Amityville house on Long Island, NY in the 1970s really bothers me. An entire family murdered in their beds – parents and siblings on different floors of the house – and no one seemed to wake up enough to get out of their beds! It just doesn’t make sense. And they were shot. Six family members shot with a loud rifle and no one runs out of the house? And autopsy toxicology reports found no drugs in their systems? And the shooter had to reload in the middle of the killing spree! That one bothers me because I just can’t wrap my head around how that could happen. 

Do you have a favorite genre in paranormal stories?

Hmm. Ghost stories might be favorite followed closely by UFOs with cryptozoology a distant third. I like ghosts and aliens because even as a skeptic, I think they’re possible. We just can’t know what we don’t know about the universe. Just because science hasn’t “discovered” another dimension of reality outside our own doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. And, alien life might exist because we don’t know what’s out there. There’s so much in space we haven’t discovered. However, I highly doubt Bigfoot is real. We have explored almost every inch of this planet. If those giant hairy bipeds were walking amongst us – we’d have proof by now.

Have you yourself ever experienced anything supernatural?

I have not. Nothing conclusive. I’ve felt spooked or felt like I was being watched before, but I’ve never seen anything I couldn’t explain. I hope I do experience the supernatural in my lifetime. I’d love to know for sure there are worlds and realities beyond ours. 

You host a great podcast named Timesuck that deals with crimes, mysteries and historical events. How did this podcast come about?

Timesuck came about very organically. I wanted to launch a new podcast but wanted to make sure it would be something I would enjoy. And I’ve always enjoyed learning about new and fascinating subjects. I was already researching various tales on the web for my own amusement – why not share that research with others and spread a little knowledge? And, I wanted to create a positive association with education. So many people view learning something as a chore. It reminds them of unpleasant school or parental experiences. It only has negative connotations. And that’s crazy. There is nothing more fun than learning about something fascinating that you didn’t know about before. And the more you learn, the better equipped you are to be successful in life. You could read something about ancient Egypt and realize a lesson someone learned centuries ago is totally applicable to something you’re dealing with now. I learned so much about a highly decorated Marine last week, Chesty Puller. A man who never quit. Was never to tired to do his job. He always keep fighting. And now, when I’m exhausted and want to quit, I think, “What would Chesty do right now?” And I know he wouldn’t quit – he wouldn’t even complain. And I shut my mouth and get back to work!

I like the variety in the topics you cover on Timesuck: from the Deep Web to the assassination of JFK to Nigerian email scams… How do you research the episodes?

All topics begin with listener suggestions(s). I pay attention to what topics listeners write in about and the more suggestions I get about a particular topic, the more likely I am to pick it for an episode. However, sometimes it will just be the right suggestion at the right time and I’ll change my mind and go with a topic only one person has asked for when it really intrigues me. Chikatilo was one of those. I also try and keep variety. If I do a serial killer one week I won’t do one for the next few weeks. If I do ten guys in a row I try and make sure to add a female subject. I try to make sure not all my subjects are white or American. I also try and keep historical variety. I’ve been doing a lot of modern topics recently. As I right this I’m thinking I need to get back into the Middle Ages or earlier. And maybe not Europe this time. Maybe Genghis Kahn or someone like that. Or maybe not go as far back but stay in Asia. Maybe Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge? There’s too much to explore!!!!

A lot of podcasts feature one or more hosts, who discuss the case and bounce theories off of each other. You host Timesuck on your own. Do you write a script for each episode or do you improvise? How do you record an episode?

I write a script. I will improvise away from it here and there but Timesuck is so information heavy that if I riff too much I make mistakes and lose credibility. I want you to laugh but I also want you to trust that the information I’m giving with you, information you may share with others, is correct. I can’t do that if I’m improvising. I record in one sitting and then edit it when I’m done. I don’t edit out content but sometimes I question something I’ve written and stop for a moment to look up a date, name, et cetera to reconfirm it’s accurate. And I still make mistakes! I make sure to point out those mistakes in later episodes. 

What can we expect from future episodes?

More interesting subjects! So much more. Serial killers, conspiracy theories, important historical figures, interesting current debates, et cetera. Chief Crazy Horse – a noted 19th century Lakota warrior is this coming week’s topic. I’m learning so much about American Indian culture!

Where can people keep up with your work, and see if you’re coming to their town for a stand-up show?

People can find tout dates at www.dancummins.tv. And they can follow me on social media for various updates. Instagram is my favorite – follow me at either @dancumminscomedy or @timesuckpodcast

Any plans to tour in Europe?

I would LOVE too! I’m really focusing on making Timesuck better and better and then trying to tour where I have the most listeners. Spread the word in Finland! If enough people listen, I’ll figure out how to get there. 

And finally, my standard questions for all my interviewees.

Your top 3 films?

1) Tombstone. God I love this movie!
2) The Big Lebowski. So funny. So many good quotes.
3) This is Spinal Tap. Best mockumentary ever. 
Your top 3 books?
1) The Stand – Stephen King. One of the few books I’ve read twice.
2) Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert. Changed my mindset about working as an artist.
3) To Kill A Mocking Bird – Harper Lee
What model phone do you use? (I have a weird obsession with cell phones…)
Haha! That’s hilarious. I have an iPhone 6s and I can’t wait to get rid of it! I’ll be getting an iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X soon.

 

 

The movie and book favorites of Li Andersson, leader of the Left Alliance

Li Andersson is a successful Finnish politician from the city of Turku. She is currently a Congresswoman in the Finnish parliament, and Chairwoman of the Left Alliance, one of Finland’s biggest political parties.

Ms. Andersson is known as a voracious reader and patron of the arts, so I decided to ask her what her favorite films and books are. Below are her responses.

Thank you, Li, for taking the time!


Li Andersson

(photo credit Minna Kallinen)

 

FILMS

Edward Scissorhands (1990, directed by Tim Burton)

I have always loved Tim Burton’s worlds, and the greatest of them is in Edward Scissorhands. Perfect mix of melancholy, critique of small-town America, and romance. Irresistible in every way!

Star Wars (1977, directed by George Lucas)

The one and only. When the digitally enhanced versions of the first three films hit the theaters, I immediately became a fan. The newer, more recent films work well, too. I’ve always liked science fiction, plus Star Wars has epic character stories and a grand, epic story that easily survives the tests of time and the development of film technology.

The Navigators (2001, directed by Ken Loach)

Ken Loach has made a lot of fantastic films throughout his career, and stayed true to his style. Of the many memorable films he has made, this one has particularly stayed with me, the story of five railway workers struggling to survive in the throes of railway privatization. A sympathetic, funny, and important account.

 

BOOKS

Vuosisadan rakkaustarina, by Märta Tikkanen (1978; not available in English)

This is one of the finest books I’ve ever read. Tikkanen’s poems deal with her life alongside Henrik Tikkanen. Through personal observations she makes manifest the effects of alcoholism on the couple’s relationship and power dynamic. She writes about her difficulties creating space for her creative work as a woman; these poems are the best example of how the personal is political. At the same time, Tikkanen’s writings lack the easy moral lessons characteristic of today’s popular culture. Though Tikkanen’s writings contain lots of emotional violence and darkness, this is also a story about love.

Egenmäktigt förfarande, by Lena Andersson (2013; available in English as Willful Disregard).

Lena Andersson has written a book about a young author named Ester Nilsson, who is desperately in love. She falls in love with an artist older than her, but his feelings don’t match hers. The writer forces the reader to follow Ester’s more and more desperate path towards an unhappy love.  It’s tormenting, frustrating, and terrifying in its humanity. [Lena Andersson’s] way of using language is incredible. She uses language to create a distant relationship with Ester, and kind of depicts her actions in the way of a distant observer.

The End of Eddy, by Edouard Louis (2014; available in English)

I read this recently, and it impressed me. An autobiographical story of what it’s like to grow up gay in a working class environment on the French countryside. The story brings out the several layers of a young person’s identity as well as the discrimination related to them, and portrays the daily life and thinking of the people in the protagonist’s coming-of-age environment without melodrama. This is the kind of literature I hope to come across much more. It’s fantastic how literature can be used to bring up socially important issues, and to unravel personal experiences of class and gender.

 

 

Interview with Debbi Domingo, serial killer survivor

The East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker (nowadays also known as the Golden State Killer) was an American serial murderer and sexual predator who raped at least 50 women, and murdered at least 12 people. He was active in California from around 1976 until 1986. He remains unidentified.

The criminal had a unique mode of operation. He would stake out a neighborhood and choose a house occupied by a lone female or a couple. He would then wait for the night to fall and enter the residence in the dark, wake up his victim(s), tie them up and rape the female. In the early 1980s he began to kill his victims after the rape and home invasion.

In July 1981 he killed Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez – the mother of Debbi Domingo and her mother’s boyfriend.

Debbi very graciously agreed to an interview with Books, Bullets and Bad Omens. Thank you, Debbi, and let’s hope 2018 is the year this serial killer is finally caught!


debbi

1) Who are you? Where are you from? Tell us your story!

My parents named me Debbi Domingo. I always felt my name had a sing-songy quality about it, that I was never really crazy about, but I’ve grown to love it.

I was raised primarily in Southern California in the 1960’s-70’s. I had a very comfortable childhood. No, that’s an understatement. I had a wonderful childhood! I never lacked anything I needed, be it material things, personal interaction, education, music, spiritual guidance, LOVE….. My Mom & Dad really nurtured my brother and me. And it’s not like they set out on some special mission to “be good parents.” That’s just who they were!

2) What was your childhood like?

In my early years, Dad was a preacher, and then a teacher. Mom stayed at home. We had close relatives with whom we spent lots of time. I knew lots of cousins, aunts & uncles, grandparents…. Even great-grandparents! As a kid I read a lot, and sang and danced. My brother and I did crafts, built forts, produced puppet shows, etc. We weren’t much of a sports family, but we liked bicycling, the ocean and the outdoors.

3) What was your mother like?

Mom was beautiful, smart, charming, conscientious, and very considerate of others. She taught us to be givers; to always be grateful and to try to do nice things for other people.

debbi greg

4) How did Mr. Greg Sanchez come into your lives?

My Mom & Dad separated and divorced when I was in 5th grade. Mom was doing secretarial work at Burroughs Corporation (huge computer manufacturer in Goleta, CA) and that’s where she met Greg. They dated off & on for the better part of the next 3-4 years. Greg was such nice guy, and fun to be around. He was always good to my mom, my brother and I.

5) Like so many young people and their parents, you and your mother were going through some turmoil at the time of her death. If I may ask, what was the turmoil over?

Nothing very important. Just basic teenage rebellion over things like rules, curfews, cigarettes, and boys!

6) We’ve all heard the story of the EAR/ONS through television shows and books, but a big part of why I wanted to interview you is because I want the voices of those who lived through this killer’s active period to be heard. So in your words, based on what you’ve heard from the police and your own knowledge of the house etc., what went down that night? How did it all happen?

Mom and Greg had not been seeing each other for a few months, but as near as I can figure, Greg came by the house and ended up staying overnight. I believe the killer had already staked out the house, removed the screen from the master bathroom window, and unlocked the door from the outside into that bathroom. I believe he entered that bathroom and stayed silent, perhaps waiting for my mom and Greg to finish making love and fall asleep. Then he entered the bedroom and began his assault. He and Greg scuffled, and Greg was shot once in the face. My mother was bound very tightly at the wrists and with her ankles tied up behind her buttocks. Greg was beaten to death, as was my mom, with some type of wrench or garden tool. Also, at some point the killer ejaculated onto the bedspread. That’s where the DNA sample was found in 2011, which finally ended up linking my mom & Greg’s killings into the EAR/GSK series.

composites

(Composite sketches of the East Area Rapist / Golden State Killer)

7) Where were you when you heard?

I was staying with a girlfriend in Santa Barbara. My mom’s closest friend (who was a neighbor) saw the police activity at our house. She tracked me down and convinced me to come home.

8) In following the news and watching TV, we only ever hear of the perpetrators of crimes, but rarely hear of what happens to victims’ families AFTER the crimes of those perpetrators. So tell us, what happened after the death of your mother and Mr. Sanchez? How does one cope with a shattering loss like that?

I immediately moved to my Dad & step-mom’s house in San Diego, so I was pretty disconnected from the investigation, the media, the neighborhood, even my friends. I just went on with life; attending high school and church. Acting out a bit more I suppose. I adapted to life at my Dad’s house, but just barely. Honestly, I didn’t cope well at all. In fact, I really just suppressed everything for a very long time. I had been raised to trust God, but after the murders, I really struggled with that, and I gradually stepped away from my faith. I ended up on a really long journey of depression, drug addiction and hopelessness. I was lost for a very long time.

9) Does the heart ever heal? Or does the pain just subside enough to allow one to live on?

To be honest, I didn’t even begin to heal until I started to learn about the investigation and to participate. Being active in the pursuit has done wonders for me. It’s given me more of a sense of purpose. Not just to find answers for myself, but to help the other victims & survivors. It’s very therapeutic! I still miss my Mom and Greg, but now I’m able to say that out loud and do something productive with the loss.

10) Do you personally have a “favorite” suspect?

No. None at all, in fact. I am not an investigator by any definition, and do not even look into persons-of-interest (POIs.) I probably should, but I don’t.

11) Did your mother and Mr. Sanchez know the killer, in your opinion?

I highly doubt it.

12) In recent years, you and Michelle Cruz, sister of Janelle Cruz (GSK victim) have formed a dynamic duo. How important is the peer support in a case like this?

Are you kidding? Michelle Cruz has become like family to me! She and I fill a very important void for each other and it’s remarkable. We’ve also been blessed by close friendships with Jane Carson-Sandler and Margaret Wardlow, two of the rape survivors. There’s another survivor we’re starting to get to know, as well. Hoping to meet more! The unity really does make us stronger!

debbi michelle

13) Do you guys have anything planned together? A book would be very interesting.

I hadn’t really considered a book. But Jane and I have talked about all of us doing some public speaking together. We’d need to find a really top-notch agent who could broker engagements for us.

(Do you know of one, dear reader? Contact Debbi in the links below if you do. -Admin)

14) What’s going on with the case in 2017? I imagine this would be the kind of case all detectives and true crime authors (not to mention amateur detectives) want to solve.

I firmly believe that the combination of nationwide publicity and advances in DNA technology will bring the resolution to this case! Whether it will be this year or not is yet to be seen, but I am confident that this case will be solved. We just need for as many people as possible to learn about the case and share information to help identify him.

15) What’s your life like now?

I actually live a pretty low-key, happy life. I am married to a wonderful man of faith who takes good care of me and makes me smile. We have 5 grown children and 5 grandchildren who make my life worthwhile. I work full-time, volunteer at church, and try to spend time with family & friends. But as you can imagine, I devote the majority of my free time to keeping up with the case and trying to raise public awareness about the search for the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer.

16) What’s in your future?

They say you should visualize what you want. Set goals and achieve them. My goal- the picture I keep in my mind- is to be in a California courtroom when the GSK goes down. I want to be able to shake hands and hug everyone who has helped to identify him. That’s how I see my future. Once that happens, I’ll find something else worthwhile to work on. 😉

Teemu,

Thanks for this opportunity.
I hope you can include the following links:

www.facebook.com/whoistheoriginalnightstalker

Official EAR/GSK Channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3rsj-RtvNy4wVGjI2iNpBA

My personal channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqhzzbvXR8z5PsdbCrDTzeQ?view_as=subscriber