Children Who Kill: The murders of Elizabeth and Katie Edwards

In this episode, Elizabeth joins two criminologists from Birmingham City University – Emma Kelly (Criminology Programme Director) and Mohammed Rahman (Lecturer in Criminology) to discuss the murders of Elizabeth and Katie Edwards and explore the criminological issues that emerge around children who kill.  

Organisations working with victims of crime: Victim Support (UK) – https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/; The National Center for Victims of Crime (USA) – https://victimsofcrime.org/home.

Court of Appeal Judgement – https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/judgments/markham-edwards-v-the-queen/

Lincolnshire Police update on the case – https://www.lincs.police.uk/news-campaigns/news/2017/spalding-murders-reporting-restrictions-lifted/

Music for Crime Bites is by Lee Rosevere at Happy Puppy Records (http://www.happypuppyrecords.ca/).

“Paula” – Criminologists discuss the BBC Two crime drama

In this episode, Elizabeth joins two colleagues from Birmingham City University – Emma Kelly (Criminology Programme Director) and Dr Victoria Silverwood (Lecturer in Criminology) to discuss the BBC Two crime drama series Paula.

Music for Crime Bites is by Lee Rosevere at Happy Puppy Records (http://www.happypuppyrecords.ca/).

Clips from Paula in this episode are used in accordance with the fair dealing exception to copyright for the purposes of criticism and review.  For more information about Paula, please visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08s2bqh

Minisode – Donal MacIntyre: Tattoos, football hooligans and going undercover

In this minisode, Elizabeth and Professor David Wilson join Donal MacIntyre to talk about an interesting souvenir from his days as an undercover investigative journalist.  

Music for Crime Bites is by Lee Rosevere at Happy Puppy Records (http://www.happypuppyrecords.ca/).

Episode 4 – Robert Godwin Sr and “Facebook Murder”, Dr Adam Lynes, American Justice

In this month’s Crime Case Study, Elizabeth is joined by Professor David Wilson and Emma Kelly to discuss the murder of Robert Godwin Sr – a case that generated worldwide debate about the use of Facebook by homicide perpetrators. In Researcher Profile, Dr Adam Lynes talks about his work as a criminologist exploring the occupations of serial killersThe BBC documentary series “American Justice” is the focus of this month’s Crime Seen on Screen. Elizabeth talks to criminologists Dr James Treadwell and Mohammed Rahman about their thoughts on the programme.

Links to further information about the topics covered this month…

Elizabeth’s blog about the death of Robert Godwin Sr and the phenomenon of “Facebook Murder” – http://crimebites.co.uk/2017/04/17/the-facebook-killing-of-robert-godwin-performance-homicide-and-the-culture-of-narcissism/

WKYC article covering the funeral of Robert Godwin Sr, including embedded video of the full service – http://www.wkyc.com/news/local/church-service-full-as-family-friends-said-goodbye-to-robert-godwin-sr/433347015

Article by Phillip Morris, “The death of a Cleveland fisherman” – http://www.cleveland.com/morris/index.ssf/2017/04/the_death_of_a_cleveland_fishe.html

Details of Elizabeth’s research with Professor David Wilson – “Making Sense of Facebook Murder” – http://www.bcu.ac.uk/news-events/news/six-faces-of-killers-on-facebook-revealed

Dr Adam Lynes is on Twitter @lynesey89. His book, “The Road to Murder”, is published by Waterside Press – http://www.watersidepress.co.uk/acatalog/Road-to-Murder-9781909976375.html

Follow Dr James Treadwell and Mohammed Rahman on Twitter @James_Treadwell @crimoeology. More information about the BBC series “American Justice” http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08kbrc7

Music for Crime Bites is by Lee Rosevere at Happy Puppy Records http://www.happypuppyrecords.ca/.

Minisode – Criminologists discuss BBC One’s “Line of Duty”

In this minisode, Elizabeth joins two criminologists from Birmingham City University – Emma Kelly (Criminology Programme Director) and Liam Brolan (Lecturer in Criminology) to discuss the BBC One crime drama series Line of Duty.

Music for Crime Bites is by Lee Rosevere at Happy Puppy Records (http://www.happypuppyrecords.ca/).

Clips from Line of Duty in this minisode are used in accordance with the fair dealing exception to copyright for the purposes of criticism and review.  For more information about Line of Duty, please visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00yzlr0

Episode 3 – Shana Grice, Dr Imran Awan, Dexter

In this month’s Crime Case Study, Elizabeth is joined by Professor David Wilson and Emma Kelly to discuss the murder of Shana Grice – a case that raises many important issues around stalking. In Researcher Profile, Dr Imran Awan talks about his work as a criminologist exploring hate crime and IslamophobiaThe television series “Dexter” is the focus of this month’s Crime Seen on Screen. Elizabeth talks to criminologist Dr Adam Lynes about his thoughts on this very successful show.

Links to further information about the topics covered this month…

Sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Green in relation to Michael Lane, convicted of the murder of Shana Grice https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/r-v-lane-sentencing-remarks.pdf.

Remarks of Mr Justice Green in relation to the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/r-v-lane-ipcc-statement.pdf

For further information, advice and support about issues around stalking in the UK, please visit http://paladinservice.co.uk/  and https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/crime-info/types-crime/stalking-and-harassment. In the USA, please visit http://victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center.

Dr Imran Awan is on Twitter @DrImranAwan. His Birmingham City University profile page, including information about his books and articles is available at http://www.bcu.ac.uk/social-sciences/about-us/staff/imran-awan.

Follow Dr Adam Lynes on Twitter @Lynesey89. Find out more about his work here http://www.bcu.ac.uk/research/-centres-of-excellence/centre-for-applied-criminology/people/adam-george-thomas-lynes.

More information about “Dexter” http://www.sho.com/dexter.

Music for Crime Bites is by Lee Rosevere at Happy Puppy Records http://www.happypuppyrecords.ca/.

The ‘Facebook Killing’ of Robert Godwin Sr: Performance homicide and the culture of narcissism

Facebook Together Exchange Of Information Twitter

On Easter Monday I woke up to the news that a man in Cleveland, Ohio had allegedly committed a homicide. Not only did he appear to have taken the life of Robert Godwin – a 74 year-old man simply walking along the street – he’d posted footage of the killing on Facebook. He also uploaded a video of himself talking on the phone whilst driving in his car. In this video, he said that he had killed 13 people – claims that have not been substantiated by law enforcement at the time of writing.

I’m going to refer to this man as SS in this blogpost because I want Robert Godwin’s name to be the one that’s remembered.

I have researched homicide perpetrators who have used social media in relation to their crimes for several years now. In 2014 I lead a study exploring how 48 killers from around the world had used Facebook. I was in the USA in August 2015, when local television news journalist Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed by a former colleague as they reported live from Roanoake, Virginia. I remember the horror on the faces of the people around me as the events unfolded on our television screens and smartphones. I have recently completed a book exploring the role of social media in the killings of Jennifer Alfonso, Charles Taylor, Emily Janzen, Laurel Janzen and Shelly Janzen.

The killing of Robert Godwin has a ring of the familiar to it. Killers use social media to tell stories about themselves and those around them. Within these stories they present a range of characters occupying particular social roles and identities. In posting about the killings on social media, they believe they are getting ahead, taking control of the narrative before anyone else gets the chance to do so.

These cases embody the infantile narcissism that runs through the veins of networked media society. An egoistic, self-centred, “Me, me, me” outlook is facilitated by the widespread acceptance of hedonism.  Phrases like YOLO – You Only Live Once – have become part and parcel of the vernacular. Since the rise of mass marketing from the mid twentieth century, narcissism has become socially acceptable and indeed encouraged. In a technologically sophisticated, mass mediated culture, we are able to justify and indulge this under the guises of self-promotion, personal branding, and self-prioritisation – it’s all about us, because we’re worth it.

All of this plays out in a context where to be is to be seen. The eminent criminologist Professor Steve Hall sums this up perfectly, “the terror of insignificance, of remaining unrecognised by others, might now reign supreme as the most potent and extractable source of human energy”[1].

Social media postings by killers are performances, they are made to be seen by others. SS wanted to be seen in the role of the killer – he wanted to take on this identity and show it to others. The video was his way of proving that he had killed. He vented his frustration at the fact people were sceptical, asking him whether the video was real. SS said that was the “the crazy part”. The fact he’d shot Robert Godwin in cold blood wasn’t the crazy part according to SS. It was the fact people didn’t believe it. Nobody believes I’m telling the truth. Me, me, me. It’s not fair. Infantile narcissism.

SS appears pathologically obsessed with what other people think of him and conveys an extreme sense of entitlement. Entitled to be looked at, entitled to be noticed, entitled to be listened to. The video was his perverse attempt to communicate to others that his sense of being in the world had shifted, he was now something more than he had been before.

SS placed himself in the role of the victim. He said he’d always been the butt of people’s jokes. He tried to blame his ex-partner saying that she drove him to his “pushing point” and he “snapped”. However, the very fact that he shared the video online simply reinforces his agency,  his choice, his responsibility and culpability for what he has done. Scratch the surface, look beyond the rhetoric and the cold reality of this killing becomes clear.

We need to take some responsibility here too. We can’t control other people’s actions but we can control how we respond to them. The videos SS uploaded are currently pinging their way around the internet, being consumed by countless people. This is the very embodiment of wound culture[2], in which we’re drawn to the trauma and suffering of others, a pathological public sphere fascinated by the broken minds of killers and the broken bodies of their victims.

SS has had far too much control over the narrative of Robert Godwin’s death. We now need to take this back. We can do this by keeping Robert Godwin’s name at the centre of this story and depriving his killer the oxygen of publicity. In our society, where to be is to be seen, social media enables people like SS to tell their stories and perform in ways they want others to see them. They are the producers of their own macabre, self-indulgent autobiographies, their content particularly marketable in wound culture where the compulsion to gather around tragedy is startling.

Let’s push SS back into the dark where he belongs and ensure that the only visible face of this story is that of Robert Godwin. Please join me in using the hashtags #hisnamewasrobert and #RobertGodwinSr when you are sharing your views about this case on social media.

Dr Elizabeth Yardley is the creator and host of Crime Bites Podcast and an Associate Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University

[1] Hall, S. (2012). Theorising Crime and Deviance: A new perspective. London, Sage, p. 172.

[2] Seltzer, M. (2007) True crime: Observations on violence and modernity, New York: Routledge.

Image: “Twitter, Facebook, Together, Exchange Of Information” by Max Pixel is licensed under CC0.

Episode 2 – Joanne Dennehy, Dr Charlotte Barlow, The Missing

In this month’s Crime Case Study, Elizabeth is joined by Professor David Wilson and Dr Adam Lynes to discuss the crimes of Joanne Dennehy, a woman who killed Lukasz Slaboszewksi, John Chapman and Kevin Lee and violently attacked Robin Bereza and John Rogers in 2013In Researcher Profile, Dr Charlotte Barlow talks about her work as a criminologistBBC One’s crime drama “The Missing” is the focus of this month’s Crime Seen on Screen. Elizabeth talks to criminologists Emma Kelly, Morag Kennedy and Shona Robinson-Edwards about their thoughts on the show.

Links to further information about the topics covered this month…

Sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Spencer in the case of Joanne Dennehy and her co-defendants Gary Stretch, Leslie Layton and Robert Moore https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/JCO/Documents/Judgments/the-queen-v-dennehy-sentencing-remarks-28022014.pdf

Peterborough Telegraph Article, “Peterborough triple murder trial: Victims – the Polish worker, Navy veteran and the landlord” http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/crime/peterborough-triple-murder-trial-victims-the-polish-worker-navy-veteran-and-the-landlord-1-5872439

Organisations working with victims of crime – click on the links to find out how you can support them or search for organisations in your country or local area. Victim Support (UK) – https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/. The National Center for Victims of Crime (USA) – https://victimsofcrime.org/home.

Dr Charlotte Barlow’s book, “Coercion and women co-offenders: A gendered pathway into crime” is published by Policy Press. For more information please visit https://policypress.co.uk/coercion-and-women-co-offenders You can follow Charlotte on Twitter @CharlotteBarl88

Charlotte’s co-offending interview project was carried out with Dr Siobhan Weare. For more information about their work, please check out their profiles on the Lancaster University’s Law School website – http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/law/people/

To find out more about coercive control and the changes to the law in England and Wales please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/482528/Controlling_or_coercive_behaviour_-_statutory_guidance.pdf. Further information about domestic abuse can be accessed via several organisations, including Women’s Aid – https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/what-is-domestic-abuse/

BBC One’s “The Missing” http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07xt09g. Follow our panelists on Twitter @irishemtweets @MoragKennedy88.

Music for Crime Bites is by Lee Rosevere at Happy Puppy Records http://www.happypuppyrecords.ca/

Episode 1 – Milk Carton Kids, Dr James Treadwell, Interview with a Murderer Documentary

This month’s Crime Case Study explores the 1996 disappearance of David Spencer and Patrick Warren. In Researcher Profile, Dr James Treadwell of Birmingham City University talks about his work as a criminologist. The topic of Crime Seen on Screen is the Channel Four documentary “Interview with a Murderer” – Professor David Wilson shares his thoughts as the programme’s presenter.

Links to further information about the topics covered this month…

The Mystery of the Milk Carton Kids (Lauren Potts) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-37999316

Brother of missing Chelmsley Wood schoolboy David Spencer speaks out 20 years on (Lauren Clarke) https://solihullobserver.co.uk/news/brother-of-missing-chelmsley-wood-schoolboy-david-spencer-speaks-out-20-years-on/

Brothers plea on 20th anniversary of missing Chelmsley Wood boys David Spencer and Patrick Warren (West Midlands Police) https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/latest news/news.aspx?id=5254

If you have information about the disappearance of Patrick and David, please contact West Midlands Police – https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/contact-us/index.aspx

More information about Dr James Treadwell’s book “The Rise of the Right”, co-authored with Professor Steve Hall and Professor Simon Winlow – https://policypress.co.uk/the-rise-of-the-right

“Interview with a Murderer”, further information about the documentary available at: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/interview-with-a-murderer/on-demand/62882-001

Music for Crime Bites is by Lee Rosevere at Happy Puppy Records http://www.happypuppyrecords.ca/

Crime Bites – a new podcast coming soon!

I’m a true crime podcast junkie. I’m fascinated by the cases and topics they cover. I’m intrigued by the different ways they tell real crime stories. I’m also a criminologist working in a UK university. I specialize in the study of homicide and crime in the media. So I thought why not bring these things together and create my own podcast?

That was the beginning of Crime Bites. This brand new monthly podcast will explore crime and society’s response to it by drawing on criminological ideas. In each episode I’ll be joined by other criminologists and we’ll discuss how some of the concepts we use in our day jobs can shed new light on cases that people care about and issues that people feel passionate about.

We’ll start each episode with Crime Case Study, where we’ll look at one particular case or issue in detail. After this I’ll talk to a criminologist about their work in Researcher Profile. We’ll end each episode with Crime Seen on Screen, where we’ll discuss a television crime drama or documentary.

The intro episode is available above and will be shortly followed by Episode One.

Watch this space!

Music for Crime Bites is by Happy Puppy Records http://happypuppyrecords.ca