Why Are We So Fascinated With True Crime Stories?

Some time ago, when I was employed at a job that was utterly boring, I discovered a website that contained a warehouse of these fascinating true crime stories that I was drawn to. For almost a year after that, my life wasn’t the same. Every time I found myself with little to do, I would visit that site and literally spend hours reading true crime stories. I must admit, even now, once in a while when I feel like a good read and a reminder of how human kind can be so utterly inhuman to one another, I go there and grab a story or two.

Why is the human mind so fascinated by a true crime story? You all remember the OJ Simpson case – it broke records on many fronts, one being that it was watched by millions and millions of people for endless days. It didn’t matter what race they came from, religious affiliation, social background – we were all spell-bound. Why? What makes the human mind seek and cling to facts about a gruesome murder or a rape or a ritual killing with such tenacity that they just can’t seem to let it go? It’s interesting that such stories are talked about for so long, they end up being legend – shows you that however old a true crime story is, it does not lose its flavor.

For years now, psychologists and criminologists have tried to explore it – why something so gruesome remains so fascinating, but so far, no one has yet to give solid reasons. They end up with best guesses and speculation, and some of those guesses are explored here:

1. Most people live a relatively mundane existence. Once something outside of that existence happens that is not only gruesome but violent, they take to it and stick with it because it is something out of their otherwise bored lives. You may, or may not agree with this, but it rings true to some extent. Take a slum in a poor country where violence is a way of existence. Fascination with crime is much less than in a quiet rural community that sees a crime once every 10 years.

2. It’s normal human psychology to want to know how someone did something criminal, and then immediately after that comes the question why. Some criminals will speak out and say why they did it, but this is on the rare occasion. Most of the time, the crime story grows more and more fascinating as people continue to speculate about why a crime was done.

3. Some experts say that humanity as a whole is seeking justice; in seeking justice, they seek to know all the details of a crime which in itself leads to great fascination with the crime itself.

4. There have been some arguments that people are fascinated to see just how far others will go, because it makes them feel good about themselves – they know they could never do something like that.

5. Some argue that there is a genuine fear in people that the same crime could happen to them, and so they want to arm their minds with the details in subconscious preparation were something similar to happen. The counter argument to this, however, is that in most violent crimes, the victims can do little or nothing to protect themselves, therefore this fascination cannot prepare you for defense should you be under attack.

6. And lastly of course, the media. Like everything else, media hypes crime events. It chases down every bit and morsel and shows you bloody scenes, chases and even bodies. Listen to or watch news broadcasts for a day, and you will most likely hear of 3 or 4 crimes. It does not matter any more where you are – you’ll see on TV how someone butchered his wife 5,000 miles away. If the media were to highlight crime less, perhaps society would be less aware of it and its fascination would somehow lessen.

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About Ann Rule – A Writer of True Crime Books

Ann Rule was born on 22 October 1935 in Lowell, Michigan. She was born Ann Stackhouse. The introduction of Ann Rule to writing true crime stories reads like a very interesting story in itself.

She developed a love for true crime stories by reading True Detective and after this decided to start writing. In 1969 one editor decided to try her out on one story when a vacancy in the northwest became available. Her first story was accepted but she was told to take a male pseudonym because it was believed that readers would not believe that a woman would know anything about police investigations despite having had a short stint herself as a police officer within the Seattle Police Department. She then started writing for True Detective as Andy Stack and the name was chosen from her maiden name which is Stackhouse, people used to call her father, Stack and the Andy is from the name of her son which is Andy Stack Rule.

After proving herself by writing articles for a few magazines including Master Detective, Inside Detective, Front Page Detective and Office Detective she was invited to start writing under her own name which she refused as she was worried about her safety and the safety of her family as by then she was a single mother raising four children. During that time she also decided to add to her BA degree from University of Washington by getting a two year degree in police science. At this time she was only writing articles and then she found the subject which would facilitate her transition from article writing to books.

It was 1974 when several attractive young women had started to go missing in the Pacific Northwest. She decided to start researching this story and at that time the case was still unsolved. As time went by it became clear that the killer was Ted Bundy, a friend of Ann Rule and previous colleague on a suicide hotline at the King County Crisis Clinic. Hence came the book,The Stranger Beside Me, which is about Ted Bundy, the serial killer. This book started off her career as a true crime book writer.

One of her later books which she has described as the one book which has paid all the bills was named Small Sacrifices which is about the mother Diane Downs who tried to kill her three children because the man she was pursuing did not want children. She only succeeded in killing her one child Cheryl but left one paralyzed from the waist down and the other paralyzed on one side of her body.

Ann Rule was also part of the task force that created Vi-Cap which is a computer tracking system designed to identify serial killers. She has since then written many true crime books and also now teaches seminars to law enforceme

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