Author Archives: Sara Akbari

Helter Skelter

I don’t have much to say on the video because it truly was a painful movie due to its length. It had all the right facts and it definitely told the story of the Manson family and their crimes, but it elaborated on parts that didn’t need to be elaborated on. I wish we had had more about the actual murders, I mean Sharon Tate  (wife to famous director Roman Polanski) was a famous actress who was scheduled to go back to filming a movie right after having her child. I didn’t like how they ignored off the fact that the only reason Tate and the rest at her home were killed was because Manson had gone to their house previously looking for someone else and when they told him they had no idea who he was talking about, he left only to later decide when it was Helter Skelter time that his girls and some of the guys in the Manson clan should go and kill all the people living in that house. I just thought that it should have included more about the cases then wasting time with listening to cops talk about the dead ends they are reaching and how they think Manson will never be convicted.  I also would have liked more about the idea of how influential Manson was to the family he created. I watched another documentary called Charles Manson Then and Now and I think I learned more in that because it was more concise and didn’t have stupid actors being cops. The acting of Manson (his crazy eyes were spot on) and the Manson Girls (especially the portrayal of Susan Adkins) I thought was pretty good, but the other characters were bad.

This is the good documentary I watched. (It just tells the facts and leads you through it all)

In Cold Blood Part 2

Before I talk about the reading, I thought I would share some sites I found with interesting information on the Clutters / the murders. – this site mentions how Hickock and Smith have been mentioned on Criminal Minds which I thought was cool.

In regards to the link I posted last week about them being the most viable suspect for the Walker murders in Sarasota Florida, I found that it was just this last August when they got the results from the exhumed bodies. —– ”After a court order was obtained, Hickock’s and Smith’s bodies were exhumed at the Mount Muncie cemetery in Kansas on December 18, 2012. DNA was extracted and the bodies reburied that same day. Kansas authorities stated that they would process the DNA samples with active cases taking higher priority, and that results would take “weeks or months.” In August 2013, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s office announced they were unable to find a match between the DNA of Perry Smith or Richard Hickock with the samples in the Walker family murder. Only partial DNA could be retrieved, possibly due to degradations of the DNA samples over the decades or contamination in storage, making the outcome one of uncertainty (neither proving nor disproving the involvement of Smith and Hickock). Consequently, investigators have stated that Smitha and Hickock still remain the most viable suspects.” ——

This is the article about the cousin / niece of the Clutters (Diana Selsor Edwards) who wrote about them and how Capote messed up his representation :

This is a link to her essay:


Right off the bat in the section titled “The Answer” I loved how Capote talks about Floyd Wells and how he knew even though everyone else didn’t who murdered the Clutters. I also still love how Capote switches between Hickcock / Perry and the investigation. That whole section on page 172-174 when they are about to kill the man driving them and then they end up picking up another hitchhiker was interesting to me. I really loved that joke about whats the similarity between a trip to the bathroom and a trip to the cemetery. I actually told it to a bunch of people. They didn’t think it was as funny as I did though. Perry’s confession was the best part in my opinion though because it really was so honest (if that makes sense). Throughout the book, I actually felt a little bad for Smith (even though I know that is wrong). I also found the part on page 310 really interesting about Kansas abolishing capital punishment and then bringing it back because all the “rampaging professional criminals”

Smith (right) handcuffed to Deputy Sheriff Mickey Hawkins (Garden City Telegram)
Smith (right) handcuffed to Deputy Sheriff
Mickey Hawkins
(Garden City Telegram)

In Cold Blood pt. 1

Wow, Prof. Groom was right, this is a quick and engaging read. Right off the bat on page 63/64 I was astounded by the images of the victims Capote builds. When he described Bonnie and Kenyon’s dead bodies it made the crime seem more real (if that makes any sense). Like when he said (about Kenyon) that “He was gagged with adhesive tape and bound hand and foot, like the mother – the same intricate process of the cord leading from the hands to the feet, and finally tied to an arm of the couch. Somehow he haunts me the most, Kenyon does. I think it’s because he was the most recognizable, the one that looked the most like himself – even though he’d been shot in the face, directly, head-on.” This idea that his face was obviously blown off by a shotgun, yet he was still recognizable gives me goosebumps. I can’t even imagine if I lived in a small town and this happened. For some reason I’m more disengaged with this reading then some of the other readings but I still enjoyed it. I think because Capote very much makes this into a story featuring a crime, I don’t just take the crime at face value and only inspecting the facts of the case.

I looked online at the pictures of the murdered family members, and even though their pictures are no where near as horrific as Elizabeth Shorts, I found myself really sad because this was just a normal family gearing up for Thanksgiving and then their daughters wedding a month later. Its cases like this that stay with you and make you want to just go and hug your family. Its sad that people like Smith and Hickock exist.

Here is an interesting article where they were questioning whether or not Perry Smith and Richard Hickock killed another family as well.

The Black Dahlia and My Mother’s Killer

The reading on the Black Dahlia was good because they gave a good overview of the case. I found it a little flat just because I have read so much about the case prior to taking this course. It has actually been one of those cases that has interested me I think because there hasn’t been any resolution to it. Having Webb go from an actor on TV portraying a sergeant to writing about all these cases, I feel he dramatized certain aspects of the crime and didn’t really get too into the nitty gritty parts. That being said, I plan on getting “The Badge” and reading the other crimes he included in there.

My Mothers Killer was sadder for me to read because even though he was disconnected from his mother and the crime in a way, I was imagining a young kid losing his mother and then going into the crime writing genre. Going into that genre he can’t escape the painful past he had. I found it fascinating how he had transference of his mothers murder to an older case (The Black Dahlia). I would have expected a newer case to draw connections too, but I guess since it had so much publicity and the crimes were only 20 miles apart from each other it makes some sense.

Also interesting new insight into the killer of Elizabeth Short

Psychopaths and Executions

I enjoyed the readings for today especially Joseph Mitchell’s on execution. In the first reading by H.L Mencken, I loved how he says “the plain fact is that I am not a fair man and I don’t want to hear both sides.” I know many people like that and it sort of set up for me to already like him without even starting to read the focus on “More and Better Psychopaths”. In Mitchell’s essay on execution, I found it amusing how the men had to go to such lengths to kill the “durable barfly”. Poisoning, trying to make him freeze, and then finally gassing him. The last line really hit me hard and made me think. Mitchell writes, “It took them a long time to kill Malloy. It took the state only sixteen minutes to kill them.” This line raises a lot of questions about execution and whether it is right or not. The question we must ask ourselves is, is it right to kill someone for killing another person. Although the reading doesn’t go into this, I think it is still important to look at that. I found an interesting comparison of whether it is right or wrong to implement the death penalty. shows 5 arguments each for and against the death penalty. One photo that made me link to this reading was this one. It is sort of how I imagine the 3 men looked like (all scared) when about to be “put down”.

Torso: A Graphic Novel

First of all, supposedly there will be a film adaptation of this graphic novel which should be interesting to see!

Secondly, I liked the premise of the graphic novel because I actually had read a book about the Cleveland Torso Killer in high school. I like how he did a graphic novel on this killer because almost all of his victims were never identified since only their torsos were found (and some people think this was related to the Black Dahlia Killer). It gives the novel a more creepy vibe knowing this man was never caught and was a success in killing at least 12 people (some say it could have been more then 40)

I found the graphic novel a little hard to follow, I think having some basic knowledge of the case helped a little bit, but I’ve never been a graphic novel reader and everyone looked the same so I couldn’t tell who was talking.