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Series / A Crime To Remember

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When the good old days went bad.
A Crime to Remember is an hour-long True Crime drama on Investigation Discovery, which debuted on November 12, 2013. The show focuses on crimes that took place during the 20th century, especially the 1950s and 1960s. Complete with reenactments and interviews with experts and living witnesses on each crime, the viewer watches as the investigation and mystery of the crime unfolds before them. The show challenges the Nostalgia Filter by examining how racism and sexism at the time influenced how these cases were investigated.

A famous commentator on the crime cases in the first few seasons was Michelle McNamara before her untimely death and the posthumous tracking down of the Golden State Killer.

After the show turned out to be a success, the channel later released a series in a similar vein albeit covering two seldom-discussed decades in ACR while covering both the murder cases and social trends: The 1980s: The Deadliest Decade and its spin-off The 1990s: The Deadliest Decade.


A Crime to Remember Tropes:

  • The '40s: The "Gentleman Killer" murder and rapes; the "Lipstick Killer".
  • The '50s: A second favorite decade of the show occurred, the kidnapping and murder of Judge Curtis Chillingsworth and his wife, the United Airlines Flight 629 bombing, the murder of Bob Woodward, murder of C. Leroy Adams, the kidnapping and murder of Stephanie Bryan, kidnapping and murder of Bobby Greenlease, the Sam and Marilyn Sheppard case, the Starkweather murder spree, the murder of the Clutter Family, and the LAPD rape cases.
  • The '60s: In what is perhaps the most favorite decade of the show, covered is the case of Alice Crimmins, the Career Girl Murders, the Co-Ed Killer, the murder of Kitty Genovese, the Candy Mossler affair and murder of her husband, the University of Texas 28th Floor Sniping, the murders by Charles Schmid, the Cork and Lucille Miller case, the Gaffney strangler, the Student Nurse murders in Chicago by Richard Speck, the Chester Burge case, the murder of Betty Williams, the Sharon Kinne case, the hit put out on Carol Thompson by her husband Cotton, the Perveler affair, and the Barbara Jane Mackle kidnapping.
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  • The '70s: The murder of Roseann Quinn, John Linley Frazier's murder spree, the Franklin Bradshaw murder, and the "Cain and Abel" murders all occurred in this decade.
  • The '80s: The case of the murder of the Franklin Bradshaw murder ends in the early part of this decade, as of 2018, the only time the 1980s was covered on this show and next to The Edwardian Era and The Roaring '20s as the least covered decades.
  • Abusive Parents: A common occurrence in the series.
    • Franklin Bradshaw was murdered by one of his grandsons, who was (along with his brother and sister) psychologically abused by their mother (Franklin's youngest daughter and last child) into stealing (both sons the year before his death) and then killing him (the youngest of her sons shot him so she can stand to inherit what she thought was her rightful money.
  • Action Survivor: Barbara Mackle, as a young woman she was kidnapped and buried alive while recovering from an illness and survived. The narrator (a childhood friend) mentioned Barbara didn't come out traumatized from the experience to which the camera cuts to Barbara recalling a happy childhood ritual she did with her Mother around Christmas time and was noted as the most innocent in her group. She also happens to be one of the few main victims covered who survived and lived on to marry and start a family.
    • Cora Amurao, the student nurse that Richard Speck missed when he murdered her housemates; she was shaken by the trauma but was able to show up at his trial and look him straight in the face and name him as the man who killed her friends.
      • Why was Cora missed? Because she managed to crawl under one of the beds, causing Speck to miscount how many people were there by the time he killed Gloria Davy.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: While the actors hired can more or less resemble the people in the stories, some of the actors are more or less good-looking than their real-life counterparts. One example is Pearl O'Loughlin.
  • Adult Fear: The show is full of this, made even worse by the fact that all of this actually happened.
    • Waking up one morning and realizing that your children are missing, then being told that they were killed.
    • The death of James Fitzpatrick II, the only child to die in the United Airlines Flight 629 crash.
    • Opal Buckson was forced into the trunk of a strange man's car, and Opal's sister watched as the car sped away.
    • In the cases of Stephanie Ryan and Wendy Fritz, your sweet innocent young teenage daughter hasn't come home on time and turned out to have been murdered by a strange man or your older daughter's ex-boyfriend.
    • With Charles Schmid, that your teenage daughter was lured and then killed by him and some of his friends.
      • On that note, that the neighbor's kid that you didn't like, really turned out to be bad news.
    • The possibility one of your children murdered their brother, sister-in-law, and your grandchildren in cold blood. And you come to visit one morning and find their bodies shot down execution-style.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • According to the experts and living witness, Mark Herring got away with the murder of Betty Williams.
    • In an incredibly infuriating way, Sharon Kinne not only managed to make people believe that her toddler shot her husband and get acquitted for murdering her lover's wife, spoiler: even when she was eventually put in jail in Mexico for killing a man there, she managed to escape, and hasn't been seen since. The detective that had spent years trying to bring her to justice quit after he heard that she had disappeared.
    • For those who don't believe that Joseph Kahahawai raped Thalia Massie, the fact that Thalia's husband and mother murdered him, and their ten year sentence commuted to an hour can be this.
  • The Beard: In "Comedy of Terrors," Mary Burge is revealed to be one for her husband, Chester Burge. This may act as a Real Life Deconstruction since this, along with a heavy financial motive, is what led to the murder.
  • The Bluebeard: Paul Perveler attempted to kill his first wife, but she divorced him before he could finish the job. He succeeds in killing his second wife, but ends up getting caught afterwards.
  • Criminal Mind Games: The killer in "A New Kind of Monster" repeatedly taunted the police.
  • Confess in Confidence: In one case, only some aspects of the doctor-patient privilege were covered. In 1966, doctors were still bound by confidentiality, meaning that they couldn't discuss what their patients had told them in confidence. However, there had yet to be an actual universal regulation or law stating that this privilege could be lifted if the patient was considered a danger to themselves or others. This meant that even though the patient, Charles Whitman, admitted to his therapist that he thought about shooting people, all the doctor could legally do was suggest that Whitman come back later.
  • Death of a Child: Some of these murders involve minors.
    • "Go Ask Alice" has the children of Alice Crimmins, 5-year-old Eddie and 4-year-old Missy Crimmins, found dead near the beginning of the episode.
    • Lee Roy Martin murdered both 14-year-old Tina Reinhardt and 15-year-old Opal Buckson.
    • The United Airlines Flight 629 bomb where all 39 passengers, which included a 13 month old boy.
  • The Edwardian Era: When the Dolly Oesterrich story starts.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: In "The Newlydeads", at the end it turns out that the abused first wife of Paul Perveler got to know his beleaguered and manipulated guy friend. This guy friend struck her as being the opposite of her ex-husband and after the trial ended (with Paul and his mistress Kristina in jail), she married him. The narration points out that they both went through the same thing and understood.
  • Formerly Fat: Kristina Cromwell from "The Newlydeads". She was an insecure, obese, dark haired clerical worker with glasses and unremarkable looks; after meeting her boyfriend Paul Perveler, he instructed her on a makeover that had her drop 75 lbs, lose the glasses, buy a new wardrobe, cap her teeth, and dye her hair platinum blonde.
  • Good Bad Girl: Tied in with Slut-Shaming, two victims were considered the "bad girls" of their era but were said by colleagues to be very nice people.
    • Veronica "Ronnie" Gedeon was a model for some magazines, even did nudes and pin-ups, the narrator of her story knew her to be a very sweet and idealistic girl.
    • Betty Williams was a beatnik girl who experimented with boys and was known as "fast" but she was also a devoted Sunday School teacher and was very passionate about the Civil Rights Movement and other movements of the early 60s.
  • The Great Depression: The murder of Veronica Gedeon and her stepfather and mother, the case of Nellie May Madison, the Massie Trial, and the murder of Leona O'Loughlin by her stepmother Pearl all take place in this era.
  • Honor Before Reason: Regarding the murders of Aileen Rowe and the Fritz Sisters (Wendy and Gretchen), when the police question their friends in the "Speedway" crowd about what they know. Most of them refuse to give it up.
  • I Love the Dead: Lee Roy Martin visited the bodies of two of his victims for sexual molestation.
  • Innocent Bystander: Poor Wendy Fritz was murdered for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    • Marjorie Chillingworth's husband Judge Curtis was targeted for kidnapping and murder because he fired an attorney for unethical conduct, she wasn't spared.
    • Jack Gilbert Graham wanted to kill his Mother for neglecting and abusing him and his sister during their childhood, but he ended up killing 38 of her fellow passengers and 5 crew members when he planted a bomb in her suitcase.
  • Kavorka Woman: Walburga "Dolly" Oesterrich was a rather unremarkable and matronly woman who had a husband...and two lovers. One of whom was her lawyer and the other, a guy she had on the side living in her attic.
  • Kill 'Em All: "And Then There Was One" starts out the morning after eight nurses were killed in their dorm.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Sharon Kinne, to Detective Browning's frustration, she manages to evade confession and the paraffin test (which was needed for fingerprints and involved hot wax), even when the police were listening in on her conversations she even evades that. It even bleeds into her personal life where she manipulated her in-laws (who disliked her and were blackmailed because Sharon would use their grandchild as a chess figure) into supporting her and even a mother with Skewed Priorities who enables her. She accuses Det. Browning of being grumpy (along with her mother) when he gets impatient at the women putting her mother's hair appointment before a criminal investigation interview. She even plays dumb willingly or wastes the investigators' time to the point where the police decide to charge her for her husband's murder and Patricia Jones's murder. Also when she convinces her in-laws that her second child was her late husband's baby even though she gave birth 10 months after he died....Roxie Hart would be shocked.
  • Monochrome Casting: Most of the figures in the stories are White, the few times the stories are clear to be narrated by women of color are the cases about the LAPD Rape case and the Massie Trial to name a few.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Averting and invoking this trope is the premise of the show, since the crimes are featured during what is considered the "golden age" of the U.S. Some of the experts will even say that a particular case was so shocking and horrible that the American public lost some of their innocence.
  • Rape as Drama: In "Paradise Lost," Thalia Massie told police that she was raped by a group of Hawaiian men.
  • Reluctant Psycho: Charles Whitman seemed to have some inkling that something was very wrong with him, leading him to go to a therapist for help. Unfortunately, this didn't work, as it turns out that this man had a tumor growing in his brain that caused more aggressive behavior.
  • The Roaring '20s: The stories of Dolly Oesterrich and the murder by Leopold and Loeb all take place in this era.
  • Secret Relationship:
    • Dolly Oesterreich had a number of lovers whilst she was still married to her husband, but perhaps the most notable was Otto Sanhuber, who was living in her attic while she was still married to her husband!
    • Candy Mossler's lover was her own nephew, Melvin Lane Powers.
  • Skewed Priorities: Sharon Kinne's mother, what do you do when you are at the beauty parlor and your daughter (who was a suspect in the suspicious "accident" of her husband's death) needs you to babysit because she is being taken for a investigation interview because she manages to be connected to another murder? You fuss and fuss about how you cannot watch a child while getting your hair done and fuss about the detective being so grumpy when he rightfully insists on getting a move on.
  • Slut-Shaming: Given that these crimes take place during the mid-20th century, there was still a lot of bias towards women in particular for what was deemed "inappropriate" behavior.
    • The public deemed Roseann Quinn, the murder victim in "Last Night Stand," as a party girl who should've known better than to try to pick up strange men at bars.
    • The many rape victims in "The Gentleman Killer" are subjected to this kind of treatment by not only the police, but by their own husbands. One of the experts states that because these crimes happened in the 1930s and 1940s, it would have been very hard for rape victims to come forward without facing scrutiny.
    • Part of why Alice Crimmins was put under trial after her children went missing was that she was an imperfect single mom who made box mac n cheese, dated men, partied, dress sexy, and was noted as "too good-looking" and a bit of a Deadpan Snarker.
    • Not until decades after Kitty Genovese's murder was it revealed that her roommate was actually her girlfriend. This was kept out of the trial, but the cops interviewing her figured it out at some point. Despite this having nothing to do with Kitty's murder, the cops asked her several insulting and intrusive questions about their relationship.
    • The reason why Betty Williams's killer/ex-boyfriend went off (partly, the other part was she wrote a note pleading for him); the whole town, aside from her best friend and her family, stood behind him.
    • Veronica "Ronnie" Gedeon gets this after she is murdered. She had worked as a model, with some nudes, those photos were circulated in magazines and papers.
  • Sole Survivor: Cora Amurao was the only survivor of a mass murder, with the other victims being her dormmates.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: A common attitude and conflict that ran through the series.
    • Carole Thompson had ambition to go to school and tour the Soviet Union, while her cheating husband Cotton Thompson wanted her home and had a tidy insurance sum on her head and hires a hit man to kill her.
    • An attitude toward "The Career Girl Murders" implying this is what happens to young women who go to the city to live alone or with a roommate rather than stay home with their parents until they marry.
  • Stepford Smiler: A common occurrence with the families, victims, and murderers/criminals in the series. They were often appearing to be a magazine-ready family, the perfect son or daughter, or otherwise very exemplary and respectable by all appearances...until the events of the story happen and unravel what has been happening all along.
    • Zig-zagged in the case of the Clutter Family: aside from typical teen dating issues, they truly were a loving, tight-knit, church-going family.
  • The Stoic: Alice Crimmins is theorized to be this, as to why she didn't appear to be devastated after her kids went missing and were found murdered. She would drink and told a friend "my tears are for me, not for people to see".
  • True Crime: The show is Type 2, with people who studied the case giving background and commentary about the cases.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Sharon Kinne, glamorous and movie star hot, gets a whiff of celebrity at the time of her trial which sadly eclipsed the fact a young wife was murdered by her (and also that Sharon killed her eldest daughter's father).
  • Villainous Breakdown: In "The Pied Piper," Charlie Schmid apparently suffered one after the police picked him up for the murders. He was described as being filthy, stinking, wearing heavy pancake makeup and chapstick, and black grease over a beauty mark. He claimed that this made him look exactly like Elvis Presley.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Many of the murderers featured on the series have murdered children, one shot his young niece and infant nephew execution style after offing their parents.
  • Young Future Famous People: Vincent Bugliosi and F. Lee Bailey weren't the famous attorneys they became in the stories they took part in, after their cases (Sam and Marilyn Sheppard; the Pervelar Affair) they gained more traction in their profession and fame.

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