DETROIT, Feb. 3, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Move over Keith Morrison, true crime has a new face – and it comes via profile pictures.
With the popularity of crime documentaries and news magazines, the 2010s saw the rise of "armchair detectives" – a wave of crime solvers working from their living rooms. Think Netflix megahit, Don’t F**k with Cats.
Now, the younger generation is taking over – one cellphone at a time.
From Reddit to Instagram, the true crime obsessed are commenting their way to solving cold cases. And IRL ("in real life" for the not as text savvy among us) detectives are taking notice.
During the pandemic, Michigan’s Troy Police Department released dozens of clues to an unsolved 1978 murder on Twitter – the case of Gail Webster, a mother of three and grandmother.
Detectives tweeted out crime scene photos, documents, and other evidence, hoping its social audience could help solve it. The campaign reignited the cold case and many tipsters came forward.
This approach to crime solving is not always a positive though. Sometimes, social media sleuths can go too far.
Take the recent case of TikToker @sabrinaprater625 who rose to TikTok fame by dancing inside her fixer-upper Flint home.
Her short videos garnered tens of millions of views, until users noticed strange things in the background – like images of women on monitors, and a dead deer in a cage.
Within weeks, the hashtag #sabrinapraterconspiracy was trending, with users believing Sabrina may be a kidnapper, animal abuser, and even a serial killer.
Veteran crime journalists Alysia Sofios and Ronnie Dahl decided to see if there was any truth to the rumors.
"We did it the old-fashioned way. We knocked on her door," says Sofios. "Surprisingly, she was eager to let us in and put all the crazy rumors to rest."
The pair recently posted a ten-part interview with Prater on TikTok, where she says the ordeal was traumatic and warns against amateur detectives, aka "tiktoktectives" jumping to conclusions based only on what they see on social media. It prompted big-name influencers to retract their earlier conspiracy videos and issue apologies.
Sofios and Dahl hope to find a happy medium with social sleuths on their new interactive podcast, CrimeCasters Network.
The show highlights cases the pair has covered over the years that are either unsolved or have outstanding questions.
"We use research, documents from case files, and our sources to put the information out there," says Dahl. "Then we will livestream on social to brainstorm possible answers with our audience."
"I have a feeling this hybrid approach is the key to solving some of these mysteries. It will lead to justice for a lot of families," Sofios says.
Only time will tell.
CrimeCasters Network launches this week with a new prison confession from "Acid Queen" Larissa Schuster – the biochemist who murdered her husband by submerging him a vat of acid.
SOURCE CrimeCasters Network