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Crime News CrimeCon 2021

These Are The Panels We’re Excited About For CrimeCon 2021

This year's CrimeCon gives attendees the chance hear from "Don't F**k With Cats" citizen detective Deanna Thompson, Nancy Grace, "Night Stalker" investigator Gil Carrillo and more.

By Gina Tron
Crimecon 2021 Austin

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the holidays. Even better. Get your true crime Advent calendars out, because it’s time to count down the days until CrimeCon2021, presented by Oxygen

The event, held in Austin, Texas, marks the return of in-person panels. As with most conventions, last year's weekend-long convention went fully digital to comply with safety protocols as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But now, CrimeCon is back with a vengeance with a three-day event (June 4 through June 6) at the Fairmont Austin that's loaded with exciting discussions about all things true crime.

“Everything's bigger in Texas, and CrimeCon is no exception! After being stuck inside for so long, we'll be ready to hit the Lone Star State with a truly unique CrimeCon experience,” the convention states.  

As we are all still living under the looming pandemic, the crowds will be smaller than usual, so a wait list has been created for in-person tickets, organizers said. But there are also Virtual Access passes for anyone wishing to participate remotely.

CrimeCon organizers note that prices will increase as the event nears, so anyone interested in attending may want to put down a deposit on an event badge now.

Here are just some of the panels were excited about:

Friday, June 4

Entering the Dark: On The Trail Of Serial Killers

Anyone interested in learning how authorities track down and catch serial killers won’t want to miss this one. Dr. John White, a psychology professor and former investigator, provide insight into hunting down these psychopathic predators. 

“As they find new ways to hunt their prey, law enforcement endeavors to look for new ways to catch them,” a description for the panel reads. “Have advancements in law enforcement, forensic science, and psychology given us inroads into catching them? How does the identity of an active serial killer come to the attention of the police?”

White certainly has the experience. He has developed a database of over 500 serial killers. 

This event will be held in the Ballroom at 12:10 pm CDT.

 Don’t F**k with Cats: Behind the Search for an Internet Killer

Here’s your chance to ask John Green” and Deanna Thompson (aka “Baudi Moovan”) questions about their incredible quest to capture Canadian murderer Luka Magnotta. The two star sleuths from “Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer” will be present at this panel, along with their fellow citizen detective Muervet Douglas. The three began tracking down the killer after he uploaded horrific animal abuse videos. Later, he murdered Jun Lin with a screwdriver that was modified to look like an ice-pick in a disturbing video he posted titled “1 Lunatic, 1 Ice Pick.”

The efforts of “Green” (who hasn't revealed his real name), Thompson and Douglas led to the creation of the Animal Beta Project, an organization that seeks out animal abusers. The trio will discuss details from the Magnotta case that weren’t included in the docuseries and they will drive home their main point: that those who torture animals are very likely to escalate to human homicide.

There will also be a Q and A, so "Don't F**k With Cats" fans, have your questions ready. The panel is scheduled for 1:20pm CDT in the Ballroom.

The Safety Trap

Anyone who wants to learn tips from a bodyguard won’t want to miss this. Spencer Coursen may even be the real-life basis for Kevin Costner’s character in the 1992 movie “The Bodyguard,” according to the panel description

“He’s protected so many celebrities he could host his own highlight reel on TMZ,” organizers state, adding that he’s all about keeping people safe.

The security consultant and author will give tips on how to stay safe using real-world examples from his experience keeping celebrities, athletes and models out of harm’s way.

Listen to Coursen's tips at 1:20 pm CDT in the Breakout 1.

Practical Tactical: When Trusting Your Instincts Fails [VIP ONLY]

Spencer Coursen and Jason Hanson, two of America’s top experts in threat management, safety, and personal defense are offering possible life-saving tips during this panel, according to the convention's description.

“How do you react when your gut instincts scream 'run' but social norms dictate you do nothing? From a shady guy jumping in the elevator, to a strange car following on a dark road. We're told to 'follow our instincts' but, in the world of safety, these instincts are often wrong. And seasoned criminals know how to take advantage of them.”

Learn everything from how to get out of zip ties and duct tape in this engaging and participatory panel. 

This panel is only for VIP pass holders. It’s scheduled for 3:50 pm CDT in Breakout 2.

What Hell is Like: The Untold Story of the Toolbox Killers

Here’s your chance to learn more about the “Toolbox Killers” from an expert who spent years of her life studying and interviewing them. Laura Brand, an investigator who became known as the “Siren Of San Quentin,” will be speaking publicly for the first time on the case. 

She spent five years interviewing “Toolbox Killers” Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris at San Quentin prison, four decades after their killings, in hopes of uncovering unknown victims. She successfully got Bittaker to reveal the locations of missing victims Cindy Schaefer and Andrea Hall.

Brand will break down her interviewing techniques and she will be joined by investigative psychologist Dr. Maurice Godwin, who will give a profile of the unknown victims. Attendees will also be privy to previously unreleased audio from Bittaker and witnesses. 

This panel is scheduled for 5:05 pm CDT in the Ballroom.

Saturday, June 5

Un-Making a Murderer: A Conversation with Brendan Dassey's Lawyer Laura Nirider

Come meet Laura Nirider, Brendan Dassey’s longtime lawyer and co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Not only will she talk about her client’s infamous case, which is converted extensively in Netflix's “Making a Murderer,” but she will discuss wrongful convictions at large.

This event is scheduled for at 9:50 am CDT in the Ballroom.

Beyond The Night Stalker: The Incredible Career of Gil Carrillo

This panel features none other than Gil Carrillo himself, one of the detectives who solved the notorious "Night Stalker" case. When a series of rapes, murders and other assaults began to sweep over Los Angeles in the mid-1980s, law enforcement treated them as what they appeared to be on the surface: random attacks that were in no way connected. But, Carrillo’s intuition and university training told him otherwise, even though he was a fresh-faced LAPD detective. 

Carrillo will reflect on that infamous case as well as the rest of his 38-year career, in which he investigated over 700 homicides, at 11:05 am CDT in the Ballroom.

The Trial of Joe Exotic: Rightfully Convicted or Wrongfully Conspired?

Ready for a deep dive into Joe Exotic’s trial? 

“If you watched Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness and found yourself wondering if the allegations and charges brought against Maldonado-Passage fit the evidence presented at trial, you are not alone,” the panel’s description states.

Jim Rathmann, a former Secret Service agent and lead investigator for Investigation Discovery’s limited series, Joe Exotic: Tigers, Lies and Cover-up, will lead attendees into a deep exploration of the actual trial transcripts and the scientific evidence and data presented to the jury. Exotic, whose legal name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is currently serving 22 years for plotting to kill big cat activist Carle Baskin. In addition to being convicted on two counts on a murder-for-hire charge, he was found guilty of eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.

Rathmann argues there were significant gaps, inconsistencies, and contradictions in the evidence presented presented in the trial. 

Learn more about his theories at 12:20 pm CDT in Breakout 1.

Nancy Grace

While the details on this panel are scarce, we know that Nancy Grace will definitely be there. The event’s description notes that she “has been a CrimeCon fan favorite since the very beginning and she'll be back this year in Austin. With a two-year break in between CrimeCons we can all be sure that Nancy will have a LOT to say.”

That's scheduled for 2:00pm CDT in the Ballroom.

Confronting OJ Simpson: A Candid Conversation with Kim Goldman

Attendees will listen to Kim Goldman as she discusses the infamous 1994 murders of her brother Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson in Los Angeles. In this panel, described as an “emotional” one that will bring out the tissues, Kim will discuss the case and what she learned while making her podcast Confronting: OJ Simpson. She’ll discuss victims' rights, grieving in the public eye, the media’s role in high-profile cases.

The panel is scheduled for 5:45 pm CDT in the Ballroom. 

Sunday, June 6

The Face Behind the Charley Project

Come meet the face behind the Charley Project, the internet's largest and most detailed privately run database of "cold case" missing persons. It’s become an important resource for law enforcement, journalists, podcasters and citizen detectives alike. 

“What most people don't realize, however, is that it's run entirely by one person, an Indiana woman named Meaghan Good,” a description for the panel states.

Learn about Good’s mission, the site's purpose, and how it has helped solve multiple missing persons cases.

It's scheduled for 9:00 a.m. CDT in Breakout 1.

CHASING COSBY: The Downfall of America’s Dad

This panel details the dramatic downfall of Bill Cosby, America’s dad-turned-convicted sexual predator. And who better to tell it than a reporter who broke the case and two alleged Cosby survivors. 

As the event description states, “Nicki Egan was the first reporter in the world to dig into the allegations against Cosby in 2005, when other reporters shied away, and will explain why it took another nine years for the allegations to take hold, who the enablers were that allowed him to get away with his crimes for so long and dispel the various rape myths this case highlights.”

Tamara Green and Therese Serignese, two of the dozens of women who have came forward with allegations against the TV legend, will explain what brought them to break their silence.

This panel will be held at 10:15 a.m. in the Ballroom.

Detecting Lies: The Truth About Lie Detectors

Last but not least, find out just how accurate lie detectors are. Polygraph examiner Lisa Ribacoff will be giving a crash course focused on the myths vs. realities of the notorious lie detector test, commonly featured in true-crime dramas and fictional films alike. She’ll show attendees the differences between a “made-for-TV” exam and the ones used in real crime investigations.

This panel is scheduled for 11:30 am CDT in Breakout 1.