Real Crime Blog

There's a CrimeCon — Who Knew?

True true-crime nerds will mark their calendars for CrimeCon 2017, a convention and celebration of all things dark and criminal happening this June in Indianapolis, IN. Kevin Balfe, a partner at Red Seat Ventures, the producers of the event, answered a few questions about what to expect.

His company was doing digital business development for a major TV crime personality. They were also aware of the recent “media properties from players you wouldn’t associate with true crime,” Balfe says, “such as Making a Murderer from Netflix, HBO’s The Jinx, and NPR and Serial — these outlets are realizing the fascination with true crime. And we noticed a hole in the market.” You have ComicCon for comics fans and myriad conventions for gamers — but what about the crime-obsessed?

And so CrimeCon was born. This is the event’s first year; guest speakers include Nancy Grace, Josh Mankiewicz, Aphrodite Jones, F. Lee Bailey…and the Midwest Search Dog bloodhounds (who will, more likely, bark). Author Jon Ronson will discuss (and sign) The Psychopath Test. Forensics experts such as Dr. Laura Pettler will explain crime scene reconstruction. The schedule is bursting with opportunities to hear from investigators, former FBI agents, documentary makers, profilers, and crime journalists.

“We also wanted to come up with events that wouldn’t be just speaker panels and people sitting in chairs,” Balfe says. “We wanted to ignite the citizen detective or armchair detective, and get things going that way.” So they devised a multi-player Murder Mystery Game for those staying in the host hotel (the Indianapolis JW Marriott). Balfe declined to say much more, citing spoilers. Other participatory events are The Jury Experience and The Interrogation Experience (again, no spoilers!).

It’s not all fun and games, however, and Balfe emphasizes that the convention hijinks aren’t meant to trivialize crime. “It’s a tough genre,” he says, “since a lot of these stories are based on a tragedy or some sort of crime. But we feel like we are bringing up the human side of it.” One event will unite a survivor of the Golden State Serial Killer (aka the East Area Rapist) with family members of two victims. They’ll tell their stories and work with a renowned forensic sketch artist. “I think it’s an important piece of all of this to remind people of what gets lost sometimes,” says Balfe. “When you’re sitting talking to an actual survivor, you realize this story is incredibly powerful. This is one of the most prolific killers and rapists and he has never been caught. Let’s focus some attention on this.”

Helping to do just that: the more than 35 podcasters expected in an area of booths Balfe calls Podcast Row. The likes of Last Podcast on the Left, Generation Why, and Up and Vanished will meet attendees, do breakout sessions and panels, as well as having access to a studio where they can broadcast with a live audience. “Giving them a platform to come together and meet fans who listen to them every week is very cool,” he says.

Check out the event site for availability and, starting Monday (May 8), a limited number of reduced-price day passes.

A&E’s Real Crime gets closer to the people and the stories behind the crime headlines.

(Image: Photo by Angel Zayas/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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