Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Serial podcast: Which cases should Sarah Koenig investigate next?

Serial is back. Well, almost. 
Love this artwork from Serial's creators

A very welcome email drops into the ShadowPlay inbox declaring that, having sifted through 1,500 submissions for cases worthy of her attention, Sarah Koenig and her podcasting team have chosen a case for series two of the hit podcast. 

The phenomenal success of the first series (nearly 80 million downloads) sent earthquakes through the podcasting world. New companies are being set up to house the scores of new podcasts - with money and support flowing into what looked a niche and fading industry. The world was hooked on the case of Adnan Syed - no, really - only Eritrea and North Korea failed to register a listener. And even if its outcome was somewhat ambiguous (another podcast, The Undisclosed, has just launched attempting to solve the same case), the anticipation for a follow up is rife. 

The nature of the subject for the second series - which as yet has no air date - have been debated long and hard in the pub. Well, the kind of pubs I go to. Opinions are divided as to whether Koenig and producer Dana Chivvis should gun for an unsolved case, an attempt to overturn a guilty conviction or a completely different crime. Here's a few options:

The Babes in the Wood 

Perhaps Koenig and the team could cross the pond to attempt to solve arguably Britain's most famous unsolved case. The murder of young girls Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway after being snatched, sexually assaulted and strangled in Brighton sent the nation into shock in 1986. Chief suspect Russell Bishop was acquitted but is serving a life sentence for another, similar attempted murder. 
Could Serial prove his guilt or innocence?* 

The case of the disembodied feet 
This Canadian case has puzzled Canadian police since feet began washing up in Vancouver in August 2007. Four left feet and one right, still wearing trainers, have appeared. Everything from a 2005 plane crash off nearby Quadra Island to victims of torture have been suggested as the cause. With the case closely watched, many would welcome a podcasted resolution. 

The Somerton Man
Australia's conspiracy theorists have enjoyed more than half a century puzzling over the 1948 find of the body of a man known only as 'T.Keane'. Many believe the man, who washed up on Somerton beach in South Australia, was a Cold War spy or a poisoned murder victim. A suitcase was found at Adelaide railway station containing clothes that matched his alongside Persian poetry that said 'it is ended'. The book from which it was ripped was found in a doctor's care along with letters written in some kind of code. The various leads, including a mysterious nurse, in this case would doubtless tempt Koenig. 

The case of Edgar Coker
Edgar Coker pleaded guilty to a charge of rape in 2007 to avoid going to adult prison. The teenager suffered a 15-month sentence and being listed as a sex offender for six years after an accusation by a then 14-year-old. Coker and his accuser both have IQs in the lowest 5-10% of the US population. This case has actually been solved - by the University of Virginia Law School Innocence Project, which has helped out Serial - and Coker has been removed from the register after his accuser revealed she lied. However, the Koenig touch to another case involving young people - given the listeners won't know the story - may appeal.

The Loch Ness monster
Well, if someone's gonna get to the bottom of it (the Loch and the mystery), it's this lot. Don't take podcasting equipment into the water though Dana… 

Jack the Ripper
At least some crusty historians and east end accents could make amusing appearances. And I'm sure there's a Cockney MailChimp ad in the making. 

*A macabre footnote in the tale is that Katrina Taylor, who played Fellows in a Crimewatch TV re-enactment of the murders, was found stabbed to death in a graveyard in 1996 in another unsolved murder.

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