The Audience vs Toxic Fandom– EAR/ONS Style

I’ve been getting feedback that EAR/ONS as a case has ebbed yet again, back into the shadows. If this is merely a perception based on being in the audience then perhaps it is true . . .and quite welcomed for those involved in the case no doubt. But since EAR left so much carnage behind him, there are many in the audience who have a connection to the case, and they should be reassured now. There is a great difference between publicity and substance. What the audience hears about the case is only the tip of the iceberg. The names the audience hears represent only a sampling. There are many investigators on the case. I’ve recently been introduced to one detective, whose superior praised him as the best detective he’s ever supervised. He’s now firmly on the case.

Your friendly neighborhood Q is not going away. If you do not quit, you do not fail. I never quit.  For 27 years I’ve investigated many mysteries, often high profiled ones. I’ve developed a thick skin. I don’t notice when lots of publicity comes to a topic or when it ebbs. I continue on. I have an open door in the case of EAR/ONS and I intend to use it.

I’m not being pretentious. It is a statement of fact. I do not give up. I’ve always admired the British bulldog grip. I carefully investigate my POIs and I am allowed to submit my dossiers.

But most people interested in this case aren’t directly involved in the investigation. The audience has been rocked by bad information and at times, sadly, toxic fandom. Let’s take this time to reiterate some basics and make some qualifications.

There is one purpose to any investigation of any topic whatever the case may be. It is solution. All things distill to that point. Living on a fake narrative created to entertain oneself is not the purpose. This creates the subject into a real life comic strip. In a previous post I have had to warn about the 3 steps of toxic fandom.

  1. I love this.
  2. I own this.
  3. I control this.

This does not just apply to TV show plots but to the world of real life drama. This happened really bad in The Zodiac Killer case and it is happening now in the EAR/ONS case.  The internet has allowed some dabblers, which seems the politest word, to actively involve themselves in a superficial way with such topics as cold cases. They can even get attention. The internet is its own world. The controversies created on it invariably remain on it. But for a cold case this can be disturbing, as there really isn’t any other conduit to remain abreast of a case.

So let’s qualify a few points. The pot has been stirred claiming that Ann Marie Shubert, the DA of Sacramento County, has been spending lots of money on the case. However, this was couched in a negative light merely by some internet troll. I do not know her personally, but her reputation is one of being very, very keen on cold cases. If she is spending lots of money on the case, I would guess it is over DNA.

Context always destroys trolling criticism. So let’s venture some deductions on context.

There is still some doubt in many people’s mind if EAR/ONS did not have an accomplice at times in the Sacramento crimes before he went on alone into Contra Costa County and then So. Cal. The DNA that links EAR to the Original Night Stalker comes only from CC County. So you can deduce that DNA from Sacramento attacks would be vital. If it turns out there was an accomplice, such a person might already be in the database, or one already turned in. Identifying an accomplice is an obvious link to the man who turned murderer, and a very quick route to uncovering his identity. DNA is vital. So if Sac County is spending lots of money on EAR, it is spending it well. . .

Apparently, mud has been slung at a DA investigator in Orange County named Erika Hutchcraft. Again, I do not know her either personally or by reputation. But the claim has been made that her “progress” on the case is not impressive. A member of the audience cannot grade “progress.” You either catch or do not catch the culprit. To grade progress, you must also have a goal. In a case where there is no suspect, there can be no progress. Process of elimination continues and you either get the culprit or not.

The comments directed towards a few members of the investigation reveal those making them to merely be very ignorant members of the web audience. They may turn themselves into big players there, but their comments reveal they haven’t a clue as to what is really going on and how things work in the real world. A few investigators’ names have crept out into the public forum, and to the trolls and toxic fandom these become the focal point of the discussions. They alone get worked into the narrative. But these few names are only the tip of the iceberg. Many, many, work on the case and their names remain unknown in the public.

Toxic fandom is a terrible thing. It enjoys the ride merely for the ride’s sake and stirs up lots of trouble along the way. It installs new issue after new issue in the real life comic strip into which it creates the topic. Investigators’ names, their financial expenses, the many loves of Martha Ivers, do not matter in the distilling process toward the solution.

Those who fancy they are contributing to a case merely by giving themselves a web presence must remember that the substance of a case as it appears on the web is not the substance of the case in real life. By stirring up trouble within a web narrative they are not touching the real case as it plays out boots-on-the-ground.

You all know my introduction to toxic fandom. We won’t go there. I quickly learned how many bizarre people made claims behind alias names and obsolete clipart icon profile pictures. Obviously, I never acquired any trust for what was reported on the web in those circumstances.

I venture to say that the reasons there are such toxic fans in this case is because there was little publicity to the subject for so long. Those who stirred up trouble on the web thought they were a big deal. Discussions were so vitriolic on the A%E message board that A&E asked Michelle McNamara to look into the case in 2011. My understanding is that she soon realized kooks dominated the message boards and distanced herself. Then a couple of years later I was targeted. A number of alias names fancied the substance of what was discussed on the web was the substances of the case. They couldn’t stand being upstaged by anyone. They tread on my reputation. They tread on law enforcement in general when it was learned I was reached out to. Then when some pearls of great price in the official investigation started getting press coverage, they were soon tread under foot–Shubert, Hutchcraft, Holes.

The recent display of toxic fandom appears just a higher notch of trolling. As the real life investigation is jacked-up higher, and the fame of the villain reaches higher into the popular forum, the trolling rises to the occasion, more than seen before, and in this case to dangerous levels. Few are capable of the audacity. If this continues, officialdom better take this seriously.

But so must those sincere members of the web forums. I’ve heard nothing but wilting flower excuses why some do not defend their reputations. They are doing nothing good. They are, in fact, abetting these trolls by allowing them to crop a web image entirely in their own image.

There is a difference between standing up and declaring yourself and in feeding trolls.

“An attack unanswered is an attack believed. Speak out and let people know what you stand for.” Senator Alan Simpson.

*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

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