Over the past week, I’ve been delving into homicide investigation textbooks and scholarly papers in order to better understand the circumstances which might support a belief that a crime scene has been staged. That is, the verbal, behavioral, and physical evidentiary circumstances by which a criminal offender attempts to mislead and misdirect the investigators from the most plausible suspect. While intentional staging may be present in any kind of crime (from property crime to accusations of physical assault), I’ve been interested in the sort where a murder might be made to look like it wasn’t one.
According to crime scene staging researchers, staging is a common offender behavior. Frequently murders might be covered up through arson, made to look like suicides, sexual homicides, or accidental deaths. Another common kind of staging is that related to a “game playing” suicide which is made to look like a murder. The usual perpetrator of a staged homicide scene is a white male with an intimate history with the victim.
According to textbook homicide investigation procedure, in order to rule out staging, it is absolutely important as a death investigator to approach every equivocal death case as a potential homicide until it can be reasonably be proven not to be one. It is important to work up a victimology on all decedents in order to understand potential offender motivations. It is important to evaluate all coincidences and categorically rule them out as artifacts of intentional offender behavior. In equivocal death cases, only when questions like this have been answered can questions of crime scene staging be put to rest.
In relation to this blog, I found it interesting that an understanding of “weaponized suicide” conspiracy narratives and the responsible “offender behavior” (loosely the serial disinformation efforts of Russia and its proxies) can be enhanced by an understanding of these concepts.
Examples of Conspiracies and Cases from N01R in which Staging and Victimology is Pertinent
- The concept of the “game playing” suicide has a clear match in Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madame who worked with Larry Flynt’s dirt-digger Dan Moldea to bring down Republican politicians (revealing to Moldea in the process that she was suicidal). Palfrey also went on The Alex Jones Show where she claimed she would be “suicided” by the government and that she was not planning on killing herself. After her 2008 conviction, Palfrey hung herself, after having laid down the basis for viewers of the Alex Jones show to interpret it as a conspiracy. Investigators found it was a suicide, but it contributed to anti-American and anti-establishment conspiracy theories. Victimology may have demonstrated both Palfrey’s motives to suicide as well as to attack the US government.
- However, a narrative of “game playing” can be promoted by any interested party online. It was found that the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Jeffrey Epstein were turned into similar anti-establishment conspiracy theories by virtue of the narratives promoted like Infowars, QAnon, and Russian trolls. Both the Bourdain and Epstein deaths were investigated and found to be suicides. A victimology may have shown that both Bourdain and Epstein had sexual backgrounds and political positions which could be potentially leveraged in the interests of a hostile intelligence service. It seems those same hostile elements may be factors behind the emergence of the conspiracy theories themselves.
- While not really a conspiracy theory, the case of Cathriona White seems to be worth revisiting with our recent knowledge of staging and in the context of the fall of Michael Avenatti. Well before Michael Avenatti was known as Stormy Daniels’ attorney, he represented Mark Burton, the stepson of Scientologist spy Duke Snider (associated with the infiltration of the US government in the ‘Operation Snow White’ case). Burton and Avenatti brought a multimillion dollar wrongful death lawsuit against
vaccine conspiracist and antifascist dupe messianically deluded bad artistfamed socialist actor Jim Carrey – who was White’s lover, and had been a one-time target for Scientology conversion himself. At the time of her death, Cathriona White had been going through the ‘Scientology Run Down’, but had otherwise been long-connected to Scientology.
Carrey alleged that White’s marriage to Burton had been a sham so that the Irish-born woman could obtain US permanent residency. Evidence emerged that White had entered into the appearance of marriage with another Scientologist in previous years in order to mislead immigration officials.
The case which Avenatti brought against Jim Carrey rested on faked medical records by White as well as text messages which purported to show that Carrey had given White numerous sexually transmitted diseases. Carrey alleged he had previously succumbed to extortion by White around this matter. White alleged serious mental and emotional anguish resulting from the illnesses.
White’s 2015 overdose and death resulting from prescription medicines which had been prescribed to a Carrey alias was attributed to the psychological trauma. There was an attempt to hold Carrey accountable as the ‘drug dealer’. (Carrey alleged the scripts and medicine were stolen.) However, the case Avenatti brought for Burton was ultimately dismissed when it was proven the records were faked. Prior to this, Avenatti had claimed the death so suspicious that it should be referred to the LAPD for criminal investigation.
Now, in no way is this to suggest that Michael Avenatti had anything to do with the death of Cathriona White. However, in reflection on his criminal and mercenary behavior as a lawyer in order to offset a life of lavish spending – does not Avenatti’s impassioned claims for millions of dollars in compensatory justice in the death of Cathriona White using forged medical records seem suspect?
There are a lot of coincidences here – not just in reflection on the unethical representation of Michael Avenatti – but in the repeated attempts of Cathriona White to work with Scientologists in order to obtain US residency, as well as the evidence of prior attempts to extort Jim Carrey over the apparently false claim of STIs. Given the potential victimology of Cathriona White and the evidence of a financial motive in her death using faked medical records (including the prior extortion evidence), I believe there is good grounds to look at this as a homicide which may have been staged as a suicide. Is it possible that Carrey was right and the medicines were stolen? There is probably a good suspect to look at.
Ultimately, I think the idea of doing a good death investigation and having an idea of staging and victimology is a very important thing in the public interest as it may relate to disputing information warfare, active measures, or other kinds of disinformation in the cases above.
For example to apply this in practice, people like the aforementioned Michael Avenatti – or perhaps Harvey Weinstein need to be carefully monitored so that if they were to harm themselves, such a death’s ability to be interpreted as a murder from the lens of conspiracy theory would be minimized. Such figures currently in government custody may have good motivations to commit suicide over their falls from grace and have political and sexual profiles similar to those who have been demonstrated to be the subject of such conspiracies previously.
However, in reality, not every hoax or active measure is to cover up a murder. But I do think almost all of these events can be understood better with a grasp of how people “fake” things in order to strategically get what they want (as one can similarly benefit from an understanding of magical misdirection in espionage). Staging is a mature classification system from law enforcement which seems useful in this sense for understanding all sorts of conspiracies and the motivations of the people who use them to mislead or misdirect others from the truth.
I am just starting to dive into these subjects of staging and victimology but I feel they are going to be useful investigative concepts in my studies of conspiracism.
(UPDATE 1/29/2020: In actuality, there seem to have been some attempts at using the death of Cathriona White to stir up conspiracies about Big Pharma coming after Jim Carrey for his vaccine views. This may fit generally into an information warfare model which would seem to strategically parallel Scientology beliefs on pharmaceuticals and vaccines. Interesting that this is also an area the conspiracism of Jim Carrey and Scientology seem to overlap as much as this event may have been a ‘weaponized suicide’ attack on Carrey via certain people who are associated with Scientology.)