Murder in the Summertime

Now that we are in deep into Fall and past Spooky Season, based on crime statistics, we’re relatively safe from getting murdered. 

Enjoy your PSL and not getting murdered.

Until about May, the only thing we really have to worry about is offending relatives during the Holidays.

It doesn’t take a criminal researcher to conclude that more people out and about with an increase of public events and activities leads to more crime. Obviously there will be more crime in New York City than the bustling metropolis of Pleasureville, Kentucky. This subject has been debated for years and they have proven the theory correct.

It is a balmy 29 degrees where I am. It’s safe to say that there is not a lot going on as most people are probably warm and cozy in their houses slack-jawed and watching 90 Day Fiancé and not out and about. At least that’s what I’m doing right now. 

Me right now.

So, let’s reminisce about sweaty days past with some depressing and true crime stats.

When the temperature rises so does the murder rate. According to the New York Times, the rate of shootings doubled in Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit on hot days versus cold. While those cities are located in colder climates, the trend still applies to warmer climates such as Atlanta and Orlando.

While the increase of bodies in the morgue in the summer applies to all months, there is one in particular that seems to be particularly bloody… August. 

Ed Kemper murdered his grandparents in August.

John Wayne Gacy killed two victims back to back in August 1976.

Richard Ramirez murdered three victims on August 6,8,18,24 in 1985 and was captured on August 30.

Jeffrey Dahmer murdered his last three victims a month earlier in July which coincides with the theory of increased homicides in colder cities in warmer months. Note: Dahmer was active in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

One of the most disturbing trends found in the study of increased crime in the warmer months is that family annihilators (those who murder their families and often themselves) are most likely to commit their crimes on a Sunday in August. 

This seems like an obscure and almost bogus fact. However, it makes perfect sense when you look closer.

Sunday is often the day when fathers are with their children. In divorced families, Sunday is the more often than not the day that children are taken back to their mother after spending time with their fathers. In many cases of family annihilators, fathers will murder children as a way to hurt their mother or get revenge for someway she wronged him. In turn, male family annihilators then murder the mother to eliminate a witness.

Not only does the summer heat make criminals all murder happy, the season can also increase depression.

Researchers have found a possible link between individuals likely to commit violence and depression. This is not to saythat everyone with depression is violent! A Murder Most Foul is a pro mental health blog. Yours truly suffers from adult ADD and PMDD and I take medicine for both. Dn’t @ me on Twitter or send me hate mail.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed these depressing and true crime facts that I’ve tried to make entertaining. Stay warm and stay inside next August.

The True Story Behind The Musical Chicago

As a former weird theatre kid, I immediately fell in love with the movie musical Chicago when it was released in 2002. My theatre days are over but I will randomly bust out an impromptu version of “All That Jazz” from time to time. Apologies to my friends and family.

I still have this poster in my teenage bedroom. YOLO!

Now as an adult who writes about murder on the Internet, I get the tell the little-known true story behind my favorite musical.

The musical tells the story of Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, two murderesses in jail and on trial for killing their respective husband and lover in 1920s Chicago (which sounds super lit). Bathtub gin? Flapper dresses? Where do I sign up? The craft beer slugging Millennials in organic cotton t-shirts ain’t got nothing on the flappers of yesteryear. 

Not an IPA made with locally sourced hops in sight.

The character of Roxie Hart, played by Renée Zellweger in the 2002 movie, is based on Beulah Annan, who like the character of Roxie was suspected of killing her lover.

There isn’t much information available about Annan but there are a few cool newspaper articles from her trial online.

Beulah Annan.

Annan was born Beulah May Sheriff on November 18, 1899 in Owensboro, Kentucky. Watch out for lady Scorpios from Kentucky (AKA yours truly). She married her first husband as a teenager and soon left him for a man named Albert “Al” Annan. They moved to Chicago together and married on March 29, 1920. 

Al started working as a mechanic and Beulah started working as a bookkeeper at a laundry mat. At the laundry mat, she met Harry Kalstedt and the two began an affair that naturally led to murder.

On April 3, 1924, Beulah murdered Harry in her home she shared with her husband while he was at work. She claimed that she shot him after they started drinking wine and argued. There was a gun on the bed and they both reached for it at the same time. If you’ve seen the movie or the musical, you’ll know the super catchy song about this incident.

Beulah beat Harry to the gun and fired. Let’s face it, someone named Beulah is bound to make it a gun over a Harry. After shooting him, she played the record of the foxtrot song “Hula Lou” on repeat, drank cocktails, and watched him die. Honestly, that is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever read. 

After Harry died, she called her husband, Al and stated told him she killed a man who “tried to make love to her.”

She was arrested for the murder after she confessed. She then changed her story and said she shot him in self defense. Another version stated that she shot Harry after he told her he was breaking off their affair. At the trial, she changed her story yet again and said she was pregnant and that they both attempted to reach for the gun in her room and that she got to him first. 

Beulah was acquitted for the murder. The day after the trial ended she left her long-suffering husband, Al after he spent of all his money on her legal defense. She stated, “I have left my husband. He is too slow.” 

They divorced in 1927 and she married a boxer named Edward Harlib. The marriage only lasted three months and Beulah divorced him and was left with a $5,000 settlement. She then moved on to another man and died a year later at age 28 of tuberculosis at the Chicago Fresh Air Sanatorium.

You know Murderess’ Row is a 10/10 good time.

Annan’s short tragic life not only inspired the 2002 movie musical but also was the basis for a 1927 silent film also called Chicago and for a 1942 film Roxie Hart.

And people think the fascination with true crime is new.

Both of these cases were sensationalized thanks in part to journalist Maurine Dallas Watkins who went on to write the stage play version of Chicago.

The real-life story of Belva Gaertner, a fellow member of Murderess’ Row was the inspiration behind the Chicago character Velma Kelly played by Catherine Zeta-Jones in the movie musical.

Belva Gaertner in and out of jail.

Like Velma Kelly, Belva Gaertner was a Chicago cabaret singer accused of killing her lover, Walter Law. Gaertner was married three times total. Her second and third marriage was to William Gaertner, a wealthy business man twenty years older. After only five months, he annulled the marriage after he found out her first marriage not had been finalized. #1920sProblems

They married again and were separated by the time Belva was accused of murder. On March 11, 1924, Belva allegedly shot and killed Walter Law, a married man she’d been having an affair with. At the time of his death, Belva was 38 and Walter was 29.

Walter’s body was found in her car along with a gun and a bottle of gin. Belva was found at her apartment covered in blood. She was arrested for the murder and claimed that she and Walter had been drinking and partying at jazz clubs but couldn’t remember anything else.

At her murder trial, one of Walter Law’s co-workers stated that Belva was possessive and had threatened Law with a knife when he attempted to break off their relationship. Law also stated that he feared Belva would kill him someday.

Belva used her notoriety and charm to sway the judge and jury during her trial. Like our girl Beulah, she was also acquitted of the murder. The judge claimed that Law could have killed himself. At the trial, she stated, “No woman can love a man enough to kill him. They aren’t worth it, because there are always plenty more. Walter was just a kid—29 and I’m 38. Why should I have worried whether he loved me or whether he left me? Gin and guns—either one is bad enough, but together they get you in a dickens of a mess, don’t they?”

Good Lord, Belva.

An innocent woman does not wear a hat like that.

After her trial, Belva re-married William Gaertner. They were divorced again in 1926 after he claimed she was an abusive alcoholic. He also stated that she threatened to kill him after he found her with another man. The same year, she was convicted of driving drunk.

Belva lived the rest of her life traveling with her sister and living in Europe and California. She died at age 80 on May 14, 1965.

Good Lord. That was a wild ride. Jazz will kill you, kids. Stick with Black Metal.

Why Are We So Obsessed With Ted Bundy?



Don’t worry, I’m not a Bundy mark. Image.

Ted Bundy was one of the most prolific serial killers ever. If you are a murder blog, you already know this. Don’t close the tab and go back to memes just yet-I won’t be recounting his horrific crime spree.

Bundy has been a fascination for years, and rightly so. Ted Bundy is the gateway drug into true crime. 

More than that, the story of Bundy’s crimes and his victims are a cautionary tale of the OG American monster; the serial killer. While serial killers are not specifically American, Bundy is the classic example of the creeping mutilator you’ve been warned about yet equally fascinated with for years.

As humans, we are naturally curious about the darker side of life. Now, thanks to the Internet, our fascination and inner weirdos are appreciated and celebrated by the like-minded.

While we read about, listen to hours of podcasts, and watch Oxygen specials about these often celebrated murderers, it’s important to remember the victims and those affected by their unthinkable actions.

I finally got around to watching Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile and was sorely disappointed and not because the movie was poorly made. As a fan of the burnt orange general grossness of the 1970s; it was great. From the striped sweater Ted (Zac Efron) wears during one of his escape scenes, to the macrame plant hangers, to the soundtrack, the film created a mood that inspired the era and the influx of serial killers that embodied it.

This movie also included a list of Bundy’s known victims at the end which I felt was a nice touch and something we need to see more of.


Real Ted and his sweater.

When it came to portraying Bundy and his story, it fell short. Parts of the film imply that Bundy was sympathetic character, as if the audience was supposed to question his involvement along with this girlfriend, Elizabeth (Lily Collins). Since we know the ending of the story, this tactic and portrayal of the character didn’t sit right with me.

What this movie lacks in actual Ted Bundy-ness (AKA murder) it makes up for with romance, juke box shots, and Lily Collins crying. If you’re going to make a Ted Bundy movie, then make a damn Ted Bundy movie!

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is a victim of hype. The weirdos on the Internet were talking about this movie for what seemed like years before the Netflix release. Like many others, I fell for the hype and was looking forward to it. Even with my disappointment, I was glad I saw it to mark if off my list.

Remember that time Zac Effron, the guy from High School Musical played Ted Bundy in a movie? Yeah, that was weird.


Meanwhile, in 2019…

From Russia with Love

Well, not so much love. More like murder and overthrowing the government.

First of all, I want to apologize for my lack of posts lately. I started a new full-time job and have been doing some more freelance writing.  Also, I realized that people actually read this blog, follow me on social media, and read my dumb fiction books, so I should post some more.

Anyway, back to what you came here for.

This month marks the 100-year anniversary of the murder of the Romanov family which forever ended the imperial rule of Russia.

Why are we still talking about this?

There’s Anastasia escaped theories followed by imposters and Rasputin, who at the time of the Romanov murders had been dead for almost two years.

There’s the horrific murder of an entire family and a decades-long mystery of their burial site along with misleading information from the Russian government aboutthe true fates of the last Russian Dynasty.

Rasputin and the Anastasia conspiracy are the highlights. The events leading up to the assassinations of the Romanov family are what led to the rise of Communism in Russia, World War II, and eventually the current state of the world.

The Romanov family. 

Most Americans, myself included, tend to forget how old the rest of the world is. In the timeline of world history, The United States is about a second grader. Compared to the rest of the world, 100 years isn’t a lot of time.

The overthrow of a government resulting in the murder of a ruler and their entire family is reminiscent of Ancient Rome and Game of Thrones plotlines, not something that happened a mere 100 years ago.

To put that number into perspective, my iPhone-toting grandmother and her twin sister are 92.

This is an often overlooked by both true crime enthusiasts and history buffs alike and one of my personal favorites; it’s sordid, politically charged, and ends with a diamond-stuffed massacre.

I’m going to get into the deep history of these events. Mainly because others have done it much better. Also, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Two years before his death, Tzar Nicholas II left his royal residence in Saint Petersburg to lead the struggling Russian Army during World War I.

Czar Nicholas was a notoriously ineffective leader. He became the Czar when he was only 24 and did not want the job. All he wanted to do was make babies with his wife German Princess and granddaughter to Queen Victoria, Alexandra.

They had 5 children (they were trying for a boy), Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei. Alexei suffered from hemophilia, a bleeding disorder passed down through years of royal inbreeding.


Alexi’s illness is where Rasputin comes in. Alexandra believed Rasputin could cure the hemophilia and secure the future of the Russian empire and their family line.

Spoiler alert: he didn’t.

Nicholas’ poor handling of military campaigns, rampant Anti-Semitism, and his wife, Alexandra’s reliance on the completely full of shit Rasputin made the Romanov family about as popular as the Trumps at a Whole Foods.

Now that I’ve dropped the T bomb, you’ll start to notice some similarities between what’s happening in the USA today.

Nicholas also pissed off everyone by pretty much ignoring the famine, economic disparities, the government firing at its own people during a protest *coughs and points to America*, and unstable government that was plaguing Russia.

In February 1917, Tsar Nicholas was forced to abdicate the throne due to pressure from the public and the Bolsheviks, the Leftist group that eventually became the Communist Party of Russia led by Lenin.

After the abdication, Nicholas and his family attempted to seek asylum all over Europe. When they were refused, the Romanov’s were captured by Lenin’s forces and sent to a house in Siberia where they would all eventually die.

In the house, all the windows were covered in newspaper and the family had to ask permission from an armed guard if they wanted to leave their rooms. There was only one small part of the window that was not covered. Anastasia was shot at by a guard when she tried to look out.

Nicholas believed that he and his family would eventually be rescued by those still loyal to Imperial Russia.

Little did the family know, their execution was being planned.

A secret meeting was held on June 29, 1917 where the Soviets planned the execution of the Romanov’s. In attendance was Lenin himself. Historians have argued for years if Lenin was the person who actually gave the orders for the execution.

Supposedly, Nicholas was the only member of the family who was supposed to be murdered. To ensure that Imperial Russia would be gone forever, the entire family went with him.

Around midnight on July 17, 1917, the Romanov family doctor who was captured along with them was ordered to wake the family. Under the impression they were finally being rescued, the family dressed and soon met their fate.

They were ushered into a 20 foot by 16 foot basement room where several members of the Soviet police force Alexandra and Alexei were sat down in chairs while the rest of the family stood. Nicholas was the first to die as several shooters focused in on him. Alexandra was killed with a single shot to the head.

Maria attempted to escape after she was shot in the thigh but was gunned down along with her siblings. Alexei, Tatiana, Anastasia, and Maria were the last to die as they had diamonds and other jewels sewn into their clothes for safekeeping in case there were ever freed.

The jewels acted as a shield and prolonged their deaths and suffering.

Not only were the Romanov’s shot with over 70 bullets, they were also stabbed with bayonets, disfigured with acid, and buried in unmarked graves.

Rumors persisted for years over the fates of the children as at the time of their deaths, many thought  they had been set free.

Their remains were not found until 1979. This discovery was not announced until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Nicholas, Alexandra, Tatiana, Olga, and Maria were all exhumed and reburied. Alexei and Anastasia were found in 2007.

Morals of the story:

  1. If you have to flee, bring more than just your jewels.
  2. Shit happens when you party with Imperial Russia.

Public Enemy Number One

Actually, I sometimes have the same title when I’m with my conservative family.

The esteemed title actually belonged to notorious gangster John Dillinger.



Dillinger was the quintessential 1930s gangster with a drama-filled life and a death to match. History has made Dillinger a combination of a cult figure and a folk hero. During his bank robberies, Dillinger would also destroy bank mortgage and loan records, freeing people from their debts.

We need a millennial Dillinger to do the same for student loans.

If you’ve been keeping up with my weirdness, I’m deep into this 1920s and 1930s gangster shit and there’s no turning back. It doesn’t help that I’ve been watching Boardwalk Empire.


Nucky Thompson approves this message.


Dillinger’s crime spree from September 1933 to July 1934 made him a
household name feared by many.

During the height of the Great Depression, Dillinger and his gang killed 10 men, wounded 7, robbed countless banks and police arsenals, and staged 3 escapes from prison.
Dillinger was born in 1903 in Indianapolis to an upper-middle-class family. Dillinger’s
father owned a grocery store and the family was well-respected in the community.
His mother died when he was age 3. Dillinger had a normal childhood and did not exhibit any indication of future criminal behavior until his early teens. Dillinger’s questionable behavior began to appear after his father remarried. He had a strained relationship with his stepmother and resented her. Perhaps if things had gone differently, our favorite 1930s gangster might have been in a Disney movie.

Very little information is known about the exact details of Dillinger’s
childhood. Some accounts claim he was “unremarkable” and well-behaved. Others claim he was a petty thief and was a member of a youth gang called “The Dirty Dozen”. I’m going to go with option 2.

Dillinger was extremely charming and charismatic, characteristics that were apparent
during his crime spree. Dillinger’s family moved to a rural town outside of Indianapolis
and joined the Quaker Church. Dillinger did not adjust well to rural life and acted out frequently leading to the beginning of his crime spree. I would also act out if I was forced to move to the middle of nowhere in Mike Pence country and join a church.

Dillinger’s first major criminal offense was stealing a car in reaction to being denied to propose to a local girl he had fallen in love with Dillinger was caught by the police being his first escape attempt. Dillinger joined the Navy to legally escape jail only to be AWOL after a few months and subsequently being dishonorably discharged.

Soon after Dillinger married Beryl Ethel Hovious in 1924. Hovious was from Mooresville, Indiana where his family lived. SPOILER: married life did not calm his behavior.
To escape the responsibilities of marriage and adulthood, Dillinger began frequenting local bars and pool halls. This introduced him to the world of crime which he would later be very well acquainted with.
Facing financial difficulty, Dillinger and a man named Edward Singleton robbed a
grocery store which turned into a complete disaster. Dillinger mistakenly questioned locals about the hours of the store and about money that might be inside. During the robbery, he accidentally set off a gun and struck the owner of the store in the head with a lead pipe.

Dillinger’s mistakes made it too simple for the police to catch him. He was arrested and
was sentenced to 10-20 years in the Indiana State Reformatory where he was incarcerated from 1924 to 1933.

Dillinger was not a model prisoner and spent most of his time in solitary confinement. It is believed that Dillinger was embarrassed by his first robbery and hardened by prison life wanted to become a more efficient criminal once released. In prison, he told a fellow inmate,”I will be the meanest bastard you ever saw when I get out of here.”

It’s good to have goals.
Dillinger met like-minded men in prison, discussed notes on crime, and planned his future robberies.  Dillinger was denied parole in Indiana and was transferred to a tougher prison in Michigan. He improved his behavior and planned for another parole hearing in 1933. Dillinger won and was released from prison after only serving an 8-year sentence.

After his release from prison, he had trouble finding work as 1933 was the height of the Great Depression. In September of the same year, Dillinger went to prison again for robbing 2 banks in Ohio.

Dillinger made his final escape from prison and stole a police car, leading to the nationwide search for Dillinger lead by the FBI.

He was caught in Tuscon, Arizona and escorted back to Indiana and then to Chicago where he had robbed a bank only then days before being captured in Arizona. Dillinger made another escape from the jail in Crown Point, Indiana where he was held in a cell with extra guards.

According to the FBI, Dillinger escaped from the Crown Point Jail with a fake pistol carved out of a potato. However, deputies in Crown Point reported the gun was real. I’d like to think it was a potato, so let’s go with that.

He escaped to Minneapolis with his girlfriend, Evelyn “Billie” Frechette. After FBI agents were staking out their apartment, the couple went back to Mooresville, Indiana to Dillinger’s family.

They then went to Chicago where Billie was arrested by the FBI in a bar. She was charged with harboring a criminal after she refused to disclose Dillinger’s location and served 2 years in prison from 1934 to 1936. After her arrest, she and Dillinger never saw one another again.



Vintage lady criminals are the best criminals.



Dillinger stayed in Chicago until his death. The FBI didn’t know where he was because Billie did the ol’ Tammy Wynette “Stand By Your Man” and refused to talk.

When a cop car he had stolen was found dumped on a street in Chicago, the FBI focused on tracking down their most wanted in the Windy City.

In Chicago, the wanted man found it was easy to hide in the crowded city. Dillinger even worked as a store clerk under an alias and attended several Cubs games at Wrigley Field. Fun fact: the cops looking for him also regularly attended Cubs games.



I’m sensing a theme.


While hiding out in Chicago, Dillinger had an associate find a doctor willing to perform some minor plastic surgery procedures on him. Dr. Wilhelm Loeser, a friend of a friend agreed to perform the procedures.

Loeser had been arrested for narcotics violations and spent several years in prison. He also admitted that he had performed facial surgery on himself and altered his own fingerprints with lye.

Supposedly, Dillinger had several moles removed on his forehead, made an incision in his nose and an incision in his chin and tied back both cheeks.

As the search ensued, a $10,000 reward was offered for any information. Anna Sage, a madam at a brothel in Gary, Indiana contacted the police saying she knew of Dillinger’s whereabouts. Dillinger’s new girlfriend, Polly Hamilton (sorry, Billie), had worked for Sage.

Sage, was a Romanian immigrant and threatened with deportation. She struck a deal with the FBI; she’d help them get Dillinger if they would help her with her citizenship. They agreed to her terms, but the deal fell through and Sage was deported in 1936.

Sage, Dillinger and one of Sage’s girlfriends were going to the movies the following night. The police and FBI stood outside the theatre waiting for Dillinger. On July 22, 1934, Dillinger was shot by FBI agents outside the Biograph Theatre in Chicago and was pronounced dead the same night.

The freakin’ FBI waiting outside a movie theatre to kill you is hardcore. Dillinger’s body was on display at the Cook County Morgue where an estimated 15,000 people went and viewed his body, because what else would you do during the middle of the Great Depression? I’m guessing a John Dillinger dead body viewing would get a 10/10.

 Let’s Celebrate Valentine’s Day With A Massacre 

February 14 is a day of many emotions and not just love. Valentine’s Day is a point of contention for many. In reality, it’s just another day that really doesn’t mean much of anything. Unless you just so happened to be a victim of the infamous Valentine’s Massacre in 1929. 



If you are offended by vintage crime scene photos, leave this blog now.


Chicago, 1929. Prohibition was in full swing and the mafia ruled. Honestly, the 1920s looked super fun. Would Rsvp “yes” to a 1920s party. At 10:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day 1929, seven men were murdered in a shootout at a warehouse on Clark Street in Chicago. Five of the men killed were members of the Chicago North Side Gang led by Bugs Moran. The murders were planned by none other than Al Capone, which is something you probably already knew. Side note: 10:30 in the morning seems early for a planned gun battle/massacre. Murdering a bunch of rival gang members seems more like a nighttime activity.



Al Capone


The initial plan was to lure Bugs Moran to the warehouse with a promise of a cut of illegal whiskey that had been shipped in from Detroit and kill him in order for Capone’s gang to gain more control over Chicago’s illegal liquor operations. Also, an associate of Moran’s had murdered members of Capone’s gang in 1924, Pasqualino “Patsy” Lolordo and Antonio “The Scourge” Lombardo. Side note 2: those are the best names EVER. These gangsters with their fighting and trendy names are total petty drama queens. 

Once members of the North Side Gang arrived at the warehouse, some of Capone’s men were there dressed as police. Moran, who was supposed to already be at the warehouse, was running late that day. When he saw police going into the warehouse, he waited outside. The police were actually Capone’s men and were inside murdering his men. 

Capone’s crew was successful in taking down so many of Moran’s men that Capone’s gang took complete control of the Chicago operations (or racket if you want to go full old-school gangster).



Bugs Moran looks like the type of guy who randomly talks to you in the grocery store and makes a bad pun about the weather. 


No one was ever brought to trial or charged with the murders. Both Capone and Moran blamed each other for the murders. Capone denied that he was personally involved that even claimed he was at his home in Florida the day of the murders.


Like most of the mafia crimes of yesteryear, this was one never officially solved. This was mainly because of police corruption and payoffs to public officials, which never happen today *wink, wink*.

Fun fact: Al Capone was actually arrested for tax evasion and went insane from syphilis.

On that note…


Diane Schuler and The 2009 Taconic State Parkway Crash

It is one of my personal goals to watch as many true crime/weird/creepy documentaries as possible. While on my way to reaching my documentary and chill goal, I came across this one. 

This case isn’t exactly a murder in the first-degree sense, even though charges were going to be filed, I still thought it belonged here.

Regardless of what was originally concluded, others might feel that this case is justified as a murder based on the circumstances alone. The HBO documentary, There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane, tells the story of the 2009 Taconic State Parkway crash and Diane Schuler the woman behind the wheel who was responsible for the death of eight people, including Schuler herself, her two-year-old daughter, her nieces, ages eight, seven, and five, a father and his son, and their friend. 


As someone who writes a blog with the word murder in it, I have watched, read, and written about a lot of horrifying things. The majority of them fail to bother me, except this one. 

Aunt Diane is one of the most polarizing documentaries in recent years and is constantly listed as a “must see” and “disturbing”. The documentary rightfully belongs on both those lists, while it does contain graphic content, including photos of the horrific accident, the most disturbing part of the story is what happened after the crash. 

The crash soon became national news. Sadly, what should have been just another highway collision statistic became a case of denial and debate over toxicology reports.

On Sunday, July 26, 2009, around 9:30 a.m. Diane Schuler left a campground in Parksville, New York driving a minivan registered to her brother, Warren Hance. Her husband, Daniel Schuler left the campground several hours later in a pickup truck. The families had been on a camping trip for the weekend. 

Four hours later, everyone in the minivan would be dead, except the Schuler’s five-year-old son, Bryan who survived with brain damage. 

Diane stopped at a McDonald’s and a gas station before the crash. Video surveillance from the gas station shows that Diane went inside. The clerk working that day stated that she asked for some OTC pain reliever. In the weeks leading up to her death, Diane had been suffering from a toothache. She left the gas station purchasing nothing. Witnesses later came forward and reported seeing Diane pulled over on the side on the side of the road, bent over as if she were vomiting. She was soon seen driving erratically. 

Around 1:00, Schuler’s niece called her father and told him “there’s something wrong with Aunt Diane.” She told her father that Diane was having trouble seeing. Thirty minutes later,  the crash occurred after Diane had been driving in the wrong direction on the road for 1.7 miles. 

 Police found an empty bottle of vodka in the wreck. Common sense says clearly Schuler had been drinking and driving. This is where the controversy comes in. If you don’t know the story, you are probably wondering what the hell is going on and what direction this is going in. 

Autopsy and toxicology reports showed that Schuler had a blood alcohol content over twice the legal limit in New York, including 6 grams of alcohol in her stomach that had yet to be digested. She also had high levels of TCH in her system. The high levels of TCH showed that she had used marijuana as recently as 15 minutes before the crash. 

During the documentary, the story is told in such a way which presents these findings as a shock to the viewer. Then, the proverbial bomb is dropped-both Diane’s husband and her sister-in-law admit that Diane did both drink and occasionally use marijuana. This was after they both denied and refused to believe that the autopsy and toxicology results were correct. Daniel Schuler claimed that Diane had either suffered a stroke, an aneurysm, heart attack, or another medical emergency. He even raised money on several occasions to have Diane’s tissue samples re-tested. Every lab came back with the same results. 

This case suddenly went from a drunk driving accident to a clear case of heavy denial in which the surviving members of the Schuler family keep making themselves look like jerks for denying that one of their own had a problem and refusing to believe what has been in front of them for almost ten years. Their insistence to prove everyone else wrong and keep bringing up the case has been painful for the surviving family members of the others killed in the crash. This is the part that bothers me. Denial and blind ignorance can be just as harmful as a gun. 

Aunt Diane is a good documentary and well made, but it doesn’t do the Schuler family any favors. Instead of painting a sympathetic portrait of a family tragedy and its aftermath, it accomplishes the exact opposite. It is by far the most frustrating and irritating documentary on any streaming channel. If you can think of another one, let me know. 

Regardless of the controversy surrounding this story, the documentary is worth a watch. You can find it on HBO Go and