Blue Skies, Black Death

This is another entry into my series of a behind-the-scenes look at the episodes I write for the podcast Casefile. These posts will explain how and why I choose each case and the research that goes into writing the stories.

This post is about Episode 88 – Stephen Hilder.

Best to listen to it before reading on, as there will be spoilers below.

Long before I became a writer, I was a skydiver. For many years I was obsessed with the sport, even taking a year off in 2002 to travel and skydive in the USA full time.

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The 8-minute video “3 Guys, 1 Hammer” is infamous. I wanted to discover the story behind it.

This is another entry into my series of a behind-the-scenes look at the episodes I write for the podcast Casefile. These posts will explain how and why I choose each case and the research that goes into writing the stories.

This post is about Episode 92 – Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs. Best to listen to it before reading on, as there will be spoilers below.

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How I became a dark web consultant to a TV show, and my somewhat complicated relationship with the owner of the most profitable online murder-for-hire service in history

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I recently worked as a consultant to CBS for their season premiere of 48 Hours: “Click for a Killer” after I met a CBS producer at the trial of Stephen Allwine for the murder of his wife, Amy. The episode was originally going to be a straightforward telling of that crime, but as they learned about the extent of the Besa Mafia dark web murder-for-hire operation, as well as my own somewhat complicated and ongoing relationship with its owner, Yura, it turned into something quite different.

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This is another entry into my series of a behind-the-scenes look at the episodes I write for the podcast Casefile. These posts will explain how and why I choose each case and the research that goes into writing the stories.

 

This post is about Episode 89 – Ella Tundra.

Best to listen to it before reading on, as there will be spoilers below.

As an author, I will always be drawn to click on any stories that have titles like “Authors behaving badly” or “Why you should never read your reviews” and a few years ago, those clicks revealed a doozy of a story.

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I have been writing episodes of the excellent true-crime podcast Casefile and as I’ve been rather slack in updating this blog lately, I thought I would write up a little about each case I contribute to the show. These posts will explain how and why I choose each case and the research that goes into writing the stories.

The first one I wrote was Case 86 – the murder of Amy Allwine

Best to listen to it before reading on, as there will be spoilers below and it may not make much sense if you don’t know the story.

I first heard of Amy Allwine before she was murdered. Her name came up as one of the targets in the original hack of the Besa Mafia dark web murder-for-hire site. I wrote briefly about the hit ordered on Amy in my first blog about Besa Mafia on 14 May 2016:

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They used to be known as the “Amazon” or “eBay” of drugs, but modern dark web drug sales use a system more comparable to Yelp or TripAdvisor

 

Ever since Silk Road, the first mass-market point-and-click dark web drugs bazaar, made its debut in January 2011, the DNMs (darknet markets) have been invariably compared to popular e-commerce platforms. Reports would either refer to “the Amazon of drugs” or “the eBay of drugs” and point the parallels with those websites. Like Amazon, they were a one-stop shop for every drug imaginable, that could be popped into a basket and sent to the buyer with a range of shipping options. Like eBay, the sites brought buyers and sellers together and held payment in escrow until both sides were satisfied. Buyers would leave star ratings and feedback for the sellers, who would go out of their way to ensure their product and customer service would gain them a 5-star review.

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The man alleged to be Silk Road’s Variety Jones, Roger Thomas Clark, has finally been extradited from Thailand, where he has spent 2 1/2 years in Bangkok Remand, to face trial in the USA.

The pic the prison guard took with my phone

Variety Jones was basically unheard of until the trial of Ross Ulbricht, where he was revealed as a sort of behind-the-scenes puppet master, a Svengali-type figure who, according to the chat logs found on Ulbricht’s computer, was the first to suggest murder as a solution to a problem staff member.

I visited Clark (aka Plural of Mongoose) in Klong Phem Prison several times when researching The Darkest Web. Here’s a taster of what happened:

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