When it comes to celebrating Halloween there's no shortage of marathon-worthy movies on TV or spooky books to read. But this year we're gifting you with the creepiest of all: a Sword and Scale takeover of the Bustle App all about the weirdest social media killers ever covered on the popular podcast. (You're welcome.)
Sword and Scale, hosted by Mike Boudet, is a true crime podcast covering topics ranging from murder and crime to kidnapping and cannibalism (yes, really). Boudet and his team dig into real life cases, piecing together 911 calls, court testimony, interviews with victims, their own research, and more to tell the story of the real life monsters living, breathing, and working beside us all. If you were a fan of Serial, Making A Murderer, The Jinx, The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey and The People v. O.J. Simpson then S&S is about to be your new addiction. (PSA: listening to S&S before bed WILL cause nightmares.)
So, in honor of Halloween and, let's face it, all of our true crime obsession, Bustle spoke with Boudet about the podcast, true crime, the social media killers he finds the scariest, and what he's going to be for Halloween (natch). Here's what he had to say:
What initially got you interested in the true crime genre?
Everyone is interested in true crime, whether you're an avid consumer of books, TV and other media or just the kind of person who makes sure to lock all your doors every night and hide under the covers hoping no one will break in.
Initially, though, I didn't even realize just how much of a fan I was. I suspect a lot of people don't either, or didn't until this recent true-crime pop culture wave descended on all of us. Initially, I was just a big fan of great storytelling, talk radio and podcasting.
Where did the name "Sword & Scale” come from?
This is a question that I'm surprised is asked so often. In practically every courtroom in America there is a symbol. It's that of Lady Justice, and she carries a sword in one hand and a scale in the other. In some cases, she is also depicted wearing an additional symbol: a blindfold, which stands for the idea of justice being blind to other factors, such as race for example. You might have heard of the term "blind justice" before. That's where it comes from.
Is there anything you particularly *love* to cover?
There's nothing better than getting a great author on like Laura Tillman from The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts or Judy Melinek from Working Stiff and letting them tell this amazing story in their own words. At that point I'm not the host anymore, I'm part of the audience enthralled and absorbed in the story. Plus I love stories like that, which push the true crime genre into new unchartered territory.
Do you ever get scared or creeped out during your research?
Yes. I recently began covering a case about what they call the "dark web" and realized almost instantly that despite the first amendment, which is first because it's the most important one, the laws related to child pornography are so lazily written that by researching this story I may inadvertently commit a crime. So yes, I got scared. Not by a criminal, but by our very own government and our own laws.
How do you feel social media has changed the landscape for killers?
Social media has changed all of our lives in ways that a lot of us are still trying to understand. I was a quiet, somewhat lonely only-child with a handful of friends before social media. Now there are tens of thousands of people seeing every post I make public. For some that's scary, for others intoxicating. Either way, it's a completely new paradigm. And if your interest is notoriety, and you don't care who you kill to get there, then the opportunities for you are boundless.
Look at Luka Magnotta, whose story we told in episodes 33 and 34. All he wanted was fame, and boy did he get what he wanted. All it took to get there was a video camera, a bag of kittens, and an unsuspecting human victim he'd find on Craigslist to kill and dismember.
Does all of this research & attention to “monsters” ever affect you in your day to day life?
If I said I was totally adjusted and fine with it I'd be lying. At some point covering the worst of humanity has a way of giving you some variation of PTSD. I have to stress, this isn't "lazy reporting." When I cover a case I try to look at everything available (within the laws of our government). Some of the things I've seen cannot ever be erased from my mind.
What are you being for Halloween this year?
I was thinking of being #Anonymous. In other words "Guy Fawkes", popularized the movie V For Vendetta. He is the symbol for the social justice hacker group, by the same name.
Either that or the sh*t emoji. That costume is hilarious!
Check out the "Trending" stream in the Bustle app to see the Sword and Scale takeover in its entirety and get up-to-the-minute updates on absolutely everything you care about.
Images: Samuel Sosa