Criminally Insane

My name is Lyz and I am obsessed with crime. And not in your normal, oh-I-really-like-CSI-kinda way. This obsession has led me to steal (from a library, no less), spend thousands of dollars on criminology classes in college (even though my major was English) and creep people out at the few dinner parties I am invited to.

It began when I was 12. A voracious reader, I exhausted the young adult fiction section of the library and wandered over to the adult fiction. I was raised in a conservative, Evangelical family in Texas, and in general, adult fiction was frowned upon. The month before I became addicted to crime, I had been grounded for reading a friend’s copy of Gone With the Wind. I was under strict rules not to read anything without getting prior approval from my mom, lest I fill my mind with unholy images of women wearing pants and preaching in church.

To my surprise, my mom approved the Agatha Christie novels I picked out. In hindsight, I believe a couple things were working in my favor 1. Our library bought it’s versions of Agatha Christie novels in the 1920s, when they were published and the book covers looked tamer than Curious George. 2. My mom figured a little violence was better than the hot and steamy Southern novels that Gone With the Wind would lead me to.

Agatha Christie was my gateway drug. I quickly read through all 30 novels our library had and started perusing the non-fiction section for true crime. I wasn’t a fool. I knew my mom wouldn’t approve of me reading a 300 page biography of Lizzie Borden or Jack the Ripper, so I snuck them out of the library by passing the sensor by hiding them in a planter. A book on blood typing may or may not have been returned. I can neither confirm nor deny the rumors. (Plausibly deniability is a useful technique that my obsession has taught me.)

Soon, I was the only 13 year old in town who could eloquently wax on Jon Benet Ramsey, Jack the Ripper and the Green River Killer. When I turned 14, I took an honors class in Russian History. Our teacher let us spend 4 weeks on the Romanov murder and this is when I learned about DNA typing. I wrote a 10 page discussing whether Anastasia was still alive, analyzing blood spatter and DNA typing in-depth. Instead of creeping my teacher out, I got an A. A few weeks later, when OJ went on trial, I was the high school’s resident expert on trial procedure. My biology teacher gave me extra credit for explaining to the class why the investigators had seriously compromised the crime scene.

While my love of ponies and the color pink, ended when I was 18. My crime obsession followed me to college. With the few elective credits I had, I took a class on crime scene investigation. “Why?” My parents wanted to know. “Ummm, I need the science credit,” I lied. It worked.

My class took a tour the crime lab in St. Paul, Minnesota. Our eight-fingered tour guide took us to a room filled with guns. “Who can point out which guns are legal and illegal?” He asked.

Child’s play. I raised my hand.

The sawed off shot gun, the pimped out Colt, and every other gun with a silencer. Our tour guide looked at me with a concerned glance. I didn’t make a lot of friends in that class.

To this day, my unholy fascination with all things crime continues. My husband knows better than to suggest watching a movie that lacks a criminal element. Dear friends know better than to contradict my knowledge on the finer points of fingerprinting, and in July, when I found out I was pregnant with my first child and instead of reading What To Expect, I’ve spent my time reading a history of forensic science, a medical textbook from the 15th century and a book on criminal profiling.

Sometimes, I scare myself.

It’s my dream that this knowledge will pay off when I unknowingly become the key to solving a complex investigation that has stumped the FBI’s best minds. Until then, I still have a lot to learn about facial recognition software.

What is your secret obsession?

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