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Sitdown Sunday: The serial killer and the dogged detective

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

Image: Shutterstock/New Africa

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.  

1. Why 1971 was a great year for film

What a year 1971 was – from music like Joni Mitchell’s Blue to Marvin Gaye’s What’s going on. Not to mention the incredible films that also came out that year, which this article delves into.

(BBC Culture, approx 11 mins reading time)

1971 gave us, among other things, A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick’s shocking descent into dystopian cruelty; Get Carter, the British crime film, whose murky fatalism offered an antithesis to the cheerful escapism of the swinging sixties; Dirty Harry, in which Clint Eastwood’s squinting, gravel-voiced cop announced a return to cowboy justice against hippie “punks”; and Two-Lane Blacktop, the minor-key masterpiece of US road movies, with its disaffected, drifting youth, sun-browned and scruffy-haired, melancholy against the roar of their Hemi engines.

2. Kip Kinkel

At the age of 15, Kip Kinkel shot and killed not only his mother and father, but two students at Thurston High School in Oregon. Now he’s speaking about what happened.

(Huff Post, approx 68 mins reading time)

A shooting at a Mississippi high school the previous October was followed by a cluster of killings across the country perpetrated by students who seemed to select victims at random. After the third in eight months, at a middle school near Jonesboro, Arkansas, President Bill Clinton asked Attorney General Janet Reno to take action. “We do not understand what drives children, whether in small towns or big cities, to pick up guns and take the lives of others,” Clinton said. Two months later, Kinkel’s crime marked the highest-casualty school shootings by a student in three decades. Less than a year after that, the tragedy at Columbine happened, followed by the horrifying string of school shootings that have become a routine of American life since.

3. Our hikes are political

A short but sweet and educational piece about a group of Sheffield walkers reclaiming rural history. 

(Inkcap Journal, approx 5 mins reading time)

This erasure of hundreds of years of Black history continues to feed contemporary rural racism; the British countryside is often perceived as a ‘white landscape’, predominantly inhabited by white people. Long-established links between rurality and racial purity are at the core of Britain’s national identity. The fact that the majority of Black people live in urban areas is used to justify these ideas. It is time to rewrite these narratives and put our ancestors back into the history of the British countryside.

4. The serial killer and the detective 

A detective wonders – could killings in New Jersey be linked to the infamous Times Square murders?

(New York Times, approx mins reading time)

Their murders shook the region. No one could find any clues in the girls’ backgrounds: no drugs, no trouble with the law. Boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, family members — all were questioned and cleared of suspicion. The police “pursued a welter of tips, rumors and false alarms,” The New York Times reported at the time. Years ticked past, 1974 into 1975, into the 1980s, the 1990s. When the 40th year since the killings arrived in 2014, the local police asked the public for any new information. No leads were forthcoming. The 45th year passed in the same way. 

5. Dads with PTSD

After Elliott Rae experienced the distressing birth of his daughter and the effect it had on his wife, he experienced PTSD. Now, he wants to share his story with other fathers.  

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(BBC, approx 10 mins reading time)

Elliott was plagued by flashbacks of her birth and the frightening weeks that followed. It kept him up at night and could choke even the easiest of chitchat with colleagues. “I didn’t feel like myself at all and I couldn’t muster the energy to care about anything,” he says.

6. Dr Ross

Dr David Ross is known as the forgotten hunger strike victim, because he worked with hunger strikers who died during the Maze prison hunger strike. He took his own life five years later.

(The Irish Times, approx 20 mins reading time)

From the mid-1970s, doctors treating IRA prisoners in British prisons found themselves in new territory. Following the death of IRA hunger striker Michael Gaughan in 1974 from the effects of force-feeding in an English prison, international medical guidelines declared force-feeding unethical, though it had not been in practice in Northern Ireland’s prisons. Britain signed up to 1975 guidelines, respecting the right of prisoners to refuse medical treatment, if mentally competent. 


This 2012 story looks at the death of a four-year-old and how his foster mother was charged with capital murder. But was his death actually a tragedy?

(Texas Monthly, approx mins reading time)

If not for a Corpus Christi couple named Larry and Hannah Overton, Andrew might have lingered in state custody, shuffled from one foster home to another. The Overtons already had four children, and Larry’s income—he installed landscape lighting—was barely enough to make ends meet. But as devoted Christians, their desire to adopt a foster child was rooted in faith more than in practicality. Both Larry and Hannah had done missionary work, and as a teenager, Hannah had spent holidays volunteering at an orphanage across the border, in Reynosa, where she had fed, bathed, and ministered to kids who had been living on the streets.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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