Are Joran van der Sloot and John Mark Karr Really Back in Our Lives?

Here is something we will never understand: Why Americans fetishize some white-people murder stories and not others. The investigations surrounding JonBenet Ramsey’s death and Natalee Holloway’s disappearance were bizarre, to be sure, but no more chilling than many of the stories we read in the New York tabloids every day. Yet somehow, when the Greta Van Susteren/Nancy Grace/National Enquirer Axis of Weasel gets on the case, these stories are blown into National Mysteries. They go from headlines used for Law & Order to ones used on Lifetime Original Movies. And the worst part is: They won’t end. The weird fetishization of these players somehow turns them into the monsters we suspect them to be, or something even weirder. Like Joran van der Sloot, the Dutch teenager who was repeatedly arrested but never convicted of being involved in, or witnessing the death of, Natalee Holloway. He’s now suspected of brutally killing a woman in a hotel room in Lima almost exactly five years later.

And then there’s John Mark Karr, the bizarre former teacher who was tracked down and arrested in Thailand after (seemingly falsely) indicating that he was present at the 1996 death of child pageant star JonBenet Ramsey. Brought back to America and detained, Karr was eventually released because DNA evidence could not tie him to the scene, and has resurfaced now as the alleged leader and chief recruiter for a “sex cult” of girls aged 6 and under called “the Immaculates.” Though courts cannot locate Karr, it’s said he is now living as a woman under the name “Alexis Valoran Reich.”

At this point, it’s as though through obsession with these stories we are creating the same kind of invincible-feeling, serial attention-seekers that we do with reality stars who continue to appear on show after show and perform stunt after stunt. Were you the best character in your last murder investigation? People are going to love you in this new one! But you’re really going to have to step up your game this time around.

Imagine what would happen if Heidi Montag’s destructive instincts were turned toward others instead of toward herself. It could be a very thin line between the two.

But seriously. The resurgence of these two scary clowns makes us fee like it’s 2006 all over again. Which is depressing, but there’s definitely a silver lining: In 2006, Intel Chris was living abroad and didn’t get the chance to go as his doppelgänger, John Mark Karr, for Halloween. Alexis Valoran Reich sounds like an awesome, terrifying costume for 2010!

Are Joran van der Sloot and John Mark Karr Really Back in Our Lives?