Every now and then you hear a story that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Often, that’s because you’re learning of behaviors that just weren’t on your radar. Perhaps what most disturbs you is the unexpected peek at the depraved underbelly of the human psyche. That’s the feeling you’ll get from listening to Unraveled: The Stalker’s Web, the follow-up to the excellent Unraveled: Long Island Serial Killer.
Given this description, you might assume this is a six episode murderfest, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, no-one dies in this tightly told story but it still grips and horrifies in equal measure, while taking care to allow the victims to tell their own story in their own way.
The victims in this case are mostly women who fell prey to an aggressive and sick-minded cyberstalker who wreaked havoc with their lives over a period of decades in some cases. Innocent 90s-era internet chats over message boards and LiveJournal (remember that?!) quickly escalate into death threats and one man’s stop-at-nothing commitment to ruin the lives and prospects of the women in question.
Co-hosts Alexis Linkletter and Billy Jenson do an excellent job of giving this story shape and texture. They help frame the stories of the brave women involved without snatching them and running away. The pacing is perfect and, though the podcast is comparatively short, the tale is told exhaustively and the listener is easily able to get a sense of just how prolific this madman was.
But be warned, there is some alarming content. This isn’t a podcast for the fainted hearted. However, the descriptions of the stalker’s threats and actions never feel gratuitous.
There is actually something strangely anti-nostalgic about The Stalker’s Web. Its story is a reminder of a time when we were warned that the internet was a cloak of darkness under which people could hide or disguise themselves. Of course, that’s still sometimes the case, but mostly we’re bombarded by the close-up-and-personal details of others’ private lives from every corner of social media.
Nevertheless, messages about being careful and doing due diligence before oversharing with — or even speaking with — a stranger online still resonate. That and the overriding takeaway that you can never underestimate crazy….