Ripped From Which Headline? "Brilliant Disguise"

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
March 9 2010 1:10 PM

Ripped From Which Headline? "Brilliant Disguise"

We all know that Law & Order rips its stories from the headlines—but which headlines? Every week, Brow Beat matches L&O 's plot points to the events that inspired them.

June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

March 8, 2010, "Brilliant Disguise"

Advertisement

These Are Their Stories
When a young out-of-towner is murdered in a hotel room, the police suspect Robbie Vickery, a man she ate brunch with shortly after arriving in New York. He works at a university lab and is angry with graduate students who, he believes, treat the lab rats with insufficient respect.

This Is the Real Story
In September 2009, Yale graduate student Annie Le was killed in a research lab on campus, allegedly by Raymond Clark, a lab technician who worked in the building. According to the New York Times , "Some co-workers have said Mr. Clark antagonized colleagues and research students he believed were cavalier about rodent-handling regulations." The New York Post quoted a source who claimed that "Clark was 'a control freak' who insisted on lab cleanliness and 'had issues' with the way Le kept her lab and her research mice."

These Are Their Stories
The police eventually become suspicious of Alex Conway, a graduate student who conducts experiments in Vickery's lab. They discover that Conway has been arranging hotel-room meetings with prostitutes, whom he robs to cover his gambling debts. When the police arrest Conway, he is carrying the same kind of plastic zip ties used in the attacks.

This Is the Real Story
In April 2009, Boston University medical student Philip Markoff was arrested en route to Foxwoods Casino and charged with the murder of a woman he met through Craigslist, as well as six other counts, including armed robbery. According to the New York Times , "A search of Mr. Markoff's home ... produced a 9-mm semiautomatic handgun, ammunition and zip ties like those used in the attacks." A timeline produced by the Boston Globe notes, "Authorities say gambling may have been behind the attacks."