Ripped From Which Headline? "Brilliant Disguise"

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.

March 8, 2010, "Brilliant Disguise"


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."

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



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 2:35 PM Germany’s Nationwide Ban on Uber Lasted All of Two Weeks
The Vault
Sept. 16 2014 12:15 PM “Human Life Is Frightfully Cheap”: A 1900 Petition to Make Lynching a Federal Offense
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Sept. 16 2014 1:39 PM The Case of the Missing Cerebellum How did a Chinese woman live 24 years missing part of her brain?
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 8:41 PM You’re Cut, Adrian Peterson Why fantasy football owners should release the Minnesota Vikings star.