In early morning chill of December 6, 1959 Dr. Harold Perelson was found unresponsive at his sprawling 2475 Glendower Place home. He was lying in his blood-soaked bed next his wife Lillian, who he had just bludgeoned to death with a ball-peen hammer. The doctor had attempted to murder his 18-year-old daughter Judye as well, but she survived his blows. Even with a massive head wound Judye was able to crawl up the backyard steps.

During the summer of 1952, a rapist stalked the L.A. nights. Over 25 women were sexually assaulted and robbed in the same area during a three-month period, so the LAPD organized a complicated sting. On July 30, 1952 Florence Coberly, a 26-year-old officer, served as a decoy to tempt the offender, and it worked. Soon after the above photo was shot, another was taken of the alleged serial rapist dead on the ground.

We reacted right away when Columbine happened, spinning every stray hair of a rumor into a tapestry of explanation. A crisis like that draws us in, makes us nearer to the now. It rattles us where we are usually numb. It reorients our world for a time. We stare down humanity, searching every eye to find either a brother or a monster. People are a mix of those things, but we want an either/or. A definitive separator feels good, draws a clear line between monsters and humans.

We all think we have full autonomy and sovereignty over our thoughts and actions. Sure, we have the hardware of our DNA, we are shaped by our upbringing and experiences, we are inspired by our heroes, and seek figures of wisdom to help us fumble our way through life – We learn from each other, we seek community, we share and grow. But, when it comes down to dire situations, someone couldn’t possibly “wash” our brains clean and fill it with new thoughts that go against our best interests and core values! That’s what it feels like, but psychological experiments like the 1961 Milgram study have proven that we aren’t always in control of our actions when we’re told what to do by an authority figure we trust.

The baffling events of early 2013 in a fabled L.A. hotel are one of many inspirations for American Horror Story: Hotel, and an upcoming horror film called The Bringing. While the details of the case drove intense speculation about possible paranormal elements to a young woman’s death, the reality is more of lonely despair.

The first episode of Fargo, Season 2 involves Kirsten Dunst as Peggy Blomquist, a butcher’s wife who lets her denial of reality wrap them both up in a dizzying coverup. Some of the details of this darkly comedic scenario are inspired by a true events from over a decade ago.

“I’m dying for a drink,” Mike Malloy said as she stumbled into Tony Marino’s speakeasy in the Bronx. He looked a little more worn than before. Each murder attempt took a bit out of him, but being hit by a taxi had so far done the most damage. He was still thirsty, though, and the drinks just kept coming.