The Murder of Anne Pressly: Politics are Irrelevant

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KATV’s broadcast about Anne Pressly’s death.
Anne Pressly died yesterday. The 26-year-old anchor and reporter for Little Rock’s KATV finally succumbed to the injuries she received in a vicious attack that occurred at her home on the night of October 19/20, 2008. At this writing the crime is unsolved, and police have no known suspects. They have records of someone using Pressly’s credit card at a gas station miles from the victim’s home that same morning, but those have yet to lead to a person-of-interest.
The attack on Pressly, a rising star in Arkansas television, took on unexpectedly (and to me, bizarre) political overtones after bloggers began to seize on Pressly’s role in Oliver Stone’s controversial biopic about George W. Bush as a possible motivation for harming her.
In her Performer Profile, published on IMDB.com, Anne Pressly simply said she played a “Female Commentator” in the film. Most of the news articles published about the attack have defaulted either to that designation for Pressly’s role, or they’ve gone so far as to say she played an “Ann Coulter-like” pundit. Few have said outright that Pressly actually played the tall, blond conservative talking head. This lack of clarity has bothered me, even if it may ultimately be inconsequential.
Just so it’s clear — Anne Pressly wasn’t playing a “Coulter-like pundit.” She was playing Ann Coulter. Articles published in Arkansas months before Anne Pressly was murdered make that clear. In an earlier post in this blog, I linked to one of those articles and quoted the portion where the writer mentioned “Anne Pressly (as Anne [sic]Coulter ).”
Today I found Linda Caillouet’s “Paper Trails” column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and a blurb she wrote about Pressly on June 4, 2008. There is no hyperlink because the full article isn’t available online, but I snagged a copy. Quote:
“After being discovered while covering an Arkansan on the set, Pressly landed a part in director Oliver Stone’s forthcoming W, a biopic on President George W. Bush. Pressly, portraying conservative political pundit Anne Coulter, filmed her part last Tuesday. Stone directed her to ad lib, saying, ‘If you make me laugh on camera, you get a bonus.’
“She did. And the bonus?
“Stone added her impromptu lines to the film, extending her part.”
Emphasis was added.
Caillouet wrote that Pressly was going back to Shreverport to audition for an in-production film helmed by Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit fame). “Paper Trails,” wrote Caillouet, “will continue to track our Little Rock-based rising star.”
Police are working on the theory that Pressly’s murder was a robbery gone bad. To me, that is still the most logical scenario. The politicized scenarios don’t really make sense and seem rather paranoid in nature.
They only make a small amount of sense if Pressly was murdered by a deranged fan. A fan who became enamored of the anchor prior to news of her role W being made public.
Here’s the thing about the “deranged fan” or stalker scenario — such a killer could have come from either side of the political spectrum. If some sort of psychotic reaction to reading something like Linda Caillouet’s article eventually led to an attack on Anne Pressly, then it could have been inspired either by an equally psychotic hatred of Coulter and her kind (a demented stalker who might vote for Obama) or similar deadly anger towards Oliver Stone and anyone associated with a movie widely believed to be a scathing satire of Bush and his administration (a demented stalker who happens to vote Republican).
Just the act of putting words to those scenarios reveals their inherent silliness. I’ve been writing about crime for too long now to dismiss anything out of hand, but I just don’t buy any rational political motivation having a part in what happened to this promising young woman.
Politics just don’t matter here. Even if the killer was aware of Pressly’s role and the Coulter connection enraged him (or her), the murder of Anne Presley still wasn’t political in nature — it was a psychotic — or psychopathic — act of evil (do I even need to tell anyone reading a crime blog that psychotic and psychopathic mean two very different things? I hope not).
There are also other possibilities as to what happened a week ago in Anne Pressly’s charming little home in a quiet Little Rock suburb. The seemingly personal nature of the attack might make some who examine criminal psychology wonder if an ex-lover committed the crime. There’s been little to no mention of this possibility outside of blogs, though. An angry friend, acquaintance or co-worker are all possibilities. I worked in television for more than a decade, beginning at a Fox affiliate in Knoxville and ending at the Discovery Channel, and if there’s one thing I can say for sure about the TV business, it is this — there are some seriously messed-up people working both behind and in front of the cameras.
A random psycho just knocking on doors is possible as well. It’s happened before — but typically, such crimes are so intensely gruesome and bizarre that they quickly lead to the killer’s capture. And the killer in such cases is frequently clinically insane.
To be sure, we really just don’t know what happened, at the moment. The greatest tragedy is that just when she seemed to be improving, Anne Pressly died, so she will never be able to tell the most compelling and disturbing story she ever encountered — her own. One thing I’m sure of — the high profile nature of the crime, the violence of it — these things combined equal an immense amount of pressure on the cops trying to find Pressly’s killer. It is likely that all the stops have been pulled out. At the very least, no one wants a maniac capable of breaking nearly every bone in a pretty, innocent young woman’s face on the street a minute longer than necessary. People of all political persuasions can agree on that.

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