The Christine Chubbuck tape (lost on-air suicide footage; 1974)


(Redirected from The Christine Chubbuck Tape (Lost On-Air Suicide Footage; 1974))

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The Christine Chubbuck tape
The late Christine Chubbuck hosting an episode of Suncoast Digest.
The late Christine Chubbuck hosting an episode of Suncoast Digest.
Status Lost

On the morning of July 15, 1974, at around 9:30, American talk show host Christine Chubbuck shot herself in the head on live television, following a fierce battle with depression; the now notoriously elusive broadcast stunned audiences, making headlines worldwide.[1][2]

Background

Christine Chubbuck posing for a picture
Chubbuck originally worked at WXLT-TV (Channel 40, now WWSB, a small market channel and ABC affiliate in south-west Florida which, up until relatively recently, only served three counties) as an evening news reporter, later moving on to host a morning community affairs talk show titled Suncoast Digest.

In the lead-up to her suicide, Chubbuck (who was known to detest what she referred to as "blood and guts" reporting, i.e., sensationalised violence over legitimate journalism) had volunteered to produce a feature on suicide for the station, during research for which she had asked a police officer how someone would go about taking their own life (the sheriff proceeding to reveal what kind of gun and bullets that he would use if ever put in that situation).

One co-worker has since recalled that around the same time, Chubbuck had said to him (in what he assumed was a joking manner) something to the effect of "Wouldn't it be wild if I blew myself away on the air?"; unbeknownst to her colleagues, Chubbuck had actually attempted to take her own life several years earlier, by overdosing on pills.

Suicide

The newscast set where Chubbuck committed suicide.

July 15 began much like any other day, until Chubbuck (who was noticeably more enthusiastic and cheerful than usual) declared, just before Suncoast Digest was due to go on air, that she needed to read a newscast beforehand, confusing co-workers (as this was something she had never done before).

Oblivious to her real intentions, the audience casually watched her read the newscast for eight minutes, as she covered three national stories. When she got to the fourth story (i.e., that of a shooting at a local restaurant), the reel jammed, prompting her to shrug, nonchalantly turn towards the camera and proclaim:

"In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts and in living color, you are going to see another first - attempted suicide."

Picture of Christine Chubbuck used in newspapers recounting the event.
Chubbuck then drew a revolver that she had hidden in her bag, placed it behind her right ear and fired, immediately slumping forward violently onto her desk, as the technical director scrambled to fade rapidly to black.

Many viewers who had witnessed the broadcast proceeded to phone both the police and the station itself, some of the belief that it was nothing more than a morbid joke (several WXLT-TV staff members have even recounted that they too initially doubted the legitimacy of what had happened, on first impression also believing it to be a prank of some kind).

After being rushed to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, it was discovered by WXLT-TV news director Mike Simmons that Chubbuck had left behind both a follow-up news story describing her suicide attempt (in which she accurately predicted that she would be taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital) and a suicide note (in which she said goodbye to her co-workers and loved ones, also expressing the chilling sentiment that she wanted "everybody" to see the broadcast).

Chubbuck's pre-written newscast script was sent to other networks, the majority of whom presented it verbatim in reporting on her suicide attempt; she was pronounced dead the following day.

Footage

Shortly thereafter, an injunction was brought against Channel 40 (by Chubbuck's family) preventing them from ever releasing the footage of her death; the 2-inch quad master tape, plus a copy (both of which had previously been confiscated by the Sarasota Sheriff's Department as evidence following the incident) were then handed over to the family, who are said to have destroyed them.

A rumoured third copy has been speculated to exist in the FCC Archives. However, this claim has never been proven (and was, in fact, denied by the FCC when queried by a Findadeath Forum user).[3] Interestingly, it was by Chubbuck's own will that the event was recorded in the first place: she requested that the episode is taped, something that was not normally done, due to the cost of tapes back then.

Availability

As the broadcast took place in 1974, it's possible - though highly unlikely - that the suicide could've been recorded by a home viewer, as several primitive VCRs had been made commercially available by that time, such as the U-matic, one of the first home video recorders. However, due to the high cost of the unit, it was incredibly rare for a 1974 household to possess one.

Until some form of hard evidence surfaces indicating that an additional copy still exists somewhere (or proof that the originals were not actually destroyed), the video is generally accepted as being impossible to obtain.

Notably, a significant number of people claim to have seen the footage via a number of sources other than the original live broadcast, including early websites, FBI training videos, and mondo films a la Faces of Death, though, given the circumstances, this seems unlikely.

According to an article by Vulture on June 8, 2016, the video does still exist in the hands of Mollie Nelson, the widow of the former owner of WXLT-TV. Her husband, for reasons he never shared, kept a copy of the tape, and when he died, it passed to her.

However, when this was publicised, she started getting requests to see it, which made her uncomfortable. She says that the tape is now in the hands of "a very large law firm" for safe keeping, that she has no intention to ever let anyone see it, and that she only held onto the tape to honor her husband.[4]

Recreation of the Footage

On January 31, 2017, a video titled "Freaky 5 - Lost Footage" was uploaded by a YouTuber called NationSquid, featuring five pieces of lost media that are considered creepy or disturbing. The Christine Chubbuck story is at number 1 on this list.

At the end of the video, at 8 minutes and 46 seconds, there appears to be a footage of the suicide as it happened. It is in black & white, with distorted audio and video.[5] Since then, many users on YouTube have since re-uploaded the so-called footage.

There has been wide debate on websites like 4Chan, the NationSquid Forums and even the Lost Media Wiki forums about the authenticity of the so-called footage from NationSquid. NationSquid himself has not replied to any questions about whether the footage is real or fake, but users on the aforementioned websites have come up with analyses and theories suggesting that the video may be either real or fake.[6][7][8]

Freaky 5 - Lost Footage (The Video in which the recreation footage is seen (8:46 in the video)

On 13th February of 2017, the footage seen in NationSquid's video was confirmed fake by Gordon Galbraith, who was the news director of Newswatch program at WXLT-TV (now WWSB-TV) that Christine hosted at the time of the suicide.[9]

References

  1. Scan of a Sarasota Herald-Tribune article on the incident; 16 Jul 1974. Last retrieved 08 Oct 2014.
  2. Scan of an Ocala Star-Banner follow-up article on the incident; 01 Aug 1977. Last retrieved 08 Oct 2014.
  3. Ongoing Findadeath Forum Christine Chubbuck thread; 29 Dec 2007. Last retrieved 08 Oct 2014.
  4. The Existence of Christine Chubbuck’s Suicide Video Has Been Confirmed; 08 Jun 2016. Last retrieved 25 Oct 2016.
  5. Freaky 5 - Lost Footage on YouTube by NationSquid
  6. Discussion in the Lost Media Wiki forums about the NationSquid footage.
  7. Discussion about the so-called footage on the NationSquid forums.
  8. Discussion about the NationSquid footage on 4Chan. Last retrieved 25 May 2017.
  9. Screenshot of Gordon Galbraith (News Director at the time of the suicide) confirming the NationSquid footage to be fake.

External links

Comments


avatar

AntiHero

18 months ago
Score 3++
No new news about the whereabouts of the clip, but I'm hoping we'll be able to find ANY clip that pertains to Christine (since they're so rare).
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Anonymous user #1

16 months ago
Score 0++
Antihero, apparently only one 21 minute clip of her "Suncoast Digest" show survives, and I believe it's in the new movie, a part of it anyway, "Kate Plays Christine."
avatar

Anonymous user #2

14 months ago
Score 2++
In all honesty, I don't believe that the suicide video should ever be released. It was returned to the family out of respect for their loss and should remain unseen by the general public. And while I'm aware that plenty of other high-profile suicide videos exist online (R. Budd Dwyer and Ricardo Lopez come to mind, both of which I've seen), those are different cases. A tape pertaining to a criminal investigation is in a different context than a tape of a regular person dying.
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Anonymous user #9

9 months ago
Score 0++
It's what she wanted. The woman got nothing out of her life that she wanted, and now people make it so she can't get anything out of her death, either.
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ChubbuckTape

14 months ago
Score 3++

It was just confirmed today that it exists.

http://www.v...tter_vulture
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Anonymous user #3

14 months ago
Score 0++

Christine Chubbuck killed herself on the air. She wanted as many people as possible to see it. If you want to honor her memory, release the tape!!

Release it!
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Anonymous user #4

14 months ago
Score 0++
Even if the owner of the tape does release it to the public. It will most likely be taken into custody by the authorities for it's disturbing nature and in respect.
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Anonymous user #5

14 months ago
Score 0++

impossible if it is uploaded online their fucked, you cant stop the internet once it's uploaded if they could there wouldn't be 3 guys 1 hammer or 1 lunatic 1 icepick

they had families too, but it's out of the authorities control because once its archived (and i know for a fact people will do this the second it would be uploaded) its out there forever
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Anonymous user #4

14 months ago
Score 0++
It's them against the Internet. That crap will stay forever.
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Anonymous user #6

14 months ago
Score 0++
That's really weird!! I'm glad that people saw it and told police
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Anonymous user #6

14 months ago
Score 0++
If the tape is on YouTube WE MUST SEE IT
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ParadoxBox

14 months ago
Score 0++
I hope they don't release this, I'm afraid curiosity will get the better of me.
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Anonymous user #7

13 months ago
Score -1++
Well TOO BAD
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Psychic squidward

13 months ago
Score 0++
I've been into this piece for a while. And I would feel bad for the family. They would probably be very upset, but the view of others would differ as many would like to see this.
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W1ND0WS-95

13 months ago
Score 2++

I admit, I want to see the tape out of morbid curiosity. But we're doing exactly what she hated; wanting to see "blood and guts".

May she rest in peace.
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Kobochat

13 months ago
Score 4++
At the same time, though, we're also doing what she wanted - she wanted as many people to see her death as possible so the message could be spread.
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Anonymous user #26

2 months ago
Score 0++
She made it very clear in her suicide note that she wanted everyone to see it.
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Thedanr

11 months ago
Score -3++
It as proof is it happened is important, it being viewable is the point of the archive
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Anonymous user #8

10 months ago
Score 1++
We need to see the tape in order fulfill Christine Chubbuck's memory, that is what she would have wanted, for millions to see the gore, please if anyone of her family members or lawyers are reading this , release the tape for historical value , this is something that i have been dying to see
avatar

Commanderraf

10 months ago
Score 2++

Hi,

I love this page and, by some strange coincidence, I was reading this news story about two different movies that have Christine Chubbuck's suicide as a plotpoint. According to the director of one of them, the tape of her suicide DOES exist, it was kept by the owner of WXLT-TV until his dead, and then his wife gave it to a "law firm", according to the closing paragraphs of that news report, which is available at http://www.t...-suicide-li/ .

Keep up the good work.
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Anonymous user #10

8 months ago
Score 1++
I feel like a sick and twisted person for wanting to see this.
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YoshiKiller2S

8 months ago
Score 1++
You're not alone
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Fluffy123

7 months ago
Score 1++
Same
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Anonymous user #11

8 months ago
Score 0++
I looked for hours nothing crazy af if it happendthese days it would be everywhere to many cameras n dvr n shit like tht
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Anonymous user #12

7 months ago
Score 0++
Kate Plays Christine is a really good look into this case. If you want to see at least a good reenactment, watch that documentary. There's also clips of what Ms. Chubbuck sounded like and her actress does her best to get into the feel of what she was going through. (It's free to watch online btw).
avatar

Anonymous user #13

6 months ago
Score 1++
UPDATE, 6.7.16: Months after this story was published, Mollie Nelson, widow of station owner Robert Nelson, contacted Vulture to say her late husband did, indeed, possess a tape of the suicide and left it to her after his death. She says she received requests for the tape after Newman said as much in Kate Plays Christine and, fearing for her safety, she gave the tape to "a very large law firm." She says she would have preferred that the tape be destroyed, but wanted to honor Robert's wish for it to exist, though she says he never explained to her why he kept it.
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Kalavinka

6 months ago
Score 0++
The shoutbox was discussing this a few days back, I don't think they came to a consensus as to whether that's real or a well-done fake.
avatar

Itwbtc16

6 months ago
Score 0++
It's fake - compare it to the crime scene photos from the day and whilst it certainly looks incredibly convincing, and it is unbelievably accurate, tiny details such as the placement of the 'N' and the circle behind it on the NEWSWATCH sign, as well as the size and thickness of the 'H' show it to be a recreation. Also, it's worth noting that the text at the top of the screen would suggest it was a master tape of some kind - so why do they go away when it fades to black? It's fake.
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Anonymous user #14

6 months ago
Score 0++
It's been floating around /x/ for a while now. Pretty impressive fake, but that digital distortion and unfitting sound effect when the body hits the desk kinda gives it away. If this was real, there would have been a lot more buzz weeks ago.
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Bman78

6 months ago
Score 0++

https://my.m...e/rznxan.mp4 https://www....=u9M5kxmNOPU https://www....=mjB7O2UuuZY

All re-uploads of the NationSquid recreation of the Suicide tape.

And Here's the afforementioned video from the NationSquid video:

https://yout...AJFQ?t=8m46s
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Catlinconroy

6 months ago
Score 0++
You do realize it's fake, right?
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Anonymous user #15

6 months ago
Score -2++
I hate to say this but it is real, a LARGE analysis was done and the tape quality and everything matches up. The man who "debunked" the footage had lots of holes in his story that can be backed up by history.
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Kalavinka

6 months ago
Score 0++
I saw the discussion on the shoutbox and in the forums...this is getting more bizarre by the day.
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Bman78

5 months ago
Score 0++

Dude, it was confirmed fake, and there's mo evidence to prove it.

Also, it's obvious that there is a fake distortion filter used on it:

https://www....=lxqVAnWTdw8
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Anonymous user #21

5 months ago
Score 0++
I saw the new analysis and now I do agree it is fake
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Anonymous user #16

6 months ago
Score 1++
The page says she slumped forward onto her desk violently, but on the footage in the video, the person falls backward (or sideways). Another reason why it is fake.
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Anonymous user #17

5 months ago
Score -1++
Because a witness says the video is fake is not the same as actually proving it is fake. Who acted in it? Directed it? In what studio? On what dates? Without answers the jury is still out on the video's authenticity.
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Bman78

5 months ago
Score 1++
avatar

Anonymous user #18

5 months ago
Score 1++
There is a verbatim-transcript of the real footage in the police report. NationSquids video doesn't match that transcript. It's fake
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Anonymous user #19

5 months ago
Score 0++
I'm assuming the film 'Christine' (a biopic of Chubbuck starring Rebecca Hall) included a recreation of the suicide.
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Pureslime

2 months ago
Score 0++
Yes, the film does include a re-enactment of it. It's really... not tasteful. Horrible thing to include, imo.
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Anonymous user #20

5 months ago
Score 0++
They did but it didn't look like that at all. You can watch it on youtube.
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Anonymous user #22

5 months ago
Score 0++

In this Newgrounds thread there is a May 14, 2009 response the user Plaintiger describes seeing the tape, and his description of it matches the recently surfaced recreation to a tee.

This really makes me wonder where the recreation came from and how long it's been around, as it appears to have been around for at least eight years but only recently has been seen by more than a few.
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Reloaded103

5 months ago
Score 0++
Here's that Newgrounds thread: http://www.n...topic/727730
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Mine254

4 months ago
Score 3++
Rip Christine
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Anonymous user #23

4 months ago
Score -1++
It amazes me that the editors of this article think that NationSquid's footage is *confirmed* fake solely on the basis of the news director saying they only had one cameraman. For some bizarre reason, one man's memory of an event that happened 43 years ago is considered more reliable than a contemporaneous report by The Washington fucking Post which reported that there were TWO camerawomen. This page is a joke.
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Anonymous user #24

4 months ago
Score -1++
Yes, indeed, that Washington Post article DID confirm that there were two camerawomen. And so does the police report. However, the Washington Post article doesn't specify the angles at which the two cameras were framed up. And the police report does. And neither of the two camera angles are what are seen in the NationSquid video.
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Anonymous user #23

4 months ago
Score -1++
Read it and weep: www(dot)washingtonpost(dot)com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2016/02/01/christine-chubbuck-the-1974-washington-post-story-about-the-anchorwoman-who-killed-herself-on-live-tv/?utm_term=.4a36c22ae9eb
avatar

Bman78

3 months ago
Score 1++

Dude, there's more than an employee's account and a Washington Post article that confirms that the recreation video is a fake.

These two videos are proof: https://www....=LsAqpIlFm3E https://www....=lxqVAnWTdw8

Also there's more info about it in the forums.
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Anonymous user #25

3 months ago
Score 0++
A Youtube comment claims that he showed this footage to someone who had seen the broadcast, and this was apparently what he saw but up close. Not saying this person is telling the truth, I just thought it was worth a mention.
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Chuunibyou

3 months ago
Score 2++
Imagine having to relive the gruesome suicide of your coworker that happened right in front of you, just so you can confirm to some strangers on the internet that the creepy reenactment video of it is, in fact, not real. Now I feel like a monster.
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Anonymouse23

2 months ago
Score 1++

They were hoping for more views eventually leading to revenue from YouTube.

The set wasn't fabricated physically. The bottom half of the news desk was taken from a still image that was included in a WXLT-40 retrospective uploaded to YouTube by Steve Newman the former weatherman. It's a color shot depicting four newscasters in the 70s sitting at the desk. It is exactly the same angle depicted in the hoax video. A few changes had to be made, like to the 'H' at the end, which is obscured in the color photo from the retrospective by the modern ABC logo. So that takes care of half of the news desk.

Here is that image:

https://m.imgur.com/nKdJzwv

The image simply needed to be superimposed on the front of whatever table or desk their actress was seated behind; an easy paste job in Photoshop or other video editing software.

As for the rest of the desk, the perpetrators of the hoax made one big mistake: they failed to include the wedge risers on the desk top behind the W and the S where the actress was sitting. In the AP file photos of the crime scene, a wedge riser (an angled ledge where the newsreaders could lay their copy/notes so they wouldn't be visible on the desk to the camera) is seen exactly where Christine sat. In the hoax video, "Christine" lays her notes down flat on the desk as she reaches for the gun, and you can see there is no wedge riser there where there clearly was one in real life.

Here are the risers; one is seen right behind the W and the S where "Christine" is sitting in the hoax video:

https://m.imgur.com/bSxq1BY

Also, the call letters "WXLT" should have been on the time stamp, not "ABC", and the time stamp should have been inside a black box in 1974 (I think—feel free to correct me). Also, there isn't a fade to black in the hoax video. All accounts of the incident and of the videotape Sally Quinn viewed multiple times before writing her WaPo article, describe a fade to black. In the hoax video, there is a DISSOLVE to a "Technical Difficulties" card, not a fade to black. And the time stamp STILL should appear on the Tech Difficulties card, but it disappears.

There are a few other mistakes they made that I'm forgetting at the moment.

Another thing is that you would expect them to have just a LITTLE more footage, the stuff leading up to her preamble to the gun shot. She had a brief exchange with the camerawoman about news footage she wanted to show about a robbery that had just occurred a day or two before. When that newsreel jammed and the camera woman told her it wouldn't play, Chubbuck said "It won't play..." (or something to that effect; she was annoyed, is the point), and then, "Well...in keeping with Channel 40's policy of..." etc. The way Sally Quinn described Chubbuck's reading of those final lines also just doesn't match up with the rushed and robotic delivery the actress goes with in the hoax video.
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Anonymous user #27

2 months ago
Score 0++
It is hard to believe that copies were not made, both Jessica Savitch coked up and all but a few minutes of Metropolis have surfaced. This station owner felt the need for a copy, I'm sure he didn't work the Ampex machine himself .... Both the H and abc vs wxlt raise questions ... But it may be the closest thing we have, to a story that is over 40 yrs old
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Anonymous user #28

2 months ago
Score 0++
once again, i love how you can't go to anything even slightly related to video games because of my schools firewall, but i can view this no problem. fight the power
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Anonymous user #29

2 months ago
Score 0++
I just watched the movie "Christine" and thought it was a very well done movie. Not entirely factual, though, but still a good drama about mental illness that really hit hard.
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Anonymous user #30

1 months ago
Score 0++
So, is there anyone here that was alive at that time and actually saw the footage for themselves? Just curious...
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Anonymous user #31

1 months ago
Score 0++

Such a good looking woman yet one of the reasons she killed herself is because she didn't want to be a 30-year-old virgin? Everything about it is so sad.

Real or fake, I dunno, but with the movie and a documentary about her coming out recently, it would make sense that at least a few people saw the real video while researching, making it very possible for somebody to swipe a copy. It's like the holy grail of lost media.
avatar

Anonymous user #32

1 months ago
Score 0++
If this were any other archived tape, yes, someone involved with the production of either recent movie might have gained access to it. But that didn't happen here. Even if it did, the "NationSquid" video on YouTube is not authentic, for all the reasons already discussed.
avatar

Anonymous user #35

24 days ago
Score 0++
Those who were researching for the two projects probably were not allowed access to it. If people were allowed to see it because they were making some sort of film about the subject, then anyone and everyone could say they were doing some sort of research project and get to see it, plus material from other cases where any video/audio is kept hidden from the public. What's more likely is that there is an official description someone wrote up around the time of the incident when any tapes were handed over to the police, and anyone who was researching for the movies were granted access to that instead.
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Anonymous user #33

1 months ago
Score 0++

The gunshot and thud are obviously added, but "some guy 40+ years later says it's fake" isn't the most convincing evidence.

I believe it's probably fake become some reporter wrote a story about it after seeing the recording and goes into detail about seeing her expression, the movement of her hair, etc., meaning it was the close-up camera 1 copy, not some accidently second camera recording. Of course, she could have been BSing us and never saw it, but whatever. Time will tell.
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Anonymous user #34

29 days ago
Score 0++
How fast do those quad tapes degrade?
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Biggles1979

20 days ago
Score 0++
Depends on condition its in and how many times its been played. I'd say 30-40 years before it all goes to shit.
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