Crime Con 2023: Meeting Nancy Grace

Orlando, Florida

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Please Note this about a True Crime Convention; therefore it comes with every Trigger Warning.

Nancy Grace on stage

Nancy Grace: Mad as Hell and We’re Not Gonna Take it Anymore + Book Signing

This is how I spent my Friday night at Crime Con 2023. Let me explain a little of my own history with knowing who the heck Nancy Grace is. I used to be a loyal watcher of Good Morning, America until they started to give Donald Trump an exorbitant amount of airtime. I believe the law is that candidates are entitled to equal amounts of airtime (standard radio and television). He would call in every single day and I could not stand one more second of it. I imagine Hillary Clinton and other candidates were too busy actually working to spend time making their assistants calling through to all channels, all damn day long. Anyway, Nancy Grace used to go head-to-head with Dan Abrams whenever a nationwide legal case became of interest. I would frequently agree with both of them because they had similar stances but presented them in different ways (PS Dan Abrams owns pop culture site The Mary Sue among others).

Nancy Grace was seen and known for her boisterous shouting. It wasn’t until I stopped watching that I realized this is probably what she had to do from the moment she wanted to be heard. There are studies about how women aren’t called upon in meetings to speak; or they’re ignored and then a man in the room takes credit for literally repeating what a woman said. Then, if a woman dares to raise her voice to be heard at all, she’s called shrill. It’s become such a stereotype that Lindy West titled her book Shrill. Loud women are not easily tolerated by men.

Nancy Grace on stage (crying)

Fortunately for Nancy Grace, the audience at Crime Con looked to be about 90% non-men. At this presentation on Friday night, I didn’t even take notes. I sat and listened and occasionally applauded. Nancy gets teared up and then breathes through her emotions in order to swing that hearty pendulum to anger. She speaks with profound love for her children. She’s passionate about all children and protecting them. This is where things get a little dicey.

Nancy Grace on stage

Nancy Grace believes that employees of Child Protection Services (whatever it may be called from state to state) should be sued for not doing their jobs if children are harmed when “in the system.” This would refer to children with cases and social workers. They may be in foster care or they may be with their parents, but the state is supposed to keep watch over them for reasons like neglect or abuse. New Jersey’s agency used to be called DYFS (pronounced dī-fis for short), the Division of Youth and Family Services. After enough scandal rocked that agency for not doing its job, it was rebranded as DCF, NJ Department of Children and Families. The name of the agency wasn’t the problem.

I don’t think the agencies should be sued unless it is proven that employees did something detrimental. I believe the real problem is that there aren’t enough case workers and staff to do a thorough job. This is why non-profits like CASA exist. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. This is a bare bones 501(c)(3) organization. There are some paid employees, however the actual advocates are all volunteers. If they were to be paid state employees, that would come with things like health insurance and a pension plan. Could you even imagine a state budget committee and governors trying to get that?

Nancy Grace on stage

Nancy Grace also pointed out that there are other people responsible for keeping children safe. Teachers, for example, are supposed to report signs of abuse. This can be another can of worms. I used to work with a woman who was investigated along with her husband because their 16-year-old son had bruises. This kid was very tall, strong, and a football player. He got knocked around in football which is a full-contact sport. I guess the parents should be happy someone was checking, but that’s not how people react. It’s stress, depression, and lots of shame even when you’re completely innocent. So again, I say people shouldn’t be sued unless they are actually responsible.

Nancy Grace signing books at table

One of the cases Nancy Grace brought up as an example is one where the agency and case worker truly did allow for the worst to happen: The Susan Powell case. Susan’s husband Josh killed her. Then while he and his father were being investigated, a case worker was supposed to monitor the well-being of the children and ensure that their father was safe for visitations. Instead, a case worker dropped the kids off, their father Josh made a 9-1-1 call, he shot his children and then he blew himself up in the house. That definitely seems like a case where law enforcement and social services let those kids down.

After Nancy Grace spoke and answered some questions from the audience, there was a short break until her Meet & Greet. All of us conveniently had books to sign because the publisher—or maybe it was Nancy herself—gave us each a book she authored in our Crime Con swag bags. I didn’t anticipate that so I brought along a paperback of her first mystery/procedural novel, The Eleventh Victim. In my bag, I received a hardback of her book, Objection!

The line was bonkers! It’s not like it was midnight, but after starting the day at 7am, it felt really late by 8pm. Nancy was supposed to be there from 8-9pm to sign books, take photos, etc. It was well over an hour by the time I got through the line. By then, the Marriot staff had already tried forcing her to wrap it up and she wouldn’t leave as long as people were in line. She did have to hustle after that and we each had about 30 seconds with her. It was a smooth operation though. There were people to open books, take down names, get them on the table, take photos with everyone’s cell phones, and then another person at the end of the table to hand the books back and send us off.

Nancy Grace signing books with assistant at Meet & Greet table

I was in so much pain by this point. My body wanted to be taken out on a stretcher. Nonetheless, this was an exciting and unique celebrity moment. This wasn’t someone at comic con or a book store alone for a signing. This was Crime Con with thousands of fans. And the person we were in line to meet was a former prosecutor, advocate for women and children, author of fiction and non-fiction, and a TV personality. She’s controversial. If you’re curious, gander the Wikipedia page. (Later on, I went to a Meet & Greet where a different guest was actually forced to stop and half the line had to leave.)

Amber leaning down next to seated Nancy Grace for book signing

Finally, it was my turn to get Nancy Grace to sign my books. I debated whether to ask a question since everyone was hurried and tired. Since I didn’t get the chance at the presentation, I asked my question to her while she signed my books.

“Do you believe Jeffrey Epstein actually killed himself or was it a hit?” I asked quietly.

She paused for a few seconds and looked up at me. “I don’t think he killed himself,” she said.

Nancy Grace gif from TV show

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