At last count, Arizona had 4,377 women in its state prisons. You’d be forgiven for thinking there was only one female currently under lock and key.
The confusion stems from the fact that reporters, editors and producers remain fascinated with all things Arias, 39 and serving life in prison for the 2008 killing of her lover, Travis Alexander.
This fascination can be explained by two simple facts.
One, women rarely commit murder. Two, and far more importantly, hot chicks commit murder about as often as you find a parking place beside the door at In-N-Out – which is to say almost never.
My proof? Samantha Allen, Wendi Andriano and Shawna Forde.
They are the only three women on Death Row in Arizona and, with all due apologies, they are not hot. Thus, you’ve never heard of these three female killers.
But Jodi Arias? We hear about her with regularity, most recently when the Arizona Court of Appeals held oral arguments to determine whether allegations of misconduct against Juan Martinez, lead prosecutor on the Arias’ case, might warrant granting her a new trial.
I’m rooting against that proposition, though surely I’m outnumbered by TV producers, true crime trolls and a legion of Jodi fans – a titillated throng ever-ready to consume more Arias minutiae. It takes little imagination to conjure them hanging on every sick detail:
Did you know she stabbed Travis at least 27 times? Do you like her better as a blonde or a brunette? Have you seen her nudes on the internet? Can you believe a hung jury spared her the death penalty?
Central to the obsession with Arias is a question I’ve heard time and again during 25 years in journalism. Over and over, we wonder how it can be that attractive people – Arias, Casey Anthony, Amanda Knox – commit heinous crimes.
How can people endowed with the gift of physical beauty also possess such darkness and savagery?
I wish the answer was sexier, so I could cash in with a couple of crappy Arias books to fund a villa in the south of France.
Alas, my hypothesis is only a few sentences long: Physical looks and sociopathic tendencies are not mutually exclusive. Profound mental illness also has no respect for a pretty face.
Let’s not confuse what causes people to commit murder with a set of pouty lips and deep brown, almond-shaped eyes.
Jodi Arias’ looks – which seem to be the crux of so many people’s obsession – are beside the point when it comes to what matters here: That she took a handgun and a knife to a 30-year-old human being, stabbing Travis Alexander repeatedly and slashing his jugular vein, carotid artery and trachea.
The question of what makes good-looking people kill mistakenly imputes rational thought to irrational, sick people like Arias.
It’s the same mistake people made wondering how Susan Smith, that “nice mom from South Carolina,” could drown her two sons in the trunk of her car. Or how handsome Ted Bundy, soon to be the subject of still another documentary TV series, could have been so charming, so smart and so deadly?
The sad reality? Travis Alexander was a handsome young man. Bundy’s victims were virtually all beautiful young women in the prime of their lives. But because they didn’t commit murder, they’ve been lost to time.
In a better world, Jodi Arias wouldn’t be a household name. She’d be graveyard remains, rotting in the ground or in hell.
The next story I intend to read about this psycho won’t be on the front page of a newspaper.
It will be in the obituaries.
David Leibowitz has called the Valley home since 1995. Contact email@example.com