Hey everyone! As you all know it's been awhile since I've posted, but rest assured I've been working on some exciting things, which I can now finally share with you all 😇 The nature of the subject is very sensitive of course, so I wanted to make sure things were handled in a special way by creating a magazine editorial type spread for this Q&A.
Awhile ago, we at aaliyaharchives.com managed to get a hold of an author by the name of Bryn Curt James Hammond & Miami Fox Publishing who has currently been working on a book in regards to Aaliyah and her unfortunate passing. Bryn has also written books linked to other celebrities deaths, including Anna Nicole Smith and Brittany Murphy (his personal best seller), which received a lot of positive feedback from Murphy's fanbase.
At first we were taken back a bit, since we as fans are very protective over Babygirl's legacy (who can blame us though?) but having spoken to Bryn personally, we hope that we have covered all the necessary bases for #TeamAaliyah by giving you ALL some reliance and reassurance. Personally, I am very intrigued by this book, as I feel it's something which NEEDS to be discussed. To this day, Aaliyah's death has always been questionable, and for that reason alone we as fans need factual answers, not hear'say rumours.
Read below for the full interview (both image based and text only version to suit your reading preference). Also, a huge thank you to all those who helped out and made this interview possible! One love ❤︎
TEXT ONLY VERSION...
1) Aaliyah Archives: As an author, you’ve written about a lot of controversial topics which no one would dare to question or ask. What particularly interests us is your 'A Case For Murder’ book series files on Anna Nicole Smith, Brittany Murphy and most recently Aaliyah. What was the motivation behind making these books, and why did you choose Aaliyah for your third book?
Bryn Curt James Hammond: ‘A Case for Murder’ series came about due to my interest in forensic science and the application of science in criminal investigations. It sounds grim but I am engrossed, for instance, in how a minute piece of fabric from a crime scene can speak for the dead long after the person is no longer on our plane. I’m also fascinated by how the human body can tell 1000 truths when deceased. Combining the two can provide evidence that is admissible in court, but it’s down to the final ruling, and on some occasions no matter how much evidence is brought to the table the guilty party can still walk free. I have little faith in the justice system; legal personnel are only human and they, like you and me, pre-judge and in doing so can form an opinion about a victim based on their lifestyle, mental health or personal circumstances and this can fog professional judgments.
My selection of subjects for the series came to me very organically. I looked at several high-profile cases and if they spoke to me I researched them a little deeper to see if I could do something with them to offer a perspective on their case that reflects the evidence and debunks the falsehoods that have sadly built up over the years since the deceased’s passing.
‘Aaliyah Files’ was one of the harder decisions to take on, but it spoke volumes as I compiled my research into her passing and the build-up to the plane crash. There was no real reason for her people to decide to shoot in the Bahamas. The evening before Aaliyah wrapped up certain equipment still hadn’t arrived and the shoot wasn’t completed when she re-boarded the jet on August 25. There were several warnings to her people not to overload the twin-engine Cessna 402B (registration N8097W), yet they did. Besides not distributing the weight correctly they piled equipment on-board too. Why risk your record label’s most valuable asset by being neglectful unless you would benefit from the aftermath? It’s the age-old issue with Aaliyah’s passing – greed!
This was also the case with Brittany Murphy; the actress was on a downward spiral, her career was on the slide, her health was failing and she had got involved in an arrangement with a con-artist (Simon Monjack). The dollar signs took over, eventually leading to both their deaths.
Investigating officers face a lot of pressure and are under a triple magnifying glass; the immediate family wants to know what has happened to their loved one(s), the world media want answers, and so do the fans. So they try their best to have a shut case as fast as they can to give closure to everyone. As noted above, often they may have preconceived ideas about the deceased due to what they think they know already. In Murphy’s case her lifestyle and her passing in the hospital setting gave a closed verdict with ease. She only received a standard autopsy, which does not test for toxins, poisonous substances and heavy metals. Nor did they intend to test for these due to the circumstances surrounding her passing. Murphy had a history of chronic prescription drug misuse and died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center while on the operating table. What more did they need to file the case as death from natural causes? The same with Aaliyah – she went down in a plane; they were warned not to overload the plane but they did.
But these cases speak to me in terms of the key players involved and what they seek to benefit once the star has gone. I learned many years ago life isn’t like the movies, where you do wrong and go to jail in an orange jumpsuit. In some cases the victim is left damaged with a tarnished legacy, or at least not given the justice they deserve.
2) Aaliyah Archives: We noticed that your ‘A Case For Murder Files’ collection is part of a 10 part book series, which are currently being translated into a documentary drama for TV. Could you enlighten us on which other celebrity figures you plan to talk about, and how this would all work in regards to Aaliyah?
Bryn Curt James Hammond: Yes, ‘A Case for Murder’ franchise will be compiled as a ten-part book series. For example, series one will feature Anna Nicole Smith, Aaliyah, Brittany Murphy and Heath Ledger. Series two will be about Marilyn Monroe and so on and so forth. The franchise is long-term and will in any case continue for as long as I’m alive!
The TV show will be a docudrama. Originally I was in talks with a London-based production company, who strung me along for several months in 2016 until we parted ways in January of this year. I am now with a new family that wants the same out of the TV project as I do. However, the entertainment industry is very much like snakes and ladders, so we shall see what happens.
The show will focus on the books’ evidence with new interviews, stock footage and re-enactments of key events in the subjects’ life. It will examine the meteoric rise of the star, while looking at the high cost of fame and its pitfalls. What ‘A Case for Murder’ won’t do is alienate the core reader fan base (currently established) by trying to be something it’s not. I achieved a respectful balance with ‘A Case for Murder: Brittany Murphy Files’ and 99.9% of the fans loved the book. I want to bring the same readership along with me for the ride while opening up the forum to others who do not read books.
‘A Case for Murder’ TV show is not going down the same route as ‘The Brittany Murphy Story’ or ‘Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B’. The only people those misadventures appealed to were the people in charge of the channels’ viewing figures. It will be a hard-hitting documentary with drama re-enactments to help the proceedings come to life.
3) Aaliyah Archives: As fans ourselves, and speaking on behalf of her fanbase, Aaliyah’s death has always been a sensitive topic to discuss. What compelled you to write about Aaliyah and her death?
Bryn Curt James Hammond: I was mainly compelled by the overwhelming red flags surrounding her death, and her passing drew me in like a moth to a flame. She was at the peak of her career and was cut down in her prime just when she had so many doors opening for her. Publicly she was moving in a different direction from her label; its part of hip-hop folklore that she was mixing in new circles that included Dame Dash and Jay Z. Aaliyah’s uncle, Barry Hankerson, has control of the estate and is authoritative over royalties, but had Aaliyah moved label to Roc-A-Fella Records things would have been very different and would have ultimately shot Hankerson’s sodium levels through the roof, I’m suspecting. Sadly, she died before any label change could occur.
4) Aaliyah Archives: Will the book primarily look at theories and assumptions from a subjective point of view, or is it based on hard core facts with evidence?
Bryn Curt James Hammond: It will look at the whole Aaliyah legacy, including the core hard facts and red flags surrounding her death and how the media depicted her before and after her passing, including how the coverage was handled. I enjoy debunking theories that have built up over the years. I relished blowing the lid off the claims that Brittany Murphy was killed by Department of Homeland Security because she was going to defend the (self-billed) whistleblower, Julia Davis. Davis’s case was a very real situation but she linked Murphy to her battle to generate publicity. Murphy had never met Julia and I discredit all claims in ‘A Case for Murder: Brittany Murphy Files’. Murphy’s father, Angelo Bertolotti, confirmed to me he was sucker-punched into believing Davis’s tales of terror and one of the first things he said to me before we spoke on the phone was, “Please disregard Julia Davis.”
I went on to disregard and debunk all ties Davis claimed to have had with Brittany. It was hard work, a lot of hours, and I had to push the book’s release date back many times, but it was well worth the end result. There are far too many subjective points of view online people can read, so I back all my evidence up and try my very best to deliver only hard core facts.
5) Aaliyah Archives: Do you feel that there were any untruths told when they announced the causes of Aaliyah's death? If so, what and why?
Bryn Curt James Hammond: Regarding Aaliyah’s cause of death – no; she died in an aviation incident, but as for it being an accident – yes! There are people still free who I believe should be held accountable for everyone that died on the plane that day. The plane was overloaded by at least 700 pounds with sound and video equipment, disregarding the safety of passengers. The pilot wasn’t authorized by the FAA to fly the aircraft for the operator and was not even qualified to fly the Cessna – and that’s not even including the fact he had cocaine and alcohol in his system at the time of the crash and only 12 days before he had pleaded ‘no contest’ to cocaine possession and three other felonies. Luis Morales III (pilot) was not even the name on the authorization papers for Blackhawk International Airways clearance. Morales had only been hired by Blackhawk two days before the crash!
6) Aaliyah Archives: What was the motive? Who were the people involved? And what exactly were they trying to accomplish?
Bryn Curt James Hammond: The motive behind Aaliyah’s death I’ll save for the book’s release – food for thought, though why would a record label hire a fly-by-night charter aircraft company that had totted up four violations dating back as far as 1993 when Gilbert Chacon, head of Blackhawk at the time of the crash, pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud? In 1998 Blackhawk was again in trouble for violating safety rules in US airspace. In 1999 they were given a warning for not testing employees for drugs, and one year before the crash they were again warned for failing to comply with maintenance standards. Furthermore, two days before the flight they enlisted a guy who 12 days prior to the crash had pleaded ‘no contest’ to cocaine possession and three other felonies – he wasn’t even qualified to fly the Cessna.
In ‘A Case for Murder: Brittany Murphy Files’, on the surface Murphy’s death looked very much like a tragic accident, her addiction leading to her own demise, but after doing endless research and interviewing people around her there were so many layers to the story; she wasn’t even legally married at the time of her death. I gained a whole new respect for her as an artist; she was a complex character and her demise was that much more tragic, turning out to be, in my belief, a mercy killing.
Aaliyah was moving with the movers and shakers of 2001 and was hanging out with Roc-A-Fella Records CEO Damon Dash. She hosted his birthday bash and even sported a necklace with a Rock-A-Fella logo pendant. It’s certainly no secret Dash and Aaliyah had spoken about marriage, so where would Blackground Records have fitted into Aaliyah’s future plans?
7) Aaliyah Archives: What methodologies were used for your research? (E.g- Have you spoken to anyone connected to Aaliyah through friends, family etc…)
Bryn Curt James Hammond: My research always begins with a hell of a lot of reading of police and witness statements, court documents and autopsy files that haven’t been sealed. Then I go over everything available in the worldwide press online and archival records before approaching friends, family and work colleagues. I’ve interviewed a few people already and got a nice rounded picture of the Aaliyah they knew. At present, however, with anything additional I’d like to keep my cards close to my chest. I have a wish list of people I’ll be reaching out to and I hope they will take part, but I can assure you Aaliyah fans will not be disappointed. ‘A Case for Murder: Aaliyah Files’ is not going to be a pre-watershed Wendy Williams affair, like Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B was.
8) Aaliyah Archives: Knowing that Aaliyah’s passing was in 2001, did you stumble across any difficulties within your research, knowing that this was a time period way before social media platforms even existed?
Bryn Curt James Hammond: I haven’t really had any stumbling blocks so to speak. When it comes to the way I do my research, 99% of legal documents are readily available nowadays online.
The only problem I do find with Aaliyah’s death pre-dating social media platforms is that, as with Brittany Murphy’s death, there have been many hoax stories created since that have picked up steam – which I tackle in the ‘A Case for Murder’ franchise. In ‘A Case for Murder: Brittany Murphy Files’, for example, after Murphy’s death a guy by the name of Arturo Globenfeldt claimed that Murphy’s partner, Simon Monjack, owed him money for a film project that never got made. His story went viral and many accused him of killing Brittany and Simon. I tracked down the author of the posts and it turned out Arturo didn’t really exist, and had been created out of boredom. The person responsible for the story now regrets posting it due to it becoming a Chinese whisper that took on a life of its own and developed into kidnapping and murder.
But that’s part and parcel of being a good detective journalist. I set out to debunk the urban legends and then allow the real story to play out.
9) Aaliyah Archives: Was there anyone within the industry aware/suspicious of what was going to happen to Aaliyah behind the scenes?
Bryn Curt James Hammond: I do feel there are people within the Hip-Hop and R&B community that have their suspicions. The problem is this, they still mix in the same circles and their careers are at stake if they speak out. Suspicions are not knowledge, so it’s easier just to turn the other way.
10) Aaliyah Archives: It’s a topic we detest talking about on our site, but for clarification for our readers, will there be any mention of controversial conspiracy theories (E.g- the illuminati, MK Ultra etc…)
Bryn Curt James Hammond: Like you, I detest such subject matters and find most of them ludicrous. I’ll leave MK Ultra and Illuminati sacrifices to fiction writers. I do not dispute that secret societies existed as that would be naive of me, but such topics play no part in my book series, ‘A Case for Murder’.
11) Aaliyah Archives: And last but not least, in a few short words, tell everyone where they can find out more about you and your work, and how they can get their hands on this book.
Bryn Curt James Hammond: People who are interested in me and my body of work can head over to www.brynhammond.co.uk or follow me on Twitter www.twitter.com/bryncjhammond
‘A Case for Murder: Aaliyah Files’ is set for release in August 2017 and will be available for purchase from all book and eBook retailers worldwide.