MFA students might have any range of feelings about their thesis-in-progress: pride, anxiety, excitement, hesitation, and do I really want to bring any of this to workshop again? But Anna Persky, a fiction candidate in Mason’s MFA program, has had her thesis brought into the spotlight in an extraordinary way. She’s been interviewed by two primetime televisions shows—20/20 on ABC and Dateline NBC—about the true crime she’s researching: a murder-for-hire case involving her friend and neighbor, Chris Johnson.
The case dates back to 1998, when Chris found his fiancé, Andrea Cincottta, murdered in the condominium they shared. The case went cold until last year, when the police arrested Chris on one charge of murder-for-hire.
“I am writing about my friendship with Chris and the fallout from the case as my thesis and the basis for an investigative memoir,” says Anna. “It was at times heartbreaking and confusing watching Chris on trial, and it was surreal being interviewed on television about the case.”
The trial was held in September and October, and the jury found Chris not guilty in less than an hour of deliberating.
You can watch the 20/20 documentary here. The Dateline segment has not aired yet.
Anna has also been granted a scholarship for Skidmore College’s summer writing institute, which takes place between June 25 and July 22 this year.
April 28, 2023