As evidenced by the recent popularity of Netflix's Making a Murderer, Sarah Koenig's Serial and the constant buzz around Ryan Murphy's upcoming American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson, 2016 is sure to be the year of true crime as home entertainment.
The Discovery Channel debuted Killing Fields, its contribution to the genre, on Tuesday and, at first glance, it seems a little too much like the extremely intriguing Making a Murderer docu-series. They're both a look into investigations concerning the murder of a young woman in a small town. Both stories unfold in real time and both make your heart ache for the families of the murdered. Watch the first look at Killing Fields below.
However, while Killing Fields may share some similarities with Making a Murderer, there are also some glaring differences that set it apart.
Where Making a Murderer was an inside look at the American judicial system and followed the process and possibly planted evidence that led to Steven Avery's murder conviction in the 2005 death of Teresa Halbach, Killing Fields follows detectives Rodie Sanchez and Aubrey St. Angelo in their search to find the person who killed Louisiana State University graduate student Eugenie Boisfontaine.
While we definitely learned how some sheriff and police officials conduct their business through paper trails (or lack thereof), recorded phone calls and interviews in Making a Murderer, it seems like Killing Fields will give a totally different perspective on what it means to be a detective trying to solve a murder.
"I could still see her layin' here…" The homicide case Rodie never solved has been haunting him for years. pic.twitter.com/IpafXQyIiY— Killing Fields (@KillingFieldsTV) January 6, 2016
Whether Avery is indeed innocent or not, one thing was obvious after viewing Making a Murderer: The detectives and prosecutors involved seemed more concerned about their own careers than the death of Halbach and helping her family get justice.
It's too early in the Killing Fields series to be positive, but it really seems that Sanchez cares about what happened to Boisfontaine and is haunted by her death. He's not just looking to convict someone for killing her — he wants the truth.
This, in my opinion, is the biggest difference so far between Killing Fields and Making a Murderer.
Though there are a large number of people who believe Avery to be innocent and consider Halbach's death an unsolved mystery, it's not technically a cold case since Avery sits behind bars in Wisconsin after being convicted of the crime.
In the case of Boisfontaine, on the other hand, no one has been charged with or convicted of her murder since her body was found in a watery ditch in August of 1997.
The small town in Wisconsin where Halbach was murdered was far from a utopian community, but it was not a hot bed of criminal activity either.
On the other hand, according to the Discovery Channel's Web site, Boisfontaine's death might be related to a string of other murders in the Baton Rouge area from 1997-2003. There were more than 60 cases of missing and murdered women during that time period and multiple serial killers (namely Derrick Todd Lee) on sprees in the same area where Boisfontaine was found. Two of Lee's victims lived on the very same street as Boisfontaine.
In fact, the name of the series comes from the reputation the swampy region in Louisiana has gotten for being the perfect place to pull off a crime. The landscape and surrounding elements hide bodies and help erase evidence. These types of "killing fields" exist all throughout the United States.
"This place here, is so remote, it brings out the demons in you," a man says in the opening of the fist episode. "They found some bodies. Found a body right back here, as a matter of fact. I believe there's a bunch more. On the other side of that tree line, a body could lay out there for just months. Put a chill through you. The Killing Fields. We in it."
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