JENNINGS — An upcoming Showtime five-part documentary, “Murder in the Bayou,” will examine the deaths of eight women whose bodies were found dumped near canals or back roads in rural areas near Jennings from 2005-2009.
Murder in the Bayou will air at 8 p.m. each Friday beginning Sept. 13 on Showtime. It also available on Showtime streaming.
The true-crime docuseries is inspired by author and investigative journalist Ethan Brown’s best selling novel, Murder in the Bayou, and examines the deaths of Necole Jean Guillory; 26; Brittney Ann Gary, 17; Crystal Shay Benoit Zeno, 23; Laconia Shontel “Muggy” Brown, 23; Whitnei Charlene Dubois, 26; Kristen Gary Lopez, 21; Ernestine Daniels Patterson, 29 and Loretta Lynn Chaisson, 28.
“We worked with someone who had read Ethan Brown’s book, “Murder in the Bayou” and gave it to us thinking this story was fascinating and riveting and perhaps it would make for a compelling documentary series,” director Matthew Galkin said in a phone interview from New York. “Clearly there was more story to explore so we got in touch with Ethan Brown and became partners on the series.”
The documentary will expand beyond the book and Brown’s theory that the deaths of the women who became known as the Jeff Davis 8 were not the work of a serial killer.
“It deals with some of the research that Ethan had done and we speak to some of the same people Ethan had spoken to while researching and writing the book, but we also interviewed a lot of other people that he did not,” Galkin said.
People were extremely willing to tell their story and everyone has an opinion, Galkin said.
“Giving how much pain and loss they’ve experienced and the time that has elapsed since the murders, the family members were incredibly courageous and forthcoming with their views on virtually everything involved in this case,” Galkin said. He said the current Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office administration was very cooperative.
“We forged a solid working relationship with Commander Ramby Cormier and Chief Deputy Chris Ivey who sat for interviews and toured us around town,” he said. “We felt that in a lot of the other documentaries and other writings about these cases the law enforcement community was not given the opportunity to own this story.”
Producer Josh Levine said the goal of the documentary is to get the story the national exposure it deserves.
“One of the goals is to really tell this story to people who aren’t from the area or the region who may have never heard of it,” Levine said. “We wanted to tell the story of those 4 years and each of the murders that occurred and to look at the investigation itself by talking to family members, friends and law enforcement to see what actually happened here.”
“We wanted to find out why these 8 murders happened and why these cases were never solved,” Galkin added.
Galkin hopes the documentary will open up a dialogue between local residents, the victims’ families and law enforcement.
“It seems like nothing but positive developments can come from people continuing to talk about these cases,” he said. “We conducted extensive interviews with all of the family members and seemingly all of them came away feeling this was a positive thing. So the idea is to continue the conversation and get people talking. Clearly there are people in the community that know things, but have always been too reticent to step forward. The more people talk the more other people will talk.”
“I hope this continues the conversation that goes on surrounding this case and that there is still hope that the cases will be solved and that people should come forward if they have information,” Levine added.
Galkin said many of the victims families felt their voices have never been heard, even by law enforcement and investigators.
“They felt like they were never given the opportunity to truly tell their story and what they know so the interviews we conducted were extremely powerful and we cannot thank the families enough for letting us in and trusting us enough to tell their stories,” Galkin said.
“From what we have heard from families it is gratifying to them to feel like there are people from outside the community that care about this case. They are still on a quest for some type of justice and if not justice at the very least answers to what happened and why it happened.”
Galkin has spent three years working on the documentary, while Levine has spent the last two years on the project.