True-crime shows are giving us winter chills on DStv

It’s not the cold making us shiver this winter – it’s fear

TV’s true-crime series tell us a haunting truth in every episode – that we walk among monsters. Sometimes we invite them into our homes, we even marry them or raise them.

Like a horror movie, true-crime series allow us to confront our fears, that we could be next, from a safe distance.

They also reassure viewers that even people who’re mostly ignored in life are important enough in death to set everyone into a frenzy searching for their killer with enormous effort and ingenuity. And there’s that little itch to scratch – that nagging question of why people are driven to kill and then cover up their crime.

This winter, DStv features some truly chilling cases that might strike close to home.


Raw Terror: Jessica Goebel

In January 2015, Jessica Goebel was stabbed 23 times, battered and had her throat slashed. The crime scene was staged to frame her boyfriend, Richard Hanley, but police’s suspicion also fell on her ex, John Hemminger – the father of her children. Her phone showed that he’d sent her a slew of abusive text messages the night of her death. Hanley had an alibi for the night of the murder; meanwhile Hemminger had the handle of the knife used to kill Jessica in his pocket. The violence was extreme, but for many women, domestic violence is the surest path to murder. As of 2017, an average of 58% of all women who were murdered were killed by intimate partners or family members. Gina Karst, the executive director of Safe Harbor, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, revealed at the time that Jessica’s murder prompted other women in her area who were also trapped in abusive relationships to finally seek shelter. “They think, ‘I could be the next Jessica’,” says Gina.

Watch Raw Terror S1 on Tuesdays on Investigation Discovery (DStv 171) at 21:00 or on Catch Up


Chandra Levy

Washington Federal Bureau of Prisons intern Chandra Levy was 24 years old when she vanished in 2001. Her skeleton was found 1 year later, and whispers grew louder that her sexual partner – married politician Gary Condit – was to blame. It was a suspicion that drew attention away from the fact that a man named Ingmar Guandique had already been arrested for attacking two other women in the park where Chandra’s corpse was found – where she’d gone to exercise. In the end, the case dissolved over insufficient evidence, lying witnesses and the fact that Chandra’s remains were too far decomposed to reveal much. Chandra’s case raises the fear that in death, our private lives and most intimate and embarrassing secrets will become public gossip and that innocent people (at least, innocent of murder) could be caught up in the investigation and have their lives destroyed.

Watch Chandra Levy: A Mistress Murdered on Saturday, 25 July in Discovery Channel (DStv 121) at 22:40


New Scotland Yard Files: The Camden Ripper

In 2002, a homeless man found the chopped-up corpses of two women in a bin he was rummaging through. They’d both been killed over Christmas and dismembered in the flat of Anthony John Hardy, a man who’d come to be known as the Camden Ripper. If you’ve ever suspected a neighbour of being a bit fishy, this is the sort of thing you’re sincerely afraid of. Just 6 weeks before he committed the murders, Hardy had been released from a psychiatric hospital where he’d been sent after the body of a dead prostitute was found in his flat in January 2002. The police had come knocking at the time because his neighbour complained that she suspected him of vandalising her front door with lewd graffiti and pouring acid through her mailbox. Corpses next door at Christmas, then tossed in the trash with all the cheerful wrapping paper? It’s the kind of thing that would keep you awake at night for years.

Watch New Scotland Yard Files S1 on Sundays on CBS Justice (DStv 170) at 20:00


Southern Gothic: Phyllis Malone

In September 2008, Memphis Police Department officer Chancy Jones shot Phyllis Malone three times in the head and chest. The murder case revealed that Chancy was cheating on his wife with Phyllis, who’d threatened to expose their affair. Chancy and Phyllis originally met when Chancy responded to a domestic violence call that Phyllis had made in July that same year. Chancy was later sentenced to 24 years in prison, but he blamed Phyllis for his actions through the trial, claiming that he was afraid of her and that she had threatened his family. The judge was not convinced, telling the court, “I’ve got a Memphis Police officer who’s trained in the law. Who basically manufactured a claim of self-defence and continues to claim that.” The case digs into our fears that those who’re meant to protect us could easily turn on us when we become inconvenient – and that trust is a step on the path to death.

Watch Southern Gothic S1 on Thursdays on Investigation Discovery (DStv 171) at 21:50


50 Ways To Leave Your Lover

If all the tales of love-gone-wrong have you somewhat glum and scratching your head over why people even start thinking of murder as an option, this documentary is a more light-hearted look at some of the less-extreme ways that people have taken revenge on those who’ve broken their hearts. The show features (among other cases) a wife who blew her husband’s cheating out of the water by contacting his other lovers. One of the mistresses then invited the cheat to a motel, tied him up, blindfolded him, then brought in the other women for confrontation time. One of them was so furious that she stuck his wandering parts to his body with nail glue – after finding out that he’d also tried to contact her 12-year-old daughter. And two other cases fall under the spotlight as relationship expert to the stars, Dr. Gilda Carle, tries to explain some of the motives and backgrounds to the irrational action and anger expressed.

Watch 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover on Saturday, 8 August on CBS Reality (DStv 132) at 20:20

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