American Nightmare is a brand-new true-crime investigative series that puts a human face to senseless crimes. Home video footage of loving families and unsuspecting victims in happier times contrasts sharply with actual crime scene footage. Family members and lead investigators also lend their voices in interviews, taking viewers back to their search for justice and answers.

In the first episode, the baffling 2008 execution-style murder of a promising young Boston student has the police stumped. It would be seven years before they finally managed to convict her killer. Without spoiling it for those who have not heard of this heart-breaking story, here are five facts about the murder of Rebecca Payne.

  • At 3:30 am on 20 May 2008, 22-year-old Payne was apparently sleeping on her couch in apartment 23 after working late, when a gunman scaled her second storey balcony and shot her five times at point-blank range.
  • While neighbours heard the shots and her screams, no one called the police or 911. Her body was only discovered the next morning when a resident noticed her door was ajar and notified the caretaker.
  • Police had no physical evidence tying the killer to Payne’s apartment until a crucial witness came forward four years later when the case had almost gone cold.
  • Inexplicably, detectives discovered that Payne was not the accused’s intended victim, something which came to light in a letter penned by the killer.
  • The local tennis courts and a garden in Payne’s hometown have been named after her, and the National Athletic Trainers Association scholarship fund was established in her memory. “We don’t want her to be forgotten,” her father, Nicholas Payne, told the Huntington News.

American Nightmare S1 starts on Saturday 20 April on Investigation Discovery (171) at 22:00