Discovery Channel’s acclaimed true crime series Killing Fields returns to the broadcaster’s airwaves tonight (Jan. 4) with a new cast of characters and in a different location.
During the program’s first two seasons, ITV America-owned producer Sirens Media embedded itself into the fabric of Louisiana police departments to follow investigators in real time as they attempted to solve cold case crimes.
Now in its third season, Discovery’s Killing Fields: Murder Isle will head to Isle of Wight County – an isolated farmland community in Virginia – to investigate the cold case murder of 28-year-old Carrie Singer, who was found beaten to death and half naked in a field in July 2004.
The mysterious case never went anywhere and, 13 years on, has continued to haunt lead investigator Randy Patrick as he’s struggled to provide the Singer family with closure.
Shot in real time and utilizing the latest crime-solving technology, the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office has decided to re-open the case with the hope of finding some real answers. Under Lieutenant Thomas Potter’s leadership, Patrick and a team of investigators work around-the-clock to re-examine critical evidence from the Singer crime scene.
Killing Fields: Murder Isle premieres tonight (Jan. 4) at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery’s flagship network.
It is co-executive produced by Emmy Award-winning producer Tom Fontana and Academy Award-winning director Barry Levinson.
For Discovery Channel, Joseph Schneier and John Slaughter are exec producers with Maryna Harrison as producer.
Realscreen caught up with Sirens Media’s Lucilla D’Agostino, executive VP of development and current programming, to chat about what sets Killing Fields: Murder Isle apart from its predecessors and how the series fits into Sirens’ brand.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
What was the genesis for Killing Fields: Murder Isle?
We’ve been doing crime programming at Sirens for over a decade and researching cases, trying to come up with concepts for shows. One of the things we stumbled upon was that there are locations in our country where there are more body dumps and cold cases than others.
What was the decision not to return to New Orleans in Killing Fields and instead head to the Isle of Wight?
There is really no hard decision that we won’t go back to New Orleans – we very well may [return], but that is yet to be seen. The department in New Orleans is following up on some leads and we do follow this case in real time, so we stepped away to give them time to follow up on more leads. There’s no reason for us to be down there with cameras to just sit around and wait. It was time to go to another place and see if we could follow another case.
You’ve been executing the Killing Fields style for two seasons now. What have you learned in that time in regards to the production of the series?
When you’re following the solving of a real time you have to have patience. We can’t control anything there, we are at the mercy of the justice system, we’re at the mercy of clues and tips coming in. We have to be patient and let justice play out at the speed that it’s meant to.
Can you tell me about how Killing Fields: Murder Isle fits with Sirens Media’s brand and why it’s such an important title in your production stable?
I think it fits our brand because we’ve really worked hard over the past decade to highlight the hard work that law enforcement does to bring closure to families. What Killing Fields does is it follows the passion behind these law enforcement officers as they attempt to close [each case]. That’s a characteristic that we see in a lot of law enforcement officers – that they really want to do right by the families and they believe that these families deserve justice.
We’re very passionate, obviously, about the genre of crime but we’re also very passionate about showing a different side of law enforcement and the one that really takes their job to bring families closure seriously.
Did the differing elements of the Isle of Wight introduce a new set of production challenges?
Isle of Wight is pretty spread out and it’s pretty dark at night, so it was difficult keeping the production up to the quality that we had on this show. We put huge LED lights on drones this season so we could do a different type of night photography and really try to capture the darkness of the area. We worked around it.
What sort of audience does this series appeal to on Discovery Channel? Have you received any sort of feedback in the past two seasons about the series?
Crime, in general, tends to be a female space and we’ve had a lot of success with this series on Discovery, drawing in male and female viewers. That’s really exciting, to create a show that’s in the crime genre and has a strong co-viewing appeal.
As far as feedback, you should factor in that as much as we focus on the crime itself and the victim, which is traditionally something you’ll see on ID, we spent a lot of time following law enforcement officers in their process of solving the case, which is a little bit more science-based. That’s been an exciting element to add to the show and it keeps the male viewers hooked.