Who Killed Hazel Drew? header image

Documentary Project Update – May 2018

– Posted in: Unfolding Documentary
Hazel Drew - The Real Life Laura Palmer
I started this project in June of 2017 with the idea that this would be a short made-for-television documentary. I figured I’d tell the story through interviews and old photographs. It would be an intriguing, informative piece. That was before I really understood the bigger story.

The project has grown.

Things changed when I read Ron Hughes book and when I began interacting with people who were interested in the larger story. It became obvious to me that this story was about more than the collection of information and a small town murder, even if the murder did get national attention.
And while the Twin Peaks connection adds to the intrigue the real story goes well beyond a box of secrets.
As I dove deeper into the story I began to connect to Hazel’s circumstances with the people that influenced her during her most formative years. As Hazel transformed from fourteen-year-old farm girl into a nineteen-year-old woman she developed with a keen eye for the finer things a city life had to offer. Hazel was obsessed with fashion and turning heads in one of the busiest and wealthiest cities in the nation.
As Hazel became a woman her life changed, and opportunities presented themselves in ways they do for young women, especially beautiful young women.
Understanding how these changes and the people who guided and informed Hazel’s transformation is critical to understanding why Hazel made the choices she did.

Beyond a standard documentary.

Telling the bigger story goes beyond making a documentary that simply delivers that facts. The bigger story requires that audience feel, and experience things the way Hazel would have.
To capture this, I’ve chosen specific scenes to reenact. These scenes will be shot in a way that captures the subtext of Hazel’s life. We know that facts and they’re pretty straightforward. What we don’t know is what was happening below the surface.
What this film will do is give emotional context to the facts and positions them in a way that brings the viewer into Hazel’s emotional world.

 We’ve got our work cut out for us.

Below are links to some recent work we’ve done and are presently doing. If you’d like to help make the film the best it can be please get involved by commenting below. A simple ” I like what you’re doing” or any kind of feedback is welcome.
If you’d really like to help please sign up to “Become an Insider at this link.” This simple act is a vote of confidence that tells us we have your support. Eventually, I’ll be doing presales and likely a fundraiser and if you choose, you can help with that.
As you’ll come to see this is an important story and I feel privileged and burdened to tell it in a way that gives Hazel a voice.
The ghost of Hazel Drew has a cautionary tale and I hope you’ll come along for the journey! I promise it’s only going to get better so be sure to share it with your friends.


When it comes to telling a good story background is important. And that’s exactly what Michael gives us in this interview. To learn more about Hazel’s hometown of Sand Lake in the late 1800’s. The mountains and Lakes in this area hold many secrets. Who Killed Hazel Drew is only one of them.

Click here to watch the interview


In this interview, Tom Carroll helps us understand the world Hazel entered and how being surrounded by opportunity could have been Hazel’s biggest problem.

Click here to watch the interview and read more

Location Scouting & Props Hunting – Documentary

Location for Hazel Drew - The Real Life Laura Palmer

In an attempt to identify where Hazel went after quitting her job on July 6, 1908, detectives questioned people in Troy and Watervliet.  They visited friends whom Hazel said she was off to visit as well as people in local shops, as well as the trolley and train station. They were desperate to learn more about Hazel’s relationships, travels and especially where she had spent that Monday night.



Hazel Drew - The Real Life Laura Palmer

These are shots from Historic East Village in Nassau NY. I’m presently working to secure an agreement to shoot some of our many scenes here. This location would afford us the opportunity to replicate much of our Sand Lake exterior shots and possibly serve as an interior for parts of William Taylors farm. Wish me luck in obtaining this location

Location - Hazel Drew - The Real Life Laura Palmer

We have secured this location in Troy NY. It will play as Jarvis O’Brien’s office. This office will become the backdrop for Jarvis O’Brien and detective Kaye as they work the murder case. We’ll be shooting numerous scenes here including “Identifying the Dead Woman’s Items” Learn more about this scene and meet the cast below.

Casting Important Roles

If you hover over the photos below you’ll see the actor’s name as well as the character their playing. These still were grabbed from their audition shooting. Below each of these photos is a collage I made to document some of my shot ideas for the scene in which Hazel’s family identifies items found on the dead woman.

It’s not until Mrs. Schumaker identifies her own work on a skirt and shirt she made for Hazel. The shirt was made just days prior for an excited Hazel talking of a special trip to Lake George. A trip her Aunt Minnie kept her from making.

I’ll be posting more from the actual shoot after June 3rd. Wish us luck or leave a comment below. Your interaction goes a long way in keeping all of us inspired!


Identifying The Dead Woman’s Items

Storyboard Collage- Hazel Drew - The Real Life Laura Palmer

6 comments… add one

Related Posts

6 comments… add one
  • Bob O’Brien May 10, 2018, 11:00 pm

    The pictures really capture the time period. The expressions and attire, especially in black and white, grasp the era.

    • John May 11, 2018, 12:23 pm

      Thanks, Bob. Wait until you see the final scene!

  • dave mardon May 11, 2018, 9:00 pm

    John, let me know if there’s anything
    we can help with.

    • John May 11, 2018, 9:03 pm

      Hey Dave, I’ll be in touch to get some of your stories. We’re presently focusing on this reenactment stuff, so I’m up to my ears in work but I will be in touch.

  • Patty O'Toole June 22, 2018, 1:46 pm

    What an intriguing project! Wishing you the best on its production and completion. Can’t wait to see it!

  • dave mardon September 14, 2018, 9:43 pm

    How’s the project coming along John? I’m here to help if you need some.

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