WDIV-Local 4 (NBC, Detroit) is set to premiere a primetime special: “Child Killer” -- and a five-part digital docuseries of the same name -- that follows the heartbreaking and riveting true-crime story about Michigan’s Oakland County Child Killer case that is still unsolved 40 years later.
Both the “Child Killer” special and the digital docuseries chronicle the story from its very beginning when the first boy’s body was found and features never seen before video and interviews from the crime scenes.
From a suspected cover-up by a local millionaire to a father’s undying love, “Child Killer” also spotlights relatives of the murdered children, investigators who worked the case and the journalists who covered, and are still covering, the story. In the search for truth and justice, egos and confusion take over in a seemingly endless pursuit for answers.
WDIV-Local 4, a Graham Media Group station, has been working on this case since 1976, when 12-year-old Mark Stebbins of Ferndale was found dead, fully clothed in the outfit he was wearing when he was last seen alive.
During a 13-month period, four children -- two boys and two girls -- were abducted and murdered with their bodies left uncovered in the snow. The boys' bodies showed evidence of sexual assault. Their deaths triggered a murder investigation, which, at the time, was the largest in U.S. history.
“These murders put Oakland County and the whole region on high alert in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was a defining moment for a whole generation of children who grew up with great fear of stranger danger,” said Marla Drutz, WDIV’s vice president and general manager. “We hope that reopening the vault of video and investigating every angle will help investigators solve these cases.”
Local 4 producers combed through hours and hours of raw station footage from 40 years ago through current times.
ClickOnDetroit.com is set to premiere the five-part digital docuseries "Child Killer” on February 13 at 11 p.m., following the primetime special at 10 p.m. on WDIV-Local 4, which will also streamed on ClickOnDetroit.com., as well as via the station’s app on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and most smart TVs.
“Local TV stations are uniquely positioned to tell these stories, because we cover them until they are solved. We have reels and reels of footage, relationships with the community and a true desire to see justice,” Drutz said.
“Child Killer” is the latest project in WDIV-Local 4’s slate of original programming for a multi-platform audience. Both the special and docuseries are produced by Jeremy Allen and executive produced by Ro Coppola. To complement the special and docuseries, the third season of the “Shattered” podcast, also focusing on the Oakland County Child Killer, will debut in March.
Season one of “Shattered” followed the open case of three missing brothers from Morenci, Michigan, and season two covered the notorious case of White Boy Rick. Combined seasons of “Shattered” have garnered more than 1.7 million downloads.
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