Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Get your tv remotes ready: ‘Lover’s Lane Murders’ TV series covers the Colonial Parkway Murders

Former FBI Special Agent Maureen O’Connell, left, and former criminal prosecutor Loni Coombs, right, sit in front of a map of the Historic Triangle, discussing the Colonial Parkway murders. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of the Oxygen Network Publicity team)
Former FBI Special Agent Maureen O’Connell, left, and former criminal prosecutor Loni Coombs, right, sit in front of a map of the Historic Triangle, discussing the Colonial Parkway murders. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of the Oxygen Network Publicity team)

A new tv production will premiere on the Oxygen Network about a series of murder cases that have become more legend than reality in the Historic Triangle.

The two-day event, “Lover’s Lane Murders,” is a four-episode series on the locally infamous Colonial Parkway murders.

RELATED STORY: A new show looking at the Colonial Parkway is in works for NBC station

The Colonial Parkway murders were a series of four double homicides from 1986-89. Each homicide occurred somewhere along the Colonial Parkway, hence the colloquial name.

The eeriest part, however, is how the case is still unsolved.

The show features former FBI profiler Jim Clemente, former FBI agent Maureen O’Connell, former prosecutor Loni Coombs, and forensic expert Dr. Laura Pettler.

Bill Thomas, a music executive who lives in Connecticut, had an active role as a consulting producer and the show’s “subject matter expert.”

Thomas also runs a true crime podcast with local high school English teacher, Kristin Dilley. Their podcast is called “Mind over Murder,” and was originally created to cover true crime stories and raise awareness about unsolved cases.

But when Thomas became involved with the Oxygen Network’s show, he and Dilley decided to wait until the show came out to discuss the Colonial Parkway murders on their podcast.

RELATED STORY: Tuning in and speaking up: These local podcasts are keeping the conversations going

Thomas has a unique connection to the Colonial Parkway murders — his sister, Cathleen Thomas, and her girlfriend, Rebecca Dowski, were the first two victims.

For the show, Thomas helped facilitate interviews and reached out to former investigators, journalists, and family members of the victims to see if they would participate. During the interview filming process, Thomas would sit off camera and listen to answers for accuracy.

“When you’re talking about four double homicides in a case that’s stretched over all of these years, it gets really complicated,” Thomas said. “So my job was to listen to their answers and correct errors.”

Local viewers of the show might even recognize some of the places where filming took place. Thomas said many of the shots were taken along the Colonial Parkway to give the show a more “local flavor.” For interior shots, the production team used a warehouse in Richmond, but most filming took place in the Tidewater area.

“When we ran into people in town, we never told people what we were working on,” he said, adding he and the crew would simply answer it was a documentary.

And this was true, in a way.

“If you mention ‘I’m doing a show on the Colonial Parkway murders,’ then everyone wants to give their input or share theories, and that takes up a lot of time,” Thomas said.

The show has been a work in progress for four years, and Thomas said the show was in the final stages of editing right before the pandemic began.

The most difficult part, however, may have been convincing family members to participate in the project at all. Thomas said he had to do a lot of convincing to get people to talk on camera.

“Most people don’t like being interviewed on television to start with, and then they’re being asked to talk about what, for many of us, is the most painful day of our lives,” Thomas said.

Even though Thomas has a personal connection to the Colonial Parkway cases, he can casually talk about the case to anyone willing to listen. He said it’s a combination of being in the media industry for so long and his longing for answers.

“It’s something I’ve gotten comfortable doing,” Thomas said. “I can always emphasize with people who have lost loved ones.”

“At the same time, we as families feel that it’s very important to keep a focus on the Colonial Parkway murders and keep doing interviews and talking about it,” he added.

And perhaps by continuing to raise awareness about the murders, Thomas and many other families can find the answers they’ve been searching after for the past 34 years.

In the meantime, the other question seems to be why the network decided to go with a different name for the show than the colloquial one given to the murder cases.

Maybe by watching, viewers can find out.

“Lover’s Lane Murders” premieres Friday, Feb 11. at 9 p.m. You can see the trailer for the show below, courtesy of Oxygen.

For more information, click here to see the network’s show schedule.

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