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TV Review: Stolen Voices, Buried Secrets

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Investigation Discovery launches its new murder/mystery series, Stolen Voices, Buried Secrets, Monday, January 10 at 10 PM Eastern Time with two half hour episodes. “With a plethora of murder-mystery series on television today, the production team at Investigation Discovery consistently challenge themselves to evolve their storytelling techniques,” announced Henry Schleiff, president and general manager of the network. The hook they have evolved for their new venture is to narrate a fact based murder story “from the perspective of the victim.” Think The Lovely Bones on a low budget. Individual episodes combine footage of actors who resemble the victims, actor voiceovers, actual photos of the victim and commentary from police officers and friends and relatives of the victim. Each of the first two cases begins with some background, moves to a description of the actual crime, and then follows the investigation through its trials and errors to the final solution.

The initial episode, “Daddy’s Princess,” tells the story of Ali Kemp a 19-year-old college student home for the summer found beaten to death in the pump room of a swimming pool where she had been working. Police had a witness who had seen the killer as well as DNA evidence from blood found at the scene of the crime, but after three years and a couple of leads that failed to pan out, had still been unable to come up with the killer. Ali’s father, however, was unwilling to give up, and he comes up with a novel scheme to try to get new information.

The second show, “Checkmate,” deals with the bludgeoning death of a 49-year-old Ellen Robb the wife of a University of Pennsylvania professor noted for his work on game theory who lives with her family in the mainline community of Upper Merion in Pennsylvania. This is a woman who it would seem has everything anyone could possibly want out of life, until one day her husband comes home to find that the house has been broken into and ransacked, and his wife lies brutally beaten in the kitchen. Although this is a community unused to this kind of violence, the police quickly determine that there is something fishy about the break in, and begin to look at other possibilities.

While the stories are interesting presentations of the investigative procedures involved the particular cases, there isn’t really a lot of suspense, since it is made fairly clear from the start that the perpetrator is going to get caught. It is only a matter of how. In the Kemp story, the narrator keeps suggesting that her daddy is not going to rest until he brings the murderer to justice.

In the Robb story, the fact that Ellen’s brothers appear; her neighbors appear, but one significant person only appears in still photos, seems an obvious indicator of where the story is going. The writing could use some work as well. Too often it falls back on the cliché and the hackneyed. The whole “Daddy’s Princess” concept fortified by shots of a cute little girl running about in the countryside is a mite saccharine. The voice of the dead Ali saying I’ll always be Daddy’s little girl is not much better. Ellen Robb’s voiceovers about the perfect life she always wanted and at least seemed to have found is something of a perversion of the American dream considering what happens. And the banal conclusion she makes at one point that money is the root of all evil, is less than compelling.

The series continues with two shows on Monday, January 17. In “Cold as Ice,” Denise Huber, a young graduate student goes missing after attending a concert in 1991. In 1994, a van is discovered parked in an Arizona yard with the young girl’s body. “Closing Time” tells the story of Jerry Monroe, a bar owner in Louisville, KY who is found murdered in his own bar. Authorities have to determine whether he killed in the course of a robbery or a victim of gang violence. Individual half hour episodes continue to air every Monday through March 14.

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About Jack Goodstein

  • Kla

    I actually liked the show, but can anyone tell me what the name of the song is on the episode Ali Kemp? Its not the commercial song “Mad World.” It’s got “I remember.. I pray.. and was caught in the breath of a sigh?” .. Its driving me crazy.

  • suzyq

    Well what happen to the one that was post to show at 10:00 Monday jan. 10th ..about the conway south carolina girl, that says somwthing like this …Conway South Carolina’ i was born here ,i was rised here, and when i was 17 i was killed here, and i know who did it ,and soon you’ll know too….And yeah she said somthing like that anyways, BUT YEAH! WHAT THE CRAP! HOW COME THAT ONE DIDN’T SHOW! AFTER I’VE WAITTED FOREVER TO SEE IT AND THEN FINLY THE DAY AND TIME CAME FOR IT TO COME ON , AND I SET DOWN JUST TO WATCH IT, AND I Be-DANG! IT NEVER SHOWED THE DURN THING ,AND I WAS LIKE ,WELL WHAT THE HECK. So can anyone tell me way it didn’t show that one after all this time the preveiws was showing it was going too? Dangit! PEED ME OFF!

  • SuzyE

    I just saw the first & second episodes. I like this show, EXCEPT the annoying dead victims narration! Note to Producers: Leave that part out,,, they are dead. Its annoying.

  • mikaidarah

    really wanted to see this, but they are not airing it in my area, ticks me off.

  • Jason

    Kla, the song you were looking for is “I Remember”, by the band Salient. The album is Dawn Follows Dark. Just purchased it on itunes. Hope this helped.

  • msff1010

    seriously, the “daddy’s girl” narration is the most annoying aspect of any show ive ever seen. wtff were the writers thinking. so many cliches it seemed like it was written by someone n middle school. really pathetic

  • CarolinaGirl

    I think it is important to give the victims a voice (the narrator role). Their voices were silenced and the monsters who took their lives need to do more than just ‘see’ an episode detailing the horrible crimes…they need to hear, to go beyond the surface of what they’ve done. At the end of “Daddy’s Princess” the little girl running through the field in her princess dress added to the last words of the narrator as Ali…when she mentioned not getting her “happily ever after”. This isn’t just any other crime series. It is more personal. It is for the families of the loved ones, it is done more discreetly, and it is more sensitive to show the lives and plans of the people who were killed. Just some thoughts.

  • Nancy Hatcher

    What is the name of the band/song that is sung on the previews?

  • Chrystal

    The song is Mad World by Gary Jules

  • Chomp

    The voice of the dead is so disrespectful I can’t believe the families of the victims allow this garbage to air. Whoever wrote this has got to be shameless, what a joke and a spit in the face to these poor victims. These are NOT the voices of the dead. Cancel it.

  • Myrtle Beach Girl

    Yea Where is the episode about the girl from Conway South Carolina? I live like 20 minutes east of Conway and have traveled through there LOTS of times. I see this preview and hear Conway South Carolina mentioned and got excited and have waited to see it. TV made it seem like it would have showed by now or will show jan. 17th. When will it show??? I want to see it!

  • Izadorra

    I had to force myself to watch the entire show because I really wanted to like it. I have to say that the “victim’s perspective” is really lame.

    They’re taking old stories that have been told already on several different forensic and detective shows and trying to re-tell them with comments from the perspective of the victim. It doesn’t work at all. It would be much better without the lame comments.

  • Kelly Hart

    I’m sorry whoever said it was “I remember”. It’s “mad world”

  • stylinbabe

    Im was living there when it happened. If Im right the show is talking about a girl named Crystal Todd. She was such a sweetheart. Always smiling. It should be a very good show. To say the least…… her murderer was a paul berror at her funeral. True Story.

  • Conway chic

    I’ve been so looking forward to watching this show. I assumed it was about Crystal, since I live literally 1min from Crystal’s home (where her mother currently resides) and 2min from Ken Register’s family’s home I have been wanting to see this. does anyone know when it will show? The only issue I’ll have with this show is if it sets the scene it in downtown Conway. That is not at all where Crystal grew up, resided, or got her life taken. I do hope it does a good job of telling her story. It was tragic for everyone in our community!

  • Sumter person

    The story on Crystal Todd Conway South Carolina will air Feb 28

  • camille

    what channel is this show
    my friend told me about it but i forgot to asked her what channel it was
    can someone tell me what channel is it?

  • Meghan

    Does anyone know where I can find cast information for this show? My Google search yielded no results 🙁

    I’d like to see who played Denise Huber in the “Cold as Ice” episode. She looks like a girl I went to high school with.


  • Joan

    The show airs Feb 28, 2011 on the ID channel.
    Every time I think of this murder I get so angry because there was no reason to do Crystal like that. She had so much going for her. I didn,t know her personally but when I was her age I rode around Conway s.c also.I grieve for her mother Bonnie. My heart aches for her. It must be so hard.

  • Kim R.

    I have started watching the show saw the 4th one last night….I think the voice over is really done poorly and takes away from the show. I think it’s a slap in the face to the victims…and is really not needed to get the full of the story, I think it’s disrespectful to the point I just don’t want to watch anymore…I watched the one with the bar owner and the Denise Huber story last night. The voice overs come of as flip and snotty…I think the show should be led with out them…

  • Chris

    Why are they using the Conway story to promote the show, and it isn’t airing for some time? Why not have your commercial depict the actual upcoming episode? That’s the stupid part in my book. Yet, I don’t like the voice overs, either. It doesn’t come off very well.

  • Cerulean

    I do not understand why this show exists when most of the material is already covered in other documentaries already on air on Discovery ID. The content was also presented in those documentaries in a much more respectful, clear and interesting manner. I really disliked ALL of the voice actors reading for the victims so far. I cringed when each time they referred to their dead bodies being found or “coming home”. I hope Discovery ID doesn’t start going down the road that the other Discovery and Documentary channels are with mindless content that is little better than an episode of Jersey Shore.

  • zj3ya

    styinbabe, The killer was Ren Register not Paul Berror. Ken took her down to the river and killed her with a knife. He went to school with her and stabed her to death.

  • Mr.Bill

    To zj3ya,
    I think Stylinbabe meant to say, he was a pallbearer at the victim’s funeral.

  • Carolina girl

    This is to the Conway chic. I used to ride around Conway when I was young. It upsets me when I read anything about this. The song they made about Crystal More than Memories by Grace Revealed brings tears to my eyes. You could tell how close Crystal and Bonnie was. How is Bonnie doing. I know she has lost a lot of people in her life. Her house has to be so lonely with out Crystal. My heart aches for her. I would love to go see her and just hug her.

  • Norma

    I live in Winston-Salem. This show is not being aired here. What’s up. When will it be? I hope I won’t be disappointed. Ali was nineteen. Is this a different girl?

  • Aavolan

    I go to Conway every year, when you say Crystal was killed by the river, do you mean at or near the river walk?

  • mariah

    hey person who commented on jan 12 about the song, thank you! i was going insane, and i saw the other stuff on this page and was like ahhh! i can’t find it. so thank you. you are a super credible source. if i needed a work’s cited page, you’d be at the top of my list. 😉 lmao thanks 🙂

  • JIM bOb

    THAT IS CRAP MARIAH…..that song is crazy its in my head and it wont stop!!!!!!!

  • JIM bOb

    They should re-name that song crazy faces!!!

  • mariah

    um, would you like me to send you a cd of it you clown?

  • JIM bOb

    well after hearing the song im geussing CD stands for—-crazy and disturbing!!!!

  • mariah

    i think you’re just disturbed. heck, maybe you were the one who did this and you just feel guilty seeing the previews. don’t bring this great song into your world of missouri-misery you JIM bOb. or should i say ARKANSAS

  • JIM bOb


  • hey if you think this song is disturbing you should watch the music video for the song “molten light” by “chad van gaalen”. i think it’s great, but since you’re such a pessimist, i’ll let you be the judge of that.

  • JiM bOb

    forget it you fraking crazy face !!!!!!!

  • i advise any readers to view the following:
    Molten light by chad van gaalen
    black mold by chad van gaalen
    child’s play- it’s a classic
    delocated on adult swim
    ol’ gregg from the mighty boosh
    the deadly maze episode of chowder
    robot chicken-skeletor
    teen mom seasons 1 & 2(currentlyinprogress)
    also watch i used to be fat
    and also, if anyone knows what the commercial with the guy in the bee suit was for, please let me know. thank you.

  • okay. um. i was completely over this but you just unleashed the beast. ):-)->-< i challenge you to a dual jim-slob!

  • mimi

    I’m N. Myrtle Beach, S.C. I was so excited to be able to watch the movie about Crystal Todd . Get it together !!!!! Let’s show it!!!!!

  • deb

    Wheb does this program actually start? I commercials for this all the time.

  • Lester

    I getg the whole dead person narration but its too overdone!!! its distracting and annoying

  • SPugh

    The narration from the deceased is terrible. At times they seem to be teasing, or making light of their own deaths. I agree with a few of the previous posts. Why are their families allowing this to happen?
    I’m watching the “Cold as Ice” Denise Huber story and at one point she says “Everyone was looking. But no one could find me.” And the tone is mocking. One question.
    Are you serious???

  • conway local

    im pretty sure the show with crystal todd and ken register comes on ,feb.28 at 10:00 pm.for some reason i could nt get to come up on the websites calendor like before.but set youd dvr’s for that date and keep checking ID’sschedule for that time and date.

  • NMB Kim

    Can’t Wait To See It–I Lived There When It Happened. Anyone Read The Book?
    (I Wasn’t Aware There Was One Until A Few Weeks Ago On Amazon!)

  • NorCali Mom

    This show was modeled after the movie, Lovely Bones with Mark Wahlberg. That did disturb me when I watched it. The little girl is only 12 and she narrates her steps towards finding her murderer. It is so tragic because no matter how badly she wants to tell her father who did it she just can’t. She sees everything and hears everything. They NEVER find her body and the Jerk gets away with the murder. Sound Familiar???? except for the body being found, it sounds like that is typical these days……Need I say more??? As for the first episode regarding Conway, South Carolina, it aired months ago. When they first began the show sometime in Feb. or March….

  • NorCali Mom

    Oh, Correction movie is “The Lovely Bones”….Tragic, that’s all that comes to mind….

  • The Critic

    It’s an amazing show, I’m sure, but can you guys try to be a little less bias…

  • marcia wade

    i love most id true crime shows but this one confuses me.. what the heck is the dead person supposed to be stating all this stuff ..it is just stupid …tell what happened without that and this would be as good as everything esle you show ..i love true crime but not when the dead is talking throughout the whole show ..its crazy..mw