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How The Murder Of Barbara Hamburg Impacted Her Son Madison, Leading Him Down A Path Of Self-Medication

Madison Hamburg said he didn't want to live in a world without his mom following his murder so he "ran from accepting a world without her."

By Gina Tron
Madison Hamburg Hbo

It’s hard to lose a parent at a young age, and that kind of trauma is only compounded when that parent is murdered and other relatives are deemed persons of interest.

That situation is the basis of HBO’s four-part docuseries “Murder on Middle Beach,” in which the director, Madison Hamburg, investigates his mother's 2010 murder. Barbara Hamburg was found bludgeoned to death outside her upscale Connecticut home. Her mysterious slaying has never been solved, but her son Madison has dedicated years of his life trying to change that. His quest for answers has not been easy. It requires him to look at his aunt, his father, and even his own sister as possible suspects across the four-part series.

At different points during the docuseries, Madison's struggle with substances is mentioned but never deeply explored. At one point, while secretly taping police for the documentary, he is asked if he’s done with doing drugs. He replies that he is. Madison, now 29, told GQ that he began the documentary as a class project in 2013 while at the Savannah College of Art and Design, when he was just freshly in recovery from an opiate addiction.

“I was a drug addict, and I ran from accepting a world without her,” he told the outlet. 

When his mother died, Madison was just 18. He told Insider he was already struggling with drugs and her death only worsened the situation.

"When my mom died, I was a drug addict, and my first response was to run from a world without my mom," he said. "I hit rock bottom, went to rehab, came back to film school, and I still had those lingering questions.”

He told GQ that he chose sobriety because he was going to die if he didn't. 

These questions led to the creation of a documentary for class, which earned him an A, but he felt the need to keep pushing. He spent years continuing to work on it, culminating in the creation of the successful HBO series.

"I decided, if I was going to accept a world without my mom, I was going to make the absolute most of it that I could," he told GQ.

He told Insider that he soon became "addicted" to the "process of discovery" while making the docuseries. As the docuseries reveals, Madison didn’t learn about many aspects of his mother’s life and personality until years after she died. The series reveals the good, the bad, and many of the complicated threads within his torn-up family.

“It's hard for me not to feel selfish and exploitative, opportunistic,” Madison told GQ. “Those are all my deepest fears of what this might come across as. But I don’t know. I'm okay with where we're at now.”