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How The Authors Of 'Murder At Teal's Pond' Discovered The True Crime Story That Inspired 'Twin Peaks'

Authors David Bushman and Mark T. Givens discuss their new true crime book "Murder At Teal's Pond" and how the killing of Hazel Drew inspired the cult TV classic "Twin Peaks" decades later.

By Becca van Sambeck

"Twin Peaks," a series created by Mark Frost and David Lynch, which premiered in 1990, centered around the mystery of who killed a beautiful young woman named Laura Palmer. The TV show has become a cult classic over the years, but not many people know an actual murder helped inspire the iconic series.

In 1908, a young woman named Hazel Drew was found dead and beaten to death in a pond in Sand Lake, New York. The domestic servant's killer was never found, and rumors about the case soon started spreading. In the new book "Murder at Teal's Pond: Hazel Drew and the Mystery That Inspired Twin Peaks," authors David Bushman and Mark T. Givens try to build a portrait of who Hazel Drew was and why she was killed, as well as the ghost stories, theories, and gossip that circulated after Drew's killing, which ultimately inspired "Twin Peaks."

It's a chilling and fascinating true crime mystery, which is why it was selected as Oxygen Book Club's January book. Digital correspondent Stephanie Gomulka recently spoke with Bushman and Givens to learn what led them to collaborate on the book, crucial takeaways from the investigation, and more.

As Bushman describes in the video above, he had written a deep dive into the show called "Twin Peaks FAQ." One of the sources he used to help with research for the book was Mark T. Givens' podcast, and soon the idea for a true crime book was born. The first step? Determine who the murder victim even was.

Mark Frost, co-creator of "Twin Peaks, said a murder of a woman named Hazel Gray was an influence for the series, but he had really heard it more as a "ghost story from his grandmother," Givens explained. A New York murder victim named Hazel Gray seemingly didn't exist — but after painstaking research they realized their victim was actually Hazel Drew.

While the book focuses on her murder, it also examines the way society's structure at the time may have hampered her investigation.

"We were following a murder mystery trying to get to the heart of it, but we couldn't ignore the aspects of how things would have been treated then. If the investigation had been going on today, would it have been discarded so easily ... Because she was a woman, because she was poor, because powerful men wanted to discard it," Givens explained, with Bushman emphasizing that because all the investigators and the reporters covering the case were male, the "image of Hazel was was being filtered by the male gaze."

"There is no doubt in my mind if Hazel been a man of wealth, it would not have been an unsolved murder," Bushman concluded.

Watch the videos above for more of the interview. And check back each month for Oxygen Book Club's picks, which highlight the best true crime stories the literary world has to offer.

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