Sensing Murder

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Sensing Murder
Sensing logo.png
GenreDocumentary Reality Television
Created byDavid Baldock
Directed byJohn Keir
Starring
Narrated byRebecca Gibney (Seasons 1-4); Amanda Billing (Seasons 5-6)
Country of origin
  • Denmark
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes47
Production
Executive producerPhilly De Lacey Executive Producer: John McEwen (2006–2010)
ProducerCarolyn Harper
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time65 minutes
Production companies

Ninox Television Ltd (2006–2010)

DistributorTVNZ
Release
Original networkTVNZ 2
Picture format1080i HDTV
Original release2006 (2006) –
present

Sensing Murder is a television show in which three psychics are asked to act as psychic detectives to help provide evidence that might be useful in solving famous unsolved murder cases by communicating with the deceased victims. The program format was developed in 2002 by Nordisk Film TV in Denmark[1] and has been sold to many countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Hungary, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the US. In 2004, Granada Entertainment bought the US rights.[2] The New Zealand (TVNZ 2) series first aired in 2006 and was hosted by Rebecca Gibney. On 17 January 2017, it was announced that Amanda Billing would be the new host for the Australia/New Zealand version.

Format (Australia/New Zealand)[edit]

Medium Sue Nicholson in 2013

Each episode included detailed reenactments of the events leading up to the murder and the murder itself. Sections of these reenactments are then shown throughout the episode to refresh the viewer's memory of the events.

The producers state that the psychics are given no information about the case other than a photo, which some psychics prefer to keep face-down (The idea being that the less information they have, the better their supernormal abilities function). Other psychics choose to look at the photograph. To demonstrate their abilities, the psychics relay their impressions about the case/person which may match details in the case file. The psychics are then asked to provide any extra information they can using their psychic abilities. The show's private detective hosts the next section, in which he is asked to try to investigate any new leads suggested by the psychics and sometimes talk to the families of the deceased.

The show's producers claimed that before each series they tested 70-75 psychics and mediums in New Zealand and Australia with a case that had already been solved. (As claimed during each aired episode.) The most accurate psychics were then shortlisted from which the producers chose two or three of them to attempt to contact the spirits of the murder victims and to get impressions helpful to describe the victim, their circumstances around the murder, and the details of their death (as stated by the featured psychics during each episode). The three that were most often chosen (for all the episodes to date) are Deb Webber (Australian) and Sue Nicholson and Kelvin Cruickshank (New Zealanders).

Producer David Baldock has rejected a paranormal challenge on behalf of the psychics, but does propose possible further tests of the psychics if the Sensing Murder show airs a third series in New Zealand.[3]

The Australian series of Sensing Murder also suffered numerous setbacks including a budget overrun which threatened to bankrupt the producer Rhonda Byrne.[4]

Episodes (Australia/New Zealand)[edit]

Season 1 (2006)[edit]

# Title Original air date
01"The Patient Killer"[5]10 January 2006 (2006-01-10)
In 1976, thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Tracey Ann Patient was plucked off Auckland's Great North Road. The following morning, her body was found dumped 16 km away in the Waitākere Ranges, having been strangled with a pantyhose tourniquet. Deb Webber and Sue Nicholson investigate.
02"Cruel Intent"[6]17 January 2006 (2006-01-17)
The psychics investigate the unsolved kidnapping of Sharon Wills and Nicola Lynas, and the kidnapping/murder of Karmein Chan.
03"Walk of Innocence"[7][8]24 January 2006 (2006-01-24)
In 1970, eighteen-year-old Olive Walker disappeared as she walked across Rotorua to babysit her nieces and nephews. Her semi-naked body was found hours later in a rest area south of the city, having been bashed to death so fiercely that her skull had been smashed into seven pieces. Deb Webber and Adelle Dishcombe investigate.
04"Lost Soul"[9]31 January 2006 (2006-01-31)
In 1985, 25-year-old Luana 'La Verne' Williams disappeared from her Tauranga home. Eight years later her disappearance was upgraded to a murder enquiry. Her body has never been found. Sue Nicholson, Scott Russell Hill, and Kelvin Cruickshank investigate.
05"A Bump in the Night"[10]4 April 2006 (2006-04-04)
In Auckland, on 15 August 1980, 6-year-old Alicia O'Reilly was raped and murdered in her bed, while her 8-year-old sister slept less than a metre away and her mother was sleeping across the hallway. Kelvin Cruickshank and Deb Webber investigate.
06"A Mother's Instinct"[11]11 April 2006 (2006-04-11)
In 1974, Lorraine Wilson and Wendy Evans set out from Brisbane to hitchhike to Goondiwindi. Their remains were found 2 years later in bush at Murphy's Creek, near the foothills of the Toowoomba Ranges.
07"Fallen Angel"[12]18 April 2006 (2006-04-18)
In 1995, Angela Blackmore, a twenty-one-year-old mother with a two-year-old son, was murdered in the kitchen of her home, being stabbed thirty-nine times. The child was not harmed and the killer has never been identified.
08"The Scarlet Letter"[13]25 April 2006 (2006-04-25)
In 1986, Elizabeth Barnard was found dead at her parents' property at Phillip Island. The alleged killer Vivienne Cameron disappeared without a trace on the same night and her deserted car was found near the San Remo Bridge on the island. After an extensive three-day land and sea search, Vivienne's body was never found.
09"Blood Money"[14]2 May 2006 (2006-05-02)
In 1979, a 94-year-old man named George Engelbrecht, was brutally beaten to death in his home in Lower Hutt. Kelvin Cruickshank and Deb Webber investigate.
10"The Last Train Home"[15]9 May 2006 (2006-05-09)
In 1990, 23-year-old Sarah MacDiarmid caught a train from Richmond to Kananook station. She got off the train about 10.20pm and has not been seen since. The psychics investigate to find out what happened.
11"Almost Perfect"[16]30 May 2006 (2006-05-30)
This episode deals with the case of Elmer Crawford. He appeared to be an average family man, but then in 1970, he murdered his pregnant wife and three children, with no apparent motive. Psychics Deb Webber and Barbara Neilson are able to shed some light on this incident.
12"The Last Goodbye"[17]6 June 2006 (2006-06-06)
This episode deals with the case of Catherine Headland a victim in the Tynong North and Frankston Murders. The 14-year-old disappeared in the early 1980s along with five other women, whose bodies were eventually found in the Country Victoria. Police believe the offender is a lone serial killer but despite their best efforts, their killer has never been found and brought to justice. Psychics Deb Webber and Scott Russell Hill are asked to shed some light on this incident.

Season 2 (2007)[edit]

# Title Original air date
01"Insight"4 September 2007 (2007-09-04)
Shows the behind the scenes of the show.
02"In Too Deep"11 September 2007 (2007-09-11)
Covers the 1999 death of two engineers on a ship in the Persian gulf.[18]
03"Girl In The Ditch"18 September 2007 (2007-09-18)
1992 death of 12-year-old Agnes Ali'iva'a.[19]
04"Taken For A Ride"25 September 2007 (2007-09-25)[18]
1980 Auckland death of photographer Simon Buis.[20]
05"Lost For Words"2 October 2007 (2007-10-02)
Unsolved May 1993 disappearance of 17-year-old prostitute Jayne Furlong. On 20 June 2012, police confirmed that the remains of a body found at Port Waikato were Furlong's.[21][22]
06"Last Orders"9 October 2007 (2007-10-09)
Murder of Kevin O'Loughlin in Nelson.[23]
07"A Mother's Worst Nightmare"16 October 2007 (2007-10-16)
Disappearance of 2-year-old Amber-Lee Cruickshank.[24]
08"Long Way Home"23 October 2007 (2007-10-23)
Unsolved disappearance of 25-year-old Judy Yorke.[25]
09"Out of Aces"30 October 2007 (2007-10-30)
Death of conman Garth Doull in Wellington in September 1989.
10"Into Thin Air"6 November 2007 (2007-11-06)
Disappearance of Jim Donnelly in June 2004.
11"Psychics Revealed"13 November 2007 (2007-11-13)
Special about the lives of psychics Deb Webber, Kelvin Cruickshank, Sue Nicholson and Scott Russell Hill.

Season 3 (2008)[edit]

# Title Original air date
01"Where There's Smoke..."8 July 2008 (2008-07-08)
Covers the death of Blake Stott (19) who died in a car fire.
02"Now You See Me..."15 July 2008 (2008-07-15)
When Alexa Cullen (26) disappeared from her Manaia home in 1995, police initially treated it as a missing persons case. However, three years later, her sister heard rumours that a family member had something to do with the deaf woman's disappearance. Was Cullen murdered or did she just vanish?
03"Vanishing Point"22 July 2008 (2008-07-22)
In 2003, Sara Niethe vanished from the Hauraki Plains.
04"Without Warning!"29 July 2008 (2008-07-29)[26]
Unsolved June 2007 hit and run death of 18-year-old Regan O'Donoghue. Notably, a police detective sat in on the psychics readings.
05"When The Trail Goes Cold"1 August 2008 (2008-08-01)
62-year-old Kaye Stewart disappeared in June 2005. Notably, the psychics' readings were conducted by the head of the Lower Hutt CIB.

Season 4 (2010)[edit]

# Title Original air date
01"Looking For Justice"11 February 2010 (2010-02-11)
Covers the 1977 murder of Lesley Calvert (33), wife of farmer Lindsay Calvert who was a suspect in her death.[27] Notably, it was the first time a lead suspect in a case asked for the case to be looked at.
02"Stone Cold"18 February 2010 (2010-02-18)
2004 hypothermia death of Brendan Percy in Oamaru.[28]
03"Seeking Siegfried"25 February 2010 (2010-02-25)
Siegfried Newman, a Katikati man who supposedly died in a fall while in bushland area in 2008.[29] Notably, the episode aired exactly two years after he went missing.
04"Lie Of The Land"4 March 2010 (2010-03-04)
About the 2002 drowning death of Waikato man Jason Dark.
05"Where's Granddad?"11 March 2010 (2010-03-11)
Allan Woodford (65) left his home in Mossburn on foot on 20 April 1985.[30]

Season 5 (2017)[edit]

# Title Original air date
01"Stolen Dreams - Part 1"2 March 2017 (2017-03-02)
Murder of New Zealander Joan-Marie Wech (19) in Sydney, Australia in 1971.[31]
02"Stolen Dreams - Part 2"9 March 2017 (2017-03-09)
Part 2.
03"Taken Out - Part 1"16 March 2017 (2017-03-16)
Reidy's body was found on the outskirts of Ngāruawāhia in 1995, at first thought to be the victim of a hit and run.[32]
04"Taken Out - Part 2"23 March 2017 (2017-03-23)
Part 2.
05"Little Boy Lost - Part 1"30 March 2017 (2017-03-30)
The case of a 9–year–old New Zealand boy, Peter Boland, who disappeared in 1957.[33]
06"Little Boy Lost - Part 2"6 April 2017 (2017-04-06)
Part 2.
07"Out of the Dark - Part 1"20 April 2017 (2017-04-20)
2008 murder of a 46-year-old Napier grandmother.[34]
08"Out of the Dark - Part 2"27 April 2017 (2017-04-27)
Part 2.

Season 6 (2018)[edit]

# Title Original air date
01"Paula Brown (part 1)"19 July 2018 (2018-07-19)
About Paula Brown, a hairdresser who disappeared from Sydney's downtown after a night out with friends.
02"Paula Brown (part 2)"26 July 2018 (2018-07-26)
Part 2.
03"John Reynolds (part 1)"2 August 2018 (2018-08-02)
About murdered Christchurch scrap-metal dealer, John Reynolds.[35]
04"John Reynolds (part 2)"9 August 2018 (2018-08-09)
Part 2.
05"Cynthia Greenwood-Smith (part 1)"16 August 2018 (2018-08-16)
About Cynthia Greenwood-Smith (53) and her disappearance from her Gold Coast home.[36]
06"Cynthia Greenwood-Smith (part 2)"23 August 2018 (2018-08-23)
Part 2.

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 2006 Qantas Media Awards
    • WINNER:Best Director, Non-Drama
    • WINNER:Best Reality Format
  • 2008 Qantas Television and Film Awards
    • WINNER:Best Format-Reality Series

Books[edit]

  • Sensing Murder (released in 2008)
  • Walking in Light, autobiography of Kelvin Cruickshank (released in March 2009)

Case developments[edit]

The murder of George Engelbrecht was profiled in Season 1, the episode concluding with a shot of Engelbrecht's unmarked grave. The story caused a big public response, and the local community, Glover Memorial and JR Croft Funeral Directors together decided to organize a tribute. On 5 July 2006 there was a public unveiling of a headstone for Engelbrecht.[37]

It was reported during the first episode of Season 2 (entitled, Sensing Murder: Insight) that after the episode about Luana Williams screened, Sue Nicholson received a threatening phonecall from an unknown male claiming to know where Luana's missing remains are located. The psychics identified McLaren Falls as Williams' burial site in the show. Afterwards police received a report of a skull at the falls.[38] However, this skull was several kilometres from the site identified by the psychics, and was part of a historical burial of three people, not the remains of Williams.[38] Williams' disappearance remains unsolved.[39]

The Australian series was filmed between 2003–2004, and all the cases are still unsolved. Recent episodes in New Zealand have generated unsubstantiated leads, however, the episode that screened on 16 Oct 2007 on TV2 in New Zealand claims to have identified the particular killer and the case has since been reopened by Police.

Criticisms[edit]

Sensing Murder was based on a Danish television programme Fornemmelse for mord which is on record as having failed to produce any results. [40]

Australian police dismissed the show and said that they "only deal in factual evidence not psychic" [41]

A source within New Zealand police has said "spiritual communications were not considered a creditable foundation for investigation" [42]

The findings of recent episodes are disputed by skeptics and police, who do not officially believe in psychic detection and are in most cases not willing to follow up investigations conducted by private investigators on behalf of the show's producers.[43]

The show was exposed on a 2007 episode of Eating Media Lunch, in a section called "Sensing Bullshit", which showed footage from the Australian TV show Caught on Hidden Camera where Deb Webber answered questions about a presenter's fictional sister.[44] It was further satirized in the season finale, where host Jeremy Wells humorously highlighted the fact that not a single case had been solved.[45]

Television New Zealand was criticized after the network used their Breakfast show to cross-promote the show, with vague claims about the whereabouts of missing toddler Aisling Symes.[46]

On 20 June 2012, the New Zealand Police confirmed that a recent discovery of a body at a beach in Port Waikato (90 km (56 mi) from Auckland), was that of Jayne Furlong. Furlong's case had previously been featured during the second season of the Sensing Murder series in 2007.[21] The New Zealand Skeptics claim that it is evidence that the TV psychics were incorrect about the location of Furlong's body, since they had claimed in the episode that she was located either in the Auckland Domain or on a demolition site in Auckland.[47]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sensing Murder an Export Success". 17 May 2002. Archived from the original on 1 March 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  2. ^ "COMMISSIONS - SENSING MURDER OPTIONED FOR US MARKET". 26 April 2004. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  3. ^ "Sensing Murder Responds to $2 million Paranormal Challenge'". NZ Reality TV. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
  4. ^ "Decoding 'The Secret'". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 10 May 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2007.
  5. ^ "Sensing Murder: The Patient Killer". TV.com.
  6. ^ "Sensing Murder: Cruel Intent". TV.com.
  7. ^ "Sensing Murder: Olive Walker". TV.com.
  8. ^ "Psychic TV News Story: Sensing Murder".
  9. ^ "Sensing Murder: Lost Soul". TV.com.
  10. ^ "Sensing Murder: A Bump in the Night". TV.com.
  11. ^ "Sensing Murder: A Mother's Instinct". TV.com.
  12. ^ "Sensing Murder: Fallen Angel". TV.com.
  13. ^ "Sensing Murder: The Scarlet Letter". TV.com.
  14. ^ "Sensing Murder: Blood Money". TV.com.
  15. ^ "Sensing Murder: The Last Train Home". TV.com.
  16. ^ "Sensing Murder: Almost Perfect". TV.com.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ a b "Amazon.com: Watch Sensing Murder | Prime Video". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  19. ^ "Sensing Murder: Girl in the Ditch". TV.com.
  20. ^ "Sensing Murder: Taken for a Ride". TV.com.
  21. ^ a b "Police reveal mystery skeleton's identity". 20 June 2012. stuff.co.nz. 20 June 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  22. ^ "Sensing Murder: Lost For Words". TV.com.
  23. ^ "Sensing Murder: Last Orders". TV.com.
  24. ^ "Sensing Murder: A Mother's Worst Nightmare". TV.com.
  25. ^ "Sensing Murder: Long Way Home". TV.com.
  26. ^ "Amazon.com: Watch Sensing Murder | Prime Video". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  27. ^ Keith, Leighton (18 February 2010). "Police reopen cold case". Taranaki Daily News. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  28. ^ "Hopes TV show will shed light on mystery death". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 11 February 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  29. ^ "Police revisit missing father case". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  30. ^ Morgan, Jared (23 February 2009). "TV show takes on case of missing man". The Southland Times. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  31. ^ "Reward fails to bring anyone forward in Kiwi's cold case murder". Stuff.co.nz. 16 August 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  32. ^ "Killers evade police cash lure". NZ Herald. 24 October 2001. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  33. ^ "Search for lost boy". Gisborne photo news. 19 September 1957. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  34. ^ "Amazon.com: Watch Sensing Murder | Prime Video". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  35. ^ "Sensing Murder – Season 6, Episode 3". www.tvnz.co.nz. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  36. ^ "Sensing Murder – Season 6, Episode 5". www.tvnz.co.nz. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  37. ^ "Glover Memorials Homepage". www.glovermemorials.co.nz.
  38. ^ a b Tiffen, Rachel (7 February 2006). "Human skeletons found at falls". NZ Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  39. ^ "Luana Williams". New Zealand Missing Persons. 28 August 2017. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  40. ^ "Aftonbladet report - Sensing Murder". SWIFT Newsletter. Retrieved 21 May 2007.
  41. ^ Crawford, Carly (26 September 2004). "Yard hunt for clues on Sarah". Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia). Retrieved 25 May 2007.[permanent dead link]
  42. ^ "Police reject psychic advice". "Bay of Plenty Times" (NZ newspaper). Retrieved 21 May 2007.
  43. ^ Sensing Murder screened 17 October 2007
  44. ^ "New Zealand Reality TV: Deb Webber Exposed on YouTube". Archived from the original on 4 November 2007. Retrieved 3 January 2008.
  45. ^ EML Awards 2007 TV2 Series 7, Episode 9, 7 December 2007.
  46. ^ Nippert, Matt (11 October 2009). "TV psychic row breaks out as police search for missing girl". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  47. ^ "TV psychics 'exploited' Furlong – NZ Skeptics". 3News.co.nz. Retrieved 30 June 2012.

External links[edit]