Southern Fried Homicide
Investigation Discovery’s new show serves up murder with a side of manners.
“Families are a bit like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts” was the premise behind Investigation Discovery‘s second episode of “Southern Fried Homicide.” Titled “Kissing Cousins,” the episode chronicled sorority girl Susie Newsom, who cracks after her marriage breaks up and starts to have an affair with her disturbed first cousin. When the rest of the family isn’t exactly thrilled with the relationships, their scandalous tryst ends with nine family members dead, spanning from Kentucky to North Carolina.
The new 10-part series debuted on June 5 and continues this Wednesday night with the story of Baton Rouge’s Geralyn DeSoto, who was brutally murdered in her home in 2002 in a string of slayings that turned out to be a serial killer.
Actress Shanna Forrestall, a native of Louisiana, serves as narrator for the series, with introductions and soundbites filmed at Madewood Plantation outside of New Orleans. Best known for “The Last Exorcism,” Forrestall says the show capitalizes on viewers’ obsession with crime shows and adds in a dose of humor through its frequent use of Southern idioms.
“ID created a show about murders in the South and specific kinds of murders and family, and then there’s me as the storyteller character that gives snarky comic relief to the gruesomeness of what we’re talking about,” she says. “It’s not just Louisiana. It’s more across the board Southern cliche, and people just dig it. There’s a show coming up where I’m wearing a red rose dress with pearls and red slipon shoes and sweeping the porch.”
Forrestall does have veto power if things get too cliche but says ID’s writers have done a good job of getting the tone just right. ID’s team is also in charge of researching the stories told on “Southern Fried Homicide,” and so far episodes have focused on the legendary Newsom case in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a Georgia woman who turned to murder to get her way in “Fatal Belle.”
The show certainly takes what could be the work of fiction (or what sounds like a Mary Higgins Clark novel set in the South) and brings these high-profile stories to life through re-enactments and interviews with family members and those who either worked or remember the case.
Forrestall says her favorite episode for June is “Deadly Devotion” (airing June 26) about Tennessee preacher Matthew Winkler and his wife, Mary, who are hiding some scandalous secrets behind closed doors. “Before long, their dirty laundry will leave one of them dead and the other one running for the hills,” the episode’s description reads.
The launch of the show was part of ID’s best night in network history. “Southern Fried Homicide” drew more than a million viewers, while ID’s other new show set in the South, “Swamp Murders,” has also been very popular. “Swamp Murders and Southern Fried Homicide are just two examples of a new setting for us to explore on Investigation Discovery – murder, with a side of homemade biscuits and gravy,” says network president and general manager Henry Schleiff. “These are the crimes committed by the least expected: families with respected reputations and people with long-standing values to uphold, showing that evil can lurk among the moss-laden weeping willows as well as behind a thin veil of courtesies.”