Many elements combined to make the first season of True Detective one of the most acclaimed series of recent years. Boasting career-best performances by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, a twisty time-jumping narrative and an ominous tone, the show wouldn’t have been half as effective, however, without a dark crime at its centre.
In The Real True Detective, host Gianna Toboni heads to small-town Louisiana to look into the crime True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto hinted had inspired his HBO series. And what she finds is incredibly disturbing.
A deeply unsettling and bizarre case
Ponchatoula, Louisiana is still scarred by what investigating detective (now police captain) Stuart Murphy describes as “one of the darkest cases involving the sexual abuse of children that I’ve ever seen in this state.” Terrible acts, including satanic rituals involving animal sacrifice, were committed on children as young as one in the early 2000s. What’s even more unsettling is that this all occurred in a church. The Real True Detective explores the evolution of the Hosanna Church to become a place where such practices took place.
Getting the confession
In a case full of shocking details, the way in which police received the confession of Pastor Lamonica, the man at the head of the abuse, might surprise you. Once his confession was in hand, it was up to the two detectives, Murphy and FBI agent Tom Tedder, to dig deeper and uncover the full details of the crimes that had taken place. Murphy, in particular, explains the methods he used that proved quite effective in getting enough evidence to secure convictions and how he kept himself from losing it with the perpetrators.
What we can never know
Beyond the interview room process, The Real True Detective gives an account of how the investigation unfolded – from the search at the church to follow-up interviews years later. The scariest part is that it probably went way further than Murphy and Tedder were able to prove. “I’d be a fool to sit here and think we found out everything that happened in that church,” Murphy says. “What’s scary is to wonder what we didn’t find out.”
Watch The Real True Detective at SBS On Demand: