Real Crime

What is the price of living a lie? Undercover, a three-part local documentary series, explores the human cost of the controversial New Zealand Police Undercover Programme, as told by former agents.

In 1974, the New Zealand Police created its most effective weapon yet – the undercover police officer. Tasked with living as an insider deep within the criminal world, these agents would make friends with society’s lawbreakers – drug dealers, thieves, murderers and gang members – in order to secure enough evidence to convict. Successful operations would result in hundreds of convictions.

But for many agents, life in the criminal underworld became addictive. The challenges that undercover cops face have provided material for countless movies and TV dramas. The real stories are just as gripping.

Undercover goes behind the headlines to find out what it’s really like to work as an undercover agent. These are tales from the criminal underworld as told by the people who lived in it – and living a lie among dangerous criminals is not for the faint-hearted.

The series features candid interviews with former agents and their operators, as well as dramatic stylisations of key events. These are stories of friendships made and broken, betrayals, frustrations – and the agents’ ultimate dedication to catching criminals.

Agents’ stories range from those of disillusionment and dissatisfaction at the role of the New Zealand Police, to those for whom the Undercover Programme was the pinnacle of their careers, and who still believe sending agents undercover is the only way to catch some of our most wanted criminals.

“Making the show has been an incredible insight into the reality of living a lie. Many of the stories we have heard have surprised and shocked us,” says producer Alex Clark.

“But in all the stories, we have been inspired by the tremendous courage and strength these individuals showed to a cause they often had stopped believing in. It’s a privilege to be able to bring these stories to the TV ONE audience.”

Episode one explores the early years of undercover work in New Zealand, when the focus was the rapidly rising drug problem.

Wednesday 12 March, 9.30pm on TV1

Real Crime: Jeffrey Dahmer – Born To Kill?
Wednesday 29 August, 9.30pm

The definition of a serial killer is a person who commits more than three murders, with the killings often separated by long periods of inactivity. Luring victims to their death, they act out extreme sadistic urges, and lack any ability to empathise with the suffering of their victims. But why do these killers commit these heinous crimes?

‘Real Crime: Jeffrey Dahmer – Born To Kill?’ examines the life of Dahmer, trying to find clues as to what prompted his appalling crimes (tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE). Dahmer was a homosexual sexual deviant who raped, murdered and ate parts of 17 victims.
Like other killers, such as John Wayne Gacy, he managed to elude capture while continuing to carry out his crimes. And like every other sociopathic serial killer in history, he believed himself to be completely justified in his actions.

How does a man become a serial killer, necrophiliac, cannibal and psychopath? Numerous theories say the answers can always be found in childhood abuse, bad parenting, head trauma, foetal alcoholism and drug addiction – perhaps in some cases these are contributing factors, but not for Jeffrey Dahmer.

Dahmer was born in Milwaukee in 1960, into the loving household of Lionel and Joyce Dahmer. He was a happy child until around six-years-old when his brother was born and he received some minor surgery, and he became increasingly insular and lacking in self-confidence. A career opportunity for his father meant the family moved to Ohio, and Dahmer’s insecurities deepened; by his early teens he was disengaged, tense and largely friendless.

When talking to people who knew Jeffery Dahmer well, they all say he was a good-looking, well-spoken and articulate man. Patrick Kennedy, who worked for the Milwaukee Police for more than 25 years, was assigned to Dahmer’s case in the summer of 1991 and spent six weeks with the killer.

Kennedy says, “You think of the crimes committed, and they are so horrific, that you think only a madman or somebody totally evil would do this, but when you talk with Jeffery Dahmer, you do not get this idea. He could be engaging, he was social, bright and witty, and he could make jokes. He was able to fool a lot of people.”

He says Dahmer described how his fascination with bones developed as a very young child. “He would find road-kill and wanted to see what was inside it. What he did as a young man with animals, he did in later life with human beings.” Dahmer claims he experienced compulsive thoughts of murder and necrophilia from the age of 14, but it appears the breakdown of his parents’ marriage, their acrimonious divorce, and the psychological stresses associated with these events may have been the catalyst for turning these earlier thoughts into actions.

Watch tonight’s ‘Real Crime’ documentary to see if circumstance drove Jeffery Dahmer to carnage and cannibalism or if he was ‘Born To Kill?’.

Real Crime: Fred West – Born To Kill?
Wednesday 22 August, 9.30pm

Fred West lived in an ordinary house, in an ordinary street. He had a wife, kids, and lodgers, and he liked company. He also liked to maim, molest and murder. Over a period of about 20 years, Fred and Rose West abducted, tortured, raped and murdered an unknown number of girls, many of whom lay buried in the garden until the police dug them up. What motivated West to commit such terrible crimes?

‘Real Crime: Fred West – Born To Kill?’ investigates the life of serial killer West (tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE). It sees interviews with a pathologist, psychiatrist, journalists, one of his female victims, solicitor, criminologist and a criminal profiler, all in an attempt to uncover the probable cause and effect that led him to become one of the world’s most infamous killers.
Richard Fergusson, the prosecuting QC at the trial of Rosemary West described Fred West as: “A man devoid of compassion, consumed with sexual lust, a sadistic killer and someone who had opted out of the human race – the very epitome of evil.”

Biography writer Jean Ritchie says West came from a family in which incest was taken as fairly normal. She says he apparently played sexual games with his mother for years and was sexually abused by his father. “He was highly sexualised from a very young age and sex became very much part of his motivation.”

As a teenager, West was involved in a motorcycle accident, receiving multiple injuries including a serious head wound. He spent seven days unconscious in hospital. It has been speculated these injuries may have affected his behaviour and impulse control from then onwards.

Criminal profiler and doctor of psychology David Holmes says the brain’s frontal lobe controls the humans impulses and contains the elements of what makes people behave morally: “For Fred, these were damaged and for someone who was already a little bit psychopathic, he suddenly had the breaks taken off completely and it made him into a real danger to society.”

Watch tonight’s ‘Real Crime’ documentary ‘Fred West – Born To Kill?’ to see if this seemingly ordinary man was driven to slaughter at least 12 women and children… or if he was born to kill.

Real Crime: Jeffrey Dahmer – Born To Kill?
Wednesday 29 August, 9.30pm

The definition of a serial killer is a person who commits more than three murders, with the killings often separated by long periods of inactivity. Luring victims to their death, they act out extreme sadistic urges, and lack any ability to empathise with the suffering of their victims. But why do these killers commit these heinous crimes?

‘Real Crime: Jeffrey Dahmer – Born To Kill?’ examines the life of Dahmer, trying to find clues as to what prompted his appalling crimes (tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE). Dahmer was a homosexual sexual deviant who raped, murdered and ate parts of 17 victims.
Like other killers, such as John Wayne Gacy, he managed to elude capture while continuing to carry out his crimes. And like every other sociopathic serial killer in history, he believed himself to be completely justified in his actions.

How does a man become a serial killer, necrophiliac, cannibal and psychopath? Numerous theories say the answers can always be found in childhood abuse, bad parenting, head trauma, foetal alcoholism and drug addiction – perhaps in some cases these are contributing factors, but not for Jeffrey Dahmer.

Dahmer was born in Milwaukee in 1960, into the loving household of Lionel and Joyce Dahmer. He was a happy child until around six-years-old when his brother was born and he received some minor surgery, and he became increasingly insular and lacking in self-confidence. A career opportunity for his father meant the family moved to Ohio, and Dahmer’s insecurities deepened; by his early teens he was disengaged, tense and largely friendless.

When talking to people who knew Jeffery Dahmer well, they all say he was a good-looking, well-spoken and articulate man. Patrick Kennedy, who worked for the Milwaukee Police for more than 25 years, was assigned to Dahmer’s case in the summer of 1991 and spent six weeks with the killer.

Kennedy says, “You think of the crimes committed, and they are so horrific, that you think only a madman or somebody totally evil would do this, but when you talk with Jeffery Dahmer, you do not get this idea. He could be engaging, he was social, bright and witty, and he could make jokes. He was able to fool a lot of people.”

He says Dahmer described how his fascination with bones developed as a very young child. “He would find road-kill and wanted to see what was inside it. What he did as a young man with animals, he did in later life with human beings.” Dahmer claims he experienced compulsive thoughts of murder and necrophilia from the age of 14, but it appears the breakdown of his parents’ marriage, their acrimonious divorce, and the psychological stresses associated with these events may have been the catalyst for turning these earlier thoughts into actions.

Watch tonight’s ‘Real Crime’ documentary to see if circumstance drove Jeffery Dahmer to carnage and cannibalism or if he was ‘Born To Kill?’.

Real Crime: Jonestown – Paradise Lost
Wednesday 8 August, 9.30pm

This ‘Real Crime’ documentary, ‘Jonestown – Paradise Lost’, tracks the final build-up to the infamous mass murder and suicides of Jim Jones’ cult followers in the jungles of Guyana, where more than 900 men, women and children died on November 18, 1978.

Framed by the investigative report left by Congressman Leo Ryan and new information recently released by the US government, the docu-drama follows Ryan’s fatal journey to “Jonestown”, a bizarre city carved out of the jungles of Guyana by cult followers of the messianic/charismatic pastor, Jim Jones.
‘Real Crime: Jonestown – Paradise Lost’ (tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE) uses extensive dramatic re-enactments based on eyewitness accounts, as well as archival footage and interviews to show viewers the inner workings of this cult and its apocalyptic end.

On November 18, 1978, American congressman Leo J Ryan, his assistants, a group of concerned relatives and an NBC news crew arrived in Jonestown to investigate this mysterious cult, and to determine whether or not people were being held there against their will. On the plane, Ryan informed the passengers: “Let me tell you something right now, not as your congressman but as your friend. We are going into Jonestown, and if any of your family members want to come home, well by God, we’re going bring them home.”

For 72 hours, the cult put on a remarkable show. Ryan was very nearly sucked in; but at the eleventh hour, as the team prepared to leave Guyana, 12 cult members accosted them, begging to be taken out.

Their stories clashed starkly with the image of the strange but basically happy and contented kingdom that was presented. They told of a living nightmare where rape, forced labour, fraud, torture and humiliation were common currency – all employed to create a totalitarian world of blind obedience to “Father” Jones.

Congressman Ryan confronted Jones. Tensions quickly escalated until near departure time at the small jungle airstrip, when the congressman’s party, the TV crew and the fleeing dissidents were gunned down by Jones’ bodyguards.

Two hours after these shootings, his cover blown, Jones gave orders for ‘The Grand Departure’ – a collective mass suicide that was rehearsed repeatedly over the previous two years in the jungle. On that day, 913 people, including 200 children, died; by drinking or being force-fed from vats of a grape drink laced with cyanide and tranquilizers. Others were killed by lethal injection or by gunshot, execution-style, to the head.

Part one of this ‘Real Crime’ documentary, ‘Jonestown – Paradise Lost’ sees four survivors of this massacre begin to tell their story; Stephan Jones, the son of the charismatic preacher Jim Jones; Vernon Gosney, a member of the People’s Temple who escaped but whose eight-year-old son died; Sherwin Harris, who went in vain to rescue his 22-year-old daughter Liane; and Tim Reiterman, a San Francisco journalist who went to interview Jim Jones. Part two of ‘Jonestown – Paradise Lost’ will screen as next week’s ‘Real Crime’ documentary.

Real Crime: Jonestown – Paradise Lost Wednesday 8 August, 9.30pm

This ‘Real Crime’ documentary, ‘Jonestown – Paradise Lost’, tracks the final build-up to the infamous mass murder and suicides of Jim Jones’ cult followers in the jungles of Guyana, where more than 900 men, women and children died on November 18, 1978.

Framed by the investigative report left by Congressman Leo Ryan and new information recently released by the US government, the docu-drama follows Ryan’s fatal journey to “Jonestown”, a bizarre city carved out of the jungles of Guyana by cult followers of the messianic/charismatic pastor, Jim Jones.
‘Real Crime: Jonestown – Paradise Lost’ (tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE) uses extensive dramatic re-enactments based on eyewitness accounts, as well as archival footage and interviews to show viewers the inner workings of this cult and its apocalyptic end.

On November 18, 1978, American congressman Leo J Ryan, his assistants, a group of concerned relatives and an NBC news crew arrived in Jonestown to investigate this mysterious cult, and to determine whether or not people were being held there against their will. On the plane, Ryan informed the passengers: “Let me tell you something right now, not as your congressman but as your friend. We are going into Jonestown, and if any of your family members want to come home, well by God, we’re going bring them home.”

For 72 hours, the cult put on a remarkable show. Ryan was very nearly sucked in; but at the eleventh hour, as the team prepared to leave Guyana, 12 cult members accosted them, begging to be taken out.

Their stories clashed starkly with the image of the strange but basically happy and contented kingdom that was presented. They told of a living nightmare where rape, forced labour, fraud, torture and humiliation were common currency – all employed to create a totalitarian world of blind obedience to “Father” Jones.

Congressman Ryan confronted Jones. Tensions quickly escalated until near departure time at the small jungle airstrip, when the congressman’s party, the TV crew and the fleeing dissidents were gunned down by Jones’ bodyguards.

Two hours after these shootings, his cover blown, Jones gave orders for ‘The Grand Departure’ – a collective mass suicide that was rehearsed repeatedly over the previous two years in the jungle. On that day, 913 people, including 200 children, died; by drinking or being force-fed from vats of a grape drink laced with cyanide and tranquilizers. Others were killed by lethal injection or by gunshot, execution-style, to the head.

Part one of this ‘Real Crime’ documentary, ‘Jonestown – Paradise Lost’ sees four survivors of this massacre begin to tell their story; Stephan Jones, the son of the charismatic preacher Jim Jones; Vernon Gosney, a member of the People’s Temple who escaped but whose eight-year-old son died; Sherwin Harris, who went in vain to rescue his 22-year-old daughter Liane; and Tim Reiterman, a San Francisco journalist who went to interview Jim Jones. Part two of ‘Jonestown – Paradise Lost’ will screen as next week’s ‘Real Crime’ documentary.

Real Crime: The Real Blair Witch Wednesday 1 August, 9.30pm

In 2002, five friends in Michigan filmed themselves kidnapping a young woman. Five days later, the friends were arrested and they now face life imprisonment. But was the kidnapping real, or was it all a game? ‘Real Crime: The Real Blair Witch’ (tonight on TV ONE at 9:30pm) takes an in-depth look at this intriguing case, showing footage from the actual kidnapping and interviews with those involved.

On 6 March 2002, 19-year-old waitress Danielle Taylor, from Flint, Michigan, went to a student house known for its parties, booze and dope-smoking. Shortly after arriving, she was wrestled to the ground, tied up and told she was going to die. At knife-point she was put in the back seat of a car, driven to a remote wooded area and placed in a shallow grave.
The five friends who did this to Taylor videoed of the whole thing. On the tape they can be heard telling her, “Hey, it hurts right? Well think about it, in an hour you’ll never feel another thing.” Later in the tape another voice says “We are going to bury you alive. You are going to die.”

The friends claim it was all just a joke and that Taylor was in on the whole thing. They say they were just trying to make a realistic ‘Blair Witch’-style horror movie, in which Taylor had agreed to act.

Taylor maintains that she didn’t know it was a joke and that she was terrified for her life. The Michigan State Prosecutor agreed and charged the defendants with kidnapping – if found guilty, they face between nine years and life in jail. The judge presiding over the case called the kidnapping one of the most repulsive, sadistic things she’d seen in her 24 years as a judge.

A local Flint journalist, Jim Smith, has followed the case from the beginning. “This kidnap case is one of the strangest cases I’ve ever covered, and I’ve covered some strange things. The community was totally split over this – either these kids were the most evil thing that ever happened, or they were just kids pulling a prank.”

One of the boys implicated in the kidnapping is Jimmy Carwile. Carwile’s lawyer, Dan Ambrose, vehemently asserts that Taylor was in on the whole thing, pointing to a crucial moment in the video that doesn’t fit with Taylor’s story of being tied up: “There’s a part when she reaches up and scratches her nose, then puts her hand back behind her back. Well, unless she’s triple-jointed, she could never do that. It wasn’t like they jumped on the fact that her hands were free. She put her hand back behind her and they continued filming.”

Be the judge of whether Danielle Taylor was a victim of a terrifying kidnapping ordeal, or if she was simply a talented actress who fell out with her friends, on ‘Real Crime: The Real Blair Witch’, tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE.

Real Crime: Torture – America’s Brutal Prisons Wednesday 25 July, 9.30pm

When the reports of abuse, rape and torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq came to public attention in 2004, the world was shocked that American soldiers would commit such crimes – yet violence and humiliation are the facts of everyday life in jails across America itself. ‘Real Crime: Torture – America’s Brutal Prisons’ (tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE) lays bare the reality of life in the United States prison system today.

In this British documentary, reporter Deborah Davies travels across America, piecing together powerful first-hand stories of abuse. What she uncovers is a nation-wide, institutional culture of cruelty and neglect, which, in the worst cases, has resulted in death.
Guards, prisoners and other workers within the prison system all have shocking stories to tell. Chemical agents, such as pepper spray, are routinely employed as a way to control riots and subdue violent prisoners. But, according to lawyer Christopher Jones, who has represented many prisoners who have been victims of abuse within prison walls, pepper spray is often used maliciously and sadistically.

“They usually use large fire extinguisher-size canisters of pepper spray, which then sticks to people’s skin. It can cause second-degree chemical burns…and is extremely painful. Officers try to aim for people’s faces and genitals…It’s being used to maintain absolute terror in the prisoners. There is no word for it other than torture.”

Former prisoner Mitch Scott describes what it felt like to be sprayed with pepper spray: “It was burning. I couldn’t get enough water. It felt like my face was on fire.”

The attitude of American prison guards often means that they believe they can get away with anything. At Florida State Prison, which has been the subject of many investigations into prison conduct, attorney Guy Rubin recalls how he was given the case of a prisoner who had received the worst beating he could imagine. “They had stomped on his back and stomped on his front, breaking every rib but two in different directions. His ribs were like splinters.”

‘Torture – America’s Brutal Prisons’ includes footage of the brutal treatment of prisoners in America. Together with interviews with former prisoners, guards, lawyers and prison doctors, a disturbing picture is painted of how America continues to cover up or turn a blind eye to what is happening inside its own prison walls. Don’t miss tonight’s ‘Real Crime’ documentary at 9.30pm on TV ONE.

Real Crime: Inside Waco
Wednesday 4 July, 9.30pm

On April 19, 1993, the world watched in horror as a fire raged through the Mount Carmel Centre in Waco, Texas, USA, leaving only smouldering ashes and the charred remains of human bodies. Eighty people were burnt to death, including 25 children – only nine escaped.

The dead were members of the religious organisation, the ‘Branch Davidians’ who had barricaded themselves within the Mt Carmel complex against the FBI. Although played out in front of the world’s media, the affair remained shrouded in mystery, with FBI blunders and cover-ups spawning thousands of conspiracy theories about what really happened inside the complex, who was ultimately responsible for the deaths of 80 people, and why it took more than 100 agents, three National Reserve Helicopters and a US Army fighter plane to supposedly arrest just one man.
‘Real Crime: Inside Waco’ (tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE) is a two-part documentary that shows a minute-by-minute account of an American government siege that stunned the world. It uses dramatic reconstruction, archive material and state-of-the-art CGI visual technology; it looks at the latest forensic research and autopsy reports of the Waco; it reveals never-before-seen transcripts of FBI negotiation tapes and bugged conversations taken by undercover agent Robert Rodriquez; has access to expert analysis of the heat-sensitive, infrared film taken by the FBI during the fire along with FBI helicopter footage; and shows exclusive interviews with Waco survivors including the six incarcerated members. (Part two screens Wednesday 11 July at 9.30pm on ONE).

Real Crime: Who Killed My Baby?
Wednesday 27 June, 9.30pm

Twice a week in Britain, a parent is suspected of shaking their baby violently – sometimes to death. The medical evidence used to secure convictions against these parents is increasingly disputed, with the courts looking for certainty where there is none. Meanwhile, families, doctors and the police are in limbo.

The ‘Real Crime’ documentary, ‘Who Killed My Baby?’ reveals how uncertain this evidence is and its human costs (tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE). It follows the case of Jo Wainwright, accused of shaking his baby Joshua, and the attempts by himself and his wife Katrina to clear his name on appeal.
Doctors have believed since the 1970s that Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) has unique signs – bleeding beneath the skull and behind the eyes and a swollen brain. Since they believe it can only be caused by aggression, the police are always alerted. Parents are still convicted on this basis.

But recent medical research by a leading pathologist, Dr Jennian Geddes, offers other explanations for a baby’s sudden death, such as choking or low accidental falls. Her most recent study looked at the brains of 50 dead babies who had not been shaken. Remarkably, from the 50, 36 showed bleeding classically seen in SBS – illustrating that something else must have caused the injuries.

The police and some doctors strongly dispute the controversial new research, which casts ‘reasonable doubt’ on SBS, and has been successfully used in court. They worry that guilty people may escape justice. DS Roland Philips from London’s Major Investigation Team argues that “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get convictions because of these outlandish theories that they are coming up with and we are getting very perverse decisions.”

Dr Waney Squier, a neuropathologist, is one of a few medical experts to oppose mainstream thinking on SBS in court. “It we take away what’s become of a sort of dustbin of SBS, then we are forced to think again and to examine every single case on its own merits and look really carefully to see what’s going on. SBS has, in a way, become too easy a diagnosis.”

In Salisbury, Wiltshire, Jo Wainwright was at home feeding baby Joshua, when he suddenly choked and stopped breathing. Rushed to hospital, Joshua died a few days later. Police arrested Jo, and the nightmare for him and his wife Katrina started. Jo was convicted of shaking Joshua to death. Katrina is desperately hoping for an appeal and that with the help of experts like Dr Squier she can clear Jo’s name.

Filmed over a year, ‘Who Killed My Baby?’ follows both the accused and the police involved in pursuing them. It also reflects the latest thinking on both sides of this tortured debate, in which the uncertainties of science are turned into black-and-white decisions in court. The parents are desperate to prove their innocence, police are worried as they see people they believe guilty using new scientific theories to walk free, while pressure mounts on medical experts to produce a certainty they no longer feel.