Dark Minds, the latest truecrime
series to emerge from Henry Schleiff’s ID
story factory, explores unsolved serial killings
with the aid of a popular technique, dramatic
recreations. It also includes interviews with
witnesses. In the premiere
episode, a key
witness is an actual
victim, the only woman
known to have survived
being attacked by the
man known as the
Valley Killer. Pregnant
and stabbed repeatedly,
and her baby survived,
and her description of
her hooded assailant
enabled the only sketch of the man who killed
seven women in New Hampshire and Vermont
dating back to the 1970s.
What makes Dark Minds different is its stars:
they aren’t detectives. They are true-crime author
M. William Phelps, whose pregnant sisterin-
law was murdered in 1996 in an unsolved
crime, and John Kelly, a criminal profiler.
The third star is only heard over the speaker
phone: he is an incarcerated serial killer, known
as “13,” who is accessible only through Kelly.
His insights into the Valley Killer’s motivations
and methods help lead Phelps to what he believes
is a genuine breakthrough in the case,
which, we are told, had no known suspects.
Phelps is a leather-jacketed, blonde-streaked,
dogged investigator, who talks the talk of potboiler
mysteries while walking the walk (and looking
the look, if you will). Add him, Kelly and “13” to
a proven mix of witness testimony and re-enactments,
and you have one strong true-crime brew.