What Death in the Bayou: The Jennings 8 is all about without spoiling the show
Death in the Bayou is the case of the Jennings 8. There you have it! Explanation complete.
I think most people who are into true crime are familiar with this case. It’s well-known, a rumored inspiration for the first season of True Detective, and one of the biggest unsolved series of crimes in modern history.
I’ll give you a little leeway if you aren’t familiar. After all, I haven’t seen anything more than an advertisement on a train for True Detective. I really need to get HBOMax and binge again sometime this summer.
For those unfamiliar with the story of the Jennings 8, sometimes called the Jeff Davis 8, it’s a series of eight women killed in the Jefferson Davis Parish of Louisiana. Instead of counties, Louisiana has parishes. It’s one of those goofy little details about the state. You think Texas is weird? Louisiana is strange to them.
Over the course of several years pre-Hurricane Katrina and after, the eight women are all found either clearly murdered or dumped from what could be an apparent overdose. There are a couple of major suspects with some in the area believing the police are involved.
Cases like this, which remain unsolved, easily capture the attention of true crime followers. Is this an instance of serial killings by the same people or person? There’s always a chance some things are coincidence, like the fact that all eight women were in the same circle.
What was good about Death in the Bayou
The documentary is a bit of a slow-burn, but it does focus on one victim and her family in particular. I thought this was a wise decision. Something else I watched recently, The Vanishing Women, was a little too scattered with how they covered their related crimes/missing women. Death in the Bayou mentions all of the slain women in the Jennings 8 with its primary focus on Whitnei Dubois. Her sister is a main feature in the series as she has been hard at work trying to crack the case.
We get some really good suspects in this documentary. I found that to be lacking in The Vanishing Women. A lot of the speculation falls onto Frankie Richard. He knew every single victim and even admitted to being with several within 24-48 hours of their murders. He’s either the opposite of King Midas or a cold-blooded killer.
What makes Death in the Bayou especially fascinating is that we get interviews with Frankie Richard and his children. Some interviews are a few years old but the filmmakers here also talk with him during the production phase. We see how he has changed into a more worn-down man instead of the cockier version of himself nearer to the time of the murders.
Like The Killing Season which dives headfirst into actually talking to some major suspects, Death in the Bayou gives us an inside look at the world where the Jeff Davis 8 women all lived. It’s a scary place. I’m convinced I’d rather walk through the most dangerous city in America at night than show my face in daylight in this town.
What could have made Death in the Bayou better
Parts of the documentary did feel a little outdated. There were moments when the filmmakers deviated with the way the story was presented. Because some of the footage came from another filmmaker who does make an appearance as well, we kind of get two documentaries mashed into one. This messed with the rhythm just a tad too much at times.
Death in the Bayou spends a lot of time looking primarily at only Frankie Richard as a suspect. Not too many other theories are thrown out there, but more so suggested. It would have been interesting to hear from someone else. However, it does appear many are unwilling to talk.
Is Death in the Bayou worth watching?
This is an underrated creepy true crime documentary. It won’t give you shivers the same way The Keepers will. Something about getting so up-close with the victim’s families and the man they believe killed eight women is unsettling. A good true crime documentary will make you feel something. You definitely can’t come away from watching this and feel like a trusting person.
Overall Score 8 out of 10
A newer version of the Jennings 8 case is something you better believe Netflix has on its mind. I would like to see their take on this. With any luck, we get that to come out once an arrest is made the case is officially solved.
For now, Death in the Bayou serves its purpose. It’s a good watch only missing a little bit of a personal touch to help it stand out.
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