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Townspeople Fight Back After Investigation Discovery Calls Dryden, NY, the ’Village of the Damned’

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Believe it or not, some residents of Dryden, NY, take issue with Investigation Discovery calling their community Village of the Damned. In fact, more than 3,400 people have signed a petition asking the cable channel to stop the limited series of that name, which the petition authors view as “voyeurism of human suffering and tragedy.”

Other residents, however, participated in the project, which examines a series of murders in the Dryden area between in the 1980s and 1990s. In the first tragedy, according to the Ithaca Journal, Warren and Delores Harris and their two young children were slain in their home just before Christmas 1989. Dryden football coach Steve Starr was shot to death defending his daughter from an ex-boyfriend in 1994. And in 1996, 16-year-old Dryden High cheerleaders Sarah Haney and Jennifer Bolduc were abducted and murdered.

In a press release, Investigation Discovery says Village of the Damned “brings the mystery to life in a serialized format that features the town itself as the central character, as well as a Greek chorus of residents that lived through this tragic time … Interviews with law enforcement and other key players transport viewers back to the moments, days, months, and years that followed each crime.”

“This exclusive and limited series explores important and disturbing questions concerning how innocent people become ensnared by evil, and how a tight-knit community survives when senseless crime pushes it past the breaking point,” the show website touts.

Meanwhile, the petitioners say family members of the victims asked production company Red Marble Media not to proceed with Village of the Damned, and their pleas were apparently ignored. The mayor of Dryden even signed a letter objecting to the series.

“Does this now represent the new normal on our public media response?” the petitioners write “Compassion replaced by self-interest, a tabloid-loving nation that respects neither the privacy nor suffering of its neighbors?”

Red Marble Media’s Stephen Dost, lead producer on Village of the Damned, responded to the petition by posting a link to an eight-minute clip from the documentary, but commenters are still dissatisfied.

Nevertheless, Village of the Damned premiered on Nov. 28, and it seems it will continue airing every Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET until all five episodes have aired. Then, perhaps, the residents of Dryden can close the book on this painful chapter.

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