A&E is taking a very close look at the intersecting paths of five of America’s most notorious killers — Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, The Green River Killer, and BTK — who operated during the same period, across two decades, in the three-night event Invisible Monsters: Serial Killers in America.
The killers and their victims’ stories are told by those closest to them, including survivors, investigators, forensic psychologists, prosecutors, and victims’ family members. Executive producer Stephanie Soechtig previews the series. Plus, watch an exclusive sneak peek of Gacy’s first kill above.
Because you’re focusing on notorious serial killers who have been covered in true crime docuseries before, what was your approach to profiling and analyzing them in such a way that would bring new information to viewers?
Stephanie Soechtig: For starters we have some incredible stories and materials that have never been shared before so that will be new to any fans of true crime. Other series have focused on one killer at a time and things look very different when you weave together all five men into a single narrative. By looking at the five of them concurrently — which has never been done before — we were able to explore the perfect storm of what was happening in culture, communications, law enforcement, media, forensics, and technology that allowed them to proliferate and evade capture.
Talk about finding the right visuals — the zooming in on the bacon, the crawl space, the photos, for example, while depicting Gacy’s first kill — and balance between them and the experts talking while detailing the crimes in the docuseries?
The creative challenge we gave ourselves was to not glamorize the killings or try to recreate the killings themselves. So I tried to put myself in that space and imagine all of the details that existed prior to or after the killing. We knew from Gacy that his first victim was making breakfast when he was murdered. It felt really provocative to have that space be empty while you hear the story of Gacy’s first kill. Without actors or any real action, it allows the audience to fill in the blanks in a way that still humanizes the victim. This was a real person who was doing something we all do — making breakfast. Those ordinary details juxtaposed with this extraordinary story felt like it gave the audience the space to really absorb what happened.
You’re not just telling the killers’ stories, but their survivors and victims’ stories as well. What did you want to make sure you did in terms of finding the balance between the two?
True crime has become a source of entertainment for millions of people and it’s so easy to forget that this isn’t just a story. These are real people who left loved ones behind. It was really important to me that we show reverence for that fact and that you hear the names of the victims and you see their faces and hear from their loved ones. It was really important to my team and I that we honor those people in every episode.
Invisible Monsters: Serial Killers in America, 3-Night Event Premiere, Sunday, August 15, 9/8c, A&E