Sensing Murder

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Sensing Murder
File:Sensing logo.png
Created by David Baldock
Starring Rebecca Gibney (host)
Country of origin New Zealand / Australia / United States
No. of episodes currently 26
Running time 90 min
Original network Nine Network (AU)
Original release 2003 (AU) 2005 (NZ) – present
External links

Sensing Murder is a television series in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, in which alleged psychics are asked to act as psychic detectives to help provide evidence that might be useful in solving famous unsolved murder cases in each country by communicating with the deceased victims.


Each episode included detailed reenactments of the events leading up to the murder and the murder itself. Sections of these reenactments are then shown throughout the episode to refresh the viewer's memory of the events.

The producers state that the psychics are given no information about the case other than a photo, which some psychics prefer to keep face-down (The idea being that the less information they have, the better their supernormal abilities function). Other psychics choose to look at the photograph. To demonstrate their abilities, the psychics relay their impressions about the case/person which may match details in the case file.

The psychics are then asked to provide any extra information they can using their psychic abilities.

The show's private detective hosts the next section, in which he is asked to try to investigate any new leads suggested by the psychics and sometimes talk to the families of the deceased.

Format origin

The program format was developed by Danish Nordisk Film TV[1] and has been sold to many countries. In 2004 Granada Entertainment bought the US rights.[2]

The psychics

The show's producers claimed that before each series they tested 70-75 psychics and mediums in New Zealand and Australia with a case that had already been solved. (As claimed during each aired episode.) The most accurate psychics were then shortlisted from which the producers chose two or three of them to attempt to contact the spirits of the murder victims and to get impressions helpful to describe the victim, their circumstances around the murder, and the details of their death (as stated by the featured psychics during each episode). The three that were most often chosen (for all the episodes to date) are:

Producer David Baldock has rejected a paranormal challenge on behalf of the psychics, but does propose possible further tests of the psychics if the Sensing Murder show airs a third series in New Zealand.[3]

The Unsolved Cases (NZ/AU)

Season 1 (2006)

# Title Original air date
01 "The Patient Killer"[4] 10 January 2006
In 1976, thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Tracey Ann Patient was plucked off Auckland's Great North Road. The following morning, her body was found dumped 16 km away in the Waitakere Ranges, having been strangled with a pantyhose tourniquet. Deb Webber and Sue Nicholson investigate.
02 "Cruel Intent"[5] 17 January 2006
The psychics investigate the unsolved kidnapping of Sharon Wills and Nicola Lynas, and the kidnapping/murder of Karmein Chan.
03 "Walk of Innocence"[6][7] 24 January 2006
In 1970, eighteen-year-old Olive Walker disappeared as she walked across Rotorua to babysit her nieces and nephews. Her semi-naked body was found hours later in a rest area south of the city, having been bashed to death so fiercely that her skull had been smashed into seven pieces. Deb Webber and Adelle Dishcombe investigate.
04 "Lost Soul"[8] 31 January 2006
In 1985, 25-year-old Luana 'La Verne' Williams disappeared from her Tauranga home. Eight years later her disappearance was upgraded to a murder enquiry. Her body has never been found. Sue Nicholson, Scott Russell Hill, and Kelvin Cruickshank investigate.
05 "A Bump In The Night"[9] 4 April 2006
In 1980, six-year-old Alicia O'Reilly was raped and murdered in her bed, while her sister slept less than a metre away and her mother was sleeping across the hallway. Kelvin Cruickshank and Deb Webber investigate.
06 "A Mother's Instinct"[10] 11 April 2006
In 1974, Lorraine Wilson and Wendy Evans set out from Brisbane to hitchhike to Goondiwindi. Their remains were found 2 years later in bush at Murphy's Creek, near the foothills of the Toowoomba Ranges.
07 "Fallen Angel"[11] 18 April 2006
In 1995, Angela Blackmore, a twenty-one-year-old mother with a two-year-old son, was murdered in the kitchen of her home, being stabbed thirty-nine times. The child was not harmed and the killer has never been identified.
08 "The Scarlet Letter"[12] 25 April 2006
In 1986, Elizabeth Barnard was found dead at her parent’s property at Phillip Island. The alleged killer Vivienne Cameron disappeared without a trace on the same night and her deserted car was found near the San Remo Bridge on the island. After an extensive three day land and sea search, Vivienne’s body was never found.
09 "Blood Money"[13] 2 May 2006
In 1979, a 94-year-old man named George Engelbrecht, was brutally beaten to death in his home in Lower Hutt. Kelvin Cruickshank and Deb Webber investigate.
10 "The Last Train Home"[14] 9 May 2006
In 1990, 23-year-old Sarah MacDiarmid caught a train from Richmond to Kananook station. She got off the train about 10.20pm and has not been seen since. The psychics investigate to find out what happened.
11 "Almost Perfect"[15] 30 May 2006
This episode deals with the case of Elmer Crawford. He appeared to be an average family man, but then in 1970, he murdered his pregnant wife and three children, with no apparent motive. Psychics Deb Webber and Barbara Neilson are able to shed some light on this incident.
12 "The Last Goodbye"[16] 6 June 2006
This episode deals with the case of Catherine Headland. The 14-year-old disappeared in the early 1980s along with five other women, whose bodies were eventually found in the Australian Outback. Police believe the offender is a lone serial killer but despite their best efforts, their killer has never been found and brought to justice. Psychics Deb Webber and Scott Russell Hill are asked to shed some light on this incident.

Season 2 (2007)

  • (4 September 2007) Episode 1(#12): Sensing Murder: Insight
  • (11 September 2007) Episode 2(#13): In Too Deep...Aaron Hopa[17]
  • (18 September 2007) Episode 3(#14): The Girl In The Ditch...Agnes Ali'iva'a[18]
  • (25 September 2007) Episode 4(#15): Last Orders...Kevin O'Loughlin[19]
  • (2 October 2007) Episode 5(#16): Taken For A Ride...Simon Buis[20]
  • (9 October 2007 Episode 6(#17): Lost For Words...Jayne Furlong[21]
    • Unsolved disappearance of 17-year-old prostitute worker Jayne Furlong. On 20 June 2012, police confirmed that they have found her body at Port Waikato.[22]
  • (16 October 2007) Episode 7(#18): A Mother's Worst Nightmare...Amber-Lee Cruickshank[23]
  • (23 October 2007) Episode 8(#19): Long Way Home...Judy Yorke[24]
    • Unsolved disappearance of 25yr old Judy Yorke
  • (30 October 2007) Episode 9(#20): The Great Pretender...Garth Doull
  • (6 November 2007) Episode 10(#21): Into Thin Air...Jim Donnelly
  • (13 November 2007) Episode 11(#22)(Season Finale): Sensing Murder: Psychics Revealed
    • Special about the lives of psychics Deb Webber, Kelvin Cruickshank, Sue Nicholson and Scott Russell Hill

From 20 November until 12 December 2007 5 episodes from season 1 were replayed.

Season 3 (2008)

  • (8 July 2008) Episode 1(#23): Where There's Smoke....Blake Stott
  • (15 July 2008) Episode 2(#24): Now You See Me....Alexa Cullen
    • When Alexa Cullen disappears from her Manaia home in 1995, police initially treated her disappearance as a missing persons case. However, three years later, Alexa's sister heard rumours that a family member had something to do with the deaf woman's disappearance. Was Alexa murdered or did she just vanish?
  • (22 July 2008) Episode 3(#25): Vanishing Point....Sara Niethe

From 29 July until 26 August 2008 4 episodes from Season 2 were replayed

  • (2 September 2008) Episode 4(#26): Without Warning....Regan O'Donoghue
    • Unsolved, June 2007 hit and run death. Notably, a police detective sat in on the psychics readings.
  • (9 September 2008) Episode 5(#27)(Season Finale): When The Trail Goes Cold....Kaye Stewart
    • Disappeared in June 2005. Notably, the psychics readings were conducted by the head of the Lower Hutt CIB.

Season 4 (2010)

The new season was announced. The psychics will look into five mysterious cases from between 1977-2008.

  • (11 February 2010) Episode 1(#28): Looking For Justice...Lesley Calvert[25]
    • Murdered in 1977. Notably, it was the first time a lead suspect in a case asked for the case to be looked at.
  • (18 February 2010) Episode 2 (#29): Stone Cold...Brendan Percy[26]
  • (25 February 2010) Episode 3 (#30): Seeking Siegfried - Siegfried Newman[27]
    • Supposedly died via a fall while in bushland area in 2008. Notably, the episode aired on 25 February, exactly two years after he went missing in 2008.
  • (4 March 2010) Episode 4 (#31): Lie Of The Land...Jason Dark
  • (11 March 2010) Episode 5 (#32): Where's Granddad? - Allan Woodford [28]
    • Season Finale

Awards and nominations

  • 2006 Qantas Media Awards
    • WINNER:Best Director, Non-Drama
    • WINNER:Best Reality Format
  • 2008 Qantas Television and Film Awards
    • WINNER:Best Format-Reality Series


  • Sensing Murder (released in 2008)
  • Walking in Light, autobiography of Kelvin Cruickshank (released in March 2009)

Production difficulties

The Australian series of Sensing Murder also suffered numerous setbacks including a budget overrun which threatened to bankrupt the producer Rhonda Byrne. [29]

Case developments

The murder of George Engelbrecht was profiled in Season 1, the episode concluding with a shot of Engelbrecht's unmarked grave. The story caused a big public response, and the local community, Glover Memorial and JR Croft Funeral Directors together decided to organize a tribute. On 5 July 2006 there was a public unveiling of a headstone for Engelbrecht.[30]

It was reported during the first episode of Season 2 (entitled, Sensing Murder: Insight) that after the episode about Luana Williams screened, Sue Nicholson received a threatening phonecall from an unknown male claiming to know where Luana's missing remains are located. A detective on the case also received a call from someone claiming to have information in regards to the case.

The Australian series was filmed between 2003–2004, and all the cases are still unsolved. Recent episodes in New Zealand have generated unsubstantiated leads, however, the episode that screened on 16 Oct 2007 on TV2 in New Zealand claims to have identified the particular killer and the case has since been reopened by Police.


Sensing Murder was based on a Danish television programme Fornemmelse for mord which is on record as having failed to produce any results. [31]

Television New Zealand was criticized after the network used their Breakfast show to cross-promote the show, with vague claims about the whereabouts of disappearing toddler Aisling Symes.[32]

On 20 June 2012, the New Zealand Police confirmed that a recent discovery of a body at a beach in Port Waikato (90 km from Auckland), was that of Jane Furlong. Furlong's case had previously been featured during the second season of the Sensing Murder series in 2007.[22] The New Zealand Skeptics claim that it is evidence that the TV psychics were incorrect about the location of Furlong's body. Since they had claimed in the episode that she was located either in the Auckland Domain or on a demolition site inside Auckland.[33]


  1. "Sensing Murder an Export Success". 17 May 2002. Archived from the original on 1 March 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2009. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "COMMISSIONS - SENSING MURDER OPTIONED FOR US MARKET". 26 April 2004. Retrieved 23 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Sensing Murder Responds to $2 million Paranormal Challenge'". NZ Reality TV. Retrieved 5 October 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  4. Sensing Murder: The Patient Killer -
  5. Sensing Murder: Cruel Intent -
  6. Sensing Murder: Olive Walker -
  7. [1]
  8. Sensing Murder: Lost Soul -
  9. Sensing Murder: A Bump in the Night -
  10. Sensing Murder: A Mother's Instinct -
  11. Sensing Murder: Fallen Angel -
  12. Sensing Murder: The Scarlet Letter -
  13. Sensing Murder: Blood Money -
  14. Sensing Murder: The Last Train Home -
  15. Sensing Murder: Almost Perfect -
  16. [2]
  17. Sensing Murder: In Too Deep -
  18. Sensing Murder: Girl in the Ditch -
  19. Sensing Murder: Last Orders -
  20. Sensing Murder: Taken for a Ride -
  21. Sensing Murder: Lost For Words -
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Police reveal mystery skeleton's identity". 20 June 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Sensing Murder: A Mother's Worst Nightmare -
  24. Sensing Murder: Long Way Home -
  25. Keith, Leighton (18 February 2010). "Police reopen cold case". Taranaki Daily News. Retrieved 8 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Hopes TV show will shed light on mystery death". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 11 February 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Police revisit missing father case". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 8 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Morgan, Jared (23 February 2009). "TV show takes on case of missing man". The Southland Times. Retrieved 8 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Decoding 'The Secret'". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 10 May 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. "Aftonbladet report - Sensing Murder". SWIFT Newsletter. Retrieved 21 May 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Nippert, Matt (11 October 2009). "TV psychic row breaks out as police search for missing girl". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 8 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "TV psychics 'exploited' Furlong – NZ Skeptics". Retrieved 30 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links