Fans of David Lynch’s bizarre and immensely popular TV series know that show — follows the investigation, headed by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, played so well by Kyle MacLachlan into the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer. But did you know that Laura’s fictional murder was based on the true-crime murder of a girl named Hazel Drew?
In 1908, a young woman named Hazel Drew was found dead and beaten to death in a pond in Sand Lake, New York. The domestic servant’s killer was never found, and rumors about the case soon started spreading. In the new book “Murder at Teal’s Pond: Hazel Drew, and the Mystery That Inspired Twin Peaks,” authors David Bushman and Mark T. Givens try to build a portrait of who Hazel Drew was and why she was killed, as well as the ghost stories, theories, and gossip that circulated after Drew’s killing, which ultimately inspired “Twin Peaks.”
Mark Frost, co-creator of “Twin Peaks, said a murder of a woman named Hazel Gray was “an influence” for the series, but he had really heard it more as a “ghost story from his grandmother,” Givens explained. A New York murder victim named Hazel Gray seemingly didn’t exist — but after painstaking research, he realized the victim Frost was speaking about was actually Hazel Drew.
In a 2013 interview Frost said, “I’d heard stories about (Hazel) all through growing up because she supposedly haunted this area of the lake” “so that’s kind of where Laura came from”
“It was the notion of this body being found on the edge of the water, the mystery remaining unsolved, the multiple suspects and the kind of cross-cultural and different social classes of people she interacted with” “It really struck my fancy.”
Though separated by almost 100 years, Hazel Drew and Laura Palmer were connected by their secret romances and reported wild sex orgies. Portrayed by friends and family as model citizens, both were betrayed by writings found after their death.
While the new book focuses on Hazel Drew’s murder, it also examines the way society’s structure at the time may have hampered her investigation.
“We were following a murder mystery trying to get to the heart of it, but we couldn’t ignore the aspects of how things would have been treated then. If the investigation had been going on today, I do not think it would have been discarded so easily. But because she was a woman and because she was poor, because powerful men wanted to discard it, her murder went unsolved and remains so to this day,” Givens explained, with Bushman emphasizing that because all the investigators and the reporters covering the case were male, the “image of Hazel was being filtered by the male gaze.”
“There is no doubt in my mind if Hazel been a man of wealth, it would not have been an unsolved murder,” Bushman concluded.