Will the “Cold Valley” Murders Finally Be Solved? [Exclusive]
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
I don’t know about you, but I can barely wait to see the conclusion of this 2-part series. I did not get to screen the finale, so I have as many questions as you do. Do Detective Jackie Nichols and Gloria Bobertz find more pieces to this puzzle? Is there new (or old) evidence that will point us in the direction of the killer? Do they officially name a suspect and does he become more than just a “Person of Interest?” Will these families finally get justice? Or at least some peace of mind? How about the investigators, law enforcement or the press? Will these mysteries finally be solved?
Before you tune in, check out part 2 of my exclusive Q&A with producers Paul Kilback and Ron Simon. We go into quite a bit more depth about part 1 of Cold Valley, what to expect in part 2, why true crime stories like this are so engrossing and more.
TV GOODNESS: Did you have an idea of how you wanted to present all the facts? Did that change as you started talking to people?
Ron Simon: “We worked as a team on this. Paul did a lot of the tough legwork of laying things out, then the two of us sound-boarded most out.”
Paul Kilback: “The story evolved in a number of ways. We have an idea of the backstory. We have, from information from Jackie, what kind of investigations she wants to pursue. It’s a real life, real time documentary. We don’t know what she’s going to find in any given investigation.
From a storytelling point of view, we had to keep adjusting as new information comes. You hear something in an interview someone says and that changes the story.
We had a rough plan going forward. What do we know? What can we do? What do we hope to figure out? I think about some of the original proposals we sent to Ron. So much of that changed from the end.
The first part of the show is very similar to what we pitched, because it’s the exploration into the backstory of the cases. When you get into the second episode, which is the investigation, that stuff changed quite radically based on the things we learned.
Also, just the whole process of telling a story like this, I think, for us here at Saloon, this is a very different kind of show that none of us has ever really done before. So we worked our way through it, trying to figure out the best way to tell a story.
It’s been challenging, but it’s definitely dynamic. That’s what also is intriguing about working on it.”
Simon: “We had so many ideas. The initial layout had tons of scenes — Jackie wants to go do this, Jackie wants to go do that.
We see in episode , she chases down the farm where Christina White’s homework was found. She goes back there to chase another lead. That’s great. There’s about twenty other leads that Paul filmed that aren’t in the show.
Jackie’s goal in this whole thing, going into it, was ‘I’m going to chase every single one down.’ That’s the key for an investigator. We were along for the ride. We weren’t dictating in any way what she was doing with her investigation. It was her investigation that was dictating our story.”
TV GOODNESS: You have to use “Person of Interest” for the suspect for legal reasons, but if there wasn’t a legal reason, do you think you would’ve named him?
Simon: “It was a legal reason, because he was never officially charged. The police have never actually named him as a suspect. His name has been mentioned, but that doesn’t give us the right to do it.
When you learn this as a filmmaker, Paul and I, always talked about steering into the curve. We thought, what are ways that we can leverage this in the telling of our program, the fact that we can’t say his name? We certainly had willing people who would’ve gone on camera and people that did go on camera and say his name.
It wasn’t about not being able to find people who were willing to say it. Because we knew we couldn’t say it, what’s the best way that we could tell this story and use that to our advantage? It creates a mystery and some anxious moments.
When you get Crystal Glass-Hicks’ story of running into this perpetrator, this POI, she ran into him in the woods. Everybody in town knows this story. The people there know his name fairly well.”
Kilback: That’s part of the intrigue of the show. All the storytelling and investigation and evidence is laid out by the show, by the different contributors. How come they can’t get him? These two episodes are just a chapter in the bigger story. The story is not done by any means. There’s investigating going on still.
I do believe, and so does Jackie and a lot of the other people involved, this will be resolved. Eventually, I believe, he will be named. There will be some resolution to it. Mainly as part of it, it’s an ongoing story continues. It started off that way. It continues to be that way. That’s an exciting part of it.”
TV GOODNESS: Paul, as a field producer, you’re boots on the ground. But what are you responsible for in your job and what was the most challenging part of this story?
Kilback: “That’s a huge question. [Laughs.] I mean a field producer’s probably not the right thing. I’m the series producer and the director.
I do produce it in the field, but I produce it here too. It’s one big, encompassing thing from conception to finish. That’s the whole job. Producing in the field is challenging in a lot of ways. You usually know what you’re going to get. You have an idea what the beginning, the middle, and the end is. In this case, you don’t. You have to be really good to roll with punches. You don’t know what you’re going to find. You don’t know what’s going to be said. You don’t know how people are going to react.
The challenge is always being able to have a good solid plan and then when everything changes — because it always does — you need to be able to roll with it and figure out how to continue the storytelling and not get stymied by something that’s unexpected, because the whole show is unexpected.
We don’t know what Jackie’s going to find. We don’t know what a different person’s going to say or reveal. You have to constantly be hyper-vigilant to what you’re being told and what you’re seeing and learning and then figuring out.
It’s improvisation to a lot of extent, but structured improvisation.”
TV GOODNESS: I’m sure there’s so much that ended up on the cutting room floor. Was there something that you were particularly loathe to lose?
Simon: “It’s funny. There’s so many times that we would sit together and we would take a scene out and fight over. ‘If we take this out, we’re never going to find a place to put it back in.’ Two hours later, we’re like, ‘Oh look. We can put it in over here.’ A lot of the best stuff is there, but could Paul have made a six hour doc with the stuff he shot? I think he could have.”
Kilback: “Everybody has stuff that’s great that you want to put in, but you run out of runway at a certain point.”
Simon: “I was the one who had to make the tough decisions.” [Laughs.]
Kilback: “I knew at the time it wouldn’t go in the show, but I tried. Kirk White, who is Christina White’s brother. She is the first story that we talk about in episode 1 of the young girl that went missing, and still hasn’t been found to this day.
He was telling us a story about how many, many years after, I think probably seven, eight years after, maybe a few more, after she had disappeared, he tells a story about this encounter that he had at a gas station, where this woman came over to him, who would’ve been the same age as Christina would’ve been if she was still around. Came over and just looked at him, touched him on the arm and then just walked away.
He said, ‘When does that ever happen to you?’ It’s almost like, it’s what I call a ghost story. He talks about it, he believes that that was his sister, or could’ve been his sister, or was a message. I don’t know what he believes, but I have goosebumps even retelling it and I’m doing a really bad job with it.
That’s the kind of thing that is a great little piece of story, those personal in-depth details that they don’t always fit into the show, but I always remember ones like that. They’re very powerful.”
TV GOODNESS: I just got goosebumps too. And, finally, why do you think people like True Crime and stories like this?
Simon: “If you’re a True Crime fan, in this day and age, where you have the Golden State killer and all these other serial killers. They’re being brought to justice after years of getting away with these horrific crimes.
This is another case. This is another shot here, where we could bring to justice somebody who needs to be brought to justice. These victims, they need resolution. The families need the resolution. We owe it to them.
Now that technology is there. It’s not just DNA testing, which may, in the end, work in this case as well as it has so many others in recent times. It could be information from somebody watching this show and they know something and they come forward.
If the show’s not out there, people aren’t going to come forward. They’re not going to feel safe or be in a place and time that jars the memory that the phone call to Jackie will then lead to the evidence that does prove either the POI or somebody else is responsible for these crimes.
Going back to the question then, why watch it? The true crime fan is looking for these cases. They know they’re out there, ones that previously were probably impossible to solve are now solvable and they want to be a part of it, they want to be a part of that journey.”
Kilback: “I mean it’s in the text that we have in the series title sequence. At the top, you’ve got five victims and three cold cases. This is the one last chance for justice. It’s time to solve this. I think the show may have a chance of helping that. That’s why people should watch it.”
Edited for space and content.
Part 2 of Cold Valley premiered on ID. Click here to read Part 1 of my exclusive Q&A.
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