72 Hours: True Crime (2003 – 2007)
This riveting series uses a powerful blend of documentary and dramatic re-enactments to investigate true crime mysteries from across Canada and the USA.
The series premiered on CBC (in English) and Canal D (in French). It was broadcast on TLC in the US, Bold, CourtTV, ichannel, and National Geographic Channel Canada, and on networks around the world.
On Vimeo, you can watch 9 of our favourite episodes on demand.
In 2005 and 2007, 72 Hours: True Crime was awarded World Medals for docudrama at the New York Festivals.
Every detective knows that the first 72 hours after a crime are crucial to solving it.
Through an original cinematic blend of potent documentary footage and dramatic re-enactments, each episode focuses on one unforgettable case, featuring on-camera participation of the detectives and forensic scientists who worked on it. Murder, assault, robbery, hijacking, bombing, arson – the stories go behind the headlines to reveal the amazing technologies, clever techniques and penetrating insights that solved the crimes.
Episode 101: Burning Obsession
An East Indian Sikh is lured to his death, but diligent detective work and DNA nails a killer who thought he had gotten away with murder.
Episode 102: Who Killed Santa?
The brutal murder of a homeless man that people called Santa Claus is solved thanks to the determination of investigators and forensic scientists.
Episode 103: Angel of Death
After the death rate in an Indiana intensive care unit skyrockets, an astute nurse and a team of detectives discover that an apparent angel of mercy is really an angel of death.
Episode 104: The Ghost
A cunning arsonist terrifies a small farming community and stays one step ahead of the police until behavioural profiling helps detectives zero in on an unlikely suspect.
Episode 105: Loch Ness
A sexual predator in Meadowvale Ontario is caught thanks to the forensic science of behavioural and geographic profiling.
Episode 106: Mad Bomber
A Prince Edward Island community is terrorized by a serial bomber who eludes capture for eight years until forensic document analysis helps secure a conviction.
Episode 107: Double Cross
The investigation of the murder of a shady Montreal businessman takes detectives into the lurid underworld of drug dealers, con men, and crooked lawyers.
Episode 108: Hijacked
In 1971, a New Yorker boarded a Toronto-bound DC9 in Thunder Bay Ontario and hijacked it to Havana Cuba. After going cold for thirty years, the case is finally solved by a fluke of modern technology.
Episode 109: Six Feet Under
In the suburban outskirts of Toronto in the early summer of 1996, a man leaves home for a business trip. He doesn’t return. Fearing foul play, his desperate wife reports her husband’s disappearance to the police.
Episode 110: Nightmare
Every woman’s worst nightmare: a sexual predator attacks women in the safety of their own apartments while they are sleeping.
Episode 111: The Saint
When a woman is assaulted in a Halifax fraternity house, the perpetrator is apprehended, revealing a sinister trail of crime and violence.
Episode 112: Danger in the Woods
Three teenagers accompany a Winnipeg deliveryman to a densely wooded area for a drinking party that turns into a nightmare.
Episode 113: Hate Crime
A young Orthodox Jewish man from Toronto is in Pittsburgh to celebrate Passover with family when he is gunned down simply because of the way he is dressed.
Episode 114: Hostage
An armoured car is robbed at gunpoint in Winnipeg Manitoba. Police believe the same man is responsible for a series of robberies that date back several years, all having taken place during the Christmas season.
Episode 115: Secret Life
In Calgary Alberta, a beautiful Ethiopian woman is found brutally strangled. The victim’s husband seems genuinely distraught over his wife’s death, but there is something strangely suspicious about him.
Episode 116: Flying Bandit
An American becomes one of Canada’s most prolific jewellery bandits, robbing stores from Toronto to Vancouver, until a police investigation tracks him down.
Episode 117: Cold Hit
A troubled mother is found raped and murdered in Toronto. All possible suspects are eliminated and the case goes cold for three years, until a nine-year-old girl is brutally raped and there is a DNA match.
Episode 118: Kidnapped
A wealthy Asian girl is kidnapped in Vancouver. When the kidnappers use the girl’s cell phone, police are able to track their movements and make an arrest.
Episode 119: Lone Wolf
A pair of vicious murders shock two farming communities outside of Toronto, but after a lengthy investigation, the crimes go unsolved. Twenty-eight years later an astute veteran detective stumbles across damning evidence that leads to an arrest.
Episode 120: The Game
When a lonely man calls a Houston dating service, he gets more than he bargained for. As he answers the door, he is met at gunpoint and robbed by his “dates”. The women, dubbed “Thelma & Louise”, flee to Canada.
Episode 201: Betrayed
19-year-old Greg Parsons is convicted of brutally murdering his mother based primarily on the audio tape of a song he’d written called “Kill your Parents”. After three years in prison, Parsons is released when DNA exonerates him and points to a friend of his who had given police the audio tape and turned out to be the real killer.
Episode 202: The Hustler
In Whistler B.C., a winter wonderland for the rich and trendy, three people meet: the son of a wealthy Frenchman, a Vancouver businessman looking for investors, and a real estate agent trying to sell a mountainside estate. Unbeknownst to the other two, one of them is a notorious international con man.
Episode 203: Fat Bandit
A string of bank robberies in Winnipeg confound local police. Most bank-robbers are strung out addicts – usually quite thin. But in this case the perpetrator behind the bank robbing spree is fat. When he next strikes he further confuses police by changing locales to hit a bank in Vancouver. After employing a dragnet and nabbing their man, police are shocked to discover who they’ve caught. The real mystery, it seems, is just beginning.
Episode 204: Head in a Bucket
A woman tells a friend that she was a passenger in a car where she discovered a guy’s head in a bucket. The friend gets in touch with police. But under questioning the woman retracts her story. As police dig deeper, they discover a sordid tale of power and intrigue.
Episode 205: Murder on Campus
Over the Christmas holidays, the bizarre murder of a world-renowned anthropologist shocks staff and students at the university where she teaches. Police get reports that a stranger described as a female Hulk was seen shortly before the murder. In a case that’s stranger than fiction, it turns out that the murderer is not who she appears to be.
Episode 206: The Great Despisers
A 19-year-old man comes home one night to discover that his father, mother and autistic sister have all been savagely murdered. Could the killer have been motivated by a $500,000 insurance policy and a movie called The Great Despisers?
Episode 207: Vanished
For the first time in thirty years, a beloved small town public school teacher fails to arrive for work, leaving an empty home and a baffled community. She seems to have vanished without a trace. The few available clues – a missing chair, a small trace of blood on the floor – fail to shed light on the mystery, until police turn their attention to a neighbour with a peculiar interest in the case, who just happens to work at a landfill site.
Episode 208: Bitter Truth
The curiosity of an insurance claims investigator, piqued by suspicious circumstances surrounding a young Sikh man’s death, leads to a trail of deceit, bigamy and murder. Police detectives follow the evidence to India, and discover that a massive killing spree can be traced back to one small, bitter pill.
Episode 209: Faith Healer
A trucker stopping at a roadside rest station discovers the fully clothed body of an East Indian woman in the woods. An autopsy reveals that she has been strangled, that she has an unusually high level of sedatives in her bloodstream, and that there are mysterious burn marks on her skin. Police eventually discover she is the beloved wife of a revered East Indian faith healer and the circumstances of her death are beyond bizarre.
Episode 210: The Violinist
Surgically clean body parts start turning up on a highway. Stranger still, they have been drained of every drop of blood. Using a unique forensic technique that takes footprint impressions from the inside of shoes, police are able to connect the body parts to a missing twenty-two-year-old violinist. Suspicion for the slaying falls on her ex-boyfriend and her new paramour, a college professor.
Episode 211: Jeweler’s Wife
The wife of a successful jeweler is found in their home – stripped naked and beaten to death. The jeweler immediately falls under suspicion, but he’s not alone. For the past year, the couple had been overseeing expensive house renovations, so hundreds of people had access to their home before the murder. The horrible crime has a multitude of potential suspects. But the jeweler’s wife had not been a passive victim. She had fought back. And under her fingernails is the DNA that leads detectives to her killer.
Episode 212: Thrill Kill
When a senior citizen dies on a city street, it looks like a typical hit-and-run. But when the authorities investigate further, they begin to realize that the culprit is a thrill-seeking psychopath who is intentionally out to kill.
Episode 213: Monster of Miramichi
When firemen are called to a house fire they discover two sisters – one dead and the other at death’s door. Detectives learn that a man sneaked into the home late at night and brutally sexually assaulted the sisters before setting the place on fire. The attacker’s face was covered with a balaclava and he was seen to have a chain around his waist that could be prison shackles. So begins one of the most gruesome and sadistic murder sprees in Canadian history.
Episode 301: Frenzy
Three bodies are found in a house, arms tied behind their backs. Stab wounds to the neck. Bloody footprints in the upstairs hall. These are the clues to a killing spree that left a young woman, her boyfriend, and an elderly church deacon dead. When church congregants suggest a mentally disturbed youth from their bible class could be the culprit, police believe they have their man. But the police are wrong. And a frenzied killer is still on the loose.
Episode 302: Pointing to Murder
A withered corpse is found half buried in a field beside a theme park. Most of the body is too decomposed for identification. Detectives have only the leathery fingers of one hand to work with. When they manage to get a print, they identify a missing wife and mother. The husband casts blame on his wife’s conman lover. The lover blames the husband. One of them is lying. The other is a murderer.
Episode 303: The Good Doctor
In a small town in Saskatchewan, a young single mother tells the police she has been raped. She says it happened when she visited her local hospital in the midst of a panic attack. Her doctor sedated her. Then he raped her. But she’s a party girl and her doctor is a respected citizen. No one believes the woman – especially after a determination that the doctor’s DNA doesn’t match a sample from her underwear. But she stands by her story. And the accused has not one, but two horrible secrets to reveal.
Episode 304: Sweet Killer
An aging hippy is going through bad times. His wife has left him for a lesbian lover and has taken their kids. His cancer, once in remission, has seemingly returned. When he’s found dead in his home with a gut full of antifreeze – “the sweet killer” – it seems likely that he found an escape in suicide. The case is closed until a shocking confession reveals a maelstrom of lies and a tale of coldblooded murder.
Episode 305: The Stranger
Stuck at home and bored, a retiree takes a job at a 24-hour convenience store. On her third night at work a customer finds her on the floor behind the cash register, face down in a pool of blood. Detectives believe that her last customer was also her killer. Only two witnesses saw that customer. And in a town where everyone knows everyone else, he was a stranger. Find the stranger, find the killer. But how do you find someone who’s defining characteristic is that no one knows who they are?
Episode 306: Hunted
A Toronto real estate broker fails to return home at the end of the day. Her family can’t find her. But the police do – dead in a utility closet in her downtown office. The DNA found on her body is tested against 150 different men. No match. The case goes cold. But then an office employee suggests police investigate a former maintenance worker who has slipped under the radar. The worker is familiar with the building but was fired due to a troubling history of violence.
Episode 307: Predator
The phone rings in the middle of the night. On the other end of the line… the awful sounds violence. The couple that received the call rush to its source and discover a horrific scene. Two teenage sisters, recently arrived from Taiwan to study English, have been viciously attacked in their basement apartment. One is dead while the other clings to life. And hiding not far away is a merciless killer, bound to strike again.
Episode 308: Evil Eyes
A dead woman is found in a park. When her body is identified investigators learn she is the recently divorced landlady of a group home for transients. The list of suspects is long. The clues are few. All the only potential witness can recall is something she saw near the crime scene on the night the body was found: a car driving erratically with a passenger in the backseat – a passenger who stared through the windows with “Crazy eyes. Evil eyes.”
Episode 309: Lust
One cold February morning in the dark stairwell of a Toronto apartment building, a security guard makes a horrible discovery: the dead body of a Filipina nanny. It’s clear she’s been savagely murdered and raped. Police analyze a list of potential suspects: her boyfriend, her employer, and several serial offenders in the community. But the crime remains unsolved until detectives uncover an individual, unknown to the victim, who is driven by a terrible, murderous lust for blood.
Episode 310: Model Killer
A gorgeous young model is bludgeoned to death in her downtown Toronto apartment. The wounds to her head are so severe that police initially presume she’s been shot. Evidence at the scene suggests that the murderer gained access by posing as a telephone repairman. That deception turns out to be only one aspect of the killer’s grotesque hunting tactics – a complex plot to locate, isolate and murder beautiful women. Now police must launch a hunt of their own.
Episode 311: Dead End
A young couple hit the road, hitchhiking their way across North America. They’re free spirits keen to explore life and the world. When the young woman stops phoning home, her father becomes alarmed. But police dismiss the case as normal behaviour for a pair of young travelers. If only it were so. If only the pair hadn’t hitched a ride with a violent social outcast living with his brother on the edge of town. If only the pair were still alive.
Episode 312: Bull’s Eye
A Girl Guide leader is found dead in her home on the floor of her bedroom. As there is no obvious cause of death, police are suspicious. When an autopsy reveals a small bullet lodged within the victim’s brain with an entry wound through the left eye, detectives realize they’re investigating a murder. The suspects include a lying husband and a violent and abusive son, both of whom are members of a local gun club. Each man blames the other, and detectives must solve the mystery piece by piece, starting with a love letter found in the bottom of a drawer.
72 Hours is coproduced by Kensington Communications, Creative Anarchy and Meech-Grant Productions
Executive Producer/Series Producer
Directors of Photography
Produced in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canal D and The Learning Channel