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Echoes in the Darkness (1987)


Produced by Jack Grossbart and Glenn Jordan

Directed by Glenn Jordan

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This made-for-TV movie was based on the true story of the grisly 1979 murder of Pennsylvania high school teacher Susan Reinert (played by Stockard Channing) and her two children. The case represented one of the largest homicide investigations in history, lasting seven years.

The screenplay was written by Joseph Waumbaugh who had also written a book of the same title - and turned out to be a key influencer in the case. Jay Smith's conviction was later overturned because of police and prosecutorial misconduct in the case. The Chief Investigator with the Pennsylvania State Police, John Holtz, admitted to accepting $50,000 from the Echoes in the Darkness author, with the exchange of money conditional on suspect Jay Smith being arrested. For more details about this nefarious plot, see this blog post by our former Curatorial Assistant, Ben Mitchell: Echoes of Echoes in the Darkness.

Filming on the Lakeshore Grounds

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The interiors of the cottages were transformed for the purpose of the mini-series into a mixture of spaces: a nursery school, a police station, school classrooms, and hospital rooms. Echoes in the Darkness had a carpentry crew who transformed the rooms dramatically: adding walls to create smaller spaces or building entire sets within the open rooms.

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