One of the most fascinating murder cases in history is examined in "The Perfect Crime," the second episode of the new true crime series "Behind Mansion Walls" (9 p.m. June 13, Investigation Discovery; ** out of four).
"The Perfect Crime" looks at two murders committed by children of rich families, including the famous 1924 Chicago case of Leopold and Loeb.
In "An Experiment with Murder," we see how wealthy University of Chicago students Nathan Leopold, Jr. and Richard Loeb, bored and feeling intellectually superior, believe they can get away with murder. They test that theory by kidnapping and killing 14-year-old Bobby Franks. But the crime is far from perfect, even if it is chillingly cold-blooded.
"The Evil Son" opens this episode. It looks at the 1992 shootings of Dale Ewell, his wife and daughter in their Fresno, Calif., home. A son, Dana, is not home and immediately becomes a suspect. But it takes dogged detectives three years to break his airtight alibi, finding his connection to a struggling college student they believe was the man who pulled the trigger.
Like many "true crime" series, this one uses reenactments, interviews with "experts" and breathless dialogue to spin theses tales of murder and investigation. It's more interested in sensationalizing the stories than creating detailed accounts of the cases or delving too deeply into the motivations and minds of the killers.
It gets most tawdry, however, when host Christopher Mason butts in with his over-the-top cutaways.
"But behind mansions walls, what is murder to you and me, can be just a parlor game," he says during the Leopold and Loeb part of this episode. "The cops have no idea that they're being played for fools. That a killer is toying with them."
Mason adds nothing to the stories, except to make you doubt how accurate any of the reporting you've seen is.
Review: 'Behind Mansion Walls' looks at infamous Chicago murder
Actors play infamous Chicago murderers Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. (ID)