Documentary filmmaker investigates Rainbow Murders

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) The murder of two young women in the summer of 1980 rocked Pocahontas County, West Virginia.

Today, the crime, known as the Rainbow Murders, continues to raise questions, and a documentary filmmaker with ties to the area is investigating the case.

Julia Huffman is in Roanoke for an event Saturday night at Mill Mountain Theatre.

She's screening her first feature-length project, 'Medicine of the Wolf,' but she is also showing a trailer for her next production, a fresh look at the Rainbow Murders.

"I was twelve years old at the time, and you know this murder affected me deeply," Huffman told us, "as it did, of course the family members and our community at large."

Huffman grew up in Pocahontas County, and she describes it as an understatement to say she was haunted by the murders of Nancy Santomero and Vicki Durian, two young women who were hitchhiking to a West Virginia gathering of the Rainbow Family in June 1980.

More than a dozen years after the murders, seven men were charged in the case and one man, Jacob Beard, was convicted. He eventually won a new trial and was found not guilty.

Huffman first began working on the project in 1999, but put it aside for ten years.

Now, she says she's determined to complete the film for the community where she grew up, and for the two young women who were murdered.

"I wake up at night thinking about them," Huffman said in an interview Friday afternoon. "I have for years. and I do feel a responsibility to do my best to shine a light on this case and hopefully in one way or another find justice for Nancy and Vicki."

Huffman will be joined by Gill Harrington and Jane Lillian Vance of the group, Help Save the Next Girl.

The event is Saturday night from 7 to 9:30 at Mill Mountain Theatre inside Center in the Square.