The investigative work of two Lantern journalists–one who helped free a man wrongly convicted of murder in 1975, and the other who helped solve the cold case murder 40 years later–stands front and center in an episode of a recent true-crime documentary that aired on an affiliate of The Discovery Channel.
The documentary series, “Welcome to Murdertown,” focuses its opening episode on the murder of 14-year-old Christie Mullins, who was found beaten to death in the woods behind a suburban Columbus mall in 1975.
The episode features former Lantern reporter/editors Jim Yavorcik and John Oller. In 1975, Yavorcik, along with Lantern reporter Rick Kelly, helped show how a timeline of events that police and prosecutors constructed to help convict drifter Jack Carmen of the crime didn’t hold up. Their stories led to a new trial in which Carmen was found innocent.
In 2014, Oller, who had worked on the Lantern back in 1975, went on to investigate the crime and write a book, “An All-American Murder.” His reporting helped convince Columbus Police to reopen the case and eventually announce that they believed the man who initially reported Mullins’ death, Henry Newell, was in fact her killer.
Newell had died in 2013. The cinematic episode “conveyed the essence of the story and the grief and angst of the family,” Oller believes. It also made clear the critical role of Lantern alumni in the original and reopened murder case.
The Murdertown episode “One Hot Summer,” was first aired Nov. 13 and you can view it here.