“You have to be taught to leave us alone,” one of the damned kids warned in the 1960 science fiction film Village Of The Damned. Investigation Discovery will explore a small, idyllic town that can’t seem to be left alone in their five-part serialized event, Village Of The Damned. The true-crime network will air on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET starting on November 28.
The curse of Dryden, a small town in New York’s Finger Lakes region with only about 14,000 residents, began in December 1989, a few days before Christmas. Firefighters found the bodies of the Harris family. The had been shot in the back of the head, doused with fuel and set on fire in their upstairs bedrooms. Parents Tony and Delores, and their 11-year old son Marc were found bound hand and foot and with pillowcases over their heads. The fourth, 15-year-old Shelbn was found in a second bedroom. She had been sexually assaulted. The incident forever changed the town.
“Legend has it that the quiet, picturesque village of Dryden, N.Y., inspired Frank Capra’s vision of Bedford Falls in It’s a Wonderful Life.,” reads ID’s announcement. “But contrary to that image, Dryden became the setting for a strange string of tragedies and murders between 1989 and 1999 that left residents wondering why death stalked their beloved town. To them it was a tragic coincidence, but outsiders gossiped about a curse, labeling Dryden as a real-life ‘Village of the Damned.’ Residents have maintained a code of silence… until now.”
The town saw the cold-blooded execution of an entire family, the murder of a popular football coach, and deaths of two cheerleaders, which was the basis of the 2016 TV movie The Cheerleader Murders. Twenty years ago, residents focused on healing through heartbreak while law enforcement chased justice. In a town of 15,000 people where everybody knows each other, residents were left in fear and wondering who could be next?
“Village Of The Damned explores important and disturbing questions concerning how innocent people become ensnared by evil, and how a tight-knit community survives when senseless crime pushes it past the breaking point,” Group President of Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel and Destination America Henry Schleiff said in a statement.
ID will feature the town itself as the central character, as well as a “Greek chorus of residents that lived through this tragic time.”
Each episode will tell the story of a different tragedy. The series will include interviews with law enforcement and other key players.
Serialized episodes in this season of Village Of The Damned include:
“The ‘Curse’ Begins at Christmas”
In 1989, the village of Dryden reels when a horrifying Christmastime massacre claims the entire Harris family. Suddenly, the once safe and quaint New York town finds itself torn apart by the grisly quadruple homicide of Tony, Dodie, Shelby, and Marc Harris. Residents live in fear while police race to identify the killer – or killers – but just when the horror seems to have passed, terror visits the town again when 2-year-old Aliza May Bush vanishes in a snowstorm. These events mark the beginning of a so-called “curse” that descends on Dryden for the next ten years.
“Thirteen Days in Winter”
By February 1990, residents of Dryden can finally breathe a sigh of relief after the nightmare of the Harris family murders. But then, word spreads that little Aliza May Bush has gone missing in the blinding snow. Neighbors search for the girl for 13 days. It’s not until Aliza’s mother receives one of her daughter’s pink mittens in the mail that police realize they are dealing with a kidnapping and time is running out. Then, three years later, the “curse” of Dryden returns when a young woman named Kirsten Clark awakes to witness the terrifying murder of her friend Scott Hume.
“Dryden’s Dark Soul”
As the dark cloud over Dryden lingers, two love stories turn to tragedy. In August 1993, Kirsten Clark reels from the horror of witnessing her friend Scott Hume’s murder at the hands of another friend, Paul Jackson. Now, both Kirsten and Paul relive the terrifying events that led them down this twisted path. Just one year later, Dryden’s beloved football coach, Stephen Starr, crosses paths with his daughter’s deranged ex-boyfriend, Jonathan Merchant. For months, Jonathan threatens and stalks the Starr family. But no one predicts the violence that will erupt in the Starr home on the morning of December 30, 1994.
“The Final Fall, Part 1”
As news spreads about the tragedy of Dryden’s football coach Stephen Starr, the town comes together to pray that the worst is behind them. The worst horror is still to come. In September 1996, one month of terror brings the “curse” to a nightmarish crescendo with more tragedy befalling Dryden’s football community. Star football player Scott Pace is killed, a man named Ed Bailey commits a horrific act of violence that stuns his family, and two Dryden High School cheerleaders suddenly vanish. These three tragedies will lead outsiders and the media to begin calling Dryden the “Village of the Damned.”
“The Final Fall, Part 2”
Since December 1989, one tragedy after another has haunted Dryden. Then, in October 1996, the town’s story reaches its terrifying conclusion when two beloved cheerleaders, Sarah Hajney and Jennifer Bolduc, vanish. Worse still, police find evidence in Sarah’s home that the two met with foul play. As the town prays for the girls’ safe return, police track a twisted sociopath who has been living in their midst for years. The events will scar the town forever, but does Dryden deserve its reputation as the “Village of the Damned?”
The 10-minute ID GO exclusive episode “Village of the Damned: Welcome to Dryden” will premiere on Friday, November 17. It will introduce viewers to the “people who were at the very epicenter of the “curse” and continue to call Dryden home.”
Village Of The Damned is produced for Investigation Discovery by Red Marble Media in association with Spring Theory.
Village Of The Damned airs Tuesdays at 10/9c starting November 28 on Investigation Discovery. New episodes will be available to watch the day after premiere on InvestigationDiscovery.com.