The Real Life 'Twin Peaks': Who Killed Hazel Drew?

Local filmmaker John Holser is capturing the mood — and hopefully uncovering clues — of the 1908 death of a Rensselaer beauty.


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Left: Public Domain / Right: Copyright Aaron Spelling Productions/Everett Collection

On a warm July evening in 1908, lovely Hazel Drew was seen walking near Teal Pond in the town of Sand Lake in Rensselaer County, carefree and swinging her hat by its ribbons.

Four days later, her body was found on the shore of the pond, victim of a skull-crushing blow. To this day, no one’s been charged with her murder.

A documentary filming now in the area, called Who Killed Hazel Drew? The Sand Lake Murder that Inspired Twin Peaks, seeks to re-enact the events leading up to the 20-year-old’s death, and dig deeper into rumors that she may have led a double life.

Do the facts of Hazel’s life and death sound familiar? That’s because Hazel was the inspiration for Laura Palmer, the main character of the quirky television drama Twin Peaks, which is having a rebirth of sorts on the small screen.

Teals Pond in Sand Lake, NY is where the body of Hazel Drew was found in 1908.


Related: Jessica Biel Spotted in the HV Filming "The Sinner"


Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost spent his summers near Teal Pond, and his grandmother would spin tales of Hazel’s demise as a warning to her grandson to not roam the woods at night. Those stories stuck with him, and became the basis for Twin Peaks — a show that developed a cult following from 1990–91.

Twenty-five years later, a new Twin Peaks aired, reigniting interest in the tale. On August 29, local filmmaker John Holser started filming his documentary. His aim is transparency: his Facebook page, with the same name as the documentary, is a journal of sorts documenting each step in the making of the movie.

Besides creating a beautiful period film, Holser hopes to possibly uncover new clues that will finally allow a lovely young woman to rest in peace.

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