Kill Your Darling

Society & Culture
Jaap van Hoewijk
Zeppers Film + TV in co-production with NCRV Television
HD available

Documentary about the attempts to reconstruct the past based on the unsolved murder of the American model Melissa Halstead in 1990.

In 1990, the dismembered and beheaded body of a young woman was found in the Westersingel canal in Rotterdam. It was impossible to identify the body until 2008, when new DNA techniques uncovered that the victim was the American model Melissa Halstead. A joint investigation by the Rotterdam cold case unit and their colleagues in the United Kingdom led to John Sweeney, who had a tumultuous relationship with Halstead – as evidenced by the many lurid drawings he made during their time together. The pair lived together in Amsterdam at the time of the murder.

Since 2001, Sweeney had been incarcerated for the attempted murder of another girlfriend. Director Jaap van Hoewijk observes the attempts by both Dutch and British detectives to reconstruct the past, speaks with family members and acquaintances of both Halstead and Sweeney, and attends the court proceedings (although he can’t film them). Sweeney, who is sentenced to life in prison, gets a voice in the film as well, through a re-recorded voice-over based on a lengthy letter he sent Van Hoewijk. When Sweeney calls the director from prison not long after sending the letter, Van Hoewijk seizes the opportunity to question Sweeney himself.