TRUE CRIME: The “nightmarish” murder of Hazel Drew that inspired Twin Peaks.

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In case you’re wondering why half your workplace seemingly disappeared at lunchtime to never return, the reboot of cult classic Twin Peaks dropped on Stan this afternoon.

Created by Mark Frost and David Lynch, the original American serial drama first aired in 1990 and followed FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper and his investigation into the murder of Laura Palmer, the homecoming queen of the (fictional) town of Twin Peaks, Washington.

Combining crime with supernatural, soap opera, horror and often campy, melodramatic character portrayals, it gained a cult following, despite being cancelled after a second season in 1991.

Image: ABC

But while the town and it's inhabitants may be fictional, the crime that inspired it is not.

"The inspiration for the television series Twin Peaks sprang from a nightmarish little bedtime story my grandmother Betty Calhoun planted in my ear as a young boy," Frost wrote in a Sand Lake newsletter, according to the Daily Mail.

"Poor Hazel's body was found on the banks of the pond. Mystery ensued. Uncertainty about the perpetrator lingered, and may still. Some weeks later, a calf, stuck in the mud and bleating for help under a dim half moon, was mistaken for the spirit of the lost girl by a couple of local drunks, who fled the scene in terror.

Image: ABC

"Some twenty years later, half-remembered details of this sad tale swam through my sub-conscious during the creation of a similarly doomed character named Laura Palmer."

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Diehard fans, including Twin Peaks podcaster Mark Givens and TV curator David Bushman, have gone one step further, deep diving into the unsolved murder of "poor Hazel".

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Hazel Drew was one of those women other women envied.

Her blonde, thick hair, was always immaculately styled. Her blue eyes were serious yet charming, and she had a small, upturned mouth, which in hindsight, made it appear as though she was always hiding a secret.

Historian Ron Hughes says, "Hazel was drop dead gorgeous, beautiful... she was very classy, polite and fashionable."

Laura Palmer and Hazel Drew.

Reports from newspapers at the time, 1908, described the 20 year old as having a "well-formed figure," a euphemism for 'large bust'.

Hazel worked as a governess in the wealthy town of Sand Lake, New York, for Professor Edward Cary and his wife, and was adored by their family. But on the morning of the 7th of July, 1908, when Mrs Cary asked Hazel to do the laundry, one of her usual tasks, she abruptly quit providing no reason at all.

She had just returned from a weekend with her cousins, when she had reportedly been in a good mood, and at no point had appeared upset or distressed.

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Early that evening, Hazel went for a walk on her own. In the early 20th Century, it was considered dangerous for a woman to venture out unaccompanied.

Hazel was wearing a set of gloves, a long dress and a straw hat, decorated with soft feathers and a monogrammed pin with the letter 'H'.

A witness saw Hazel picking raspberries on the side of Tabortan Road, a main road in Sand Lake, at 7pm. That was the last known sighting of the 20-year-old.

Hazel never returned home, and her family began panicking. Strange details began to emerge, such as the suitcase full of clothes she checked in at Troy railroad station.

Four days later, Hazel's bloated, decomposing, almost unidentifiable body, was found in Teal Pond. There was evidence of a blunt force trauma to her head, a strange piece of ribbon tied delicately around her neck, and no water in her lungs - discounting drowning as the cause of death.

Police identified a dozen suspects, including a drunken charcoal peddler, a 'dim-witted' and 'loutish' farm boy who was believed to torture farm animals, a professor who employed her as a governess and a dentist who had proposed to her - despite being married.

Her 'suicidal and melancholy' uncle William Taylor was also under suspicion. He lived near the pond and helped pull her body from the water.

A man with a 'dark complexion' spotted with a girl who looked like Drew on a trolley bus as well as a 'florid faced' stranger spotted near the pond were almost suspected.

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Despite clear signs that indicated otherwise, speculation grew that she'd been mowed down by an out-of-control 'autombolist' in the still-very-new 'touring car' and the driver had panicked and tried to make the accident look like murder.

Shrouded by mystery, Drew's death quickly became front page news. Journalists flocked to the town from all over the country to report on every twist and turn of the case.

With each new discovery, just like Palmer who's homecoming queen facade hid a cocaine-user who had turned to prostitution, it appeared Drew was living a double life.

The morning she abruptly quit her job, she checked a suitcase packed with clothes into storage at Troy railroad station. The last sighting of her was as she stepped onto a train destined for Albany.

She was never seen nor heard of from that point until her body was discovered in the pond. The reason for the suitcase was never worked out.

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Rumours were rife that she had allegedly had relationships with a group of older men and engaged in orgies at a camp site in the woods. And just like Twin Peaks, the case had a touch of supernatural, with Drew's mother Julia under the belief that a man from nearby who was said to have hypnotic powers had exerted a 'mysterious influence' over her daughter.

With forensic science yet to be invented and fingerprinting still a new concept, the murder investigation wasn't exactly up to CSI standards.

Some suspects were well known, others were never followed up. Even those close to Drew acted with suspicion. Her Aunt Minnie Taylor was the last family member to see her alive but refused to cooperate with police. She reportedly told Drew's friends to do the same.

When the updates dried up, so did the interest. Within a month, there was no mention of Drew in the papers. While police continued to say the investigation was "ongoing", no arrests were ever made.

While Givens and Bushman, who are currently writing a book about Drew, have yet to narrow down a likely suspect, Hughes believes it was either her melancholy Uncle or the 'dim-witted' farm boy Frank Smith.

"No one was ever arrested," he told the Daily Mail.

"But there were so many suspects and so many unanswered questions."

For now at least, they remain.

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