Looking for an obsession post elections? Want something so consuming that you forget about the country’s deep divide? Well how a documentary on the murder of Barbara Hamburg, directed by her own son Madison Hamburg. The first-time filmmaker determined to solve the unspeakable crime of his mother’s murder and absolve the people he loves, while looking for answers within his fractured family and community.
On March 3, 2010, divorced mother Barbara Hamburg was found violently murdered in the yard of her home in the upper middle-class town of Madison, Connecticut. Investigators speculated her murder from blunt force trauma was a crime of passion, but without enough evidence, the case grew cold.
Over the course of eight years, Barbara’s son, Madison Hamburg, interviewed his family members and many others, longing to learn more about his mother and gather evidence in hopes of solving her murder. He uncovered a deep web of buried familial secrets, connections to shadowy criminal figures, and years-old resentments in his deceptively serene hometown. While Madison wrestles with troubling revelations about his mother, the most unsettling conflict comes from Madison’s obligation to bring into question those inside his community and members of his own family.
Following the murder, attention first turned to Barbara’s ex-husband, Jeffrey Hamburg, who battled with her over financial issues including child support and was due in court with her that very day. With a strong alibi, and the Madison Police Department in disarray after a recent spate of corruption scandals, Hamburg was never charged. Rumors swirled about his potential involvement in foreign business deals and Barbara’s participation in an illegal pyramid scheme known as the “Gifting Tables” which may have created enemies for her. However, despite this and information about other potential suspects, the leads petered out and the case went cold.
Years later, Madison, who was just a teenager at the time of his mother’s murder, returns home determined to understand the life of the mother he had lost and to uncover the truth about her death. The family’s troubled history is explored and Madison questions whether learning the truth will provide closure or just more grief. As his investigation grows, he comes to reexamine his own memories of a childhood that was not as picture-perfect as the wealth of happy, home video footage would suggest.
Produced by Emmy and Oscar winning producers, Jigsaw Productions, Armian Pictures and Blue Days Films. The four-part documentary explores the secrets that run beneath the facade of a seemingly ideal community. Through one young man’s near obsessive pursuit of answers, a light is shone on the universal need to make sense of profound loss and to face one’s own history.
“Murder on Middle Beach” premeries Sunday November 15th at 10pm on HBO and HBO Max.