HBO’s Murder on Middle Beach isn’t your typical true crime documentary. For starters, the filmmaker behind the four-part series isn’t just an investigative documentarian trying to figure out who killed Barbara Hamburg. He’s also her son.
Barbara, a single mother, was found murdered on March 3, 2010, near her home in the wealthy town of Madison, Conn. Her cause of death? Blunt force trauma and sharp force injury. Her murderer? Still unknown, as Murder on Middle Beach viewers find out.
“It’s a story about my mom, and about me, and about my family than about who’s most likely her murderer,” Madison recently told Refinery29. “I didn’t know where this project was going to end up and at the time, it felt like this might be the only opportunity that I would have to ask direct questions to my family members to hopefully dispel lingering distrust between them because of the unresolved nature of my Mom’s death.”
We still don’t know who killed Barbara Hamburg.
Jeffrey Hamburg, Barbara’s husband and Madison’s father, became a person of interest early in the homicide investigation, as the New Haven Register reported in 2012.
The day her body was found, Barbara was due in court to discuss Jeffrey’s claim that he could not afford his child support and alimony payments. And six years prior, she told police that he acquired at least $100 million in an international money laundering-scheme, according to one of the newspaper’s sources. He also stole nearly $100,000 from his children’s trust accounts, according to an arrest warrant affidavit the Register cited. Still, his DNA didn’t match the DNA found at the scene.
Another theory, according to Refinery29, is that Barbara’s involvement in a local “gifting table” pyramid scheme led to her murder. In a gifting table, participants buy in at the $5,000 “appetizer level” and work their way up to a $40,000 payout by persuading others to invest in the scheme.
‘Murder on Middle Beach’ is a one-of-a-kind documentary.
In a press release, HBO says Murder on Middle Beach presents [Madison’s] complicated journey as a young man determined to solve an unspeakable crime and absolve the people he loves, while looking for answers within his fractured family and community.”
“Over the course of 8 years, [Madison] interviewed his family members and many others, longing to learn more about his mother and gathering evidence in hopes of solving her murder, sending him into a deep web of buried familial secrets, connections to shadowy criminal figures, and the uncovering of years-old resentments in his deceptively serene hometown,” HBO adds.
“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.”
The docuseries addresses “the elephant in the room” for Madison’s family.
Madison told Refinery29 that he at times worried about his family’s reactions to the Murder on Middle Beach.
“People are going to see this and there’s no way of avoiding the inherent exploitative nature of telling a story like this,” he explained. “Because without conflict there is no arc. To do it right, it needs to have nuance and it needs to address the elephant in the room, or else we will never get past it.”
And though Madison might not be closer to knowing who killed his mom, he at least discovered who wasn’t a suspect.
“The clarity and transparency with what I was granted, it’s incredibly relieving,” he added. “I just wish it was there from the beginning. I wish the police just told me that they knew certain people in my family didn’t do it and why. So we weren’t living for a decade with this residual distrust.”
Murder on Middle Beach airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. EST on HBO and is streaming on HBO Max.