The Murder That Inspired Twin Peaks

Hazel Drew’s death remains unsolved, unlike her on-screen counterpart.

Josie Klakström

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In the summer of 1908, the resort town of Sand Lake in Rensselaer County, New York was busy. The usual population of around 2,000 made way for holidaymakers and the July temperature was climbing. However, the visiting families would soon be joined by reporters and investigators, when the body of a woman turned up in Teal’s Pond.

Hazel Drew via Times Union courtesy of Bob Moore, Sand Lake Historian

Twenty-year-old Hazel Drew was born on a farm, in East Poestenkill. At fourteen, she left to work in the home of an affluent family, eventually becoming a governess. Described as fair, blue-eyed and beautiful, the young woman worked hard and was liked by everyone.

Hazel was last seen four days earlier by Frank Smith, a teenager who worked at a nearby farm and Rudolph Gundrum, a charcoal peddler in his mid-thirties. Around 7.30 pm, Frank had hailed Rudolph for a ride in his wagon and the two of them saw Hazel for the last time.

Frank had an unrequited love for the young woman, whose appearance and personality lured many young suitors, wanting to get to know her, and she was popular around the town.

When Hazel was found, she was floating face down in the river. She was bloated and her skull had been crushed by an unidentified object. Her lungs…

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Josie Klakström

Josie is a freelance journo who writes about writing, true crime, culture and marketing. www.truecrimeedition.com