When 14-year-old Stefanie Rengel was brutally murdered in Toronto on New Year’s Day 2008 by her 17-year old ex-boyfriend, a television reenactment was probably the last thing on her family’s mind.
But now Rengel’s mother, Patricia Hung, is imploring NBC Universal to prevent E! Entertainment from developing a segment based on the murder for a program called Teens Who Kill.
On Sept. 15, Hung posted a plea to readers of her blog, Joy In The Aftermath. Among her sentiments: “My feelings are that it cheapens her life and all she suffered, for ratings and profit. The reenactment of her death, should any of her siblings see it, now or in re-runs, would be more than upsetting.”
Hung later updated her original post with the producer’s e-mail and postal address, and then suggested she would prefer to “minimize the media.”
So far, Kristen Osborne, the show’s publicist, has told the Toronto Star, ‘“We’re smack in the middle of production – nothing’s been edited, nothing’s been put together yet.’”
In going ahead with the segment, the producers are sensationalizing a story that is decidedly gruesome and still raw for Rengel’s loved ones.
As Hung points out in the her blog post, “If NBC was willing to do a special on the good that has come out of such inexplicable evil, to highlight the many acts of kindness and support… and if they would focus on how it is possible for those who have been devastated by such a loss and survived, to reach out to others who are suffering… then I would support them whole-heartedly.”
Hung, whose blog tackles issues of grief and closure, clearly wants to move on from the murder and not have a reminder in the form of a questionable television special.
Back in 2004, the reception for a film based on serial killers Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo was slightly different. At the time, Tim Danson, the attorney for the families of victims Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy, said the families would not object to the film’s release. Despite a boycott proposed by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Karla opened on February, 2006, in 100 theatres across Canada.
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