Madison Hamburg investigates his own mother’s unsolved murder in HBO’s ‘Murder on Middle Beach.’ HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Madison about his hope for answers, his grieving process, and more.
Murder On Middle Beach is a new 4-part documentary series directed by filmmaker Madison Hamburg. The docuseries follows Madison’s journey as he seeks to solve his mother’s horrific murder. Barbara Hamburg was found violently murdered in the yard of her home in Madison, Connecticut, on March 3, 2010. Eventually, the case grew cold, but Madison is refusing to let it stay that way. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Madison about his hope that this documentary, which he started 8 years ago, will one day lead to answers about his mother’s death.
“I think I always felt that there was a net positive for making this documentary because a big problem in my mom’s case was that there wasn’t enough momentum,” Madison told HollywoodLife. “After the first few years, people stopped talking about it, people moved on with their lives. To me, one small detail that someone who was around and didn’t know was important, hopefully, the film can be a means for them to give a tip or two to help. As a family member of a murdered loved one, I’m a part of Survivors of Homicide, which is this amazing support group in Connecticut for family members of murdered loved ones. It feels like it’s an impossible task to take an investigation into your own hands, but what you can do is look to the process for a change and for a resolution. I think that’s part of the approach and some of the resolutions that I was able to get. I’ll never stop wondering what happened until there’s an answer, but that’s not going to bring my mom back. I don’t know that that is necessarily going to give me closure. I feel like releasing this series is actually is going to be a means to give me some relief and peace with this thing that I’ve been sort of struggling with for 8 years.”
The docuseries is not just about the murder. Over the course of 8 years, Madison interviews family members and others to learn more about his mother and gather evidence. In the process, he uncovered a deep web of family secrets, connections to criminal cases, and more. Madison’s investigation opened up discovering a new side of his mother he never knew and how it impacted his grieving process.
“Through the process of making this film and asking questions about her, I’ve grown to understand more and peace together who Barbara was, and now had the opportunity to grieve someone else and grieve this person that I discovered,” Madison continued. “So there’s this whole arc for me in getting through this process of getting to know her. There was a moment where it was like, wow, I’m never going to have her as a human being in my life and influencing my life. She’s not going to see me get married. She’s not going to see me have kids. It’s really sad. Grief is, in many ways, really selfish, but just in its own right because it inherently is. It’s about your own personal loss. But I feel like I can finally grieve now in the fact that this series is about to be released and no longer this 8-year double life I was leading. It’s going to go out in the world. It’s very scary.”
He admitted that there’s “also a sense of loss” because he still can’t change what happened to his mother. “But I didn’t want this to define me, and this was my chance to define it… When someone is murdered, it’s not just a headline. It has this ripple effect on everyone who’s ever been affected by the person. Hopefully, the human and character-driven stories about navigating the residual distrust between my family can come through for the audience.”
During the investigation, Madison met a grief counselor. Understandably, events like holidays, Mother’s Day, his mom’s birthday, and the day of his mom’s murder are tough for Madison. “Something she told me that really stuck with me is to create new memories to look back on so that when I hit that day, I’m not just thinking about her death or her absence,” Madison told HollywoodLife. “There’s an evolution to it. Throughout the film on Mother’s Day I went and visited my grandmother and watched old 8mm and 16mm projections of my mom as a child. On March 3, we hold memorials, and on Valentine’s Day, my mom’s sobriety date in Alcoholics Anonymous, I go to a meeting and pick up her chip. It’s really hard for me not to feel a sense of shame and not to have ownership over this thing that happens in my life. But how we respond is the one thing that we can control, so facing those days and creating a memory system was really helpful.”
Murder On Middle Beach premieres Nov. 15 at 10 p.m. on HBO, with new episodes airing subsequent Sundays at the same time. The docuseries will be available to stream on HBO Max.