The Leesville Daily Leader was able to provide journalistic documentation about the 1988 murder of Karen Eads Hill for Sunday's episode of “On the Case with Paula Zahn.”
Executive Producer Larry Israel, is grateful to newspapers like the Leader for the work that was done back when the crime was committed.
Israel said the show is essentially “reporting on the original reporting” but has the advantage of knowing how it all ends. “Usually our first step is looking at local news reports. The archival materials we get from the original source material adds authenticity.
“Our goal is to be as authentic as we possibly can. This allows people to have a window into what happened.”
This locally-based episode will follow the investigation of Hill’s death in 1988 through to the 1997 arrest and conviction of Samuel Galbraith.
Prosecutors said that on the night of Nov. 21, 1988, Galbraith abducted Hill from her job at a convenience store on Entrance Road in Leesville.
He took her 10 miles away to Kisatchie National Forest. There, he raped her, tied her to a tree with a shoelace, and shot her in the left eye with a .22.
The case went unsolved for nine years.
Detectives used DNA analysis in the case as evidence that led to his arrest.
He was charged with 1st Degree Murder, but entered a plea deal in 2000 for Manslaughter and Attempted Aggravated Rape.
Galbraith was sentenced to 71 years in the Louisiana Department of Corrections.
The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office (VPSO) original investigative report from Nov. 21, 1988 is the type of authentic documentation the show uses in order to stay true to the facts.
The report states the murder scene appeared to be an area where a lot of camping took place. “The victim was tied to a pecan tree. This tree is in the circle driveway that is the approach to the pond of water located in this area. The body appears to have been put in this area so that it would be found,” the report reads.
The program reached out to Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft last fall to arrange interviews for the episode. He allowed television crews to film inside VPSO.
District Attorney Asa Skinner was also interviewed for the show.
Retired VPSO Detectives Kenneth "Kenny" Williams and Marvin Hilton were flown to New York City to be interviewed by Paula Zahn herself.
The episode will also feature conversations with Hill’s family members.
Israel says they do not usually interview the perpetrator. So far, there are 225 episodes of “On the Case” and there was a time, in the beginning (2009), when the team would contact perpetrators for their account events.
“We started out trying to do a lot more with the perpetrator, but it became very difficult because they very rarely stay true to what they said in court or to police,” Israel said. “It is upsetting for the families because this person is now inventing a new story to account for the evidence.
“So typically what we do is go with what they said to investigators in interrogations and interviews.”
Tonight’s episode of “On the Case” will also review the murders of Pamela Miller and Tammy Call, both of whom were from Leesville. These two cold (unsolved) cases have been reopened by VPSO.
“Early investigation initially connected all three of them,” Israel said. “They were found in or around a convenience store, like Hill, and found on the boundaries of Fort Polk. From everything they could see from M.O.s of the crimes, they believe the cases are connected.
“We have to uncouple them at the end of the show though, because there is no forensic evidence to prove this.”
This episode of “On the Case with Paula Zahn” will air at 9 p.m. (Central Time) tonight on the Investigative Discovery Channel.