UPDATE: The A&E show 'Cold Case Files,' which had rescheduled an episode featuring a McDowell murder case, has again been postponed. We were forwarded the following email statement today: "AETV has made some changes. AE is going through a reboot of the Cold Case Files series, meaning this week they're beginning a month hiatus. Upon return of hiatus, Cold Case will re-start the series from episode 1-10 and will air on Thursday nights. I'm not certain of the episode air date (could be May - Zilpha episode is #5 in the series) but will stay in touch to notify you."
A McDowell murder mystery is back in the spotlight as two new shows on the case will air next week.
A&E’s “Cold Case Files” episode “A Family Cursed” airs Monday at 9 p.m. and I.D.’s “Murder Comes to Town” episode “Who’s Missing Now” airs Saturday, March 25 on 9 p.m.
Both are on the 1993 disappearance of Zilpha Lowery. These will be the second and third national TV shows to feature the case.
Richelle Bailey of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office, who first wrote about the crime in 1994 as a reporter for The McDowell News, recalls her introduction to the case.
“When I started in May 1994, I walked in on my first day and found paperwork on the Zilpha Lowery case on my desk,” said Bailey. “The editor at the time, Eric Millsaps, told me to get familiar with the case because I would be covering whatever happened from that day forward. Little did I know that it would span nearly 14 years.”
Zilpha Lowery was a Marion waitress who’s disappearance in 1993 developed into murder investigation filled with family secrets, ex-lovers and a series of starts and stops along the way. The case was finally solved in 2007 and prosecuted in 2008.
The story first received national attention in 2012 on I.D.’s series “Nightmare Next Door.” The season two episode “One Deadly Night” broke down the mystery and public intrigue of the case.
Crew members for “Murder Comes to Town” arrived in McDowell on June 10, 2016 to conduct interviews, while “Cold Case Files” crew arrived twice between August and September. Among those interviewed were Bailey; current Sheriff Dudley Greene (who was a captain at the time and the lead investigator in the case); retired Sheriff Jackie Turner Sr., retired Lt. Dan Shook, former McDowell County Assistant District Attorney Alex Bass (lead prosecutor in the case); Zilpha’s sisters, Reba Flores and Trisha Dickerson; and Zilpha’s niece, Kari Gonzalez.
“I’m excited anytime anyone focuses attention on this case because it continues the process of giving Zilpha’s family closure, and it spotlights how hard Sheriff’s Office personnel worked on the case,” said Bailey. “The investigators deserve all the credit. So many times, all over the country, old cases like these get swept under the rug as new cases come about and as workloads become greater. Then-Sheriff Turner and Greene, as well as the Sheriff’s Office staff, worked diligently on the case for over a decade and wouldn’t rest until it was solved.”
In summing up her involvement in the case, one of the bigger takeaways was to see justice prevail.
“As a reporter, I was just glad to be a part of the whole process. I hope that the articles I did over the years kept the case in the public light and benefitted in some way,” said Bailey. “I became close to the family, and I am so thankful for that. They are great people who didn’t deserve to suffer the way they did, and I’m just glad I got to sit with them in the courtroom when Bobby Taylor’s guilty verdict came in from the jury. It was a gut-wrenching and sorrowing – but yet amazing – ride that I will never forget as long as I live.”
For more information about Investigation Discovery and “Murder Comes to Town”, visit http://www.investigationdiscovery.ca/Shows/Murder-Comes-To-Town or check your local listings.
For more information about A&E and the new season of “Cold Case Files”, visit http://www.aetv.com/shows/cold-case-files-2017 or check your local listings.