Jennifer Levin, 18, epitomized the term “victim shaming” in the wake of her 1986 murder at the hands of the 21-year-old Robert Chambers.
On-and-off lovers, it was towards the end of the summer when the two met up at a bar, then decamped to Central Park. There, Chambers said Levin initiated “rough sex,” after which he said he accidentally killed her, according to the New York Times. The media layered a kind of twisted romance on the slaying, dubbing it the “Preppy Murder” and looking askance at Levin’s character. Soon after her death, the Daily News front page read, “How Jennifer Courted Death.”
This November, AMC and SundanceTV give the murder the docuseries treatment with a five-part series titled The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park. It will be simulcast over three consecutive nights, Wednesday, November 13th to Friday, November 15th, at 9:00pm ET.
“It was the glorious Eighties,” proclaims the voiceover in the trailer for the series. The narration trades off between voices, presumably friends of Levin and Co. “We grew up in this bubble of rich Upper East Side preppy kids. We had an enormous amount of freedom and then… your best friend was killed.”
A release promises that the doc will tap not only into the case but also the “untamed ambition in the mid-1980s,” the lifestyle of New York elites, as well as the ill intents and effects of tabloid journalism.
In the trailer, we see journalists recalling how baffled they were that a man like Chambers would commit murder, all while pictures of his dark, tousled form fill the screen. We then cut to shots of a trial, a press of reporters and spectators all craning for a look at the preppy murderer.
Chambers was eventually sentenced to 15 years in state prison for manslaughter, after which he continued to raise hell. He was arrested more than once following his release. Back then, however, the public was shocked by his actions.
Former prosecutor for the New York sex crimes unit Linda Fairstein factors heavily into the documentary, as she oversaw the prosecution of Chambers (as well as the Central Park Five).
However, it’s one of the other people featured in the show who sums up the entirety of the proceedings: “I just can’t believe that you can get away with murder”