To the true-crime network Investigation Discovery, Philadelphia is Homicide City.
Many of the infamous crimes spotlighted on Homicide City, which enters its second season on Wednesday, April 10, are more than a decade or two old. They’re also as likely to have occurred in the suburbs as in the city, but Homicide Region doesn’t have the same ring.
This week’s premiere focuses on the 1995 murders of Lisa Manderach of Limerick and her 19-month-old daughter, Devon, beginning with the discovery of the little girl’s body in the woods of Valley Forge National Historical Park. It’s a sad case — they’re all sad — and was also the subject of a 2001 episode of Forensic Files.
It’s not made any less sad by the reenactments used to break up the talking-head reminiscences of the detectives who worked the cases and members of the victims’ family.
Reenactments are a staple of the true-crime genre, but they still make me queasy. I was made queasier still after stumbling, during a Google search, on a casting notice for the show that described the character of Manderach as “strikingly beautiful with long dark hair, fair skin and a rocking body” and the killer (spoiler alert) as looking like “a young Meatloaf” [sic].
There were some unusual aspects to the case, including the fact that Lisa Manderach’s body wasn’t initially discovered, but it’s one that’s long been settled (and that was exhaustively covered here at the time). So it seems odd, frankly, to go through all the initial lines of inquiry that didn’t pan out. But that’s true crime for you.
Other cases for this eight-episode season include: