Nine’s true crime producers asking for public to help solve Million Dollar Murders

Million Dollar Murders

Viewers get to meet new host Deborah Wallace and she introduces the ‘homicide whisperer’

With over 50 episodes in the past decade documenting Australian crimes, the co-founders of indie production house The Full Box, Gerri Coy and Bryan Cockerill, are no strangers to the genre.

After completing their most recent series of Australian Crime Stories for Nine in 2021, the duo are this week embarking on their latest adventure, Million Dollar Murders also available on Nine and 9Now.

The idea for the new series came while Cockerill was thinking about a new brand to refresh what they had been doing for Nine for several series with Australian Crime Stories. “Bryan had the idea of getting in touch with former detective superintendent with NSW Police Deborah Wallace,” Coy told Mediaweek.

They were introduced to Wallace by Coy’s uncle NSW Police Superintendent Frank Hansen.

“Deb had recently retired after 37 years in the force,” explained Coy. “She was immediately interested as she knew our work and she was keen to have a go, to try something new. She’s a wonderful person and fantastic talent. She’s also doing some heavy lifting helping promote the work with radio, TV and print interviews.”

Million Dollar Murders

Deborah Wallace with the ‘homicide whisperer’ Wayne Hayes

Cockerill added: “Deb is brilliant at what she does. She has a great combination of empathy with a steely toughness. She really handles situations beautifully when we talk with the families of the victims of crime. She is very caring with them, but she also knows how to get to the story.”

Coy: “And not surprisingly she has a wonderful rapport with members of the police force, including Victoria Police as she’s been involved in many cross-border cases in the past.”

That added to the respect and relationships The Full Box has built with police forces around the country for over a decade, which has proven a winning combination.

“Police know they can trust us with their stories,” said Cockerill.

“Victoria Police opened their cold case unit and gave us some stories they would like us to focus on. They were great in supplying us crime scene photos and contacts to invite for interviews. They even allowed access for us at Police Headquarters in Spencer Street to set up and film our interviews. They’ve been incredibly supportive.”

The first episode of Million Dollar Murders includes an announcement from Victoria Police that they are now offering $1m for information to help secure a conviction in the case under investigation.

“That case didn’t previously offer this reward,” said Cockerill. “They will use this announcement in the show, and hold a press conference the following day to draw attention to the fact they are still trying to solve the 1991 murder of Amanda Byrnes.

“Other cases we feature in the series already have rewards of $1m offered by police for information.”

While $1m reward payouts are rare, the producers are hoping this series might lead to some successful prosecutions. There was a recent case in NSW that was solved where there was a total of $2m on offer jointly put up by police and the victim’s family.

As well as Deborah Wallace, viewers also get to meet the “homicide whisperer”, Wayne Hayes, who helps provide some insight into the Byrnes case. “It was fascinating to have is analysis,” said Cockerill. “You get a sense of how a homicide detective works in analysing the available information, making sure no stones are left unturned.”

The future of Million Dollars Murders no doubt rests on how well the new brand is received by viewers. But Nine, The Full Box and host Deborah Wallace are good to go with more unsolved murders if viewers indicate they are ready for them.

Million Dollar Murders: Mini car club

One of the most prominent props in episode one of Million Dollar Murders is a Mini panel van – a car seen in the crime scene area in St Kilda on the night of the murder. Police are hopeful of information that might lead them to the driver who they would very much like to interview.

Cockerill said it didn’t take long to track down a similar vehicle: “I just rang the Morris Minor Car Club in Victoria. I found someone who was happy to be involved and he whizzed around the back streets of St Kilda on the night we did the filming.

“It was very eerie to have that car pull up in the exact spot where Amanda disappeared from.”

Astute viewers might see glimpses of Coy and maybe even Wallace working as extras at some stage during the season. But Coy assured Mediaweek neither were at work in that capacity in the season launch.

Million Dollar Murders

The Full Box founders Bryan Cockerill and Gerri Coy

Full house from The Full Box

The production series completed by the Sydney-based production house The Full Box:

Tough Nuts 16 episodes
Australian Crime Stories 22 episodes
Suburban Gangsters 8 episodes
The Kangaroo Gang: Thieves by Appointment 2 episodes
Cyberhate 6 episodes
Million Dollar Murders 6 episodes

Mediaweek on Monday: Million Dollars Murders episode guide, Meet Deborah Wallace

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