Oxygen's Snapped True Crime TV Show Review
Snapped has been a staple on the Oxygen Network since 2004. One of cable TV's more popular true crime shows, Snapped features a rogues' gallery of women who have literally gone off the deep end, murdering husbands, boyfriends, fiancés and lovers' wives.
Snapped Debuts in 2004
Produced jointly by the Oxygen Network and Jupiter Entertainment, Snapped made its television debut on August 6, 2004, with the episode "Celeste Beard Johnson." Ms. Johnson, the wife of wealthy retired media executive Steven Beard, had hired her lover to kill Beard for his money. The latter was shot in his Austin, Texas, mansion on October 2, 1999, later succumbing to his wounds some three and a half months later. Celeste Beard Johnson was eventually convicted of orchestrating the murder of Beard – her fourth husband – and given a mandatory life sentence.
And with that grisly segment, Snapped was off to the murder races, with an entire collection of homicidal females unleashed on cable television for everyone's "viewing pleasure."
Snapped: Nancy Seaman's Hatchet Job
Typical of Snapped's bizarre TV murder menu is the episode "Nancy Seaman," first aired on Sunday night, February 19, 2012. Profiled is Nancy Seaman, a teacher at Longacre Elementary School in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Seaman and her husband Bob have been married for over 30 years and have two sons Greg and Jeff, both of whom are college age. The Seamans' marriage, however, is coming undone, with the two living in separate parts of their home and communicating via Post-It notes only. When Bob is reported missing, the police find his decomposing body in the garage, not far from his beloved vintage Ford Mustang...
"Nancy Seaman" is one of the stranger segments in a very strange show. Nancy, who was once Elementary School Teacher of the Year, is arrested and charged with Murder One in 2004. The police and prosecutors are diligent in building their case. In one major error on Nancy's part, the El Ed teacher is seen on security tape at Home Depot, purchasing the same hatchet which she would use to bludgeon to death her husband. The jury can even watch as Ms. Seaman tests the hatchet in her hand, apparently checking its heft and effectiveness as a killing device.
Nancy Seaman claims self-defense, testifying that she was the victim of years of physical abuse by her husband. However, no police or medical reports can be found corroborating her claims. Adding to the confusion is testimony from her two sons, who contradict each other on the witness stand regarding their dad's alleged battering of their mother.
The jury convicts the 52-year-old Nancy Seaman of first degree murder, earning her a mandatory life sentence in the big house. The judge, however, later reduces the conviction to murder in the second degree, stating that he didn't believe the state proved premeditation. An appeals court begs to differ, reinstating the original conviction some nine months later.
Post-It note to Nancy: If you're dead set on homicide, don't go on Home Depot TV auditioning your murder weapon of choice.
Nancy Seaman on the witness stand at her murder trial in 2004 - Oxygen Network
Snapped: Who's Who of American Murderesses
Snapped has featured a virtual who's who of American murderesses spanning the 1980s to the present day. Among Snapped's infamous are:
- Clara Harris, dentist, murdered her cheating husband by repeatedly running over him with her Mercedes-Benz luxury car in a Nassau Bay, Texas, hotel parking lot
- Pamela Smart, high school teacher, engaged her teenage student lover and his friends to murder her husband
- Doris Cisneros, physician's wife, solicited murder-for-hire in the killing of her daughter's ex-suitor
- Melinda Raisch, soccer mom, murdered her bank manager husband
- Mary Winkler, minister's wife, murdered her husband rather than seek a divorce out of her financially troubled marriage
- Ann Miller Kontz, chemist, murdered her husband via arsenic poisoning
- Shawna Nelson, 911 dispatcher, murdered her lover's wife in a parking lot
- Sarah Kolb, high school student, along with her boyfriend bludgeoned to death the new girl in school
- Larissa Schuster, biochemist, murdered her husband and disposed of his body in a tub of acid
Pamela Smart, ex-high school teacher now serving life without parole for the murder of her husband - Boston Herald
Sharon Martin Narrates Snapped
Snapped is narrated in breathless fashion by Sharon Martin, who never seems to come up for air. In fact, Martin's delivery is highly reminiscent of Walter Winchell, whose staccato narrative for ABC-TV's classic crime show The Untouchables (1959-63) was one of the hallmarks of the series.
Snapped tells its sordid story via reenactiments and interviews. The latter includes the defendants themselves, police, defense attorneys, prosecutors, journalists and affected family members and friends.
Snapped is successful for several reasons. The principal one, whether anyone cares to admit it or not, is that viewers have an almost insatiable, voyeuristic interest in crime and murder. The women featured on the show are not your usual "monsters," but could very well be your neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances, fellow PTA moms or dare I say even your relatives. The show's title is appropriate, as many of these women have literally snapped, becoming so mentally or emotionally unhinged that they have crossed the line into homicide. Whatever their motivation – money, sex, greed, revenge, rage or even boredom – they leave shattered lives, eventually ending up in prison and, ironically, rating their own episode on a true crime television series.
Over 16,000 murders take place in the United States annually. Of those, 7% are committed by the fairer sex – females. For those who care or dare, some of these stories of mayhem and murder can be found on Snapped...
- Snapped television logo - Oxygen Network
Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.