Stations across the United States are interviewing Riggs after true crime fans have watched the binge-worthy series about serial killer Kenneth McDuff
Texas provides a rich visual backdrop for the story. Reviewers have described Riggs as Yellowstone’s Taylor Sheridan of true crime in the Lone Star. Riggs is a member of the host committee for the Texas Ranger 2023 Bicentennial.
McDuff is the only man in Texas history to received three death sentences.
After murdering three teenagers in 1966, McDuff was released on parole under a cloud of corruption exposed by Riggs.
Classified as a sadistic sexual serial killer, McDuff started a new spree of abductions the day after he walked out of prison thus the name of the series, “Freed To Kill.” The late Roy Hazelwood who was among the FBI’s original profilers described McDuff to Riggs as the “Great White Shark” of serial killers.
The documentary chronicles the dogged manhunt for McDuff led by former federal prosecutor Bill Johnston; a posse of U.S. Marshals, Parnell McNamara, Mike McNamara, Dan Stoltz, John Moriarty an undercover prison investigator who later became the Inspector General for Texas Department of Criminal Justice; Tim Steglich, Criminal Investigator for the Bell County Sheriff who got McDuff’s accomplice to confess breaking the case wide open; Austin homicide detectives Sonya Villanueva and J.W. Thompson, and Chuck Meyer, the ATF agent.
Riggs exposed that McDuff and dozens of other death row inmates had been secretly paroled in the late 1980s setting off a bloody crime spree across Texas.
Then state senator Ted Lyon, now a personal injury lawyer in Dallas, conducted sweeping investigations into the releases. Lyon’s tough questioning broke a parole board member into disclosing that it was secretly releasing 150 inmates every day to relieve prison overcrowding.
In the wake of Riggs’s broadcast reports about allegations of parle selling, Lyon conducted more hearings focused on the circumstances of McDuff’s release.
As Lyon’s hearings unfolded at the Texas Capitol in Austin, McDuff was hunting for women to abduct, rape, torture, and murder a stone’s throw away.
The scandal shook the state’s criminal justice system to its very foundation. It prompted a massive overhaul of the penal code dubbed “The McDuff Laws” and spurred a three billion dollar prison construction program in the early 1990s.
Riggs fronts the series and is one of the Executive Producers of the 5-part series. He co-produced “Freed To Kill” with Big Media.
Big Media reaches a global audience through its production offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, and India.
Big Media’s President Danny Wilk an Executive Producer for the project, Jessica Zanan, Max Montoya, and Executive Producer Martin Kase played key roles in getting Fox Nation to commission the series and to bring it to life.
Executive Producer/Show Runner/Director Seth Isler, Line Producer Susan Sullivan, Writer Glenn Kirschbaum, Director of Photography Kevin O’Brien, and Main Editor Ron Frank formed the core of a “Dream Team” to turn the project in just ten months.
Jonathan Towers, Vice President of Development at Fox Nation, applied his brilliant writing and production experience to the documentary. Towers and Riggs share a journalism pedigree have known each other for 30+ years. Towers made a mark as one of the top executive producers for non-fiction leading Towers Productions out of Chicago.
Riggs received special assistance from Seiler Burr who is the audio producer and an editorial advisor for the True Crime Reporter™ podcast. Burr worked as an assistant producer on Freed To Kill along with Grace Woodward and Brandon Billington who had worked with Riggs’ podcast.
Riggs’ reporting career comes full circle in the show when he interviews a former colleague from CBS, retired anchor Bob Schieffer. Schieffer covered McDuff’s “Broomstick Murders” in 1966 as a police beat reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Twelve years later as the CBS Congressional Correspondent on Capitol Hill, Schieffer gave Riggs help in transitioning from serving as an investigator for Congressman Wright Patman to informing the public in broadcast journalism. It is indeed a small world.
Everyone involved in the documentary approached the subject with the greatest respect for the unfortunate victims of this heinous killer.
True Crime Reporter® is a copyrighted and trade-marked production by True Crime Reporter, LLC, in Dallas, Texas.