◐ Film Title: Girl in the Picture (2022)
◐ Creator: Skye Borgman
◐ Running Time: 102 minutes
The suspicious death of Tonya Hughes on the side of the road leads authorities to uncover a mystery of layers and twists, eventually connecting her to a missing child, Suzanne Sevakis. This documentary answers the question: who is the girl in the picture?
Recommended for true crime fans who enjoy a well-made documentary with plenty of twists and turns
mentions physical and sexual violence, murder, child murder, kidnapping
◐ Review: 4/5 ⭐
This is one of those cases that starts as something, then leads investigators down a rabbit hole and winds up as something altogether different. What starts as a potential murder case, turns into a twisted story involving kidnapping and pedophilia, among other messed up things.
I knew nothing about this case before watching the documentary. As each new revelation came to light, I thought there couldn’t be any more layers, then lo and behold, there came another. At a comfortable runtime of 102 minutes, the film kept me engaged and interested throughout, simply because of how complex it was.
In murder documentaries, there is a great sense of tragedy at the loss of life. In the case of Suzanne Sevakis, however, I felt an even greater sadness. I felt angered by the seemingly senseless way she had suffered from a tender young age, until her murder. She was only twenty years old when she was killed.
Those who knew her spoke of her with tenderness and sorrow. It was clear that despite her horrible circumstances, she remained a loving person who made others feel cherished in the way she, perhaps, hoped to be cherished herself. During her short life, Suzanne’s presence was a light to those around her.
It is a grievous injustice when such light is taken from the world in so cruel a manner.
Her story reminds me of another’s, who impacted every person he encountered–made them feel seen and heard. Another whose life was unjustly cut short. Another who was never able to escape his life of suffering.
It saddened and horrified me to learn the details of what Suzanne endured throughout her life. To learn of what befell her son after her death devastated me. Neither was able to escape their bleak lives. Neither got the life they deserved to live. While the film instilled some hope left by Suzanne’s daughter and some of the people she impacted, the reality remains that these individuals were robbed of the time they could have had with her. The film left me with conflicting feelings in the end: gratitude for the way Suzanne touched the lives of those around her, yet a dull sense of hopelessness that she never escaped her life of pain and horror.
Perhaps that is why Suzanne’s story resonated so much with me. It makes me wonder why such things can be allowed to happen. I suppose there will never be answers to that question in this life.