True crime doc gets more sinister and complex the more you watch it.
“Girl in the Picture” is a made-for-Netflix documentary about a 20-year-old woman named Tonya Hughes, who died in what was assumed as a hit-&-run accident. But there’s a bigger mystery behind it, and it gets shocking and more disturbing as the story unfolds. It’s a puzzle that takes its time to let you find all the pieces.
Her real name isn’t Tonya Hughes, which is why they put just Tonya on her tombstone. That’s one of the mysteries the film intends to unfold.
Her 2-year-old son Michael was placed into foster care and placed into a family-the Beans-who knew his qualities and difficulties, and were in the process of signing the adoption papers. But then, something terrible happens to him in the middle of that.
Tonya’s husband Clarence Hughes was originally thought of as Michael’s biological father, which is why the Beans allowed visitation. However, a paternity test revealed that they’re not biologically related and his visitation rights were gone. That’s when the man kidnaps the boy, and that’s when we learn that Clarence’s real name is Franklin Delano Floyd. In fact, he had a number of aliases, like Trenton Davis, Warren Marshall, and Brandon Cleo Williams. But that’s not all there is to it. It gets deeper and deeper.
Did he murder the boy? If not, what did he do to him? Keep watching and find out.
Then, we get her real name Sharon Marshall, who was up for a scholarship at Georgia Tech, but ends up as a stripper. Ooooohhhhhhhh! That’s not it! It gets more sinister.
All the people involved with the girl are horrified by what is revealed about her and the man in her life. Whoever this girl’s real name was has been presented as a beautiful soul, who had so much potential in life, and could have easily affected the lives of the people around her. But that was stolen by this monster. There are, however, some people in her life, who can continue what would have been her legacy, and that’s inspiring.
“Girl in the Picture” is directed with intensity and chills by Skye Borgman (“Dead Asleep”), who gets all he’s able to get about the true crime story. What happened, who’s who, and where are they? It’s a really provocative and haunting story, and I’m glad it has been solved. It’s not much of a happy ending, but there’s continuation in the lives of the ones involved with the very young mother and son.
This is a story about good and evil, love, hatred, rape, murder, abuse, neglect, and whatever life has to offer for those unlucky. See for yourselves.
Streaming on Netflix