Did you know that there really was a Laura Palmer? Even a monster-sized TWIN PEAKS mark like me didn’t know that, not until a couple’a years ago. I was surprised to read that a real-life crime had inspired the series. The mundane world equivalent of Laura was named Hazel Drew, and she lived not in Washington State but in upstate New York, in the resort community of Sand Lake. She was 20 years old when she was murdered on July 7th, 1908. She was walking down Taborton Road, a rural stretch primarily used by hunters and fishermen; about 7:30 PM she encountered two men, teenager Frank Smith, said to be mentally challenged and said to be smitten with Hazel, and 35-year-old Rudolph Gundrum, a charcoal salesman, who was giving Smith a ride in his wagon. Four days later the decomposing body of Hazel Drew was found floating in the nearby Teal’s Pond. She had been bludgeoned to death.
No one was ever arrested for the crime. The latter, and the victim, would likely have been long forgotten by now, just another murder in a bygone day. Only Mark Frost, co-creator of TWIN PEAKS, spent his summer vacations in Taborton, New York, and he grew up listening to his grandmother talk about the murder. The rest, as they say, is history. In creating Laura Palmer, Frost and David Lynch provided a sort of immortality to Hazel Drew. Also, Drew’s ghost is said to haunt Teal’s Pond. One wonders what she would think of Laura Palmer.