The third season premiere of the true crime series The Detectives premieres tonight and Episode One will keep you guessing whodunit right up till the end.
Allan Hawco (Jack Ryan) stars as RCMP detective Gerry Belliveau, who, 23 years ago in Sackville, N.S., was lead investigator on a crime that saw Mary Lou Barns and her 11-year-old son Larry Mills, Jr., strangled to death in their trailer home.
It took 13 years, but Belliveau never gave up on his goal to put the person(s) responsible for this brutal crime behind bars. He was awarded the RCMP’s Commissioner’s Commendation for Outstanding Service for sticking with and eventually solving the double homicide.
Belliveau retired from the force in 2014 and now acts as a consultant for lawyers and police agencies. He comes from a line of police protectors. “There are eight of us in the family who are police officers,” he says. His father’s retired, and he has two sons in the force.
That one of his own sons was the same age as the young boy who was murdered made this case a little more personal for Belliveau. Solving it, he says, “was hard work; raw police work. Thankfully, some individuals in the community decided to give us a hand.”
Belliveau joined executive producer and showrunner Petro Duszara at CBC’s Winter Media launch late last year in Toronto. Below is an excerpt from our interview:
One of the initial suspects in the case was the father of the boy, Larry Sr. What was it like for you seeing him portrayed on this series?
Gerry Belliveau: It was emotional, yes. He’s a type of individual who is born with a steel door. My challenge was to get through that door.
What’s the key to getting a suspect to trust you and start to open up about a case?
Hopefully, none of us will ever walk in his shoes. But you can still empathize and imagine what it’s like to be in his shoes and once you understand that and understand his vulnerability and why he’s so upset at the judicial system, in the policing community, things start to open up.
What about the actor who played you, Allan Hawco. Did he talk to you beforehand?
No, I had an opportunity to meet him this summer and just couldn’t get away. I thought he did a very good job.
He kept his cool and his voice low in most scenes I thought, never yelling at people. Is that a technique you yourself employ?
No, I get aggressive at times, verbally aggressive at times, because its the right thing to do depending on the situation. I liked the way he interacted, especially with Larry. And the way that he gathered some of the information that came in — the phone call when he got the DNA — that was like me sitting there.
The series is an anthology that uses different actors every week. How did Hawco come to be featured in this episode?
Petro Duszara: He’s someone I admire; I especially like his presence. I think he comes across as someone who’s gentle but has integrity and I’ve wanted him on the show for years. When this role came up, we reached out to him and he jumped in with both feet.
Finally, what was it about this case that made you press on after so many years?
Belliveau: I made a promise to myself way back. Our youngest, our sixth child, was born in ’95 when this homicide happened. I said to myself at the time, I’m not going to retire from this outfit without solving this file. Mary Lou Burns and her son were totally, 100 per cent, disconnected and innocent from this bad guy, right? As much as nobody in Canada should die from a homicide, it makes it a touch worse when it happens to a total stranger in the fashion that it did. This isn’t a car accident. This isn’t something that slips off a cliff and fell; this was deliberate. This was cold blooded.
Episode 301 of The Detectives premieres Thursday, January 9 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC and CBC Gem.