Netflix’s latest horror film Things Heard and Seen, featuring Amanda Seyfried and James Norton, is reportedly based on a true story of a murder that took place in 1982.
According to a report in NY Post, the film based on Elizabeth Brundage’s novel All Things Cease To Appear was partly inspired by the gruesome death of Cathleen Krauseneck in 1982 in Brighton, New York. Cathleen’s murder is better know as “the Brighton Ax Murder.”
On February 19, 1982, James Krauseneck Jr. returned to his new house on Del Rio Drive near Rochester from his job as an economist at Eastman Kodak Co., when he spotted broken glass inside from a window and called the police. He had found his 29-year-old wife, Cathleen, dead in bed with an ax lodged in her head and their 3-year-old daughter seated calmly in her own bedroom, dressed to go out.
In a statement to the police, James had said: “She [his daughter] had a red sweater over a pink sweater with blue ABC corduroy pants and two pairs of socks. She looked dazed to me. I picked her up from her bed and ran downstairs and out the front door with her.”
James, who was considered to be one of the key suspects, said he had been at work all day. The next day he reportedly took his daughter Sara and fled to Michigan, where he grew up. Brighton Police Chief Eugene Shaw opted not to question the daughter a month later because “too much time has gone by.”
Meanwhile, Cathleen’s murder case, which had gone unresolved for almost 39 years, finally made a breakthrough in November 2019 when James was indicted by a grand jury on a second-degree murder charge. He pleaded not guilty.
The Brighton Police Chief attributed the delayed charges to improved forensic technology that’s clarified the timeline of the murder — calling James’ alibi into question — and has shed more light on the crime scene.
“I understand people want a singular piece of evidence that can directly point to James Krauseneck Jr.,” the current Brighton Police Chief David Catholdi had told a local media out. “This is not one of those cases.”
It is pertinent to add that at the scene of the crime no other DNA was found other than the family’s. It was also reported that shortly before her death, Cathleen found that James had not completed his doctorate and lied to his employers.
After Michigan, James moved to Gig Harbor in Washington, where he worked as a vice president of sales for a timberland company called Weyerhaeuser. When he was charged, James was living in Peoria, Arizona, with his fourth wife.
To add another twist, serial rapist Ed Laraby, right before he died in 2014 claimed that he killed Cathleen and committed at least a dozen more crimes.
“Ed Laraby is a notorious self-described sociopathic killer of women,” Krauseneck’s defense attorney said. “The issue is he lived really within basically a half mile, or less than a half mile, and has confessed to this murder as he lay dying in prison.”
Unlike the ending of the movie, which had a comprehensive end, Cathleen Krauseneck’s murder remains unsolved. James, now 69, was freed on $100,000 bail and is awaiting a trial that was delayed by the pandemic — the next pretrial hearing is set for June.
Things Heard and Seen follows an unhappy young mother (Seyfried), who is brutally murdered with an ax while her child is found eerily seated on the couch downstairs. Her studious husband (Norton) leaves shortly after the crime. The film gives the real-life characters different names, changes up their circumstances (they have a son and live in the Hudson Valley) and adds some ghosts for some more horror.
The film is currently trending in the top ten on Netflix Pakistan.