The Knickerbocker Theatre at Hope College is sponsoring the world premiere of "Finding Diane," a new film by David Schock and his associates, on Monday, March 24, with 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. showings.
The public is invited. Admission is free.
Schock began the film in the fall of 2005 while he was a member of the Hope faculty. As with his murder films - "Who Killed Janet Chandler?" and "Jack in the Box" - Schock invited his then-documentary students to join him in his work. They were involved in the initial interview and some research.
The story of the film revolves around the discovery of an unidentified body. In late March of 2004, Netha Speet went down to her dock on PigeonLake on Michigan's west coast to examine the white thing floating next to it. She hesitated to get too close once she determined it was nothing she'd ever before encountered. The Ottawa County Sheriff's office verified for her it was a woman whose badly decomposed body had floated from somewhere. The forensic pathologist could not specify a cause of death and so the investigators were treating it like a possible homicide under the heading of "Indeterminate" for a cause and manner of death.
"Ottawa County Sheriff Gary Rosema asked for help," said Schock, a former associate professor in the department of communication. "Midway through our story gathering, the body - given the appellation of Diane - was identified as that of Barbara Ann Biehn, formerly of Racine, Wis. She had walked into the freezing waters of Lake Michigan a few days before Christmas 2003 and had floated either across or along the shores of Lake Michigan."
In the 18 months Ottawa County Sheriff officers Det. Dave Blakely and Venus Repper worked to identify her, they involved Michigan State Police reconstructionist Matt Churchill and Det. Dave Eddy in the drive to give her a name and to allow her to go home.
"The case turns out not have been a homicide, but a suicide...a self murder," Schock said. "But the story stands as a testament to the determined work of the officers to give this unknown person back to her family...and to give them answers."
The students in the class included Holly Beckerman, Greg Elizondo, Carolyn Fields, Nick Graves, Leon Hendrix, Travis Hoogendoorn, Debby Li, Sarah Quesada Lubbers, Kristin Rose, Johanna Swanson, and Erin Wickens.
The director of photography is Phil Blauw, who still teaches and serves on staff at HopeCollege. The editor for the 54-minute film is Jeff Gural of Northwind Productions.
Since leaving Hope College in the spring of 2006, Schock has worked as an independent film maker, including working with NBC's "Dateline" on a forthcoming segment about the Janet Chandler murder investigation and trials. He continues murder investigations and has launched the enterprise www.delayedjustice.com. His latest murder project deals with a 70-year-old unsolved homicide, the oldest on the books in Grand Rapids.
The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. Eighth St.