Why Everybody’s Talking About Haunting New True-Crime Doco, ‘Murder On Middle Beach’

A harrowing and personal story from first-time filmmaker Madison Hamburg

From the harrowing case of Madeleine McCann to JonBenét Ramsey, and even the disappearance of Australia’s three Beaumont children, there has long been a worldwide fascination with attempting to crack the code of unsolved mysteries—even if unlikely such a code exists. 

As is the case for first-time filmmaker Madison Hamburg, who in the decade since his mother was murdered, has been searching for answers. Murder on Middle Beacha four-part documentary by HBO and available to watch on Binge, looks to the complicated journey to solving an unspeakable crime, the emotional toll of absolving the people you love, all while seeking out the truth. 

Filmed over eight years, Hamburg speaks to various family members and unveils long-held secrets, shares his complicated relationship with local police, and even asks his little sister Ali, and aunt Conway—who together discovered his mother’s body—if they were responsible. Over the near-decade course of filming, Hamburg learns more about his mother’s life and gathers evidence in hopes of solving her murder. 

Intrigued? Below, all your Murder on Middle Beach questions answered. 

Madison’s mother, Barbara Beach Hamburg, before her 2010 murder.
Madison’s mother, Barbara Beach Hamburg, before her 2010 murder (Credit: HBO)

Who Was Barbara “Beach” Hamburg? 

On March 3, 2010, Barbara Beach Hamburg, 48, was found murdered in the backyard of her Madison, Connecticut, home. Her body was discovered by Madison’s aunt Conway and his sister, Ali. His father, Jeffrey Hamburg, quickly became a person of interest. To this day, the case that shocked a wealthy, idyllic seaside town has remained unsolved.

Her death was ruled a homicide, with medical examiners at the time stating “multiple blunt and sharp force injury” as the official cause of death.

Barbara had been expected in the local court, alongside her ex-husband Jeffrey Hamburg, on the morning after her death, but she never made her 9:30am appearance.

The couple wed in 1989 but divorced in 2002. In the following years, the pair regularly appeared in court together, with Barbara alleging her ex-husband failed to make alimony and child support payments, while Jeffrey argued his ex-wife was behind on mortgage payments for their property. 

At the time of her death, Barbara had primary custody of their two children, Madison and Ali. 

Has Anyone Been Arrested Or Charged With Her Murder? 

While police initially questioned Jeffrey following the murder, he was never formally charged with a crime.

The murder remains unsolved. 

What Revelations Does Madison Learn About His Mother in Murder On Middle Beach? 

The four-part series isn’t so much a whodunnit than a deep, incredibly personal story about “identity, family, and grief”, as Hamburg tells IndieWire

Through his long deep dive, Madison learns the extent of his mother’s alcoholism and the long history of substance abuse that plagues his family—including himself in the years prior to his mother’s death. “I was acting out a lot. I’ve gone to rehab twice,” he told the NY Post. “My whole family is in recovery.”

One of Madison’s revelations comes in the discovery of Barbara’s involvement in “The Gifting Tables”, a pyramid scheme that had been billed as a self-help group. It consisted of women-only gatherings, in which new recruits were required to bring a hefty financial “gift” of $5,000 in cash. Barbara began recruiting new members from her Alcohols Anonymous meetings, and at the time of her death, it was believed she was on the cusp of receiving a large sum of money, leading some to question if she’d been murdered by a person related to the scheme. 

Watch the official trailer below. 

Loading the player...

Will Murder on Middle Beach Return For A Second Season? 

While Madison can’t confirm a second season, he has confirmed the investigation into his mother’s murder will continue. “It’s too early to say whether or not something like [season two] would happen,” he told GQ“but I certainly am not going to stop looking into what happened to my mum.” 

The series’ finale saw the Freedom of Information Commission rule to release case files related to Barbara’s murder, which Madison had previously not been able to access. 

With over 1,600 relevant documents handed over in October 2020, Madison confirmed to HBO he now has a “treasure trove of information” which throws the case “wide open.” 

“There’s a lot more backstory to relationships between people in my life and transparency and clarity that I didn’t have before that just opens this thing wide open,” says Hamburg. “Now, there is a treasure trove of information.” 

He also told Esquire: “There have been corroborating leads, correcting things, things that we didn’t know about. I can’t go into details, but it’s been extremely illuminating.” 

Murder on Middle Beach is available to stream now on Binge.

Related stories