This Devastating Netflix Documentary is Guaranteed to Ruin Your Day

Girl in the Picture documentary

Girl in the Picture is a deeply disturbing true crime documentary that may be best described as a feature-length trigger warning. The subject matter chronicled within is stomach-churning and unnerving. But inversely, the doc also functions as a loving tribute to a gifted young woman who was taken from those she loved far too soon. Ultimately, Girl in the Picture is an engrossing experience that plays out a lot like a Hollywood thriller. 

Girl in the Picture chronicles the horrifying true story of a young woman known as Sharon Marshall (she was additionally known as Tonya Hughes and Suzanne Sevakis). Sharon died in 1990, following what was initially classified as a hit-and-run accident. Authorities eventually, however, ruled Sharon’s death a homicide. At the time of her death, Sharon lived with a man named Warren Marshall (who was also known as Franklin Floyd and Clarence Hughes), who was believed to be her husband. The two of them shared a two-year-old son named Michael. Clarence was known to be physically abusive and used Michael to control Sharon.

But how did matters turn deadly for her? Well, it’s a winding story filled with horrifying realizations. And seeing as there are a number of unexpected developments that materialize throughout the course of the documentary, I will be intentionally vague to allow the uninducted viewer to put the pieces together.  

As many true crime documentaries do, Girl in the Picture chronicles Sharon’s story in nonlinear fashion. The details emerge piecemeal, which can be a bit disorienting at first but the presentation ultimately creates a mounting sense of intrigue. People that knew Sharon at different points in her short life, including family members, friends, coworkers, and others are interviewed. Each provides context regarding who Sharon was. Collectively, her story comes together and we learn the hardships she endured, as well as the details surrounding her murder. 

Sharon’s story is one with many layers. Just as you think you’ve got a handle on what’s happening, more information emerges and makes the case that much more puzzling. On the surface, Girl in the Picture is a film chronicling the mysterious circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Sharon Marshall. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Marshall’s death leads to even more questions regarding her true identity, the identity of the man believed to be her husband, and the paternity of Sharon’s son. Not to mention: How did Sharon come to know Warren? What was the true nature of their relationship? And how did she wind up alongside the road on the night she was discovered. The documentary eventually reveals all but the answers frequently prove to be shocking and unexpected. 

In watching the film, it quickly becomes apparent that Sharon lived a waking nightmare. But what’s remarkable about Girl in the Picture is that it doesn’t set out to sensationalize the horrors Sharon endured. Instead, director Skye Borgman (Abducted in Plain Sight) takes care to paint a complete picture of who Sharon was. That most certainly includes harrowing depictions of the abuse she endured at the hands of a madman. But we also learn what a phenomenal friend, mother, and human Sharon was. We get to see her ties to various activities during high school and get a good idea of just how gifted she truly was.

In watching those that knew her best recount their memories of Sharon, it’s quite clear that she had unlimited potential and could have gone on to be successful at whatever she set her mind to. It’s unspeakably tragic that her life was cut short. But in spite of that, Girl in the Picture serves as a meaningful tribute to her legacy and a fascinating profile of a horrifying case. Just make sure to clear your schedule before you watch this one. It’s a lot to take in and it’s bound to leave you feeling rather melancholy for a spell.

If you’re interested in checking the film out for yourself, it is available exclusively through Netflix. Be sure to let us know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter



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