Staircase: HBO Max continues nightmare for Michael Peterson and daughter Margaret

Margaret Ratliff only agreed to appear in front of the camera twenty years ago because Jean-Xavier de Lestradethe documentary series stairs, in extreme cases.

In 2001, Kathleen Peterson, whom Ratliff referred to as “Mom,” was found dead at the bottom of the stairs at the family’s home in Durham, North Carolina. Sixteen years ago, Ratliff’s biological mother, Elizabeth, died of similar conditions in Germany. After the 1985 tragedy, Elizabeth’s friends Michael Peterson With Ratliff and her sister, Martha, into his home and eventually become their legal guardian.

After Katherine’s death, however, Michael was unable to protect his adopted daughters, who were 20 and 18 at the time. He is busy planning a defense trial after being charged with the murder of his late wife. (Michael was convicted in 2003. He has been released from prison after being given a new trial and submitted to Alford to plead guilty.)

Michael, a novelist who ran for mayor of Durham, is skeptical of getting a fair trial. He has publicly attacked the way local officials handle criminal cases in newspaper columns and told his children that he thought having the trials recorded on camera might protect legal action.

“At the time, we feared he would face the death penalty,” Ratliff recalled in a phone interview. Vanity Fair Saturday. Before putting Michael on the phone, Ratliff remembered, “I thought, well, this will help my dad…”

as Ratliff theme, When a documentary she co-produced premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last weekend, she has no reason to believe in Drystrade’s documentary series, stairs, will be widely seen. She agreed to work on the project in 2002 — years before streaming.

In 2003, Michael was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. With her father behind bars, she said, Ratliff and her siblings did their best to move forward — trying to bring the disturbing details of Katherine’s death, the tragic trial (North Carolina History one of the longest trials) and a documentary behind them.

“In a way, we don’t have parents. I just want to travel across the world and finish my masters, not talk about stairs,Ratliff said of the impact of de Lestrade’s documentary series, which premiered in 2005 on the Sundance Channel to critical acclaim.

That all changed when Netflix acquired the documentaries in 2018, she said. Immediately, it is accessible to over 120 million users worldwide. The family has already been recognized for the documentary when it became the cult’s true crime favorite. (During a surreal sibling holiday in Denmark, “the only thing displayed on the hotel TV was stairs in English. It felt weird that we went to breakfast because people would just stare at us,” Ratliff recalls.) Netflix’s reach would make them recognizable in a new crowd.

To complicate matters for Ratliff: Before Katherine’s death, she had been interested in documentary filmmaking.back stairs In her Netflix debut, Ratliff said she was interviewed for a job and the person who asked her recognized her from the documentary. She claims that Ratliff’s “weirdest” career experience happened four years ago, when she applied for her “dream job” in Netflix’s own documentary division.

“Had a fantastic assistant position in the documentary department at Netflix, and I had a great call with HR and I was very qualified and very excited,” Ratliff said. “The people in HR got really excited about me and quickly got me to escalate. Then they realized who I was.”

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