Girl in the Picture viewers praise unsung hero of ‘horrifying’ Netflix documentary

Netflix viewers are praising the unsung hero of a “horrifying” new documentary.

Girl in the Picture was released earlier this month, and has been branded “the most frightening thing ever” by those who have streamed it.

The true-crime documentary film, directed by Abducted in Plain Sight’s Skye Borgman, tells the story of the death of a young woman Tonya Hughes, believed at the time to have been called Sharon, who was the victim of a hit and run In 1990, and the kidnapping of her son shortly after.

Girl in the Picture reveals a chilling link between the two incidents, which spans decades. The Netflix synopsis tells viewers that the mystery of the case “unfolds like a nightmare” and informs them of a harrowing real-life story involving rape, abuse and incest.

Since its release, the documentary has become a word-of-mouth hit for Netflix. It currently sits atop the streaming service’s most-watched charts around the world.

However, many are using the film’s success to highlight the efforts of Matt Birkbeck, an investigative journalist whose works the documentary is based on

Birkbeck is being praised for raising awareness of the story, and for bringing closure to those affected by the nightmare. One tweet by @howsthemapples hails him as “the glue that eventually stuck each piece of this mess together”.

He did so in books A Beautiful Child: A True Story of Hope, Horror, and an Enduring Human Spirit and Finding Sharon, which were released in 2004 and 2018, respectively. Birkbeck features in the documentary and is listed as an executive producer.

Matt Birkbeck is being praised following the release of ‘Girl in the Picture’ (NBetflix)
Matt Birkbeck is being praised following the release of ‘Girl in the Picture’ (NBetflix)

Readers are now highlighting the importance of Birkbeck’s involvement to those who are new to the story, saying that A Beautiful Child had “a huge role in breaking the case”.

Twitter user @Rallyo42 added: “It was Matt's work that kept the entire frigging story alive until the FBI stepped up.”

Girl in the Picture is available to stream on Netflix now.