The tragic irony of Richard Slatkin’s 2013 murder, rehashed in the premiere episode of Oxygen’s new true crime series Killer Affair, is so twisted that it almost seems fictional. The Benbrook, Texas resident worked as a private investigator, chasing the thrill of catching liars and cheaters in their affairs. “He loved being a private investigator,” Slatkin’s friend Red Goldstein told the cameras. “He enjoyed outing liars.”
When Slatkin began his own extramarital affair with a woman more than 30 years his junior, he did not expect that it would spiral out of control into a love triangle (or love square?) resulting in his death. He became the very same kind of liar he once hunted for a living. And still, the irony thickens.
Killer Affair premieres on Thursday, July 11 at 8 p.m. on Oxygen and will be made up of stand-alone episodes that explore true stories of how heightened passions and sordid affairs led to murder. Similar to the network’s recently-rolled-out A Lie to Die For, the show is a hodge-podge of reenactments, actual police recordings, and interviews with key players and detectives. The red-stained imagery—roses, drops of blood, spilled wine—and slanted L.A. Confidential font of the opening credits adds clear nods to the neo-noir genre.
Catherine Taylor was only 18 years old when she introduced herself to Slatkin as an aspiring private investigator. The heavy-handed narrator points to the significance of Taylor’s appearance in the office that day, describing the encounter as “straight out of a detective movie.” It’s like, we get it, this whole show is supposed to be a reference to pulpy crime films. Moving on. Slatkin was immediately enamored of Taylor, a local heiress to the Alcon eyecare fortune. They quickly entered into an affair that lasted four years before Slatkin left his wife. The pair married after another four years in 2009.
This is where things get a bit bonkers. The affair-vigilante-turned-adulterer learned that his young bride had been cheating on him with her high school boyfriend, Jason Patton. And one of the couple’s two daughters was actually Patton’s child. You know what they say about karma. Slatkin and Taylor-Slatkin filed for divorce after three years of marriage.
In a truly stomach-turning twist, Taylor-Slatkin then began an affair with Patton’s father Johnny, AKA the grandfather of her second daughter. You cannot make this stuff up (though it does sound very, very made up). It is Johnny Patton who ended up shooting Slatkin—in broad daylight while on the phone with a 911 dispatcher—in a fit of jealous rage. He is currently serving life in prison.
The MVP of the first episode of Killer Affair is Johnny Patton’s sister, Debbie Patton-Bearden. Through pursed, hot pink lipstick-lined lips, she spits judgment at the cameras in a Southern drawl. She knew Catherine Taylor as a young girl through the Fort Worth old money circuits and did not approve of her adulterous ways. Patton-Bearden’s snide remarks paired with her expressive, heavily made-up face are memes waiting to happen. Some of her snappiest one-liners include, “You’re in his wife’s bed, have you lost your mind?” and “You’re not fooling a damn person.” Aunt Debbie will undoubtedly stir up PTSD in any viewer who has sat through an unbearable Thanksgiving dinner with a particularly cruel, judgmental relative.
In all seriousness, Killer Affair really does not feel all that different from A Lie to Die For, or any of Oxygen’s true crime programming for that matter. If that’s your cup of tea, you won’t feel like you’re wasting an hour of your Thursday night. Was it an especially good episode of television? No. Did I watch it raptly from start to finish? Yes, absolutely.