"Perfectly Executed" is the story of two brilliant teenage best friends accused of planning and carrying out the brutal killings of one of the teen's mother, father and sister. Their alleged motive? Use money from the family's estate to finance a movie they planned to write.
For us, this multi-layered murder mystery was a case that grabbed our attention back in 2000 - and continues to intrigue us today, with still unanswered questions. It also became very personal on a number of levels.
First, it occurred in Peter's hometown of Bellevue, Wash. When the murders first happened, his mother called to tell him the news - it was the most savage crime in the history of this quiet suburb of Seattle. Once Executive Producer Susan Zirinsky, Executive Story Editor Kathleen O'Connell and Senior Producer Katie Boyle gave us the assignment, we knew we had one of the most intriguing and challenging stories of our 48 Hours careers.
Our team worked the case from the moment the two Canadian teenagers, Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay, were brought back to Seattle to stand trial - it would take nearly five years before our show was put together. During that time, we delved into every detail of the case and the lives of those involved. We became obsessed with the case.
We flew out to Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., several times to have meetings with the prosecution and defense teams, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other major players in the case - eventually convincing them, with the vital help of associate producer Gayane Keshishyan, to participate. We were able to speak independently with nearly every important witness in the case, including Sebastian Burns's family members and high school girlfriend. Jenna established a relationship with Sebastian through letters and through several in-person meetings, giving us insight no one else had. Peter followed this up by conducting separate interviews with both suspects. His questioning was detailed and intense. He got to play prosecutor, without the rules of the court to hold him back. The interviews went on for several hours - and both young men answered every question with meticulous detail.
We feel like we got a real sense of who the players in this case were - and of how it unfolded. We hope you're as interested in this case as we've been for the last several years.
Please let us know what you think. Our e-mail addresses are email@example.com (Peter Van Sant) and firstname.lastname@example.org (Jenna Jackson).
The book comes out Aug. 28.
Peter Van Sant and Jenna Jackson