Tonight is the premiere of a new episode of the PBS documentary series Secrets of the Dead, with a New York City based mystery, The Woman in the Iron Coffin. We’re excited to offer an exclusive clip of the episode, which premieres tonight at 10 PM (check your local listings). The episode delves into the young woman who was discovered in an iron coffin in Queens on the Corona/Elmhurst border in 2011, discovered by construction workers, and the efforts of a forensic archeologist Scott Warnasch, who has been the forensic anthropologist/archaeologist for the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner from 2005 to 2015. As part of his role, Warnasch directed office’s Human Remains Recovery excavations at the World Trade Center site .
In the opening of the episode, the narrator says, “At first, it appears to be a homicide. But something about the scene doesn’t quite add up.” Warnesh worked with members of the local community in New York, leading scientific experts, and technological experts, to provide both a backstory to the woman’s life and provide a physical and sociological picture of who she was. “It’s really important that we create this rich and diverse tapestry of African American life in the 19th century,” says one of the interviewees.
Here is a preview of the episode below:
In conjunction with the premiere episode, PBS also will release three short web episodes about three New York City African-American communities that sprang up after slaves were emancipated in New York State in 1827. The episodes cover Seneca Village (now part of Central Park), Weeksville in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and Newtown (now Elmhurst, where the iron coffin woman was found). The first episode on Weeksville is now available for viewing below. Seneca Village and Newtown episodes will be released on October 9th and 16th.
Next, read more about Seneca Village and see a remnant you can still spot! Check out the Top 10 Secrets of Central Park.