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Sawyer died Feb. 10 in Santa Monica, due to surgical complications, her family announced.
She was born on Aug. 11, 1961, in Bronxville, New York, to William and Elaine Mooney. Sawyer attended Clarkstown North High School in New City, New York, and Hobart William Smith College, where she graduated in 1983. She got her start in TV at Viacom’s MTV during the music video channel’s earliest days as an executive assistant to founder Bob Pittman.
Sawyer was eventually promoted to a producer role, where she worked on programming such as the MTV Awards Show, then overseen by Don Ohlmeyer.
In 1992, Sawyer went to work as a senior producer for Geraldo Rivera’s newsmagazine show Now It Can Be Told before a stint on Robin Leach’s syndicated show First Look at the New as a segment producer.
Sawyer also served as a producer on ABC’s Primetime Live, 20/20 and 48 Hours, helping to land interviews with vigilante killer Ellie Nesler, Tonya Harding and the Swiss nanny Olivia Riner, who had been accused and charged with harming a baby in her care.
Sawyer also worked as a senior producer and writer at HBO, where her credits included the Donald Sutherland-starrer Citizen X and The Late Shift, about the late-night TV wars.
As a freelancer, she eventually opened her own production company to continue producing HBO First Look specials; HBO’s InStyle TV, based on InStyle magazine; PBS documentaries; and VH1 Flix specials.
Most recently, Sawyer created and hosted Sleuth, about the double-murder-for-profit of college students Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi in 2010.
Before her death, she had begun work on a new case for Sleuth‘s planned second season.
Sawyer is survived by her twin daughters, Niki and Nila Sawyer; her parents; and her brother, William Mooney.
A memorial service is planned to take place March 3 at 2:30 p.m. at the Riverside Memorial Chapel in New York City.
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