I'm a Tennessee-based freelance writer with a passion for true crime, a thirst for knowledge, and an obsession with lists.
If you're in the mood for a true crime film fest, the following ten made-for-television movies from the 1980s and 1990s are a great place to get started. Based on real-life events, these films are recommended because they stay relatively close to facts.
Grab the popcorn and some tissues then enjoy!
1. Easy Prey (1986)
Australian born Christopher Wilder, also known as the Beauty Queen Killer raped and murdered at least eight women on a six-week cross country spree in the United States where he had immigrated in 1965. He often lured his victims by posing as a photographer searching for models. His last victim, Carol Hilbert, however, would escape and stop a serial killer forever.
Gerald Raney stars as Christopher Wilder. Susan Hogan stars in the role of Carol Risico, pseudonym for Carol Hilbert.
2. Mother Knows Best (1997)
Boca Raton socialite Lee Goldsmith hated her daughter Arleen's husband so much she hired a someone to kill him. Following her son-in-law's funeral and anxious to find her daughter a "suitable" partner, she takes out a newspaper ad reading, "Nice Jewish Girl Wants to Meet Nice Jewish Boy."
David Bowenstein would answer the ad and he and Arlene would soon become inseparable. In Arleen's opinion, Jewish made him suitable; his profession as an automobile mechanic did not. Lee is appalled when she learns Arleen intends to marry David. She'll do anything she can to get David Bowenstein out of the picture. .
Names have been changed and creative licensing used for the purposes of dramatic effect. Joanna Kerns plays the role of Celeste Cooper, pseudonym for Lee Goldsmith.
3. A Child Lost Forever: The Jerry Sherwood Story (1992)
In 1961, incarcerated, teenage, and unwed mother Jerry Sherwood was forced to put her newborn son up for adoption. When Jerry decides to search for her son thirty years later, she expects to find an adult man possibly with a wife and children; instead she learns he died at the age of three after being adopted by Harold and Lois Jurgens. What killed her little boy? Jerry Sherwood is determined to find out.
Beverly D'Angelo stars in the role of Jerry Sherwood.
4. Deadly Intentions (1985)
Dr. Patrick G. Henry was violently abusive to his wife Christina, much to the disbelief of her own parents - until they seen it with their own eyes. With their help, Christina finally leaves her husband, taking their preschool child. Outraged, Patrick devises a plan to murder his wife and regain custody of his son...no matter how many times it takes.
5. Vows of Deception (1996)
James Grund was set up on a blind date with the woman who would become his wife - and murderer.
Although friends and family warned James not to marry Susan after she announced she was pregnant, he felt a responsibility to his child to do so. It did take long for bitter fights to begin which would last for the duration of their marriage, nor for her to seduce her stepson at first opportunity. When James finds out, he files for divorce but Susan will not stand for it.
6. In Broad Daylight (1991)
Ken Rex McElroy was a thorn in the side of Skidmore, Missouri residents. He bullied town residents, using violence if he deemed necessary. Victims tried to fight back but he always seemed to escape consequences some how. He would take it too far, however, when he began to stalk and later shot an elderly local grocer over a dispute the man and his elderly wife had with one of McElroy's children earlier because the child had tried to steal.
The elderly grocer was shot when McElroy finally decided to confront him which finally resulted in a conviction that could send McElroy to jail for a long time. But like the arrogant bully he was, when McElroy was freed on bond pending an appeal of his conviction, he made his way to the local tavern to boast about the horrible things he intended to do the old man.
The folks of Skidmore were tired of it and decided it was time to do something about it.
7. Innocent Victims (1996)
When Fort Bragg military wife Katie Eastburn is murdered along with her two of her three daughters, the investigation focuses on former Staff Sergeant Timothy Hennis, who had recently picked up a dog the Eastburns had advertised to give away because they were being sent to Germany for her husband's next duty station.
Hennis declares his innocents and only circumstantial evidence exists but prosecutors press forward nonetheless in a case that continues to be debated to this day.
8. No One Could Protect Her (1996)
Harvey Miguel Robinson is one of the youngest serial killers in American history at the the time of this writing, having murdered three women by the age of eighteen. One fortunate young woman would ultimately save the lives of an untold number of women.
Joanna Kerns stars in the role of Robinson's surviving victim, Denise Sam-Cali.
9. The Case of the Hillside Stranglers (1989)
Between October 1977 and February 1978, the dead bodies of young women kept turning up on the sides of the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, California. The murders would be the work of sadistic cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono.
10. Murder In the Heartland (1993)
During a 1950s two month spree, teenagers Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend,Caril Ann Fugate, murdered eleven people in Nebraska and Wyoming. The killings began with Caril's parents when they told 19 year-old Charles he wasn't allowed to date their 14 year-old daughter and ended only when Charles surrendered after being shot by police.
© 2017 Kim Bryan