5 Real Life Murder Plots Too Weird Even For Hollywood

We're all suckers for an interesting true crime story, whether the perp employs an unusual method ("He used gummi bears, but only the green ones") or there's a shocking reveal ("It was Ted Cruz all along!"). But every once in a while, we get a crime so bizarre that it reads less like real life and more like a soap opera written by a drunken artificial intelligence working from rejected True Detective scripts. For example ...

Advertisement

5
A Woman Catfished Her Parents And Boyfriend Into Murder

Jenelle Potter never had a lot of friends. She was lanky, had an annoying voice, was riddled with chronic health problems, and though she was well into her 30s, she still lived at home with her overprotective parents. In her free time, she did what many lonely people do: stare at the internet, waiting for something good to happen. It wasn't a good life. So when pharmacy clerk Tracy Greenwell took pity and introduced Potter to her circle of friends, things seemed to take a turn for the better. Until Potter decided that two of them had to die.

Tate Davis "I already smile like a deranged killer, might as well lean into it."

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Despite being seen by most people as an awkward wallflower, Potter quickly bombarded her new friends with Gossip Girl levels of drama. She first started dating Jamie Curd, Greenwell's cousin, but rumors began flying that she was also secretly eyeing a different cousin, Billy Payne.

Zanandi BotesIf you can't be with the cousin you love, love the cousin you're with. -- Tennessee state motto

But Payne was in a relationship with another mutual friend, Billie Jean Hayworth, and the couple had a baby, so nothing scandalous happened. Then Potter revealed she was receiving menacing messages on Facebook, threatening both her and her parents. And she knew exactly who they were coming from: Hayworth, who was apparently so jealous of Potter's good looks that she decided to become a one-woman troll army.

Zanandi BotesStarting to look more like a "Dear Diary" entry.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Curd stood by Potter's accusations, but the other friends decided to back Hayworth, who as a new mom obviously didn't have the energy to cyberbully some shut-in she barely knew. Fortunately for Potter, she still had the emotional support of her parents ... as well as a Facebook friend named Chris, whom she claimed worked for the CIA (like her father Marvin used to).

Ultimately the feud was snuffed, in an unfortunately literal fashion. On January 31, 2012, Payne and Hayworth were found dead in their home. Both had been shot once in the head, execution-style. Payne's throat had been slit afterward, and Hayworth had been murdered while holding her baby in her lap. It wasn't long before authorities took Curd in for questioning. And that's when the whole CIA conspiracy plot kicked in ...

Zanandi Botes*SHYAMALAN*

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

It turned out that both Curd and Potter's mother Barbara had been contacted by the Facebook CIA buddy, who told them Potter's life was in grave danger from the couple and they needed to be taken out first. So Curd, Barbara, and Marvin did precisely that. But the police had a hard time believing some CIA operative gave the OK to execute two people simply because he was concerned about his Facebook friend. So when they dug a little deeper, they discovered the true identity of Chris: Jenelle Potter.

Zanandi Botes*DOUBLE SHYAMALAN*

Some cyber snooping revealed that not only had Chris' emails all come from Jenelle's computer, but so did all of her Facebook wall messages. All the online harassment, all the messages of support, Chris the CIA guy -- it was all Jenelle creating a pathetic high school drama to catfish her loved ones into murder. Perhaps the most shocking thing is that this stupid, stupid plan (sort of) worked. The entire Potter family was found guilty and they are now serving life sentences, while Curd took a plea deal and is serving 25 years. Hopefully they're locked up somewhere without an internet connection.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Related: 5 Real-Life Murderers More Terrifying Than Any Horror Movie

4
Soap Opera Stars Starred In A Soap Opera Murder

Actor Guilherme de Padua and actress Daniela Perez were the stars of the '90s Brazilian soap opera Of Body And Soul. Not only were their characters having a steamy love affair onscreen, but they were also rumored to be rehearsing rather enthusiastically behind the scenes. But every soap fan knows that secret affairs never stay secret for very long. They also know what happens next: Someone is going to get killed.

Perez was stabbed 18 times, and police found signs of a black magic ritual performed at the murder site. Authorities arrested de Padua and his wife, Paula Thomaz. De Padua confessed to the murder, initially claiming that he had stabbed Perez over a dozen times with her own scissors ... in self-defense. Later, the police extracted a confession from Thomaz: She had been present and had participated in the murder. Why? Because de Padua revealed that he had been having an affair with Perez, who had allegedly become so obsessed with de Padua that she threatened to murder Thomaz, then 19 and pregnant, so they could be together. That story would certainly have been plausible enough ... if de Padua bothered to stick to it.

Rede Globo Dawson’s Creek on the outside, Natural Born Killers on the inside.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

In a twist straight out of ... well, a soap opera, it turned out that the two actors never even had an affair. Of Body And Soul's entire crew affirmed that Perez was happily married and had frequently pushed away the clingy de Padua. Some even claimed de Padua had gone loco, confusing his soap opera stories with real life. During the trial, it came out that the couple committed the murder to "seal a pact of fidelity." We're no marriage experts, but a fidelity ritual involving murder does not sound like good therapy.

So when de Padua's story started crumbling, he recanted his confession and then claimed that his (by then ex-) wife killed Perez in a fit of jealous rage. It seems stabbing women in the back was this guy's go-to move. But investigators were having none of it. Both de Padua and Thomaz were convicted for the murder. But here's the real twist: Back then, Brazil was very lenient on first-time offenders. So despite being an accomplice to the brutal stabbing of an innocent woman, Thomaz was eligible for work release barely a year after her trial. And Padua, the black magic murderer, was out of prison after six years, and is now a pastor. If that's real life in Brazil, we're really curious how crazy the soap operas are.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Related: 7 Times Movies And Shows Hid Real Murders Behind The Scenes

3
The Morris Family Loved Money More Than Each Other

Every family has a black sheep, the kind of screw-up you don't invite to your wedding because they might bring a hooker as a plus one. They'll sleep on your couch, eat your food, steal your Netflix password and fill your queue with reality TV -- and they'll never, ever be able to pay you back.

While they're alive, anyway.

Christopher Morris was a troubled man. A career cocaine addict, he had spent a big chunk of his adult life in prison on drug and assault charges. But he had Theron and Leila Morris, two loving parents who could never do enough for their baby boy. But love don't pay the bills -- or at least, not the mounds of cocaine needed to get through the day. So Christopher came up with a plan: Together with his roomie and prison pal Martin Wayne Rector, he would murder his ex-wife and her ten-year-old daughter to collect $35,000 in life insurance. He promised his parents half of the money, and they were just glad he'd finally found a promising career.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Of course, like with everything else, Christopher fucked it up. Not only did he botch the hit, but his ex-wife's life insurance policy had lapsed years ago. Which was quite irresponsible. Even Christopher still had his own $70,000 life insurance policy paid in full.

Uh-oh.

On the night of January 9, 1990, Coconut Creek police found the bound and bullet-riddled body of Christopher Morris in the trunk of his own car. John Wood, a mentally ill drifter, immediately confessed, but the cops didn't buy his story. They suspected Rector, and they were right. During questioning, two of Rector's accomplices confessed to the whole thing. They were ... Theron and Leila Morris.

Florida Dept. of CorrectionsWe imagine it was that exact smirk that caused Morris to wonder if Rector was really his friend.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Turns out all of the Morrises were weird scumbags, and the botched hit was enough for Rector to convince Ma and Pa that their little boy was worth more dead than alive. After the filicide, Rector went out and talked the emotionally unstable Wood into believing he had killed Christopher, while the Morrises promised to give Rector an alibi for the night they killed their own son. He also moved into the Morris home. (They did have an unexpected vacancy.) All three killers were arrested and given long sentences, with Rector getting 25 to life.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Related: 5 Murder Mysteries That Were (Almost) Too Insane To Be Real

2
A Tempting Craigslist Offer Lured Men To Their Doom (No, Not Like That)

Stressed? Hate your job? Wish you had a job to hate? Check out this Craigslist ad from 2011:

We need someone to watch our farm down in southern Ohio. Live for free in a double-wide trailer, nothing in the way of duties except to take in the peacefulness of the countryside and remark on the changing of the seasons and make sure no one steals any farm equipment or perpetrates any mischief. The pay is $300 a week.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

That ad was written by Richard "Jack" Beasley, and it read like an escapist dream come true. Hundreds jumped at the opportunity to live the simple life on his farm, but Beasley was picky: only men, and only if they weren't married. Once the prospects arrived, Beasley and his 16-year-old "nephew" Brogan Rafferty would meet up with the newly minted cowboys and drive them to the farm. But when the men arrived, they didn't see wide open fields, or even a double-wide trailer. They saw nothing at all, because Beasley shot them dead.

There was no work, no farm, and Beasley was no cowboy. In 2011, he figured there were so many unemployed blue-collar dudes around that surely no one would care if a few went missing. Whenever someone asked why he was selling what seemed like a complete midlife crisis starter package on a site meant to hawk water-damaged sofas, Beasley pretended he was one of the people folks saw on Storage Wars.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

But the scheme backfired with victim #3, Scott Davis, whom Beasley only winged, at which point Davis ran to the police. The jig was up, but that was probably of little solace to their fourth victim, Timothy Kern, whom Beasley killed as a quickie. He only had $5 on him. Eventually the police traced this "Craigslist killer" (one of unsurprisingly many) to a small house in Akron, where the landlord knew the suspect as Ralph Geiger -- the identity Beasley had stolen from his first victim.

After being caught, Rafferty, then a teenager, received pity from the judge. He was sentenced to life without parole. Beasley received the death penalty in 2013, and is still on death row. In the meantime, he has a nice racket selling his old paintings to serial killer fans. Not on Craigslist, though.

Related: 6 Insanely Complicated Murder Plots (That Actually Happened)

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

1
A Father Manipulated His Own Daughter Into Killing His Wife (And Herself)

In March of 1985, 23-year-old Linda Marie Bailey Brown was found dead in her bed, killed by two gunshot wounds to the chest. A few hours later, police discovered Linda's stepdaughter, 14-year-old Cinnamon Brown, lying in her own vomit inside a doghouse, clutching a suicide note that confessed to the murder. The case seemed open and shut. Cinnamon's father, David Arnold Brown, and her stepmom's sister, Patti Bailey told the cops that Cinnamon and Linda didn't get along. Cinnamon recovered from her suicide attempt, and a judge found her guilty and sentenced her to life in a reformatory.

Zanandi BotesThe rare teenage rebellious phase that includes a coup.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

This is where the story could have ended, but no. After Cinnamon's trial, investigator Jay Newell still didn't buy that a timid teenage girl like her could be such a cold-blooded killer. Newell's hunch told him that David Brown was involved in the murder somehow. Why? Maybe because he was making it rain with Linda's $835,000 life insurance payout. Or maybe because he had married Patti, Linda's 17-year-old sister, before her body was even cold.

Zanandi BotesEnough red flags to make him a one-man Chinese New Year parade.

But what Newell needed was a confession. So when he visited Cinnamon in prison, he made her very aware that her daddy was living like a king (complete with a child bride) while she was rotting inside. This finally made Cinnamon angry enough to tell the truth. It had indeed been Brown who had plotted the murder of his wife. The sick manipulator convinced both Cinnamon and Patti that Linda was going to kill him and had to be stopped, but that he couldn't do it himself because he was feeling too ill, adding "If you loved me, you'd do this for me."

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Cinnamon agreed, mostly because Brown had convinced her that as a minor, she'd only get sentenced to some light therapy, not a lifetime in prison. He had even given her pills for a fake overdose to make it seem like mad desperation. Except prosecutors later established that if Cinnamon hadn't vomited the pills back up, Dad's little cocktail would have straight up killed her.

When Cinnamon finally confessed, Patti quickly followed. She then made police aware that David was the sociopathic scumbag to end all sociopathic scumbags. Years before, he had lured the underage Bailey sisters into his home by pretending to have colon cancer and being in need of assistance. Then, when Linda turned 17, he forced her into becoming his (fifth!) wife. But David was the kind of ghoul who liked 'em even younger, so he had also started molesting his future sister-in-wife, Patti, who was only 11 at the time.

Of course, when Brown found out that his disturbingly young sixth wife was testifying against him, he decided to opt for a quickie separation -- i.e. he tried to have her and two members of the prosecution killed, offering what he believed to be a fellow inmate a hefty sum to make it happen. Unfortunately for him, that inmate was in fact an undercover cop. #1 Dad died in prison.

Zanandi likes to make fun of reality on her blog. Most of the time she just yells about it on Twitter.

Support your favorite Cracked writers with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.

For more, check out 9 Murders To Keep You Up At Night With My Favorite Murder - The Cracked Podcast:

Follow us on Facebook ... or else.

To turn on reply notifications, click here

43 Comments

Load Comments

More Articles

5 Crazy Hollywood Coincidences (You've Never Heard Before)

Hollywood history is full of fun coincidences and interesting side details.

89

5 Famous Movie Scenes That Were Totally Disgusting To Film

The movie business can be pretty messy.

26

6 Real-Life Conspiracies Crazier Than Anything In The Movies

We will never run out of crazy, real history.

99

5 Real Life Murder Plots Too Weird Even For Hollywood

The last thing ruthless murder conspiracies need is more drama.

43