New Netflix series Unbelievable is the story of how teenager Marie Adler was bound and raped for hours in her home then not believed by police.
Adler (Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever) finds even her own loved ones think nothing happened, while Detective Rasmussen (Toni Collette) and Detective Duvall (Merritt Wever) try to track down a prolific serial rapist.
The dark drama is even more hard-hitting because it is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning report of a real case, written by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, entitled An Unbelievable Story of Rape, the Mirror reports.
The true story of Unbelievable
According to the article on The Marshall Project, the real-life Marie was a foster child who had been passed around various foster homes of varying conditions throughout her life – separated often from her three siblings and never being successfully adopted.
Eventually, Marie settled in Lynnwood, Washington State, with foster mother Shannon McQuery and husband Bellevue, before then moving with children’s advocate Peggy Cunningham.
After moving into a subsidized apartment when turning 18, Marie awoke in the night to find a man standing over her with a knife.
The assailant then tied her with her own shoelaces, gagged her, and raped her for hours before departing.
Marie called the police after managing to cut herself free and her statement was taken.
However, former foster mother Shannon and friend Peggy began to believe that Marie had made the whole story up due to her unusual behaviour, prompting the police to treat her as guilty of filing a false report.
Marie was pressured to recant her claim and was threatened with legal action if she failed a lie detector test, prompting her to say it could have been a dream or that she said it due to stress.
Charged $500 for court services and as having falsified a police report, Marie was left in a vulnerable place.
Meanwhile, in Colorado and Denver, two female detectives Stacy Galbraith and Edna Hendershot began to notice similarities between a very precise and calculated series of rapes and found that a serial rapist was breaking into homes and raping women before taking photographs of his victims and forcing them to shower to remove evidence of his crimes.
How they got their man
Armed with knowledge of marks on his body and his vehicle, the detectives began a hunt to bring him to justice.
And they got him.
Eventually, army veteran Marc O’Leary was found guilty of 28 counts of rape in Colorado, being sentenced on December 9, 2011, to 327.5 years in prison.
He was also found guilty of two rapes in Washington State, one of which was his rape of Marie.
Images of Marie had been found on O’Leary’s computer along with his other victims in Colorado.
Since she had been charged, however, Marie’s life had been on a downward spiral as she considered suicide, having been told she couldn’t stay with Shannon anymore and her former best friend set up a website that dubbed her a liar.
The police gave Marie $500 and had her charges removed from her record when the truth was confirmed.
Peggy and Shannon both apologised to Marie and she forgave them both.
Marie went on to sue the city, taking home a settlement of £150,000.
Today, Marie is a long-haul trucker and is married with two children.
No one in Lynnwood Police Department was disciplined for their actions, but Marie did receive an apology which she believed was sincere.
Unbelievable is available now on Netflix.
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