The heartbreaking story of six Nebraskans wrongfully convicted for the murder and brutal rape of a widow is being told in a HBO documentary.
Nanfu Wang’s new documentary Mind Over Murder features the so-called Killers, also known as The Beatrice Six. It places the killers in center stage and details the six innocent victims who were eventually found guilty.
In the first episode of the documentary, which debuted on Monday, the gruesome killing of 68-year-old grandma Helen Wilson is laid bare, detailing how she was found strangled in her Beatrice, Nebraska, apartment in 1985.
Police arrested six suspects after a long investigation that lasted three years. They were Ada JoAnn Taylor, Thomas Winslow and Debra Shelden. Debra Shelden and James Dean were also taken into custody.
They all eventually admitted to Helen’s murder after being threatened by police and warned that they could be executed if they did not. This was despite authorities already knowing that no one of the six had DNA matching the blood or the semen recovered at the crime site.
HBO’s documentary on the case of the Beatrice Six, a group wrongly confessed that they raped and murdered an elderly woman (pictured)
Mind Over Murder’s first episode, which focuses on the grisly murder of Helen Wilson, a grandmother aged 68, was dropped by Mind Over Murder.
Helen before she died was shown here. She was strangled in her Beatrice apartment in Nebraska in 1985.
Later, police arrested Joseph White (left), Thomas Winslow (right), Ada JoAnn Taylor (right), James Dean (right), and Kathy Gonzalez (right) for their horrific crime
The group was later told that Wayne Price (police psychologist) brainwashed them to believe Helen had been killed. They were then said to be guilty of the crime but not remember it because Wayne Price was unable to recall any of that.
They spent twenty years in prison, before being exonerated by DNA evidence in 2009. This was after Bruce Allen Smith (DNA evidence) had been linked to the horrible slaying.
HBO’s documentary on Beatrice Six is now available. The HBO documentary reveals the true story behind the Beatrice Six.
Helen was described by her family as the glue that kept them all together in the premiere episode of the six-part documentary.
Shane Wilson’s grandson said that his grandmother was “a kind, caring woman.” Bob Houseman added that you can feel her love for you from the very beginning. You could feel it radiating from her.
Shane, who was fifteen years old at Helen’s death, recalled receiving a phone call from a relative. She said she had died, but that her illness meant she wasn’t well enough to tell them.
He said, “We thought it was due to pneumonia.”
“Nobody spoke a word.” “I was trying to be tough before my brothers, and they had an a…” [blanket]In the back, my grandma made it for me. My brothers could not see me crying under the blanket so I hid underneath.
Police told all of them that they’d be sentenced to death if they don’t confess to Helen murder. Thomas (left) is pictured
Wayne Price, a police psychologist (pictured), convinced them to forget the crime because they blocked it out.
They spent twenty years behind bars before being exonerated by DNA evidence in 2009. The release of four members of this group was followed by a photograph.
A new HBO documentary tells the shocking story of the Beatrice Six and how they were able to put their killers behind bars for over two decades. JoAnne can be seen
The uncle found Helen and reported to the police. Gary Wiebe and Bill Fitzgerald were the two lieutenants who worked on the case.
The door was opened and I just kinda walked in. Gary said that he saw an elderly woman lying in the center of the living area with her head towards the west and feet facing back. It was easy to see that the deceased person was there.
He found a knife and blood in her bedroom.
“There was definitely a struggle. He continued, “She was lying on her back with the nightgown pulled up. The face was wrapped in a towel and the hands were tied.”
“I can only tell you what it was, but to witness the brutal murder of that beautiful lady and see the pain…it’s an entirely different ballgame.”
Gary claimed that Gary had mutilated her body and her nose was flattened. Her hands were also mutilated, with multiple broken ribs and fresh semen inside her genital area.
I can’t even imagine the thoughts that went through her head as she was passing away. How scared must she have been. Jan Wener (Henry’s grand-daughter) said she was shocked that Helen had to die this way.
Helen’s family described Helen as the glue that kept them all together in the new doc. It will have six episodes and air every Monday.
Shane Wilson, her great-grandson (seen here with Helen just before her death) said, “She was kind, she did all for everyone.”
Helen was discovered by her family on the floor of her apartment. A relative notified the police. Gary Wiebe (left), Bill Fitzgerald (right), were two of the lieutenants that worked on this case.
Gary said Helen’s body was tied up and ‘mutilated.’ Her hands were covered in ‘numerous cuts’, several broken ribs, fresh semen, and she had fresh blood in her veins.
Gary said that she found a knife in her bedroom and blood on the walls.
Shane added, ‘We know she fought for her life. She suffered from battle wounds and skin under her nails. She continued fighting until the end.
“The family was evidently destroyed. The only person that brought us all together has now passed away in such an awful way …’
Police soon began their investigations, but they continued to find dead ends.
Bill said, “The more you try to fix it the more you become frustrated.” “You just keep going from one person to the next, and it doesn’t seem like you’re getting anywhere.” It was frustrating.
Shane stated, “We didn’t know the answers. We felt like Beatrice’s police department did not understand what had occurred.”
“Everyone came to grips that they would never know the fate of grandma,” he said.
The family eventually turned to Burt Searcy, a former police officer.
Burt got in contact with a woman named Lisa Podendorf – after a source told him that she knew something about the homicide.
Burt was told by Lisa that she witnessed JoAnn, Joseph and Thomas congregating at the crime scene the day after Helen’s death.
Soon after the police began investigating, they found no leads. The family eventually turned to Burt Searcy, a former police officer in the area.
Burt made contact with Lisa Podendorf, pictured (pictured) after a source revealed that Lisa knew some details about the homicide.
Burt is seen talking with Lisa, who told her that Helen was killed the day after Helen died. She saw JoAnn Joseph and Thomas outside the crime scene.
When she asked them about what had happened, JoAnn claimed that a woman was killed and they’d ‘did it’. She also said that JoAnn described the corpse in great detail.
“Lisa was afraid of JoAnn Taylor and didn’t know how to proceed. Burt stated in the doctor that he understood this because he knew JoAnne Taylor.
Lisa asked Lisa if she knew the details. JoAnn (pictured), claimed that a woman was killed, and that they had ‘done it’. She also said that JoAnn described the corpse in great detail.
“She used to be a street dweller, was known for stealing, and did drugs. It was clear to me that she could threaten you if it happened.
Lisa never told the police. She was lying to me, and I believed her. Then I got to work digging.
Burt claimed he presented his findings to police. However, they said they already had interviewed the suspects and dismissed them as suspects.
‘I was told that “They weren’t involved don’t worry about it.” Burt shared that he felt my information was lost to the world, and it became cold.
Many years passed, and in 1988 Burt returned to police. He told his boss his previous findings concerning Helen’s murder. Lisa came with him to ask about Lisa’s accusations.
He said, “If you tell lies, it’s impossible to remember what you’ve actually said.” You won’t forget what you tell me if it is truthful and factual. The same story she shared with me in 1985 was what she also told to me.
As I went along with the investigation, my realization was that I had solved it. “I’m determined to pursue what it is that I want, and I will succeed in my pursuit.
JoAnn and Joseph as well as three other friends were also arrested for the murder.
JoAnn and Joseph as well as Thomas and three other friends were arrested later and found guilty of Helen’s murder. Helen as she was before her death
After two decades in prison, all were exonerated when DNA evidence showed that Bruce Allen Smith, a man (pictured), had committed the crime.
The doctor stated that Bruce was in a bar nearby the night Helen died. After he killed Helen, he left Helen’s house about a block from where he had been dropped.
The Washington Post reports that all six of the Beatrice Six believed their guilt by the close of the investigation.
The outlet stated that despite being sent to prison for their crimes, the members of the group still felt a deep regret and nagging shame.
However, after two decades behind bars, they were all exonerated when DNA evidence revealed that a man named Bruce had actually committed the crime.
According to the doctor, Bruce went with some friends to a bar near Helen’s funeral. He partied the majority of the night and tried to have sex afterward with a female but was eventually kicked out at 4 AM.
One of his friends recalled him saying ‘he was going to get a piece of a** one way or another,’ before he dropped him off a block and a half south of Helen’s apartment.
Bruce was killed in 1992 before the case against him ever went to trial. In civil court, the Beatrice Six received $28 million for their wrong conviction.