HBO's Mind Over Murder: Who killed Helen Wilson and what happened to him?

A still from Mind Over Murder (Image via HBO)
A still from Mind Over Murder (Image via HBO)
Sourav Chakraborty

HBO and Vox Media's production Mind Over Murder is ready to chronicle the bizarre and extraordinary case of Helen Wilson's murder where six innocent civilians were convicted without much evidence. Helen Wilson was assaulted and murdered at her home in the small town of Beatrice.

Though the authorities did pinpoint the real killer, Bruce Allen Smith, at the beginning of the investigation, they let him go owing to faulty lab testing and lack of conviction on their part. Somehow, the authorities rounded up six odd people with very vague links to the crime and charged them with murder based on forced testimonies, manufactured memories, and threats of death penalties. Oddly enough, five of the six alleged suspects confessed to a crime they did not even commit.

Jurors returned today with $28.1 million verdict for the Beatrice Six.

So what happened to the real killer of Helen Wilson? Read on to find out.

Who was Bruce Allen Smith and was he ever caught?

Remembering Joseph White, of the Beatrice Six, on what would have been his 8th year of freedom:

Bruce Allen Smith was a former criminal who was charged with a case of assault in 1981. He was the first primary suspect after the police began investigating the case. The night before Helen Wilson was murdered, Bruce Allen Smith was reportedly drinking at a nearby bar before going to another party. There, he threatened to assault a woman and was thrown out. Another witness reported that they saw blood on Bruce Allen Smith the following day.

The authorities reportedly tracked down Bruce in Oklahoma and questioned him. Bruce Allen Smith denied all allegations and gave his DNA sample for testing. The lab results showed that Bruce was not a match and he was let go. This was some form of mistake as Bruce was the perpetrator of the crime. There were questions of alleged malpractice at the lab.

Friend: I don't really watch a lot of true crime.Me: Watch "The Beatrice Six: Keith Morrison Investigates" now on #discoveryplus

After Bruce got away, the county rounded up the six suspects who would later be called the "Beatrice Six," who were convinced by the police through faulty scientific explanations and threats of the death penalty to own up to the crime that they did not commit.

Almost two decades later, another test of Bruce's DNA and blood led the authorities to determine that he was the criminal. However, by that time Bruce had already died. Bruce died of AIDS in September 1992. Technically, he was never caught for the crime, but he was convicted twice before for burglary and assault.

When will Mind Over Murder air?

Some memories never die.From director @WangNanfu, #MindOverMurderHBO examines the psychologically complex case of the Beatrice Six and the reliability of confessions and memory in criminal cases. Premieres June 20 on @HBOMax.

HBO's Mind Over Murder will delve deep into this case as it tries to decipher the mystery of one of the biggest blunders in American police history. The official synopsis for the six-part docu-series reads:

MIND OVER MURDER chronicles the bizarre and psychologically complex story of six individuals who were convicted for the 1985 murder of a beloved 68- year-old grandmother, Helen Wilson, in Beatrice, Nebraska. Despite five of the individuals originally confessing to the crime, the “Beatrice Six” as they became known, were exonerated by DNA evidence in 2009, a turn of events which divided the rural town and incensed the family of Helen Wilson. As the filmmakers track the case from the murder, through investigation, trial, exoneration and two civil suits, shifting perspectives cloud the truth; a stranger-than-fiction tale emerges that raises salient questions about the reliability of confessions and memory in criminal cases.

Mind Over Murder will start airing on June 20, 2022, with new episodes dropping every subsequent Monday.

Edited by Babylona Bora


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