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What happened to Brenda Lafferty and daughter Erica? Brutal 1984 Utah murders explored in Hulu's Under the Banner of Heaven

Brenda Lafferty and her daughter Erica (Image via Hulu)
Brenda Lafferty and her daughter Erica (Image via Hulu)
Shruti Kotiya

Hulu's latest true crime drama, Under the Banner of Heaven, tells the true story of the murders of Brenda Lafferty and her daughter.

Based on the novel by Jon Krakauer and created by Dustin Lance Black, the series revolves around the murder of a Mormon mother and her baby daughter, who were also a part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Here's everything viewers need to know about Brenda Lafferty and her daughter Erica before they stream Hulu's adaptation.

Trigger Warning: This article contains sensitive content.


Who were Brenda Lafferty and Erica?

Brenda Lafferty, a citizen of Utah, was married to Allen Lafferty and was raised in a family that belonged to a mainstream church. However, Allen's older brothers, Dan and Ron, disapproved of their relationship. After returning from Florida, Ron started spending more time with his brother Dan, who believed that the mainstream church should never have abandoned polygamy.

In 1983, the two joined a renegade polygamist cult, School of Prophets, that made Ron change his entire outlook. His wife divorced him and moved away with their children. By 1984, the brothers became enraged by Brenda's strong opposition to their decision to practice polygamy. She had also agreed with Ron's wife regarding her decision to leave him.

According to Ron, he received a revelation from God to kill Brenda and her daughter. He also showed members of the cult that he had a written "removal revelation" that called for the killing of Brenda and her baby.


What happened to the mother-daughter duo?

Episode 5 - Victims Brenda and baby Erica (with Allen Lafferty) https://t.co/WydXhXDzCr

On the evening of July 25, 1984, Brenda Lafferty's husband found her dead on the floor. Her throat was slashed after being choked by a vacuum chord. Their 15-month-old daughter, Erica, was also found dead in the nursery with similar wounds.

Brenda and her daughter were murdered by Allen's elder brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty. After finally being found in Nevada, the brothers were charged with the murders of their sister-in-law and infant niece. Their trial revealed that Ron killed Brenda while Dan murdered Erica. It also exposed their disturbing extremism towards fundamentalist Mormonism, which influenced their crimes.

The two were found guilty, with Dan pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and multiple other felonies, giving him two life sentences in prison. Ron had attempted suicide in jail, only to be sentenced to death after recovering. He spent 20 years on death row waiting to be executed but eventually died of natural causes in 2019.


About Under the Banner of Heaven

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Under the Banner of Heaven dives deep into the 1984 Lafferty murders that shook the world. Leading the series as a detective is Andrew Garfield, who will slowly uncover the killers behind Brenda Lafferty's murder and Mormonism’s role in her death.

Other members of the cast include Sam Worthington, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Denise Gough, Wyatt Russell, Billy Howle, Chloe Pirrie, Seth Numrich, Adelaide Clemens, Rory Culkin, Sandra Seacat, and Gil Birmingham.

The synopsis for the series reads:

"A devout detective's faith is tested as he investigates a brutal murder seemingly connected to an esteemed Utah family's spiral into LDS fundamentalism and their distrust in the government."

The series dropped on Hulu today and is executively produced by Jason Bateman, Gillian Berrie, Dustin Lance Black, Michael Costigan, Anna Culp, Samie Kim Falvey, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, and David Mackenzie.

Readers can learn more about the brutal killings of Brenda Lafferty and Erica in Under the Banner of Heaven. The first two episodes of the show are now streaming on Hulu.


Edited by Siddharth Satish

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