Ruth Finley True Story

Teri Hatcher stars in the new Lifetime psychological drama The Killer Inside: The Ruth Finley Story, which is based on the horrifying true story of a Kansas housewife who survived a violent attack when she was 16, only to be targeted again decades later by a mysterious stalker known only as “The Poet.” The tale just gets crazier and more frightening from there, and there’s a twist.

The film is based on a true story, and that narrative is the epitome of stranger than fiction. Ruth will “find herself on the run again decades later, as the BTK killer terrorises her hometown.” With a team of police investigators and her devoted husband working to save her, the name of her tormentor is too terrifying to believe.”

In the summer of 1977, Ruth Finley, 47, and her husband, Ed, were living a typical suburban existence in Wichita, Kansas. Ed fainted one afternoon after spending a few hours performing garden work, apparently due to a heart attack. And Ruth’s day was about to become even worse—that evening, while Ed was recovering in the hospital, she received a phone call from an unknown man.

The caller recognised Ruth’s name and particular details from her background, including the circumstances of a heinous attack she had endured as a teenager. At 16, she was attacked by a stranger who chloroformed her and branded her with a hot flat iron. Despite having moved on from the experience, it came pouring back as the caller spoke. He threatened to reveal the facts of her attack to everyone she knew unless she paid him money.

Over the next year, the threats persisted. Ruth got written letters in the mail, more harassing phone calls, and was often ambushed in person by a “creep” demanding she speak with him. Many of the letters were written in rhyming verse, prompting Ruth’s husband Ed to call her stalker “The Poet.” However, Ruth was convinced that she was being targeted by a well-known serial killer.

Around the time Ruth began receiving threatening phone calls, Wichita was being terrorised by an unidentified murderer known as “the BTK killer.” The abbreviation translates for “bind, torture, kill,” which was the BTK’s tactic. His first known murder occurred in 1974, and he murdered at least ten people during the course of the 1970s, most of whom were killed in their homes. He identified and stalked many of his victims before killing them. There was no apparent rhyme or reason to his crimes, and his victims appeared to be chosen at random—a 9-year-old boy, a 62-year-old retiree, and many people in their 20s and 30s.

By 1978, the BTK killer had made national headlines for his attention-seeking efforts to ridicule local authorities. He wrote letters to television stations, claiming credit for his five murders to date and compared himself to other well-known serial killers such as Jack the Ripper and the “Son of Sam” killer.

Ruth became convinced that BTK was her stalker and that she would be his next victim after seeing him on the news. However, when she approached the police, they were sceptical, according to Mead’s report, especially since they were flooded with alleged BTK information at the time.

The last confirmed crime committed by the BTK murderer was the murder of 62-year-old retiree Dolores Davis in 1991. After then, he disappeared totally, and the case remained unsolved for over a decade. If not for the killer himself, he would never have been discovered at all.

In 2004, the BTK Killer began sending letters to Wichita newspapers and television stations, confessing to additional atrocities and presenting what looked to be hints about his identity. He also left a trail of macabre evidence throughout the city, including a cereal box with a graphic description of one of the killings, a driver’s licence belonging to one of his victims, Nancy Fox, and a Barbie doll with a hood over its head and arms bound behind its back.

Police were able to link these messages back to a suspect, 60-year-old Dennis Rader, thanks to advancements in DNA technology. After his arrest, Rader admitted to being the BTK murderer and murdering ten people. He also alleged that he had intended to kill again.

Ruth endured nasty mail and threatening phone calls during 1978 and 1979. Her stalker pursued her and attempted to kidnap her twice. The second time, in July 1979, he forced her into his car and stabbed her three times before she managed to flee.

At this point, the local newspaper had picked up on Ruth’s story, and the sight of an ordinary housewife being targeted in such a nasty manner elicited an outpouring of compassion from the people. The police were now taking her seriously, and they launched an intensive investigation to determine who had attacked her and whether he was the same monster who had terrorised the city for years. However, Ruth Finley’s stalker was not the BTK killer—because Ruth Finley had no stalker.

By the spring of 1981, the police had made little progress in investigating the case of “The Poet,” and there were no probable suspects. Richard LaMunyon, the police chief, decided to take matters into his own hands. According to Mead’s report, he usually served as the department’s administrative head and delegated investigation duties to his detectives, but the pressure to solve this case had grown too great. LaMunyon spent a weekend looking over the case before coming to a startling conclusion: Ruth had written the letters herself, and “The Poet” did not exist.

When the police began examining Ruth as a suspect in her own stalking, they quickly discovered evidence that verified LaMunyon’s claim. They traced the Poet letters back to Ruth and discovered a flood of incriminating evidence in her office, including sheets of paper on which she had practiced “The Poet’s” handwriting. However, when the authorities approached Ruth with incontrovertible evidence that she had addressed the letters herself, she appeared perplexed.

Ruth went on to make a full confession, detailing how she wrote the letters herself, left threatening parcels at her own home, and even stabbed herself to stage the incident in 1979. But when the detective asked her why, she had no explanation. After confessing, she was sent to a psychiatric facility.

Ruth’s psychoanalysis, Dr. Pickens, revealed early memories of persistent sexual abuse that she had suppressed. She had coped with the abuse by dissociating, but years later, they had triggered a kind of fugue state.

After reading Pickens’ psychiatric evaluation, Wichita officials decided not to seek charges against her since her actions were “not malicious.”

In a KAKE TV interview on Ruth’s case, Pickens stated that she “really wasn’t terrorising herself, she was trying to get help for and protect herself from the terror she experienced as a little girl.”

Ruth reportedly underwent seven years in intensive therapy with Dr. Pickens, during which she processed childhood trauma and how it had caused her to detach to the point where she pretended to be followed without realising it. Her children and siblings, as well as her husband, Ed, supported her.

Is Ruth Finley still alive?

Ruth passed away in the summer of 2019, at the age of 89.

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