Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dateline story "Deadly Twist" of a serial wife murderer follows scripts of some fiction indie mystery films

On Friday NBC Dateline aired “Deadly Twist”, the story of the murder of Rachel Winkler by her husband Todd Winkler in an airpark neighborhood (where people have private planes in their driveway) in the eastern outskirts of Sacramento, Ca, on the edge of the wine country.  Artist Don Hartfield, often seen teaching painting on television (I’ve seen this) will raise his grandchildren by her.
The story has a strange twist. In 1999, a previous wife of Todd would die in a bizarre camping fire “accident” in the north Georgia mountains.  The link to a typical story is here
Winkler, who would be sentenced to 26 years to life for second degree murder, seemed to have a propensity to stage deaths of spouses to collect money from insurance, and seemed prone to jealousy. Dateline did not spend a lot of detail time on the trial.
Cinematically, the report (directed by Keith Morrison) resembled “The Dark Place”, a somewhat similar mystery story in the Napa wine estate country (actually in Oregon) with gay characters, and “The House of Adam”, a Jorge Ameer film and another gay mystery with a lonely mountain road scene (in the Tahoe country) that resembles a shot in the Dateline report.
Heterosexuals and homosexuals can generate similar “Hitchcock” plots.  It’s rather interesting to see plots imagined by gay screenwriters actually happen in the real straight world.   

Dateline's crime reports, however, make for compelling viewing. The NBC staff really seeks out bizarre "real life" mysteries to match anything John Grisham could make up.  
Picture:  Wheeler Peak, Nevada, my trip, 2012 

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