The film “follows Javier (Kevin Rodriguez) and Robin Rivera (Maddie Nichols) as they celebrate their one-year anniversary on a camping trip. But when Javier ends up dead, Robin finds herself alone in the rough wilderness. She accepts help from another camper, a mysterious stranger named Sam (TC Matherne) and slowly places her life in his hands. But is Sam there to protect Robin? Or does she need protecting from him?”
Here’s what you need to know about the case on which the book and film were based.
Javier and Robin River Are Based on Julio and Candra Torres
In Rule’s book “Empty Promises,” the subject of “A Murder to Remember” is the story called “The Stockholm Syndrome,” which is the phenomenon where feelings of trust or even affection develop in victims toward their captors. The subjects’ names in the novel are Robin and Hank Marcus, but in real life, their names were Candra and Julio Torres.
It was 1976 and the Torreses were going camping in the foothills of Oregon’s Mount Hood to celebrate their first wedding anniversary along with their collie, Rusty. On the trip, they met Thomas Leslie Brown, who offered to show them a spot he knew would be good for fishing.
When Brown and Julio went off to hunt, Brown shot Julio, then came back and shot Rusty, leaving 16-year-old Candra alone with Brown. They were alone together for three days, then when they came to the offices of attorney James O’Leary, Candra was spinning a story about how Brown accidentally shot her husband and she didn’t want him to get in trouble for an accident.
The authorities eventually let Brown go and Julio and Rusty were buried. But Candra’s memory was playing tricks on her, she said in the book. Rule writes that Candra didn’t realize it at the time, but she was “beginning to come down from the intensive brainwashing she had undergone for three days” after her husband was killed.
She eventually managed to make her memories clearer and clearer and the following month, she and her parents went back to the sheriff’s office and told them Brown had killed Julio. She also said that Brown had repeatedly raped her over the three days. The case was reopened.
Brown Ostensibly Turned Himself In
At first, Candra failed lie detector test after lie detector test. But after working with a psychiatrist who testified to Candra’s brainwashing, the county eventually impaneled a grand jury, which ultimately agreed to try Brown for Julio’s murder. But Brown was long gone. How were they going to find him to charge him?
Brown took care of that. He heard about the warrant out for his arrest and brought himself to the Clackamas County sheriff’s office to “get it all straightened out.” He was calm, even cocky, and stuck to his story about it being an accident.
But at trial, Brown’s story was full of errors and holes because forensic evidence supported Candra’s revised version of what happened, not the programmed statement that Brown brainwashed her into thinking was the truth. The judge found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison. Candra eventually remarried and has children and a new life, according to a CNN profile on the case.
A Murder to Remember premieres Saturday, August 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.