How She Caught a Killer (2023 Lifetime)


How She Caught a Killer (2023 Lifetime)

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Cast: Sarah Drew, Jamall Johnson,

Director: Robin Hays

Writer: Yuri Baranovsky, Angela Gulner

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Synopsis (via Lifetime)

Inspired by a true story, rookie detective Linda Murphy (Sarah Drew) is fresh out of the police academy when she hears her boss, detective David Goodman (Eric Keenleyside) talking about a serial killer in the area who seems to be targeting sex workers. Teaming up with FBI agent Neil Carter (Jamall Johnson), Linda fights to go undercover to help solve the murders and, if all goes accordingly, capture a serial killer. Delilah Hamlin is also set to star as a former sex worker and aspiring nurse who is the killer’s first victim.

Recap/Wine Thoughts. 

Inspired by True Events.

The movie begins in 1986 on Thanksgiving. Joyce is a nursing student who works in the AIDS unit. Her dad is too drunk to give her a ride to work, so she decides to hitchhike. A man picks up Joyce, and her mutilated body is found by a river the following day. Detectives tell Joyce’s father, Stan, and he tells them to find the man who killed her daughter. 

1988- Linda Murphy (Sarah Drew) just completed police training and is a rookie on the force. She was a secretary at the police station before entering training. Linda’s father was a cop who died in service. Needless to say, Linda’s mother isn’t thrilled about her daughter working for the police. 

When she cheered everyone on at graduation, IJBOL

Linda is assigned to domestic disturbance cases and traffic stops; she wants to work on a murder case. To win over her boss, David, she makes him a lasagna. (That would work for me.) FBI Agent Neil Cater visits the precinct to investigate several murders on the same highway. A possible serial killer is targeting sex workers on Route 60. 

Agent Neil Carter suggests sending in an undercover agent, and Linda is ALL OVER THAT. (Sarah Drew is perpetually playing a tryhard.) Cue Linda trying on wigs while her boss chastises her for being too green. They set Linda up with a gun and a wire and sent her out. Linda is under strict directions to get leads, not evidence. 


“Tara” talks to the girls working the streets, and they are suspicious of her. They don’t want any more girls on their block. Shelly eventually helps Tara/Linda and tells her to stay away from a guy named Red.  

Linda switches wigs and looks like Janet from Three’s Company. The case keeps her up at night, and Linda decides to break the rules and do her own investigating. Linda searches Red’s barn, hoping to find DNA evidence that will tie him to the murders. Instead, she finds a bunch of centerfolds taped to the wall and jars of pickles. Red catches her, and as Linda speeds away, she drives past the killer, murdering another sex worker. (LINDA!!!! Open your eyes!)

Three’s Company too

Next, Linda mistakes Stan for the killer, but he is just staking out the route to figure out who killed his daughter. Her boss becomes worried that Linda is getting too involved in the case. 

While working the streets, Linda sees the blue van that took Krystal and tries to lure him in by walking alone to talk to the man. She is sure he is the killer and gets as much information as possible. Linda learns that the man is an electrition and finds a blue carpet in the van; the fibers match fibers found on the victims. The interaction causes Linda to have an anxiety attack in the bathtub! (YIKES!) 

When a bath turns into a blue carpet nightmare

Linda’s cover is blown, and she explains the case she is working on to Shelly. She then meets with FBI agent Neil Carter, and they joke about NOT falling in love, which means they might!!! They work together to track the Man in the Blue Van at his job as an electrician; oh no, wait, he is the Eastbunny?!?!

The Man in the Blue Van buys some beers and asks Shelly to join him in the back. She becomes his next victim, which is really hard for Linda to see. Now, it is personal. 

The police get a search warrant for the van and bug the van during a traffic stop. Now that they have surveillance on him, the cops hope to get concrete evidence to take him down. Linda follows The Man in the Blue Van into a bar. He recognizes her and knows Linda is following him. The Man in the Blue Van finds the listening device and tells the police he knows they are tracking him. 

Easter Bunny photos are just pointless anyway.

With nothing to lose, the police act on the search warrant and come up with a treasure trove of evidence. They find blood in the van and hope to use DNA evidence to link him to the crime. (It was a new technology at the time.) The DNA comes back, and it is a match for Shelly.

Linda ignores her boss’s request to take time off and watch The Man in the Blue Van 24 hours a day. She sleeps in her car and watches over the streets. Then she sees The Man in the Blue Van picking up Crystal in a DIFFERENT VAN! (They are shocked by this, haha.)

The Man in the Blue Van runs into the woods when Linda pulls out her gun and tells him he is under arrest. They struggle, and Linda asks him why he killed them. The Man in the Blue Van said he liked to hear them scream. Then Linda beats the crap out of him and holds him until her partners arrive. The Man in the Blue Van begs her to kill him because he deserves it, but she lets justice determine the punishment.

The case is closed, and Stan thanks the police with some food. Linda is set to become a full-on detective and will work side by side with her boss, her dad’s partner. She also gets an offer from Carter to work with the FBI. 

Side Note/Stray Thoughts

Minority Report: Neil Carter, Brenda, Crystal, Danielle, Kristen, 

As a Lifetime Movie, this wasn’t my favorite. It was not particularly groundbreaking or even based on a true crime. It seemed to me like a backdoor pilot for a procedural cop show for Sarah Drew. (Which I would watch!)

Overall rating 

 Numbers of Kills: 🔪🔪🔪🔪 (4 knives)

Enjoyment Level (1-5 scale) 

🍷🍷🍷 (3 Glasses of Wine)

Should you watch it?

Pour it up! (Give it a shot)

Put a Cork in It (Skip It)

What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments or on social media @LifetimeUncorked & @patrickmiguel 

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  1. Pretty sure this was based on the story in Delaware in the late 80s. Blue van, carpet fibers, killing sex workers. All true. Death penalty case.

    The guy shopped at the grocery store where I worked during college.

      1. It was one of the early cases to successfully use DNA. And an undercover female police officer did get the fibers. Obviously, some of the details were changed, but it had to have been inspired by the case. Too many similarities.

        I actually had to stop watching it because it was too close to home. One of the women murdered was a coworker’s sister. She had testified at the guy’s trial. Another coworker lived in the same neighborhood as the guy. And, I still remember his wife coming through my line after he was convicted.

        I was a poli sci major, so we followed the case in one of my criminal law classes.


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