True Crime fans are rejoicing as Netflix rolls out yet another riveting docuseries. The Innocent Man is an adaptation of both John Grisham’s bestselling nonfiction book from 2006 (the novelist's first foray into the genre) and Robert Mayer’s 1987 book The Dreams of Ada. Fans are already hooked on the series which is being compared to Making a Murderer and Evil Genius. The six-part documentary follows a pair of murders that shook a small town in Oklahoma during the 1980s.
The series sheds light on the brutal killings of Debbie Carter and Denice Haraway, whose murders occurred two years apart in the same small town of Ada, OK. The show delves deep into both cases, but begins with Denice Haraway’s case as the men who were convicted for her murder—Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot—both remain in prison. The case is officially closed, yet the series places both the investigation and the prosecution of the two defendants under a glaring spotlight, which reveals both ineptitude and corruption at some of the highest levels of our justice system.
On December 8, 1982 Debra Sue Carter—a waitress at a bar—was raped and murdered in her home. The scene of the crime was immensely disturbing, as Carter had been violated with a ketchup bottle and had messages scrawled in blood all over her body. Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz drew suspicion as they were regulars of the restaurant where Carter worked, and both were charged five years after the murder. Many questions were raised by the handling of the investigation: Williamson’s dream was taken as a confession, and prosecutors used faulty DNA analysis as evidence. With no plausible alibis, Williamson and Fritz were found guilty of rape and murder in 1988.
Two years after Carter’s murder, Denice Haraway was kidnapped from the minimart where she worked and was never heard from again. In January 1968, Haraway’s body was found in Gerty, a town 30 miles east of Ada. Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot both confessed to her murder and were subsequently convicted, but when Haraway’s remains were later discovered, glaring inconsistencies arose. It was later revealed that police used tactics to confuse Ward during his testimony, and may have coerced the pair into confessing.
This is a gripping docuseries that sheds light on a pair of murders that changed the small town of Ada forever. The show is filled with twists and turns and plenty of controversy... including a final reveal that will shock and sadden even the most cynical observer.The Innocent Man is currently available on Netflix.
Need more convincing? Check out the trailer below!
Feature still from 'The Innocent Man' via Netflix