Yes, Netflix’s Unbelievable is based on a true and maddening story

UNBELIEVABLE -- Photo credit: Beth Dubber/Netflix -- Acquired via Netflix Media Center
UNBELIEVABLE -- Photo credit: Beth Dubber/Netflix -- Acquired via Netflix Media Center /

Unbelievable, a miniseries about an infuriating true story of injustice, is now streaming on Netflix. What are the real details behind it?

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched Unbelievable on Netflix, please note there are significant spoilers ahead! Watch the series first to avoid spoiling the story. 

When Marie, a woman in Washington, reports a rape, she is unfairly questioned time and time again and profiled as problematic by those close to her. Detectives assume Marie is lying and rush to close the case by pressuring Marie to “confess” she is lying. Tired of being forced to remember and repeat the traumatic event, and with no one on her side, Marie dismisses it all and says she dreamed it, later saying she made it all up.

It’s not easy to watch the injustice and unfair events that follow, but it’s necessary to understand how very real this is and how it’s not the first or last time a similar case happens. It’s even more maddening when you learn Unbelievable is based on a true story, a Pulitzer Prize-winning 2015 joint investigation.

Here are the details of the true story:

In 2009, teen Marie, Vogue reports she is only identified by her middle name, reported a rape only to take it back after being questioned and doubted by police. She was charged with a misdemeanor, accused of filing a false report.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, detectives Stacy Galbraith and Edna Hendershot were working on several similar reported rapes in local areas and began to tie them together. They successfully find the attacker and photos of Marie stored in his computer confirm the her story.

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It’s truly sad Marie went through all of this alone, but at least her attacker was eventually caught and Marie settled a lawsuit against the city of Lynwood, Washington for $150,000. Marie is now reportedly working as a long-haul truck driver and travels.

Watch Unbelievable on Netflix.