tv The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based on True Stories

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In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In the world of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the plot lines of several episodes that investigate these vicious felonies are ripped straight from newspaper headlines. The writers of SVU often adapt current events into scripts for the dark, gritty police procedural show that everyone loves to binge watch on Netflix.   

What's the best Law & Order: SVU episode based on a true story? "Funny Valentine" may be one of your favorites. This episode was based on the physical altercation that took place between pop singer Rihanna and rapper Chris Brown in 2009. Brown beat his then-girlfriend, Rihanna, but she continued to date him, despite his violent behavior.  Another episode, "Devastating Story," was based on the UVA rape allegations published in Rolling Stone magazine that were later proven to be false. 
Other top based-on-a-true-story episodes of SVU include "Intimidation Game" (based on the Gamergate controversy of 2014), "Pornstar's Requiem" (based on the story of Belle Knox, the Duke porn star), and "Scavenger," (based on the BTK serial killer case).   

Before the credits fade to black, and Executive Producer Dick Wolf's name pops up on the screen, vote up the best episodes of Law & Order: SVU that were ripped straight from newspaper headlines.  
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"Glasgowman's Wrath," Based on the Slender Man Case

"Glasgowman's Wrath,&#... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based on True Stories
Photo: NBC
The Episode: On Halloween night, two best friends, Mia Harris and Perry Gilbert, drag Mia's younger sister, Zoe, to the park in search of the mythical Glasgowman. Zoe winds up in the hospital the next day with stab wounds and a serious head injury. The other two girls are missing. When detectives investigate, they find out that Glasgowman is a fictional comic book character written by Gilbert's babysitter. They question him, and find out that he based the character of Glasgowman off a mentally ill man who lives in the park. The man, named Charlie, is a repeat offender, and has been off his medication. Their investigation leads them to Charlie's lair, where they find Harris and Gilbert with a bloody knife. The two girls claim that Glasgowman stabbed Zoe Harris and locked them up, but police discover that Perry Gilbert actually stabbed Harris because, in a fit of insanity, truly believed that Glasgowman would harm her if she didn't.   

Real Life: In May 2014, two twelve year old girls led one of their classmates into the woods and stabbed her a total of 19 times in order to appease a fictional character called Slender Man. They were convinced that Slender Man was real, and that the only way to save themselves was to kill their friend as a sacrifice. Luckily, the little girl lived, and has since returned to school. The two killers were tried as adults and convicted of murder.  
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"Head," Based on the Mary Kay Letourneau Case

"Head," Based on the M... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based on True Stories
Photo: NBC
The Episode: A school teacher begins raping her male students because she cannot control her pedophiliac desires. Despite many restraining orders and arrests, she cannot stay away from her younger male student, and she ends up having a child with him. Later, she has surgery to remove a brain tumor, and the desires stop.

Real Life: Mary Kay Letourneau was a school teacher that fell in love with her 12-year-old student. They had a daughter together, despite the fact that Letourneau was convicted of second-degree sexual assault, and had several restraining orders placed against her. When her student turned 18, he filed to overturn the restraining orders, and the two married in 2005. 
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"Perfect," Based on the Elizabeth Smart Story and the Raelian Cult

"Perfect," Based on th... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based on True Stories
Photo: NBC
The Episode: A young girl is found dead in an alleyway, and the autopsy report reveals that she had been starved to death. The detectives discover that the girl is actually a Pennsylvania kidnapping victim who had been all over the news. They trace her trail back to a cult leader who claims that he has the ability to reincarnate the dead newborns of several of his female cult followers, but in reality, he is impregnating young girls and forcing them to deliver his children.   

Real Life: The dead victim in this case was based on Elizabeth Smart, a young girl who was abducted and raped in 2002. She was discovered after more than a year of being held captive. The cult leader was based on Claude Vorilhon, aka Raël, a man who founded the cult Raëlism in 1974. He believed that he could clone human beings, and convinced his cult members likewise. 
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5 people just voted on "Slaves," Based on Tanya Kach's Story

"Slaves," Based on Tan... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based on True Stories
Photo: NBC
The Episode: A fruit stand owner reports a possible crime to the SVU detectives. He claims that a young Russian woman is being held against her will, and being forced to work without pay and perform sexual acts for her masters. Benson and Stabler discover that Ilena, a young Russian girl, is being forced into slavery by a white family. Because Ilena has Stockholm Syndrome, she doesn't report her captors, and the detectives are forced to find another way to arrest the family enslaving her.   

Real Life: Tanya Kach is a woman who was held captive for over a decade by a security guard named Thomas Hose. She eventually escaped, after being forced to work for and have sex with Hose for years. She later wrote a book about her experiences. 
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"Scavenger," Based on the BTK Killer Case

"Scavenger," Based on ... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based on True Stories
Photo: NBC
The Episode: SVU detectives are in a race against time as they try to solve clues left by the RDK serial killer before he strikes again.   

Real Life: Dennis Rader, aka "the BTK Killer," sent letters to the police in the 1990s and early 2000s, detailing how he had murdered each of his victims. BTK stood for bind, torture, kill, and many of his methods followed this pattern. He killed ten people before police caught him in 2005. The BTK case had been cold for awhile when suddenly, in 2004, Rader began sending mail to the police again. He asked them if he could be traced by sending them a floppy disc with letters instead of the usual snail mail. They answered him in the local papers, telling him that it would be fine. The disc contained a corrupted Microsoft Word document that revealed his first name, and the church where he worked as president of the church council. 
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"Burned," Based on Yvette Cade & Roger Hargrave

"Burned," Based on Y... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based on True Stories
Photo: NBC
The Episode: Valerie Sennet reports her ex-husband Miles for rape. Due to insufficient evidence, and no prior criminal history, he is quickly released. He later attacks Valerie with a can of gasoline and lights her on fire. She dies due to severe burns, leaving behind their daughter, Tessa.   

Real Life: In 2006, Roger Hargrave doused his wife, Yvette Cade, in gasoline and lit a match. He told her prior to lighting her on fire that he wanted to "watch her fry like Crisco grease." Luckily, Cade survived her injuries, and Hargrave was sent to jail. 
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"Monogamy," Based on Lisa Montgomery & Bobbie Jo Stinnett

"Monogamy," Based on L... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based on True Stories
Photo: NBC
The Episode: A seven-months pregnant woman is found dead, with her child ripped out of her body in a crude Cesarean section. Detectives race to find the missing baby before it is too late.   

Real Life: In 2004, Lisa Montgomery posed online as a pregnant woman in order to befriend Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was actually pregnant. Montgomery went to Stinnett's house under false pretenses and strangled her, cut the baby out of her womb, and kidnapped the child. She was found guilty, and sentenced to death in 2008. 
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"Selfish," Based on the Casey Anthony Trial & the Anti-Vaxx Trend

"Selfish," Based on ... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based on True Stories
Photo: NBC
The Episode: Ruth Walker tells SVU detectives that her 2-year-old granddaughter, Sierra Walker, hasn't been seen in a few days. Her daughter, Ashlee Walker, is young and irresponsible, and she's worried that something bad might have happened to her. Ashlee blames a fictional nanny for kidnapping her daughter. Upon investigation, detectives find that Ashlee Walker buried her daughter in a shallow grave at a gas station. The autopsy report reveals that Sierra Walker died of measles. In a panic, Ashlee buried her because she thought that it was her fault. The murder charges against Ashlee are dropped, but the Walkers seek out the Stewart family, who chose to not vaccinate their child. Their son infected Sierra at the playground, and the Walkers demand justice. Monica Steward argues that it is her choice whether or not to vaccinate her child, and that Sierra would have died due to Ashlee Walker's negligence sooner or later.   

Real Life: In 2008, Cindy Anthony reported that her 2-year-old granddaughter, Caylee Anthony, had been missing for a month. Casey Anthony, Caylee's mother, claims that a nanny had kidnapped her daughter earlier that month, and that she had been too frightened to alert authorities. The body of Caylee Anthony was found several days later in the wooded area by the Anthony family home, her mouth bound with duct tape and chloroform. Casey was arrested for murdering her daughter, but was ultimately found not-guilty. Later, investigators found records of a Google search for "foolproof suffocation" and "foolproof ways to die" on Casey's computer.