The Most WTF Episodes Of Forensic Files
What makes for a good true crime TV show? Is it an unsolved mystery? A crime that took place in a small town just like yours? Grisly details? The best episodes of Forensic Files cover all this territory and more.
While the show has discussed crimes from all across the country, some episodes stand out for truly twisted tales that keep fans looking over their shoulders. This list of the scariest episodes of Forensic Files may have you sleeping with the lights on - or maybe just binge-watching on Netflix.
"A Voice from Beyond" (Season 5, episode 4)Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
In 1999, a man sold his Long Island home and, in the process of clearing it out, found a barrel in a crawl space. He called the police when he discovered a body inside of it. Police identified the victim from an address book she was buried with; though the ink had mostly faded, detectives were able to use infrared light to find an alien card number (meaning the victim was an immigrant) and the phone number of one of the victim's friends. Because of these clues, they were able to identify the victim as Reyna Angelica Marroquin. She had been in the barrel for 30 years, and at the time of her death, she had been nine months pregnant.
Eventually, detectives were led to Marroquin's former boss, Howard B. Elkins, with whom Marroquin was having an affair before her death. After police questioned Elkins about the body, he died by suicide before being charged with her murder.
"The Wilson Murder" (Season 1, episode 8)
Surgeon Dr. Jack Wilson was found dead by his wife, Betty, the day before the couple was supposed to go on vacation. Police initially assumed it was a burglar, but then a woman called in with a tip about a man who claimed to have been hired to murder a doctor. The man from the tip, James White, was an alcoholic and known for telling tall tales, but in this case, White's story started to add up.
White said he was hired to murder Jack Wilson by a woman named Peggy Lowe. Lowe was Betty Wilson's twin sister. Betty had been having multiple affairs with men she'd met at AA, and her husband knew about her infidelities. Jack Wilson was impotent, but he loved his wife, so he was happy to let her seek out the affections he couldn't provide. Betty allegedly wanted to get out of her marriage without giving up the lifestyle she'd grown accustomed to, which inspired her to plot her husband's murder with help from her sister.
Betty was sentenced to life without parole, but Peggy was acquitted in a separate trial. Betty has maintained her innocence, especially considering the results of Peggy's trial and the fact that White later took back his confession in public, saying he concocted the story.
"Bio-Attack" (Season 7, episode 8)
After 751 people got food poisoning in Oregon in 1984, authorities discovered that bioterrorists from a cult had contaminated 10 salad bars with salmonella. The Rajneeshees, as they were called, tried to make people so ill they couldn't go out to vote, thus ensuring their chosen candidate would win and advance their cult's political platform.
"Shot of Vengeance" (Season 8, episode 9)
When Janice Trahan Allen went to the doctor after feeling unwell in 1994, she learned she was HIV-positive. Forensics discovered she had been infected by a former lover, Dr. Richard Schmidt, who had injected Allen with a B-12 shot laced with blood from patients who had HIV and hepatitis C. Allen had broken off an affair with the doctor, and Schmidt is believed to have infected her in retaliation. Schmidt has maintained his innocence but was sentenced to 50 years in prison and has been denied early release.
"Bad Medicine" (Season 9, episode 8)
Dr. Anthony Pignataro built a reputation of malpractice and greed at his western New York plastic surgery practice. When opening his practice, he didn't hire a registered nurse or an anesthesiologist to increase his profit margins. He also skimped on the equipment he purchased. All those cut corners came to a head in 1996, when one of Pignataro's patients died on the operating table. She stopped breathing during a breast augmentation, and Pignataro didn't have a ventilator which could have saved her life. Pignataro was convicted of homicide, stripped of his medical license, and served six months in jail.
Throughout his malpractice suit, his wife Debbie remained loyal to him. Shortly after he was released from prison in 1999, Debbie started getting ill. After going to the doctor, Debbie found out she had a dangerous amount of arsenic in her bloodstream. Investigators eventually discovered Pignataro had been sneaking arsenic into her food in a ploy to salvage his reputation. He was trying to get Debbie to undergo surgery performed by another doctor, and he hoped she would die while under the knife and partially absolve him of his past crimes. He wanted to show that patients frequently die during surgeries. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for poisoning his wife.
"Killer's 'Cattle' Log" (Season 6, episode 15)
Ray Copeland may have looked like a friendly grandpa, but his looks were certainly deceiving in his case. The Missouri rancher and his wife, Faye, had a reputation for running scams where they would purchase livestock using bad checks. Eventually, the police caught wind that the Copelands may have also committed more serious crimes. After searching their farm in 1989, authorities found five men in shallow graves. Further investigation found Fay's personal records of previous ranch hands (five of which had Xs next to their names) and a quilt made out of the dead men's clothes.