Netflix's new true crime docu-series is even more chilling than Making a Murderer.

Ada, Oklahoma, is the kind of town you could blink and miss.

Only about 17,000 people live in the small Pontotoc community, but the town’s murky past has been the subject of three books including The Innocent Man, crime author John Grisham’s only foray into non-fiction.

And now Netflix has dropped a six-part true crime series based on the book – and it’s even more chilling than Making a Murderer.

The series tells the story of two local women –  Debbie Carter and Denice Haraway – who were raped and murdered in the 1980s, and the four men who were convicted of the crimes.

On December 8, 1982, Debbie, a local cocktail waitress, was found raped and murdered in her garage apartment. She was just 21 years old.

Debbie had been gagged with a bloody towel and the word DIE had been painted on her stomach.

On the night of her murder, Debbie worked her regular shift at Coachlight, one of the local bars, and then drove home. At some point that night an intruder entered the young woman’s home and brutally killed her.

Not long after her murder, police suspected local man Ronald Keith Williamson. Another customer named Glen Gore said he had witnessed Williamson arguing with Debbie that night in the bar.

A friend of the victim also reported that Debbie had said Williamson “made her nervous”.

Williamson officially became a suspect in the case, along with his friend Dennis Fritz. Williamson was unable to provide an alibi for the night in question because he couldn’t remember where he was, he also took two polygraph tests that came up as “inconclusive”.

But without any physical or circumstantial evidence, and with no confession, the case went cold.

Then five years later, Williamson was arrested for forging cheques and was awaiting trial in Pontotoc County Jail. A fellow inmate named Terri Holland told police Williamson had confessed to her that he had, in fact, murdered Debbie.


In May that year, police exhumed Debbie’s body and charged both Williamson and Fritz for her murder.

Fritz was given a life sentence and Williamson was placed on death row.

Then, just five days before Williamson’s scheduled execution on September 24, 1994, a judge issued a last minute stay. Both Williamson and Fritz were eventually cleared of all the charges and set free.

As harrowing as this tale is, it isn’t the only miscarriage of justice that has allegedly occurred in the small, Oklahoma community.

In 1984, Denice Haraway was abducted from the gas station where she worked. She was presumed murdered.

Two local men – Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot – were charged and convicted of her murder. Their convictions largely hinged on their taped “confessions” in which they said they had abducted the young woman, raped her, stabbed her to death with a knife, then dumped her body in an abandoned house and burned it down afterwards.

When Denice’s body was eventually found, the cause of her death directly contradicted the details given in the “confessions”. Denice had been killed by a bullet and her body was found in a different location.

Despite this, Ward and Fontenot remain behind bars.

The story of Ada is so bizarre, Grisham says he couldn’t have written it as fiction because no one would have believed him.

The Innocent Man is a tightly-woven documentary, full of twists and turns, that’s even more compelling than Making a Murderer.

Like Steven Avery’s case, the cases of Ronald Keith Williamson, Dennis Fritz, Tommy Ward, and Karl Fontenot, will make you question everything you thought you knew about right and wrong, truth and justice.

Most importantly, it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat until the final credits roll.

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