Many episodes on the fictional crime show Law and Order: Special Victims Unit are ripped from the headlines of real-life crimes. Here are a few of them.
1. Baby Killer (Season 2, Episode 5)
A young girl is fatally shot by her 7-year-old classmate in Baby Killer. The SVU team investigates the shooting which is based on the 2000 school shooting at Buell Elementary School in Michigan in which Kayla Rolland was shot to death by her 6-year-old classmate Dedrick Darnell Owens.
In the show, Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot says, "You know as well as I do that the youngest they've ever convicted was eleven."
Another ADA on the show, Pippa Fox, responds, "Yes, but that was pre-Columbine. Since then, there's been an epidemic of ever-younger kids killing kids with no consequence. People are fed up with it."
2. Chameleon (Season 4, Episode 1)
Detectives Benson and Stabler investigate the deaths of men killed by a female serial killer named Maggie. She lures men to her room posing as a prostitute and then kills them and steals their credit cards. At the trial, the defense tries to make it seem like Maggie killed all the men in self-defense because they raped her.
The idea was based off of Aileen Wuornos, a highway prostitute who shot and killed seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. Aileen (pictured below) had alleged that the victims either raped or attempted to rape her. Multiple documentaries were made about her, in addition to the award-winning 2003 Hollywood blockbuster Monster starring Charlize Theron.
3. Perfect (Season 4, Episode 24)
In this episode, a teen is found dead after being abused by her kidnappers. Her abductors were part of a religious cult whose leader claimed to be able to clone babies.
This episode is based on the 2002 kidnapping of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart (pictured), who was found alive and now works as an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs, and national legislation. The kidnappers in this episode mirror another real life group: the Raelians — the cult that claimed they produced the first baby human clone in 2002.
4. Selfish (Season 10, Episode 19)
This episode starts off with a woman reporting her missing two-year-old granddaughter, who is later found dead. Her daughter, the baby’s mother, played by Hilary Duff, is the prime subject. She is reckless and unstable. Hilary’s character is photographed partying and buying burial materials around the time her daughter went missing.
It is based on the 2008 Casey Anthony case. Casey (pictured above) reported her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, missing 31 days after she claimed she last saw her child. Casey was photographed partying days after her daughter went missing. She borrowed a shovel two days after Caylee was last seen alive. The grandmother, Casey’s mother, called police to report that Casey was stealing from her and said that the trunk of her stolen car smelled like a dead body. Caylee’s remains were found buried half a mile from the home months later. Anthony was acquitted of the crime, and was only sentenced to four years in prison for lying to the police. However, because of the time already spent in jail before and during the trial, she only had to serve an additional 10 days in jail.
5. Funny Valentine (Season 14, Episode 11)
SVU tries to convince an up-and-coming singer, Micha Charles, to get away from her abusive hip-hop singer boyfriend, Caleb Bryant. The lovers get into an argument when Caleb is caught talking to another woman. Then, he brutally beats and chokes Micha.
In real life, rapper Chris Brown assaulted singer Rihanna in 2009 before the Grammy Awards. Chris was upset after Rihanna asked him about a text message he received from another woman.
In this episode, Sergeant John Munch says about the fictional couple, “They should go on a double date with Chris Brown and Rihanna.”
6. Patrimonial Burden (Season 17, Episode 7)
A reality television family called the Bakers finds out that their 13-year-old daughter Lane is pregnant. SVU investigates, but Lane's parents are uncooperative and want to protect their family of 10 from scandal. Lane's older brother Graham becomes a suspect. He is also initially accused of being the father of the youngest sibling, who turns out to be one of his other sibling's child.
This episode is based on the Duggar family scandal. The Duggar family starred in a reality show called 19 Kids and Counting. A scandal unfolded when it was made public that Josh Duggar molested four of his sisters when he was younger. Josh was the eldest of 19 siblings in the religious family. The molesation scandal, plus a revelation that Josh was a member of Ashley Madison (a site dedicated to cheating spouses,) resulted in the show’s cancellation.