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Crime News Based on a True Story

Has Anyone Lied About Being a Serial Killer Survivor for Profit Before? Well...

Based on a True Story raises a doozy of an idea and a reminder that the world of mass murderers is a murky place.


By Joe Dziemianowicz

In its new original series Based on a True Story, streaming now, Peacock takes a stab at spoofing the true crime genre with a darkly humorous thriller. It follows a cash-strapped Los Angeles couple with a baby on the way who hatch a wild plan to solve their woes: launch a podcast about a local serial killer, with the serial killer's help.

Spoilers for Based on a True Story below


What could possibly go wrong? Just watch and see as the enterprising Ava (Kaley Cuoco), a real estate agent, and her husband, Nathan (Chris Messina), a tennis pro-turned-instructor, hit the airwaves. 

The series is filled with twists, including the reveal that an author (Lizze Broadway) who wrote a book about surviving the serial killer known as the West Side Ripper may be lying.

Has Anyone Lied About Being a Serial Killer Victim and Profited Before?

Yes, there actually have been similar stories to this plot twist seen in Based on a True Story.

Consider the French self-proclaimed serial killer expert Stephane Bourgoin, who’s written numerous books on the topic. However, he confessed that his esteemed career is built on lies. 

He claimed that he’d interviewed 77 serial killers. He lied. He claimed that his wife was slain by a serial killer. He lied.

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“My lies have weighed me down,” he eventually told Paris Match.

Serial killers have also lied in order to get something. That was the case of Henry Lee Lucas, who was convicted of murdering his mother in 1960 and two others in 1983. 

While behind bars for these crimes, he falsely confessed to Texas Rangers and other law enforcement officials that he killed more than 600 people. Because of his lies, cases that should not have been closed were.

Lucas later claimed he lied about his murders to discredit authorities.

According to Dr. Joni Johnston, a forensic psychologist and author of Serial Killers: 101 Questions True Crime  Fans Ask, that’s one reason why serial killers lie. 

The others are to hide incriminating evidence, to boost their ego, and, she says, for the perks.

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“Lucas confessed about anything and everything He got to spend months going around to different crime scenes allegedly giving important information while eating good food and seeing the country," she explain.

True crime lies aren’t restricted to being about serial killings, of course. In 2016, Sherri Papini, a California mother of two, became headline news when she claimed that she’d been abducted at gunpoint by two Hispanic women during her morning jog. 

That story was a lie, and in April 2022, Papini admitted she made up the tale about her kidnapping. She was actually hiding out with an ex-boyfriend, James Reyes, the whole time she was missing.

Her lies got her an 18-month sentence.

To find out more about how Cuoco and Messina’s characters deal with serial killers and lies, tune into Based on a True Story, premiering June 8 on Peacock.