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Crime News

Reward Increased For Texas Murder That Inspired Oscar-Winning Film "Three Billboards"

The Texas Department Of Public Safety will now offer $6,000 for any info on the 1991 murder of Kathy Page.

By Jon Silman

The reward for information in the Texas murder that inspired the Oscar-winning film "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" has been doubled — a rare advancement in a cold case that made little progress in nearly three decades. 

The Texas Department Of Public Safety will now offer $6,000 for any info on the murder of Kathy Page, who was found dead in her car in 1991. 

It's unclear what led to the new reward coming now, although the case has seen a new wave of attention since the release of "Three Billboards" in November. 

Page, 34, was found strangled and in a ditch in what was allegedly staged to look like an accident. Her father, James Fulton, has for decades paid for billboards along the I-10 that condemn the Vidor Police Department for not solving the case and accused Page's husband of killing her.

"Steve Page brutally murdered his wife in 1991," one sign says. "Vidor PD does not want to solve this case. I believe they took a bribe. The attorney general should investigate." The black and white letters are faded from the sun and the passage of time.

Screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh said he saw the billboards on a road trip and they inspired the idea for the movie. In the film, Frances McDormand plays a mother paying for similar billboards demanding answers for her daughter's brutal murder. McDormand won an Oscar for the role this year.

Page was separated from her estranged husband at the time of her death. He has never been charged for a crime, but the family sued Steve Page in a civil case and won $150,000. 

"Do you find from a preponderance of evidence that Steve Page killed his wife Kathy Page?" a question posed to the jury stated, according to The Houston Chronicle. Jury members checked "yes".

Fulton, 87, says he has spent an estimated $200,000 on the billboards over the years and wants the Texas Rangers to take on the unsolved case. The agency doubles the reward for a different unsolved case each month as a public awareness campaign. The new Vindor police chief has also said he wants to solve the case. 

McDonagh noted that even though he was inspired by the billboards, he did not base his film on the case.

"The title came from the concept and the concept came from that image, which stayed in my mind for years: What kind of pain would lead somebody to do that?" he told the Los Angeles Times. "It takes a lot of guts — and a lot of anger."

[Photo: Actor Frances McDormand accepts Best Female Lead for 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' onstage during the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards; Credit: Getty Images]