MIND OVER MURDER is a new HBO docuseries with six episodes. Each episode tends to take a new crazy turn, but it’s all based on a true crime. Or rather, it’s mostly about how the crime was solved and who went to jail. I was intrigued from the beginning, but by episode three I was convinced it couldn’t get any crazier.
Who actually brutally raped and killed the 68- year-old Helen Wilson in Beatrice, Nebraska? People tend to have a very clear answer depending on who you ask. So many mistakes were made during the investigation. Maybe not all of them intentionally (maybe!), but all with dire consequences.
In Mind Over Murder, we hear about the six individuals who were convicted of the 1985 rape and murder of Helen Wilson in Beatrice, Nebraska. The convictions happened through plea bargains that required the six people to admit guilt. However, ultimately, DNA results showed something entirely different to be true.
Not until a few decades later, though. And getting people in a small town to change their minds about someone who has been convicted of murder (after admitting guilt), seems near impossible.
However, as an outsider watching this documentary, it’s hard to look at the police questioning the suspects and not get the feeling that something is off. Whenever a suspect gives an answer that doesn’t quite fit with the circumstantial evidence (or things reported by eyewitnesses), the tape is shut off and the interview is suspended.
Then, when the interview with the suspects is resumed, they suddenly remember things very differently. Now, their statement fits perfectly with the facts.
Also, there are tapes where these suspects recant everything they ultimately said. Mostly because it seems like they’re realizing that they are getting into deep trouble. According to the suspects, they were threatened with the death penalty. Obviously, that makes you want to cooperate and get a very reduced sentence.
Facts versus emotions
Ultimately, Mind Over Murder becomes a question of whether you accept the facts or go with your emotions. The family of the murder victim, Helen Wilson, obviously has a hard time accepting that those who admitted to killing her, possibly didn’t.
The main problem is that there is no physical evidence placing any of the six people at the crime scene. There is, however, a lot of DNA evidence proving that someone else was there.
Also, the somewhat magical way this case was solved happened several years after the murder. In the meantime, the case had been getting cold, fast. It all started with one witness and went from there.
However, it still isn’t that simple since things continue to change and evolve throughout the Mind Over Matter docuseries. It’s a crazy rollercoaster of facts and emotions.
Watch Mind Over Murder on HBO
Nanfu Wang is the documentarist behind this amazing and truly jaw-dropping HBO docuseries. Previously, Nanfu Wang also directed the documentary One Child Nation (2019) and the HBO Max documentary In the Same Breath (2021).
This is one of the most intense and grotesque cases I can remember having seen. Most of the convicted 5 are part of this docuseries. And sure, they may not be people who never get into trouble prior to the 1985 murder of Helen Wilson. However, this should never mean that they have to pay for something they didn’t do.
Especially since the actual perpetrator should be punished. In many ways, Mind Over Murder reminded me of Making a Murderer. Both in terms of the “techniques” used to question suspects and the fact that once you’re sentenced, it’s almost impossible to fight back.
Even checking DNA takes years. And once the DNA doesn’t match those imprisoned, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily innocent. Well, that’s the thinking anyway, so they stay put in prison.
Mind Over Murder premieres with episode 1 on HBO and HBO Max on June 20, 2022. The five remaining episodes are released weekly.