Two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists tell the riveting true story of Marie, a teenager who was charged with lying about having been raped, and the detectives who followed a winding path to arrive at the truth.
On August 11, 2008, 18-year-old Marie reported that a masked man broke into her apartment near Seattle, Washington, and raped her. Within days police and even those closest to Marie became suspicious of her story: details of the crime didn’t seem plausible, and her foster mother thought she sounded as though she were reciting a Law & Order episode. The police swiftly pivoted and began investigating Marie. Confronted with inconsistencies in her story and the doubts of others, Marie broke down and said her story was a lie – a bid for attention. Police charged Marie with false reporting. One of Marie’s best friends created a web page branding her a liar.
More than two years later, Colorado detective Stacy Galbraith was assigned to investigate a case of sexual assault. Describing the crime to her husband that night – the attacker’s calm and practiced demeanor, which led the victim to surmise “he’s done this before” – Galbraith learned that the case bore an eerie resemblance to a rape that had taken place months earlier in a nearby town. She joined forces with the detective on that case, Edna Hendershot, and the two soon realized they were dealing with a serial rapist: a man who photographed his victims, threatening to release the images online, and whose calculated steps to erase all physical evidence suggested he might be a soldier or a cop. Through meticulous police work the detectives would eventually connect the rapist to other attacks in Colorado – and beyond.
Based on investigative files and extensive interviews with the principals, Unbelievable is a serpentine tale of doubt, lies, and a hunt for justice, unveiling the disturbing reality of how sexual assault is investigated today – and the long history of skepticism toward rape victims.
Previously published asA False Report