Last year I was the recipient of Robert Hemming’s With Murderous Intent, a true crime novel about the tragic murder of Shannon Mohr and the sensational trial that followed. Mohr was murdered by her husband, David Richard Davis, who spun a complex web of lives about who he was (a rich farmer working for the CIA) while taking out a number of insurance policies on his new, trusting bride. Davis murdered Mohr in 1980 during a horseback ride, using a horse tranquilizer to paralyzer her; Davis told everyone that Mohr had fallen off the horse during the ride. Davis was eventually suspected of murder and fled the country. He ended up on Unsolved Mysteries and was caught in Pago Pago in 1989, as the result of a viewer’s tip. Davis died in 2014. (For a nuanced take on the connection between Unsolved Mysteries and this film, read Variety‘s review.)
Finding Victim of Love, NBC’s made-for-TV tribute to Mohr, is a challenge. It doesn’t stream, and you can’t order the DVD from Netflix because a DVD does not yet exist. However, an enterprising YouTuber uploaded the film in 18+ parts in 2011; the series of clips is embedded above. It’s not confirmed if Victim of Love aired on Lifetime, but its very essence is Lifetime-y, from its true crime to its “interviews” with the cast, a narrative trick Lifetime isn’t using these days. The film does have an entry on TCM.com, which may speak more to a thoroughness of the site than a promise to air the film in the future.
But those willing to watch a collection of clips on autoplay with be rewarded. Sally Murphy’s portrayal of Shannon Davis shows Shannon as a lively, engaging woman; With Murderous Intent is breathless in its praise for the woman Shannon was. Dwight Schultz is the manipulative Dave Davis, and may have been too charming and too handsome for the role. Shannon’s parents, who drove the case and the movie, are played by Bonnie Bartlett and Andy Romano. Barlett and Romano bring levity and respect to their roles, and the film, which is more than one can ask for in this genre. And Gregg Henry is the dogged detective who catches Davis, and our token, Hey, it’s…! of the film. Henry is more dedicated here than he was in Gilmore Girls or Bunheads. His presence is a complete delight.
We rarely see such levity and respect for a made-for-tv film based on a true crime, and for that, Victim of Love should be commended.