She Made Them Do It stars Jenna Dewan Tatum as Sarah Jo Pender, a woman convicted of murder. The film’s cast includes Mackenzie Philips, Jesse Moss, and Steve Bacic. John Walsh has a cameo!
Pender was a college student in 2000 when her roommates Andrew Cataldi and Tricia Nordman were murdered in their Indiana home. Pender was a college student and said she wasn’t home during the murders, and the film is willing to accept that, though it agrees that Pender is otherwise cunning and manipulative. Other reports agree that Pender purchased a gun for her boyfriend, Richard Hull, who was not legally allowed to purchase weaponry as a result of his criminal record, and that the two disposed to Cataldi and Nordman’s bodies. During the early period of the film, Tatum is a naieve and innocent woman who knows she has been wrongly accused of murder. Sure, she bought a gun at Walmart, but she’s a achieving college student! Tatum is a terrible actress, and the quality of her work is a disservice to Cataldi and Nordman, but the entertainment value is high.
Pender was sentenced to 110 years in jail (and Hull two 45-year sentences, claiming Pender made him do it), and soon broke out of jail. She went on the run, and her appearance on America’s Most Wanted boosted her image as the “female Charles Manson,” and Lifetime takes a hard left here, going over the top as Pender manipulates the guards, terrorizes her imprisoned peers, and makes her way to Chicago, where she manipulates an old man to keep her safe. The Midwest is on high alert (breaking hearts is perhaps her biggest crime of all!) as the authorities pursue Pender, who is eventually caught.
Pender’s supporters maintain that the film is very much a work of fiction, and the Wikipedia article is a must-read in the pantheon of biased Wikipedia editing. In the defense of Pender’s friends, family, and supporters, this movie is out of control in its drama.
She Made Them Do It airs Friday, September 23 at 8 p.m. on LMN.