How Netflix’s Unbelievable Brings a Harrowing True Story to Life

How Netflix’s Unbelievable Brings a Harrowing True Story to Life

When teenager Marie Adler reported being raped by an intruder at her home in Lynnwood, Wash., back in August 2008, her life was upended in ways she couldn’t have even begun to imagine.

Not only had she experienced a horrific and violent attack, incurring suffering both physical, mental and spiritual as the promise of safety her apartment afforded her was violated, but because of the scant physical evidence collected at the scene, her perceived “wrong” response to the trauma she claimed had been inflicted upon her, and her inconsistent recounting of events in the days afterwards, she suffered anew as both the parental figures in her life and the detectives entrusted with her case found her story to be just that—a story.

Within days, Detectives Jeffrey Mason (who’d only previously worked one or two rape cases in his career) and Jerry Rittgarn had Marie convinced that perhaps she’d dreamt up the whole thing. She eventually recanted. Later that month, the Lynnwood Police Department would charge her with false reporting, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. The citation she received in the mail had been signed by Sgt. Mason himself.