In March 2020, Lifetime announced that it was making five TV movies based on books by prolific true crime writer Ann Rule. The five books are “Danger In The Dorm,” “Mortal Danger,“ “Practice To Deceive,” “Bitter Harvest” and “Empty Promises,” with the first two movies premiere August 1 and 2 as part of Lifetime’s “Ripped From the Headlines” series.
The movies are called Sleeping With Danger. which is based on “Mortal Danger,” and A Murder to Remember, which is based on “Empty Promises.” Ahead of those movies, here is what you need to know about Ann Rule’s life and death.
Rule Died in 2015 From Congestive Heart Failure and Respiratory Failure
In July 2015, Rule died in Burien, Washington, at the age of 83. The cause of death was congestive heart failure and respiratory failure, a hospital spokesman told the New York Times at the time. Rule was born on October 22, 1931, in Lowell, Michigan. According to her New York Times obituary, Rule would spend summer vacations with her grandparents, helping her grandmother prepare meals for prisoners in the local jail.
“I would pass the tray through the slot in the pantry to the prisoners, and they were so nice,” Ms. Rule told The Seattle Times in 2004 (via the New York Times). “So I would always ask my grandpa, ‘How come they’re locked up?’ I wanted to know why some kids grew up to be criminals and why other people didn’t. That is still the main thrust behind my books: I want to know why these things happen, and so do my readers.”
Rule earned a degree in creative writing from the University of Washington in 1953. She later began writing as a way to make money when her husband Bill went back to school. She began writing for True Detective, a crime magazine, in 1969 — her editors insisted that she use male pseudonyms, so her bylines included Arthur Stone, Chris Hansen, and Andy Stack.
It wasn’t long before she began writing true crime novels, starting with what is perhaps her most famous book, “The Stranger Beside Me,” which is about her unusual relationship with serial killer Ted Bundy.
She went on to write over 30 true crime novels and one work of crime fiction, called “Possession.”
Rule Was Most Famous For Her Friendship With Ted Bundy
In 1971, Rule was volunteering for a suicide crisis hotline in Seattle where she met Ted Bundy, a student at the nearby University of Washington. She was quite shocked when he was arrested four years later for murdering dozens of women.
“For a long time I was holding out hope that he was innocent, that somehow this all was a terrible mistake,” she told The Houston Chronicle in 2003. “And it wasn’t just me, it was all the people who worked with him.”
But she eventually saw that he was indeed the serial killer that law enforcement believed him to be and she wrote what is largely considered the definitive biography on Bundy, “The Stranger Beside Me.” It detailed their friendship and how she refused to believe he was capable of such atrocities for a very long time.
“People like Ted can fool you completely,” she told CNN in 1999. “I’d been a cop, had all that psychology — but his mask was perfect. I say that long acquaintance can help you know someone. But you can never be really sure. Scary.”
She added: “I felt sick when Ted was executed — but I would not have stopped it if I could. He was going to get out, and he would have killed again and again and again.”
Sleeping With Danger and A Murder to Remember air Saturday, August 1, and Sunday, August 2, respectively, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.
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