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River Lullaby

Script name: River Lullaby

Logline: Based on a true story: Decades after a young girl is violently murdered by the youngest woman ever sentenced to death row, a member of the victim’s family finds herself fighting the system to keep the murderer in jail and protect other victim’s families from being exploited by the very ones who took their loved ones. The process dredges up old memories, forcing the family to relive their most painful memories before emerging victorious.

Synopsis: In 2018, the state of Alabama passed legislation known as “Lisa’s Law,” to protect victims of violent crimes and their families from being exploited by the very criminals who took their loved ones. Cassie Millican, a family member of one of these victims, took up the torch as spokesperson and victims advocate, championing the law from start to finish, all while fighting to keep Lisa’s killer from gaining parole. 

In 1982, young Lisa Millican was kidnapped, raped, tortured, and murdered by serial killer Judith Neelley and her husband, Alvin. Already troubled and in foster care, 13-year-old Lisa proved an easy mark as Judith stalked her, then lured her into her car and transported her across state lines where she kept Lisa prisoner in a seedy motel for days. Just a child, Lisa went through unimaginable horrors, only to be handcuffed to the foot of the bed each night to sleep on the floor. Finally tiring of her young victim, Judith drove Lisa to a rural state park, injected her multiple times with Drano, and when she still didn’t die, shot her in the back and pushed her over a 100-foot cliff into the river below. Not only was Lisa not Judith’s first victim, she wasn’t her last. Judith’s killing spree ended a few weeks later as the result of some good police work and a bit of luck.  At her trial, Judith became the youngest woman ever sentenced to death in the U.S. 

In a decades-later horrible surprise, Lisa’s family learned that Judith’s sentence had been commuted to life and she would soon be edible for parole. Salt in the wound, Judith’s former defense attorney had written a book about the case and was splitting the profits with his former client as they capitalized on the media frenzy surrounding the parole hearing. 

Knowing she had no choice, Cassie took up the mantle, working with victim’s groups and lobbyists, doing as many as three interview a day, anything to keep this monster from going free and profiting from Lisa’s story. New to the political landscape, Cassie had to gear up to speed — going from 0 to 100 — all while taking care of her family and battling cancer. 

In a grueling fight down to the wire, Judith’s parole was denied and Lisa’s Law was passed. Cassie sought closure by going to the cliff where Lisa was killed, leaving a painted stone as a memoriam.