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The Harrowing True Story Behind Sleeping With Danger

August 1, 2020
4 min read

‘Sleeping With Danger’ is the newest movie to drop on the Lifetime network and is a fitting addition to its already stellar collection of true crime content. An edge-of-the-seat thriller about a fairy tale romance gone wrong, ‘Sleeping With Danger’ faithfully captures the trauma and fear that haunt victims of abuse. Given the premise of the story and the true-crime vibes that ‘Sleeping With Danger’ gives off, it’s natural to wonder whether it is a true story. Here, we take you through all that you need to know.

What is Sleeping With Danger About?

As mentioned earlier, ‘Sleeping With Danger’ gives its audience a taste of what it might feel like when a seemingly perfect love affair goes horribly wrong. The story follows flight attendant Grace Tanner (played by Elisabeth Röhm), who falls in love with a man named Paul Carter (played by Antonio Cupo), believing him to be her knight in shining armor.

However, Grace’s initially euphoric love affair soon turns to horror when Paul starts to display signs of jealousy and ultimately lashes out at her in an extremely violent manner. Grace, miraculously, manages to survive Paul’s onslaught, and fearing for her life, goes into hiding. Despite having the option to leave the traumatic episode behind and try to build her life anew, Grace doesn’t let the abuse slip. Her concern about the safety of other women who Paul might seduce with his charms leads her to come out of hiding, and she starts working with the police to try and bring her sadistic abuser to justice.

Is Sleeping With Danger Based on a True Story?

Thousands of women around the world have been victims of violent abuse at the hands of their lovers and husbands, and it comes as no surprise that ‘Sleeping With Danger’ is indeed based on real events. ‘Sleeping With Danger’ takes inspiration from a horrific set of events from 1999, which were documented by Ann Rule in her true-crime collection, ‘Mortal Danger.’

Although ‘Sleeping With Danger’ draws from the true story of a woman and roughly follows the real-life events which it uses as a source, it presents itself as fiction. It takes slight artistic freedoms in the presentation of its story. Nonetheless, it manages to bring to life the trauma that accompanies violent abuse with sensitivity, grit, and poignance and should be watched by all who enjoy true-crime shows and movies.

Are Grace and Paul Real People?

Indeed, Grace and Paul are based on the real-life people about whom Ann Rule had written about in ‘Mortal Danger.’ Grace’s character is based on that of flight attendant Kathy Ann Jewell, known popularly as Kate among her friends and family, while Paul’s character is based on Kate’s lover John Branden.

Kate first met John in 1989 during a business meeting, and soon, the two began seeing each other. At the time of their first meeting, John, who was fraudulently pretending to be a doctor, had been married and had a daughter. However, he supposedly fell so in love with Kate that he left his wife and his daughter to be with Kate.

As the years passed, John’s fraudulent practices eventually came to light, and he had to face the legal consequences of his actions. However, he hid these details from Kate, thereby concealing the true nature of his character. But the cracks that appeared in John’s professional life left its mark on him – Kate began to notice fits of rage that often teetered on the brink of violence. The floodgates finally broke on May 29, 1999, when John raped Kate, tied her up, and threatened to cut her up into pieces and dispose of her body in the ocean.

Despite being naked, beaten, and tied up, Kate somehow managed to escape, and as soon as she recovered, filed charges against John. By this time, however, John had disappeared. Even though the FBI joined as time went by, John, who was living under a false identity, remained out of the law’s reach. He was finally found in 2007, but only after he murdered the woman who he later married, injured her friend, and then killed himself. ‘Sleeping with Danger’ is the “ripped from the headlines” film that brings this horrifying tale to life.

Read More: Where Was Sleeping With Danger Filmed?

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