The Nurses In American Horror Story Are Based On A True Story

Photo: FX.
In one of the most striking scenes in episode 2 of American Horror Story: Roanoke, two nurses stand over an elderly woman pleading for her life. Rather than helping her, they taunt her. “You’ll take it and like it," one of them crows. Finally, tired of this woman's moaning, one of the nurses picks up a gun and shoots the patient in the head. We later find out that these two murderesses, Bridget and Amanda, opened an assisted care facility in Roanoke during the 1980s in order to feed their killing frenzy. What's more, they picked their victims for their initials, which they then used to spell out their favorite word in red paint on the wall: "MURDER." In the show, the two were never caught. Rather, they were apparently driven away in fear by whatever dark forces inhabit the Roanoke farmhouse. But in real life, things didn't turn out that way. Yes. Those two murderous nurses actually existed.
According to a brief published in The New York Times in 1989, 26-year-old nursing-home aide named Gwendolyn Graham was convicted "of five counts of murder and one of conspiracy for killing severely incapacitated patients." Her lover and former coworker, Catherine Wood, who apparently acted as a lookout and later testified against Graham, was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison. In 1987, the two were responsible for the deaths of eight patients residing at the Alpine Manor nursing home in Walker, MI. Wood told the judge that the murders were part of a pact to "bind their love." Graham reportedly told her that killing these people helped her "relieve tension." But here's where things get really creepy: Just like in American Horror Story, reports from the time suggested that the "Lethal Lovers," as they came to be called, may have chosen their victims based on their initials, which they used to spell out the word "murder." Unlike the show, that plan fell through, because their chosen victims put up more of a fight than the two had anticipated. The 1992 true crime novel Forever and Five Days, by Lowell Cauffiel, is based on their story, and, in yet another parallel with the show, Graham and Wood appeared in two episodes of a TV series called The Serial Killers, in which they recounted the details of their crimes. According to the International Business Times, Graham is currently serving out her life sentence at Graham at Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, MI. Wood has been eligible for parole since 2005. She could be released from FCI Tallahassee in 2021.

More from TV

R29 Original Series