Teamwork made the dream work for Detective Edna Hendershot when she teamed up with Detective Stacy Galbraith to try to solve a string of rapes in Colorado. Police departments are not always known for communicating with each other, but when the two women discovered similarities in their rape cases, they joined forces. This powerful story is at the center of Netflix's new true crime series Unbelievable. Names have been changed for the show, but it's still based on the true story. That means that Toni Collette's character Detective Grace Rasmussen is based on Edna Hendershot.
ProPublica, which published the initial in-depth story on this case, reported that Galbraith emailed her fellow Colorado police departments to see if anyone had similar rape cases they were investigating. Hendershot did, and she jumped at the chance to work with Galbraith on solving the crimes. "Two heads, three heads, four heads, sometimes are better than one, right?" Hendershot said, according to ProPublica.
The outlet reported that the two detectives complemented each other. Galbraith was the younger of the two, often moving quickly, whereas Hendershot was the more experienced one who could be a little more diligent. She'd worked over 100 rape cases in her time on the police force. "Sometimes going a hundred miles an hour, you miss some breadcrumbs," one of Galbraith's colleagues told ProPublica. Together, though, Galbraith and Hendershot missed nothing.
The two eventually tracked down Marc O'Leary who was responsible not just for four rapes in Colorado, but for two in Washington. ProPublica reported that he was eventually sentenced to 327.5 years in prison for the Colorado crimes and 68.5 for the Washington attacks. The outlet reported that he'd been counting on police departments not talking to each other, so he carried out his rapes in different jurisdictions. If Galbraith and Hendershot hadn't collaborated, he may have never been caught.
After O'Leary's sentencing in 2011, Hendershot resumed her usual work. In 2014, she was awarded a certificate and service pin by the Westminster City Council for her 20 years of service with the Westminster Police Department. In 2017, CBS News reported that she'd been promoted from detective to sergeant at the department. The outlet noted that both she and Galbraith remain in communication with O'Leary's survivors. In 2018, the story of Hendershot and Galbraith's investigation was published in a book, A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America, written by the ProPublica journalists. Now the story is being told in the Netflix series Unbelievable.
According to the Rocky Mountain chapter of the FBI National Academy, Hendershot is a commander now and recently graduated from the Quantico, Virginia FBI program. She'll no doubt be using her newly acquired skills to continue fighting for justice in her 25th year on the force.