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Very Scary People

Very Scary People

  • Premiered: 
    March 17, 2019
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: HLN
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Crime
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Plot Synopsis

Hosted by Donnie Wahlberg, VERY SCARE PEOPLE is a two-hour documentary series that chronicles the twisted lives of some of the most frightening, diabolical characters in recent history. These biographies trace the crimes and evil deeds of bad people who were successful at eluding detection for quite a while and how they were ultimately caught and eventually brought to justice.

"John Wayne Gacy: Evil Secret" (March 17, 2019): This is the shocking and gruesome mystery of John Wayne Gacy, a popular Chicago businessman and part-time clown who was leading a double life in the 1970s. By day, Gacy was a community leader and helpful neighbor. But by night, he transformed into a monster who chose young male teens as his prey. How did this seemingly cheerful man become the most prolific serial killer of his day -- without anybody noticing and how he was ultimately caught?

"Charles Manson: The Devil's Work" (March 24, 2019): Charles Manson was born a bad kid, became a teenage thief and a violent predator, and in the end, spent far more than half his life behind bars. He had the ability to charm and developed amazing powers of persuasion, but he chose to use those talents for sinister purposes. This episode -- featuring Manson Family members, victims' families, witnesses, prosecutors, reporters, authors, and Manson in his own words -- details the horror of the vicious attacks and explains how Manson was able to convince his hippie followers to brutally murder celebrities and innocent strangers. The grisly killings terrorized Hollywood and remained unsolved until homicide detectives received a tip from a surprising source.

"NorCal Rapist: Phantom Predator" (March 31, 2019): Wanted for multiple sex attacks against women in Northern California over three decades, this masked predator meticulously planned his assaults by studying the habits and routines of his female prey. The NorCal Rapist entered homes in advance of his attacks, memorizing floor plans and planning exits to avoid being seen. Then, armed with guns and knives, he attacked the women at night, when they were alone. But after 27 years on the loose, police suddenly closed in on the man they believe is the NorCal Rapist. This episode features victims, detectives, prosecutors, and criminal profilers, who detail the horror of the attacks, and the new forensic science that led to the suspect's capture.

"Aileen Wuornos: Monster Made" (April 7, 2019): In 1990, Florida police were on a frantic search for a killer. Seven men were dead, their bodies scattered along state highways. Terrorized motorists heard of the bullet-ridden victims of the Interstate Killer -- but the investigative trail was cold and there was no end in sight. The killer behind the spree was Aileen Wuornos -- a complex, misunderstood misfit who hitchhiked near truck stops, selected her victims at random, and lured them to secluded locations. It took good old-fashioned police work, a little luck, and a lover's betrayal, to finally bring Wuornos' killing spree to an end. This episode features rare interviews with victims' family members, and Wuornos' best friend.

"Zodiac Killer: I Am the Zodiac" (April 14, 2019): He terrorized Northern California in the late 1960s, killing young couples at secluded lover's lanes. Not satisfied with just the murders, he also taunted the public with cryptic clues, threats of increased violence and most famously, ciphers that were supposed to lead police to his identity, but mostly went nowhere. Detectives, reporters, and even civilians, have worked for decades to solve the case -- but so far, no one has succeeded. Can new DNA techniques that were used to catch the Golden State Killer finally unmask this murderer, who is both infamous and completely unknown?

"Rev. Jim Jones: Unholy Massacre" (April 21, 2019): More than 900 Americans died in an isolated jungle in northern Guyana in November 1978. The man responsible, Jim Jones, has gone down in history as a madman who drove his followers to suicide. But the truth is more complicated, more horrifying, and more tragic than that. This episode dives deep into the life of Jones, from his lonely childhood to his spectacular rise as a charismatic minister sought out by politicians and film stars, and finally, to an almost unimaginable end: the mass murder of those who once called him "father."
VERY SCARY PEOPLE returned for its second season on Sunday, July 12, 2020 from 9-11pm ET/PT on HLN, with a two-part season opener:

"Son of Sam: The Duke of Death" (July 12, 2020 from 9-11pm): He is among the most infamous serial killers in American history. From 1976 to 1977, David Berkowitz terrorized New York City under his creepy self-given moniker: "Son of Sam." Using a large caliber .44 revolver, he unleashed eight horrific shootings across three different boroughs, wounding seven people and killing six. Despite an extraordinary investigation, and hundreds of NYPD officers working the case, Berkowitz's crime spree lasted over a year. How did he get away with it for so long? Did the investigators miss any vital clues? The detectives who worked the case tell the true tale of what it was like in New York City with a gun-toting murderer on the loose. The episode features interviews with detectives and psychologists about what he said after his arrest, why he did it, and how this quiet, soft spoken 24-year old post office employee from Yonkers turned into a serial killing monster.

"BTK: Bind, Torture, Kill" (July 19, 2020): In January 1974, four members of a family are brutally tortured and murdered in Wichita, Kansas. The murders shock the safe midwestern city, but little do they know, it is just the beginning. The killer calls himself "B.T.K." which stands for Bind, Torture, Kill; and for decades this bloodthirsty serial killer terrifies Wichita as he murders again and again and again. After multiple killings from 1974 to 1991, he goes quiet; but he resurfaces in 2004, and residents of the midwestern city are once again petrified. For months he plays a cat and mouse game with law enforcement and the media taunting them as he seeks the attention he craves. But when he finally makes a mistake and is apprehended, it is chilling to discover that he has been hiding in plain sight for years.

"The Night Stalker: Summer of Terror" (July 26, 2020): The Summer of 1985 was one of the hottest the city of Los Angeles had seen in a century, but terrified residents were not sleeping with the windows open, they weren't sleeping at all. A killer was on the loose. And although the 1980s were considered the decade of the serial killer, one man stood out. He was the night stalker, and his crimes were vicious, random, and committed in the name of Satan. His victims ranged from toddlers to the elderly; and as the city was paralyzed with fear, he went unchecked as police struggled to stop him. In 1985, the L.A.P.D. gets a tip. Twenty-four hours later, a mob of angry citizens track him down and capture him, and his trial is a bizarre chapter that has some wondering if the Night Stalker will escape justice.

"The Co-ed Killer: The Murder Capital of the World" (August 2, 2020): Santa Cruz, California was a mecca for the hippie generation in the early 1970s, a beachside paradise, until female students began to go missing, with their body parts showing up around town. Police had no leads on who was committing these horrific crimes, but they soon realize that all the victims had something in common: they were last seen hitchhiking. A frantic public, desperate for answers, live in terror, waiting for the man they dubbed "The Coed Killer" to strike again. But no one could have expected that the person responsible, a local man, Edmund Kemper, was living among them, hiding in plain sight. Kemper was a man with a dark history and a tortured childhood, a man who had killed years before and had now set his twisted sights on young women. Told through interview footage with Kemper himself, as well as those who lived through this crippling period, this episode takes viewers back to the time when The Coed Killer brought terror to Santa Cruz.

"Robert Durst: World's Worst Fugitive" (August 9, 2020): The unbelievable story of Robert Durst, the millionaire heir to a vast real estate fortune who has been living under a cloud of suspicion for decades. Durst's first wife went missing in 1982, but the case went cold when there were no leads -- and no body. Then, 18 years later, just as the investigation into her disappearance was re-opened, Durst's best friend and confidante, Susan Berman, was shot dead inside her home. Less than a year later, while Durst was hiding out in Galveston, Texas, his neighbor's dismembered body was found floating in Galveston Bay. Durst was quickly charged with his murder and after jumping bail and going on the run for six weeks, he returned to Texas to stand trial. Durst admitted he killed his neighbor and chopped up his body, but said it happened accidentally, in self-defense. The jury acquitted him of murder. Durst, who pled not guilty, stands trial in Los Angeles for the murder of Susan Berman. Prosecutors say he killed her because he was afraid she would reveal what she knew about his wife's disappearance.

"Dr. Death: A License to Kill" (August 16, 2020): For nearly two decades, Michael Swango, a physician-turned-murderer, left a trail of death and mayhem across two continents. Suspicious illnesses and deaths followed this once-trusted doctor from hospital to hospital for nearly two decades, picking off unsuspecting coworkers and helpless patients. What would make a well-respected doctor become one of the most prolific serial killers in the U.S.? Hear from the local and federal authorities who brought his reign of terror to an end. Interviews include survivors from Michael Swango's poisoning sprees, his former colleagues, families of his victims, federal and local investigators, and a Zimbabwean journalist who helped uncover a series of murders in a rural African hospital.