Soap operas are like professional wrestling for housewives, full of outlandish characters and convoluted plots too crazy for real life. But not everybody gets to enjoy the madcap twists and turns from the comfort of their couches. Some poor bastards are out there actually living their own daytime TV dramas right now. For example ...
Alabama resident Audrey Marie Hilley was a regular girl who, like many regular girls, dreamed of wealth and status. Unfortunately, there weren't any nearby reality TV shows casting, so she took the path less traveled: the crazy path. She bought some poison, took out life insurance policies on her family, and started work on her husband. Once he was down, Audrey turned to her daughter, who also nearly died from arsenic poisoning. Luckily the authorities caught onto Audrey and arrested her. Unluckily, this all took place in the South in 1979, so all she had to do to was post bail or ramp a creek in the General Lee to escape. She chose the former, leaving a fake ransom note from a kidnapper as a flimsy excuse.
"Well, that sure was a weird story."
"Nope. It was a weird prologue."
Fast-forward to 1980. Florida man John Homan hit it off with a nice lady named Robbi Hannon, and the two got married and moved to New Hampshire. Robbi spoke fondly of her twin sister Teri in Texas, and eventually decided to visit her. But then tragedy struck. Soon, poor John received a phone call from Teri: Robbi had died, and her body had been donated to science. Just shipped straight over to Science Industries.
If you think that last part sounded a little odd, then John would have certainly agreed with you. So would the New Hampshire police. "Hi, I'm your wife's sister whom you've never met, and her corpse is science food now" sounded a bit suspicious, so they tracked Teri down and questioned her ... and noticed that both Robbi and Teri looked exactly like Audrey Marie Hilley.
And both had suspiciously little pre-1980 Facebook activity.
Hilley was sent back to her home state and sentenced to life in prison, until she escaped yet again in 1987 during a four-day furlough. This time, it didn't go so well for her. February is a lousy month to escape from prison when your plan is to hide out in the woods. The Alabama fuzz found their fugitive soaked in the rain and suffering from hypothermia. With her crazy-ass show finally at the end of its run, Audrey had a heart attack and died dramatically, just in time for sweeps.
Noela Rukundo was marked for death even more than the average Australian. As she was visiting family in Burundi, Africa, she found out that her husband back in Australia had hired some local men to "take care of her." Fortunately for Noela, it turned out to be the most inspiring case of attempted murder we've ever come across.
Spoiler alert: The inspiring part doesn't come from the husband, who's still a total asshole.
The hitmen kidnapped Noela and took her to a safe, quiet location ... so they could get to know her better. Amazingly, that isn't a euphemism. These were either the softest hitmen in history or Noela was one hell of a gal, because after two days of captivity (to make her seem suitably disappeared) and a stern lecture about her choice in men, Noela was released. The hitmen did give her an 80-hour time limit to leave the country, but it was for her safety -- the gang suspected that Noela's husband might have hired other assassins, and they might not be as gentle.
DAJ/amana images/Getty Images
An actual photo of the gang.
They also gave her a little parting gift: a memory card containing her husband's recorded conversations about the murder, and receipts for the money transfers with which he paid for the deed. Dang. We're starting to think the guy accidentally hired the A-Team.
Thus equipped and informed, Noela booked a flight to Australia. Her husband had already told everyone she'd perished in a "tragic accident," so Noela drove straight to their house and confronted him the very night he was greeting mourners at the door. At first, he genuinely feared he was seeing a ghost. We're guessing that roughly 0.5 seconds later, he wished that was true.
Sunny Han had an evil twin. No, seriously, those apparently exist outside of soap operas and Star Trek episodes. Jeen "Gina" Han, Sunny's identical twin sister, tried to cap her ass in 1996. The sisters were 22 and had grown somewhat estranged over time. Well, that's how Sunny would have described it. Gina's version of "somewhat estranged" turned out to be "bloody murderous." Sunny's roommate opened the door one day and found two teenagers selling magazines who adopted a seriously aggressive sales pitch by immediately attacking her. Sunny heard the struggle in her bedroom and dialed 911, which would save her life, because the very next second she was confronted by Gina. Sources don't explicitly state whether she strolled in wearing skin-tight leather and a dramatic cape, so we're forced to assume that she totally did.
Top Photo Group/Top Photo Group/Getty Images
"Bringing a white cat to stroke was a dick move, too, because she knows I'm allergic."
When the cops arrived, they found Sunny tied up in a bathtub, immediately arrested Gina and her cohorts, and charged them with attempted murder. This wasn't a spur-of-the-moment "magazine sales pitch gone wrong" attack. Gina had been plotting it for some time, hopefully while stroking a sinister goatee. She even attempted to recruit multiple henchmen before her attack, because what's a villain without henchman? Nothing but a garden-variety maniac, that's what. So what set off this blood vendetta? Sunny had borrowed some of Gina's stuff, and didn't return it. That's it.
Gina was found guilty and sentenced to 26 years to life in prison. Strangely, she remained silent for the duration of the proceedings, only to launch into a heartfelt, tearful last-minute speech wherein she maintained her innocence.
Dorling Kindersley/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images
... Oh, shit. She pulled the ol' switcheroo, didn't she?
In February 2015, local firefighters dropped a woman off at a San Diego hospital. She had no ID and was suffering from severe amnesia. There were only two clues as to her identity: her distinct Australian accent and the vivid, constant dreams she had about a man whom she assumed was her husband. Well, there was a third, slightly more depressing clue: She was also suffering from stage-three ovarian cancer.
That marked her for death, even more than the average Australian
The woman dubbed herself "Sam," presumably because it's easy to remember, and began the long, laborious trek to regain her past while simultaneously fighting cancer. For five months, Sam tried to Memento the pieces of her life together, but things were looking hopeless. But then a local news anchor's Facebook post about her went viral and caught her nephew's eye. "Sam" was identified as Ashley Manetta, a 53-year-old from Pennsylvania. Her bout of amnesia was triggered by her cancer. And the weird part is that she wasn't Australian at all. She'd visited the Island of Shrieking Spiders several times, and it seems those memories took over her accent.
She was relived until she realized the memories of spiders were totally real.
And the haunting dream husband? Just that -- a dream. Or maybe a ghost trying to warn her that all was not what it seemed. It depends on what kind of movie she's in.
Alice Roosevelt was a goddamned Roosevelt of a woman. She brewed her own beer during Prohibition, despite her husband, Rep. Nicholas Longworth (R-OH), being the Speaker of the House. When someone hit her limousine and called her chauffeur a "black bastard," Alice rolled down her window and replied: "Shut up, you white son-of-a-bitch." She smoked too much, bet on horse races, went a little heavy on the makeup, sat sultrily atop grand pianos, generally made life hell for her father throughout his presidency, and ultimately pulled off one of the most impressive sexual fiascoes in D.C. history.
In short, if Disney ever animates her story, expect the film to be rated R. And that's the woman Rep. Longworth thought he could cheat on?
James E. Purdy
He really should have been more careful where he stuck his longworth.
As soon as Alice discovered his indiscretions, she walked out the door and into the bed of the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, US Senator William Borah (R-ID). Oh, and as a final insult, Sen. Borah later had sex with the same woman Alice caught her husband cheating on her with: her friend Cissy Patterson, a famous journalist.
Harris & Ewing
She really should have been more careful whom she nabbed with her cissy.
To recap: To get revenge on her cheating husband, Teddy Roosevelt's daughter wove together a love quadrangle comprising herself, her friend, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, and the Speaker of the House. If that happened today, the news would literally explode, Scanners-style. That's like if Chelsea Clinton got married to Paul Ryan, who cheated on her with Megyn Kelly, so Chelsea went out and banged John Kerry, who also railed Megyn Kelly for good measure.
Only today's version sounds way grosser.
Jacopo della Quercia (@Jacopo_della_Q) is the author of License to Quill and The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy, so please make sure to read them. You can also order signed / personally inscribed copies of both books here!
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