By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A nonfiction book depicting the brutal murder of a young woman and her daughter at the hands of two brothers in Utah and the brothers’ subsequent arrest in Cheyenne will get the small screen treatment later this year.
Noted journalist Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven” was released in 2003 and details Ron and Dan Lafferty’s murder of their sister-in-law Brenda and her 1-year-old daughter Erica in 1984. The brothers were arrested in Cheyenne six days after the murder at the home of their getaway driver’s brother.
The book is being adapted as a television series that will premiere on Hulu sometime in the spring and will star Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield as a detective investigating the murder. Sam Worthington of “Avatar” and Wyatt Russell of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” will portray Ron and Dan Lafferty, respectively.
Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for writing the screenplay for “Milk,” has written the series.
In the book, Krakauer juxtaposes the story of the Lafferty murder against the violent history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Lafferty brothers were members of the Mormon Church who became more and more extreme in their beliefs during adulthood.
Krakauer particularly focuses on the fundamentalist wing of the Mormon religion and its belief in plural marriages.
Ron and Dan Lafferty murdered the wife of their youngest brother, Allen, because they believed she was the reason Ron’s wife left him, as he was pushing for a polygamous marriage. Ron also claimed that God sent him messages about killing Brenda Lafferty.
Dan Lafferty represented himself during his trial and was found guilty of murder and sentenced to two life sentences.
Ron Lafferty was tried in 1985, convicted and sentenced to death, but was retried in 1996 due to questions about his competency after a suicide attempt that left him with brain damage.
Ron Lafferty died in prison of natural causes in 2019.