Created by Dustin Lance Black, FX on Hulu’s crime series ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ centers around the double murder of Brenda Lafferty and her daughter Erica Lafferty. East Rockwell detectives Jeb Pyre and Bill Taba investigate the gruesome murders and unravel the startling presence of religion in the same. Brenda and Erica’s murders influence Pyre to question himself as a believer.
The show progresses through the detectives’ efforts to bring the culprits to justice. The engrossing police procedural succeeds in astounding and unsettling the viewers with its affecting depiction of Brenda’s life and the aftermath of her murder. Naturally, the viewers must be wondering whether the character is based on a real individual. Well, let’s find out!
Is Brenda Lafferty Based on a Real Person?
Yes, Brenda Lafferty is based on a real person. Brenda was born on July 19, 1960, to James and LaRae Wright. She grew up in the city of Kimberly in Idaho, in an LDS family that included her parents, five sisters, and one brother. Brenda moved from Idaho to Utah to attend Brigham Young University as a broadcast journalism major student. She also worked as a news anchor during her time at BYU and excelled in singing and theater. Brenda met Allen during the same time and they began nurturing a relationship.
Allen and Brenda married in 1982 at an LDS temple. Brenda wasn’t well-liked among Allen’s family, especially among his brothers. She was a free spirit who didn’t hold back her opinions. Ron, the eldest brother of Allen, even believed that she encouraged his ex-wife to obtain a divorce from him. When his wife left him after refusing to practice polygamy, Brenda became an unfriendly presence in his life. Furthermore, she reportedly stopped her husband Allen from joining the School of the Prophets with his brothers. On April 28, 1983, Brenda and Allen welcomed their daughter, Erica Lane Lafferty.
How Did Brenda Lafferty Die in Real Life?
Brenda and her daughter were killed by Ron and Dan Lafferty, her husband Allen’s brothers. On July 24, 1984, Ron and Dan arrived at Brenda and Allen’s home in American Fork. Ron hit Brenda, strangled her with a vacuum cord, and eventually slit her throat with a knife to kill her. Dan slit the throat of Erica as well. The brothers believed that God asked them to put an end to the lives of their sister-in-law and niece, which motivated them to commit the crimes. She was 24 years old and her daughter was 15 months old at the time of their deaths.
According to Ron, God asked him to kill Brenda and Erica, along with two other individuals, Chloe Low and Richard Stowe. “Thus saith the Lord unto my servants the prophets. It is my will and commandment that ye remove the following individuals in order that my work might go forward. For they have truly become obstacles in my path and I will not allow my work to be stopped,” Ron wrote. “First thy brother’s wife Brenda and her baby, then Chloe Low and then Richard Stowe. And it is my will that they be removed in rapid succession,” Ron’s note, known as “the removal revelation,” read.
However, Ron and Dan’s killing spree stopped with the murders of Brenda and Erica. They couldn’t locate Chloe, who supported Ron’s wife while she was obtaining a divorce from him, and eventually dropped the plan to kill Stowe, who excommunicated Ron from the LDS Church. The brothers were arrested and tried separately for Brenda and her daughter’s murders. Dan was sentenced to serve two life sentences, to be served concurrently. Ron was sentenced to death, though he died of natural causes in 2019 in prison before he could be executed.