Dustin Lance Black’s crime series ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ follows the murders of Brenda and her daughter Erica Lafferty. Detective Jeb Pyre, accompanied by Detective Bill Taba, starts to investigate the double homicide. They take Brenda’s husband Allen Lafferty and Allen’s brother Robin Lafferty into custody and interrogate them separately. Upon encountering Robin’s aggressive behavior towards the police, Pyre suspects whether he is the murderer. The second episode of the show depicts Pyre’s interrogation of Robin, making one intrigued about the real-life counterpart of the character. On that note, let us find out whether he is based on a real person!
Is Robin Lafferty Based on a Real Person?
In the show, Robin Lafferty is one of the brothers of Allen Lafferty, Brenda’s husband and Erica’s father. However, in reality, Allen seemingly doesn’t have a brother named Robin. Allen’s brothers are Dan, Mark, Watson Jr., Tim, and the deceased Ron. Robin, in the show, is particularly close to Dan. When Pyre interrogates Allen to know more about Robin, he replies that Robin and Dan share an attachment. Considering Allen’s words in the show, Robin can partially be based on Mark Lafferty, who was close to Dan in real life. Mark, like Dan, graduated from Los Angeles College of Chiropractic and accompanied his brother to take over the chiropractic practice of their father Watson Lafferty Sr. in his absence.
Jon Krakauer’s eponymous true-crime book, the source text of the show, details Dan and Mark’s relationship. According to the book, Mark and Dan started to engage in discussions concerning religious doctrine in between their practices. Along with Dan, Mark and other brothers, except Allen, joined the School of the Prophets. When the murders of Brenda and Erica shook the local community, Mark was in contact with the police. He even warned the officials that his brothers, Ron and Dan, might be targeting two local church leaders next.
Mark’s warning wasn’t without any foundation. Ron and Dan, after killing Brenda and Erica, did consider killing Chloe Low, a former LDS Relief Society president who supported Ron’s wife to obtain a divorce from him. However, they couldn’t commit the murder since Chloe wasn’t at home. They eventually dropped the plan to kill Richard Stowe, the Highland LDS Stake president who excommunicated Ron from the LDS Church. Even though Robin does get arrested in the show, there aren’t any reports that point to Mark’s supposed arrest, indicating that he wasn’t most likely arrested with regard to the murders.
Dustin Lance Black must have conceived Robin, a seemingly partially-fictional character, for the sake of his narrative, which uses fictitious elements as well. In the show, Robin makes Detective Pyre realize how dangerous faith can be in modern society. Robin’s justification of discarding “man-made laws” to uphold “the rules and interests of God” leads Pyre to question his faith and beliefs. Robin’s words end up sowing the seeds of doubts in Pyre, who starts to approach religion distinctly.
Where is Robin Lafferty Now?
After the murders of Brenda and Erica, the members of the Lafferty family have chosen to keep their lives private, especially considering the attention the case has gained over the years. Mark Lafferty, like his other brothers, has been staying away from public attention ever since the trial of Ron and Dan. As per reports, Mark lives in the city of Payson in Utah. According to Watson Jr., Mark’s brother, the Lafferty family was plagued by the suspicion of having “the same spirit [as] Ron and Dan.” In January 2016, Claudine Lafferty, mother of Mark and his seven siblings, died. At the time, he was sharing his life with Lanna.