In Apple TV+’s Black Bird, an investigator explains they suspect Larry Hall killed 14 women, but they only have one of the bodies. Still, there are some questions about Hall’s grip on reality. “In my dreams, I kill women,” says Hall, played by actor Paul Walter Hauser, in one scene. Hall insists that they’re “just dreams,” though. With Hall’s conviction on appeal, prosecutors were worried that he could go free, so they recruited recently incarcerated former high school football star Jimmy Keene (Taron Egerton) to transfer to a maximum-security prison to elicit a confession. In exchange, Keene would be granted an early release from his 10-year sentence on drug-related charges.
In real life, the story played out similarly. In 1995, Hall confessed to and was convicted of abducting, raping, and strangling 15-year-old Jessica Roach. During his interrogation by police, Hall reportedly spoke of hurting other women and revealed information that led them to believe he was also involved in the 1993 disappearance of 19-year-old Tricia Reitler and several other unsolved murders. Though investigators found evidence in Hall’s home connecting him to both crimes, he later told them that he staged everything to gain attention and feel important.
Hall also recanted his confession, claiming to investigators, “Why I was just tellin’ you about my dreams. That didn’t really happen,” according to CNN.
Regardless, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for Roach’s kidnapping at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. In total, police suspected Hall had killed 19 other young women, but they didn’t have sufficient evidence to secure convictions. Believing Hall knew where Reitler’s body was, they sent Keene to the maximum-security prison to elicit a confession and thwart any appeal efforts that could potentially set the suspected serial killer free.
According to Keene, who detailed the story in his 2010 memoir, In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption, Hall slowly warmed to him and confessed to Reitler’s 1993 murder. But Hall would not reveal the location of her body. Later, Keene happened upon Hall in the prison workshop one day and said he had a map with red dots over Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Hall allegedly shared that he was carving wooden falcons to “watch over the dead.” Believing he’d secured enough evidence for his release, Keene blew his cover and confronted Hall, landing himself in solitary confinement. Once Keene got out, the map and falcons were gone — but prosecutors still freed Keene in 1999.
Meanwhile, Hall’s appeal attempt failed, resulting in him attempting suicide, per the Black Bird series. While he was not charged with crimes against anyone other than Roach, experts close to the case told CNN that Hall may have killed up to 40 women. An exact number is unknown, as the convicted kidnapper has made dozens of confessions over the years, only to recant them later. In 2011, Hall also confessed to being involved in the 1992 disappearance of 20-year-old Laurie Depies, but officials didn’t charge him due to his track record and a lack of physical evidence confirming his account.
As of 2022, Hall is 59 years old and still serving his life sentence without the possibility of parole at North Carolina’s Federal Correctional Complex, Butner. Though it’s unlikely he’ll ever be released from prison, the families of the missing women he was suspected of killing continue to seek closure.