The official word: What would you do if you were attacked, abducted, abused, your life suddenly in the hands of a cold-blooded criminal, and you are your only hope for survival? Investigation Discovery’s new series SURVIVING EVIL presents stories of victims who fought back against their attackers and, against all odds, survived. Recounted in each survivor’s own words, the series is an empowering and inspiring look at true-crime stories in which the victim turns the table on their assailant in order to stay alive.
Actress Charisma Carpenter, best known for her role as Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel, hosts the 10-episode series, providing viewers with a first-person point of view as the survivor of a near-fatal incident endured when she was 22 years old. The world premiere of SURVIVING EVIL debuts with Carpenter’s episode on Wednesday, August 28 at 10/9c, only on Investigation Discovery.
“The stories in SURVIVING EVIL sound like a terrible nightmare, but the tales are all true and, thankfully, the victims all heroically survived,” said Kevin Bennett, general manager of Investigation Discovery. “Investigation Discovery is humbled by Charisma’s courage and honored to have her host this new series where she can uniquely share her personal perspective as a fellow survivor. It is our hope that SURVIVING EVIL will give a voice to people who have suffered through the unimaginable and provide a vehicle for them to tell their remarkable stories of courage.”
“SURVIVING EVIL is about finding empowerment in the face of evil and taking fate into your own hands at a moment when all hope seems lost,” said Carpenter. “Through sharing my story and shedding light on the fearlessness of many others, it is my hope that someone watching this program may be inspired to find the strength to survive their own personal battle, whether it’s an abusive relationship or the grips of an attacker.”
The series premieres on Wednesday, August 28 at 10/9c with Carpenter’s story of terror transforming into triumph. The actress and two friends were swimming at San Diego’s Torrey Pines State Beach in 1991 when they were violently attacked by an armed, rogue police officer. Carpenter fought for her survival after being held at gunpoint, but her two friends were both shot by the attacker and seriously wounded. The police officer was sentenced to 56 years in prison for the attacks in addition to a series of rapes and robberies.
In support of SURVIVING EVIL’s premiere, Carpenter will also be featured in a public service announcement in partnership with the National Center for Victims of Crime, providing resources to individuals, families, and communities harmed by crime. The PSA airs as part of Investigation Discovery’s public affairs initiative, Inspire a Difference. Launched in April, Inspire a Difference weaves together ID’s ongoing national awareness efforts around civil rights, wrongful convictions, and violence against women under one informative and inspiring banner designed to empower viewers to make an impact in their own communities.
Other cases profiled in SURVIVING EVIL include:
“Nobody’s Victim” – The Story of Lisa McVey (Tampa, FL)
Premieres Wednesday, September 4 at 10/9c
Late at night on November 3, 1984, troubled Florida teen Lisa McVey heads home from work with a plan to end her life. But as she leaves work, a notorious serial killer terrorizing the Tampa area abducts her at gunpoint. While police mount one of the state’s biggest-ever manhunts, it is the 17-year-old’s reawakened survival instinct that will make the difference in closing this case. Despite enduring brutal defilement, McVey blocks out the pain – something she has learned to do growing up in an abusive home. She takes note of her surroundings and secretly plants evidence in her attacker’s apartment while feigning friendship in order to gain his trust. McVey’s courageous efforts miraculously pay off when she is unexpectedly freed. Her incredible recall, though initially doubted by police, leads to an arrest and she is hailed as a hero.
“Underground Terror” – The Story of Elizabeth Shoaf (Lugoff, SC)
Premieres Wednesday, September 11 at 10/9c
In the fall of 2006, Elizabeth Shoaf is a smart, bubbly 14-year-old whose dreamy life quickly becomes a nightmare when depraved madman Vinson Filyaw straps a bomb to her body and drags her to a filthy underground bunker deep in the South Carolina woods. After being brutally raped, Shoaf is chained by the neck and desperately hopes that authorities will soon save her. With search teams pacing directly over the bunker, Shoaf learns that her captor is a sociopathic fugitive. She draws on a survival instinct beyond her young age, placating Filyaw under horrifying conditions until he becomes complacent. Her steely guile leads to a break in the case, and Shoaf is finally rescued. Her will to live and striking bravery are the reasons behind her shocking survival.
“Money, Madness and Murder” – The Story of Sheila Dates (Jonesboro, GA)
Premieres Wednesday, September 18 at 10/9c
Sheila Dates and her grown-up daughter, Regina, are inseparable and living a quiet life in Georgia when they are taken hostage by a greedy couple desperate for an easy score. Sheila is driven at gunpoint to retrieve money while Regina is held, bound, and gagged at home. But after handing over the money, she is strangled mercilessly with a phone cord. Sheila survives, only to learn of Regina’s tragic fate. She honors the memory of her beloved daughter by helping others who have suffered similar atrocities.
“Home Invasion” – The Story of Rubens and Marcela Borges (Winter Garden & Apopka, FL)
Premieres Wednesday, September 25 at 10/9c
Rubens and Marcela Borges are hardworking parents enjoying a suburban life in central Florida when their peaceful existence is shattered in November 2009. A ruthless gang invades their home, demanding big money that the couple does not have, causing them and their son to be kidnapped. For the next three days, the Borges are held at gunpoint, their house is ransacked, and the little money they do have is brazenly liquidated. Rubens is subjected to a terrifying game of Russian roulette and the captors repeatedly put a gun to their young son’s head. As the death threats escalate, Marcela heroically attacks the ringleader with a kitchen knife, knowing her family faces imminent death unless she can finish the job. Her brave escape ultimately saves her family’s life.
“Wolves at the Door” – The Stories of Verna White (Cherokee County, GA) and Dale Wells (Columbia, SC)
Premieres Wednesday, October 2 at 10/9c
· Divorcee Verna White is happily building a new life for herself and her three daughters when she runs into old friend Gerald Lee. While she spurns his advances, Lee’s interest becomes obsessive, and he begins stalking the young mother. One quiet evening at home, a crazed Lee smashes through her door. He rapes and viciously beats White, then pulls the trigger of his rifle… but it jams. Lee turns his attention to White’s daughter. With her child’s safety in mind, White draws Lee into the kitchen, where a long, deadly struggle ensues with a butcher’s knife. It takes months, but with the help of her daughters, White recovers from her massive injuries.
· Dale Wells is mending a broken heart when he falls for co-worker Denise Moss. He thinks Moss is the answer to his woes but what Wells doesn’t realize is that he’s entering into an abusive relationship that will change his life forever. After one particularly bitter incident, Wells finally kicks Moss out, thinking he is now safe from the abuse. But Moss hatches a deadly plan. Returning to take revenge, she shoots Wells five times before turning the gun on herself. As he lies in a pool of blood, Wells’ will to live is motivated only by his children, and he confounds doctors by miraculously surviving the horrible assault.
“Bound and Determined” – The Story of Debbie Puglisi (Newark, DE)
Premieres Wednesday, October 9 at 10/9c
In broad daylight on April 20, 1998, a crack-addicted predator sneaks into Debbie Puglisi’s suburban Delaware home, shoots her husband, then abducts her. Held captive in her kidnapper’s home, Puglisi suffers unimaginable, humiliating atrocities. Bound and gagged, she overhears news reports of her husband’s death and learns she is being sought as a prime suspect, but police are unable to advance the case. Puglisi must share horrifically intimate quarters with her husband’s killer, but she is also emboldened by thoughts of her two children. With her kidnapper at work, she overcomes paralyzing fear to free herself of restraints and call 911. Puglisi is finally rescued but will never escape the haunting memory of her 101 hours of terror.
“Good Deeds Gone Bad” – The Story of Rhonda Knight (Canton, MI)
Premieres Wednesday, October 16 at 10/9c
Single mom Rhonda Knight still talks to her ex-boyfriend Charles Blue, gently encouraging him to beat a recurrent drug problem. Blue is kind and loving when he’s sober, but he can’t move past his demons while watching Knight’s life thrive without him, and he becomes bitter. On June 10, 2006, he lures her to his place. Knight is viciously beaten, stabbed, and taken captive by the deranged crack addict whose plan is to murder her and take his own life. Knight’s escape attempts incite Blue further, so her only option is to submit. In the end, it is Blue’s erratic behavior, Knight’s calmness under extreme duress, and the will to survive that lead to her liberation.
“Out of Control” – The Stories of Teri Jendusa Nicolai (Racine, WI) and Norina Bentzel (Red Lion, PA)
Premieres Wednesday, October 23 at 10/9c
· Years after leaving an abusive marriage, Wisconsin native Teri Jendusa has finally opened her heart to another man, and they are overjoyed to learn they’re expecting a baby. On January 31, 2004, Jendusa arrives at ex-husband David Larsen’s house to pick up her two daughters. She doesn’t realize she is walking into a deadly trap. Within moments, Jendusa is brutally attacked, stuffed into a garbage bin, and thrown into the back of a pick-up truck. Bloodied and under-dressed for the freezing cold conditions, she bravely struggles to stay conscious as she calls 911 from inside the bin. Her shocking ordeal becomes a frantic race against time for police, who ultimately rescue her from within an inch of losing her life. Jendusa walks away with her freedom but suffers unspeakable lasting consequences.
· Pennsylvania elementary school principal Norina Bentzel survives a brush with an out-of-control psychopath when machete-wielding William Stankewicz arrives at her school in a homicidal rage. After escaping into her office and activating the school-wide lockdown alarm, Bentzel tracks down Stankewicz. During an extended, vicious physical struggle, the fearless 5’2” dynamo puts her own life on the line in order to shield her young students from his assault, finally bear-hugging and pinning him over a desk until police arrive and apprehend the madman. Bentzel suffers numerous stab wounds, but miraculously she and everyone else in the school walk away alive.
“The Devil You Know” – The Stories of Jessica Carbone (West Palm Beach, FL) and Tabitha Sells and Christy Carroll (Greensboro, NC)
Premieres Wednesday, October 30 at 10/9c
· Jessica Carbone, 27, is living a good life in West Palm Beach when her happiness is suddenly shattered by a deranged, machete-wielding maintenance man who viciously attacks and kidnaps her. A desperate escape attempt further provokes Carbone’s attacker, though she maintains enough composure to plant incriminating evidence. Under increasingly brutal conditions, Carbone reasons with her captor, convincing him to leave her alive. Carbone’s will to live allows her to survive disfiguring injuries and lead authorities to make an arrest. Several years later, Carbone is a victim rights advocate, and enjoys the life she refused to surrender.
· Inseparable cousins Tabitha Sells and Christy Carroll happily work together at an auto shop in Greensboro, North Carolina. A normal business day is turned upside down when they become the unsuspecting targets of a colleague’s insanely jealous wife. Fixated on avenging an imaginary affair between her husband and Sells, Shelly Ratcliffe leads a grisly attack on the cousins. Despite putting up a brave fight, Sells and Carroll sustain life-threatening