'Mind Over Murder' is HBO's deep dive into the Beatrice six

From the investigation to the exoneration, the Beatrice six is the subject of HBO's compelling true crime docu-series

Beatrice six mug shots from mind over murder documentary
(Image credit: HBO)

TV has taken a turn for the ominous, and the Beatrice six are getting time in the spotlight after nearly 40 years.

If you've binged the best true crime on Netflix (like Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey) and took a peek at shows about cults, the latest docu-series to hit HBO Max is one to put on your radar. The six-part project, directed by Nanfu Wang, delves into the 1985 murder of Helen Wilson in Beatrice, Nebraska. Although five of the "Beatrice six" pleaded guilty to killing the innocent grandmother, they were cleared of the crime in 2009.

Each episode tackles something different: the murder, the trial, the exoneration and ultimately, the case that shook the small town to its core—and led to different theories about the murder itself. Here's everything you need to know about your next true crime TV marathon. 

The Beatrice Six and what you need to know

Helen Wilson bulletin board in mind over murder

(Image credit: HBO)

The 'Mind Over Murder' trailer

"To be honest, not everyone believes the same story," Wilson's grandson states at the start of the documentary trailer. 

From the quick snippets and interview clips, it appears no one can agree on how this heinous act unfolded, some seemingly question whether or not it happened at all. Prepare to learn more about the case and how our memory can toy with reality.

'Mind Over Murder' release date

Catch the new series on HBO Max beginning June 20, 2022. New episodes air on Mondays at 10pm ET. (Be sure to explore the subscription information below.)

Who are the Beatrice six?

  • Joseph White
  • Thomas Winslow
  • Ada JoAnn Taylor
  • Debra Shelden
  • James Dean 
  • Kathy Gonzalez

In 1989, this group was accused of different murder charges for the rape and death of Helen Wilson. Per Newsweek, Taylor and White were the original suspects, but when a Type B blood discovery came into question, police believed the two did not act alone. 

Authorities arrested peers that Taylor and White had mentioned. The last of the six suspects—Kathy Gonzalez—made her way into the investigation after two other suspects dreamt about her at the scene of the crime. Five out of six confessed to murder after learning they'd possibly be facing the death penalty if they did not plead guilty.

What happened to the Beatrice six?

Things did not add up in the case from the get-go. 

The suspects did not recount the night of this horrific act, but it seems this confession wasn't just an attempt to be set free. When new evidence came out in 2008, the sextet was ultimately released, though Joseph White has since passed.

According to Newsweek, DNA matched Bruce Allen Smith, who died in the early 90s. When the case had taken place moons ago, Dr. Reena Roy, the Nebraska State Patrol forensic scientist at the time, stated that none of the defendants was a specific match to blood or semen from the scene of the crime. She was never brought in for questioning. 

So was this whole case mishandled? Is this just an instance of wrongful conviction? What exactly did tie this group of six to the crime in the first place?

"They still believed to varying degrees that they had blood on their hands," Eli Chesen, a Nebraska psychiatrist who evaluated the group told The New Yorker. "Their new beliefs superseded their previous life experiences, like paper covering a rock."

Watch the new series on Monday nights to see how it all came to be—and the many theories behind the Beatrice Six's involvement. 

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.