The Haunting Truth About ’12 Desperate Hours’: is It a True Story?


Ann Rule earned her reputation as a true-crime writer with the publication of The Stranger Beside Me, a biography and autobiography about serial killer Ted Bundy.

Once upon a time, Rule and Bundy worked together in a crisis center dedicated to suicide prevention. From then, she went on to write numerous true-crime books as well as some crime fiction.


Lifetime has chosen to adopt a narrative from one of her novels and is giving it a polished movie adaptation. In 12 Desperate Hours, Samantha Mathis plays Val, who is kidnapped and forced to serve as a killer's chauffeur.

This raises a question. Is this anecdote from a work of fiction or nonfiction by Rule? Do 12 Desperate Hours depict a true event?

Is '12 Desperate Hours' Based on a True Story?


Yes, according to Riverdale director Gina Gershon, 12 Desperate Hours is based on a genuine story. “It follows a mother and her small children who become hostages when a man breaks into their home after committing a murder earlier in the day,” she told the site.

This story, which appears in Rule's anthology Last Dance, Last Chance and Other Real Cases: Crime Files, Volume 8, is pretty disturbing. It begins with heartache and envy and culminates in murder. Although it lasted only two days (19–20 December 1963), its effects were noticed for decades.

The Haunting Truth About '12 Desperate Hours': is It a True Story?

Joan Marlatt ended her relationship with Gary Lee Quinlivan in 1963 in the state of Washington, according to documents on Justia. According to Marlatt, Quinlivan “refused to work and physically abused her,” so Gladys Bodine moved back home with her mother.

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Quinlivan did not take this news well and continued to seek out her despite her lack of enthusiasm in a meeting with him. Quinlivan went to Bodine's residence on December 19 to speak with Marlatt.

He admitted to using physical force during his conversation with Bodine but claimed she was still alive when he departed. The following day, she was discovered strangled to death.

Where is Gary Lee Quinlivan at Present?

Eventually, Quinlivan would be convicted of second-degree murder, first-degree murder, and first-degree kidnapping. According to Justia's files, he “pleaded not guilty to these accusations and also submitted a special plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.”

Quinlivan was ruled unable to stand trial in June 1964 and committed to Eastern State Hospital, where he stayed until July 1968. Once more, he was deemed incompetent to stand trial.

In January 1971, three years later, he was eventually tried and convicted guilty. “The defendant was found guilty of second-degree murder in the killing of Mrs. Bodine; of first-degree murder in the death of Fritz Donahue, and the death penalty was imposed; and of first-degree kidnapping in the abduction of Mrs. Jaque,” according to court documents.

Is He Still Behind Bars?

According to documents in Leagle, the conviction was overturned in August 1972 after a single appeal. In April 1973, at the retrial, Quinlivan pled guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences in prison.

In September 1973, however, the “Board of Prison Terms and Paroles mandated a 25-year minimum time for petitioner to serve before becoming parole eligible.”

The Haunting Truth About '12 Desperate Hours': is It a True Story?

His attorney was successful in arguing that the nine and a half years he served in Eastern State Hospital and Washington State Penitentiary prior to getting his life sentences could be applied to his 25-year minimum sentence. After that, Quinlivan is no longer present in internet records.

In 1985, according to their records, Quinlivan was released on parole to King County. When he was released, he was incarcerated at the Monroe Correctional Complex.

“According to our database, he was out of our jurisdiction in 1991,” she stated. Most likely, he served six years of parole supervision, which concluded in 1991.

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We were able to locate an obituary for Gary Lee Quinlivan, who passed away in Renton, Washington, on August 21, 2011, at the age of 77. Evergreen Washelli Funeral Home & Cemetery confirmed he is interred in their columbarium when we contacted them.

This obituary also included a birthdate of July 24, 1935, therefore we returned to Washington State Prison to confirm it was Quinlivan's date of birth. In short, he has passed away.