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American Horror Story: Roanoke's killer nurses are based on a true story, and one is imprisoned in Florida



It's no secret many of the tales inside American Horror Story's six seasons are rooted in truth.

Whether it's the actors playing real-life serial killers during the Devil's Night dinner in season five or Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett as New Orleans queens Madame Lalaurie and Marie Laveau, American Horror Story loves to put fresh twists on real horror.

It's newest season, Roanoke, is no different.

While the history behind The Lost Colony of Roanoke, N.C. is somewhat common knowledge, two characters who appeared in the past couple of episodes may have flown under the radar.

The story of season six's token murderous nurses  Miranda and Bridget  are based on the true crimes of Gwen Graham and Cathy Wood.

In the show, Miranda and Bridget are sisters who opened up an assisted living facility in the farmhouse now inhabited by Shelby (Sarah Paulson/Lily Rabe) and Matt (Cuba Gooding Jr./Andre Holland). The two women took in elderly patients whose families were tired of caring for them and especially accepted patients with certain first names.

They killed five patients with certain initials to spell out MURDER on the wall in red paint, but never got to kill for their last R. Former farmhouse owner Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O'Hare) reveals this story to Matt and Shelby and tells them he believes the spirits haunting the property got to the sisters before they could finish their dastardly deeds.

In reality, Graham and Wood were lovers. They lived in Michigan and worked at Alpine Manor Nursing home in the late 1980s. According to a New York Times article from 1988, the two were arrested for the murders of patients who died under suspicious circumstances at the nursing home.

Though there were about eight patients whose deaths were investigated, Walker, Mich. police Chief Walter Sprenger said in the story that "detectives had been unable to confirm allegations that the victims may have been chosen on the basis of their initials, eventually to spell MURDER."

A Los Angeles Times article from 1989 said Wood pleaded guilty to testifying against Graham. According to the story, Wood admitted to being a lookout while five patients were suffocated by Graham. She also said the murders were part of a pact to bind their love.

Wood was sentenced to 20-40 years in prison. Graham was convicted the month prior on five counts of murder.

Wood, now 54, is incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee. She's expected to be released on June 6, 2021.

Contact Chelsea Tatham at Follow @chelseatatham.

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 5:26pm]


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