A MOTHER CONVICTED OF MURDERING HER TEN-YEAR-OLD SON
GETS RE-TRIAL AFTER �20/20� REPORT AIRS
Will Julie Rea Harper Be Acquitted Based on Confession of a Serial Killer?
Lynn Sherr Reports on ABC News� �20/20,� Friday, March 9
Also: Brian Ross Follows Up on Nigerian Scam Report --
Con Man Exposed in Ross� December Report Comes Clean
And: Selling a Slice of Heaven
It was a murder mystery that shook a small town in Illinois in 1997 -- the murder of a ten-year-old boy. There was no hard physical evidence, only a mother�s story and a few clues. Yet a jury found Julie Rea Harper guilty of the first-degree murder of her son, Joel, after just five hours of deliberation. After �20/20� aired an exclusive prison interview in 2002 with Rea Harper � who continued to declare her innocence and begged for help from the public � an unlikely chain of events occurred, ending in a re-trial. Crime writer Diane Fanning was finishing a book on the brutal crimes of Tommy Lynn Sells, a serial killer on Texas� death row with a history of committing murders similar to what happened to Rea Harper�s son. After watching the �20/20� report, she met with Sells and immediately contacted the show to say that he had confessed to the crime.
Sells� confession sparked new interest in Rea Harper�s case, prompting the respected Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University to persuade power hitting attorney Ron Safer and his firm to represent her pro bono. But will the new information be enough to acquit Julie Rea Harper? ABC News Correspondent Lynn Sherr interviews the principles involved, including Rea Harper and Sells, for an exclusive report airing on �20/20,� FRIDAY, MARCH 9 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on ABC.
lus: ABC News� Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross takes viewers inside one of the most pervasive scam operations in the world. In a follow-up to a three-month investigation that took him to Lagos, Nigeria where email and internet scams are big business, Ross reports on one of the con artists favorite ploys � the black money scam.
After being exposed last December, one of the con men, �Eric,� decided to come clean and show ABC News exactly how the scam works. According to Eric, the would-be victim is told that millions of dollars of cash are covered in black ink � a necessary procedure to smuggle the money out of Nigeria. For a small fee � typically tens of thousands of dollars � you can buy a special chemical that would wash the ink off. Once the money�s clean, it�s yours to keep. In reality, the black bills are just pieces of construction paper, a far cry from the millions promised.
The master con men who use these ploys and others are rarely caught or prosecuted. However, after ABC�s undercover cameras caught Eric in the act last winter, he decided to come forward.
And: Residents of the tiny ocean town of Briny Breezes, Florida live the good life -- with trailer park homes affording unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the intracoastal waterway on the other. But would the prospect of becoming millionaires be enticing enough for them to sell their modest slice of heaven to a developer to build luxury condos, hotels and marinas? Jeffrey Kofman reports on the choice the residents of Briny Breezes had to make � money vs. a familiar and comfortable way of life.
�20/20� is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and John Stossel. David Sloan is the executive producer.