“An Amish Murder” was produced by Lifetime Original Movies, exclusively for TV, and is based on a novel entitled “Sworn to Silence,” written by Linda Castillo. For those who are not familiar with Amish practices, the following may allow you to understand the film and its premises.
The Amish Church
The Amish People - Wikimedia
The Amish church started in Switzerland in 1693 under the leadership of Jakob Ammann. Followers live a simple life, do not take oaths, nor vote, nor perform military service. They do not use any modern conveniences or technology. Their only transportation is the horse and buggy. Their homes are not equipped with electricity or telephones.
The Amish male wears a beard and his pants do not have zippers, only buttons. He does not wear belts, gloves, ties, or sneakers. The Amish female wears a white head covering and a plain dress. Clothing is usually made of dark fabric and is handmade. She cannot wear patterned dresses or jewelry and may not cut her hair.
The Amish do not have a Church as such, but they hold church services in each other’s homes, taking turns hosting on Sundays. Formal schooling for children ends at age 15. They are basically good, hard-working people, who claim that Amish is a lifestyle, rather than a religion. Shunning is a form of excommunication, forced on a member who does not live up to Amish teachings or leaves the community to be with worldly people.
Premise and Plot of the Film
This is the setting for the film “An Amish Murder.” It was produced by Neve Campbell, who also plays the part of the female protagonist Kate Burkholder. Kate was born into an Amish family but left the fold 17 years ago under strange circumstances. Thus, she is shunned by her brother and other members of the Amish clan.
Seventeen years ago, in Painters Mill, Ohio, a series of five horrific murders had shocked the neighborhood and had never been solved. When Kate left at that time and mingled with the “English,” she continued her sparse education and rose to the office of Chief of Police. Painters Mill welcomed her back when they needed a Police Chief and knew her qualifications and her knowledge of the community.
Police Badge - Dreamstime
Early on in her tenure, a young Amish girl was murdered, with similar characteristics to the unsolved cases, leading officials to believe that the serial killer had returned. As in the past, the murdered girl’s wrists and ankles were tied, a cut was made in her throat, and she was hung by her feet to bleed out, which is called “death by exsanguination.” A Roman numeral was carved on her body in the manner used in each of the murders. The latest girl was marked with XI, denoting the number 11. Painters Mill police were only aware of numbers I to V, or 1 to 5.
The Mayor requested the FBI to send a Profiler to help with the case. They sent John Tomasetti, a handsome officer, brilliant as a profiler, but addicted to nicotine and alcohol. Not surprisingly, Tomasetti and Kate are attracted to each other and work well together.
Kate has remained single since she left Painters Mill. She left behind a fiancé, Lucas Holst, breaking his heart, although he did recover enough to marry another girl and now has three children. Lucas is Kate’s only contact who might be able to clear up some questions that have lingered with her for those seventeen hears. Kate’s brother Jacob (Christian Campbell) shunned Kate initially, abiding by the excommunication mandate.
Amish Man - Wikimedia
Kate has kept a secret for seventeen years, never having told Lucas why she left. Late in the story, we learn (and Lucas learns) that she was raped while a young girl by Daniel Lapp, who worked on the Burkholder farm, and had received the same treatment that the five girls had received, although she alone had survived the ordeal. This led her to believe that Daniel was the serial killer, who disappeared after mistreating Kate. It was her father who sent her away, against her will.
As Kate and John Tomasetti worked on the newest case, they disagreed about whether Daniel Lapp had returned to the area, or perhaps a copycat had committed the latest murder. It wasn’t long before another young girl was executed in the same manner - this time it was Mayor Brock’s daughter Amanda. Amanda has a XII carved on her abdomen The stress experienced by Mayor Brock caused him to fire Kate, as well as John Tomasetti. They believed that he was encouraged to do this by Sheriff Nathan Detrick (C. Thomas Howell), who resented Kate and Tomasetti’s jurisdiction in the case.
Neve Campbell - Beautiful and Talented
Neve Campbell - Wikimedia
To reveal anything further would spoil it for the reader. Although the film did not get good reviews, I enjoyed it from beginning to end. It is enough to say that the presence of Neve Campbell provides all the highlights of the film. She is beautiful and talented, and it is nice to see her pursuing her career again, after taking time off for a while. I hope to see her more often as she has the makings of a great star.