Skip to main content
  1. AXS Entertainment
  2. Arts & Entertainment
  3. Movies

'Before He Wakes' true-story movie of Russ Stager-Barbara Stager

See also

"Before He Wakes" is a movie based on the true story of Barbara Stager and the murder of her husband Russ Stager. The crime thriller first premiered on CBS in December 1998 but now airs on Lifetime Television occasionally. The names were changed to Bridget Smith Michaels and Ron Michaels for the film. The cast includes: Diana Scarwid, Timothy Carhart and Jaclyn Smith.

"Before He Wakes" synopsis/plot

When her first husband dies under mysterious circumstances, a beautiful widow begins a new life, but when her second husband ends up dead, the victim's first wife begins to suspect his new wife of murder.

The movie entertains themes of violence and betrayal, the murder of a high school coach and the death of a teacher.

Produced by CBS Productions and directed by Michael Scott, the movie is based on a case that happened in North Carolina in 1988. According to Durham County court records, Barbara Stager staged the murder of her husband to look like a suicide. Police deduced that the motive for the murder was insurance money.

Russ Stager was a beloved high school coach who was shot dead in his home as he slept in bed with his wife, Barbara Stager.

Barbara Stager was arrested and charged with the murder of her husband. Today, she is still serving her sentence in a North Carolina correctional facility, according to The Dispatch.

The movie was inspired by the book by Jerry Bledsoe about the case.

You can find updates on the case at the Movies Based On True Stories Archives.


Today's top buzz...

  • Ted Nugent
    Ted Nugent concert at Native American casino canceled because of obvious reasons
    Music Buzz
  • NFL
    Pat Bowlen steps down as Broncos owner following Alzheimer's diagnosis
    NFL Buzz
  • Tina Fey
    See why Tina Fey is possibly the most popular woman in comedy at the moment
    Today's Buzz
  • Mick Jagger
    Mick Jagger promotes 'Get On Up' in New York, including Apollo Theater premiere
    20 Photos
  • Boyhood
    The new film 'Boyhood' chronicles twelve years of one boy's life
    19 Photos
  • Buffy
    We're counting down ten of the finest episodes of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’
    7 Photos