Lifetime's true-story movie "Escape From Polygamy" aka "Ryder and Julina" was most likely inspired by polygamous leader Ervil Lebaron and possibly includes the true life stories of sister wives: Susan Ray Schmidt , Rena Chynawith and Irene Spencer. The movie debuted on Lifetime on August 24, 2013. Some of the real names were used in the television movie.
"Escape From Polygamy" is about a mother and daughter who become part of a polygamous group. 17-year-old Juliana does not fit in with her new family, but finds comfort in her new relationship with the leader's son, Ryder, who also wants to leave the sect. As Julina and Ryder plan their escape, they are separated by Prophet Ervil. It is now up to Ryder to try and save his one and only true love Julina from the group.
The Lifetime movie is similar to the true story of Ervil Lebaron, a polygamist leader who made headlines for ordering the "blood atonement" murders of several family members, opponents and wives who were apart of his Mormon fundamentalist group. Ervil Lebaron, sometimes spelled Labarron, was sentenced to life in prison in 1980. He died while incarcerated in 1981. The murders, which continued after his death, were said to have been orchestrated by him and carried out by other family members.
The exact number of murders is unknown, but is said to be over 20.
Susan Ray Schmidt has written about her experiences growing up in the family. She and her mother lived on the family's compound in Mexico. The Julina character could have possibly been inspired by her story.
The movie received mixed reviews.