Lies My Mother Told Me

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Lies My Mother Told Me
Lies My Mother Told Me FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Christian Duguay
Produced by Michael Frislev
Chad Oakes
Written by Matt Dorff
Starring Joely Richardson
Colm Feore
Hayden Panettiere
Music by Normand Corbeil
Cinematography Christian Duguay
Edited by Sylvain Lebel
Lifetime Television
Distributed by Universal Production Partners (UPP)
Release dates
  • 7 March 2005 (2005-03-07) (U.S.)
Running time
99 minutes
Country Canada
Language English

Lies My Mother Told Me is a 2005 Canadian television film that aired on Lifetime in the United States.

Christian Duguay directed a cast that included Joely Richardson as Laren, Hayden Panettiere as Haylei, Colm Feore as Lucas, and Kailin See as Kristin. He was nominated for the Gemini Award for Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series.

The teleplay by Matt Dorff is loosely based on the true story of The Murder of Larry McNabney by his wife, Elisa McNabney with the help of college student Sarah Dutra and fled to Florida, where she eventually was caught. Two weeks later, she hanged herself in her jail cell while awaiting extradition to California.


Spanning 10 years, Laren Sims is a single mother living in Destin, North Carolina with her parents and young daughter Haylei. Outgoing and free-spirited with a reputation of being a trouble-maker and having sociopath tendences to shamelessly lie, cheat, and steal without any guilt to her actions, Laren cannot shake off her bad reputation or break free of her quick and easy life of crime. Unable to afford Christmas presents, she pays with a stolen credit card. She is caught, and is sentenced to 90 days in a maximum security prison.

Some months later, Laren continues to get off on the "rush" of stealing. During a shopping outing at a local mall, Laren steals items from a clothing store when she takes her daughter with her to show her the art of stealing. Rather than return to prison when she is found stealing a second time, she goes on the run, but decides to take her daughter with her unable to stand being apart from her. Laren steals a car with her daughter, and travels to another town in Tennessee. There, she steals another car from a used car lot when she leaves a stolen credit card as security with the dealer while allegedly taking it for a test drive. Mother and daughter work their way across the country, supporting themselves by passing bad checks and using stolen credit cards while frequently stealing license plates from other cars in order to escape detection from the authorities.

Laren adopts the identity of a diner waitress she meets in rural Texas by stealing her driver's license out of her locker. She and Haylei ultimately arrive in Las Vegas, where Laren applies for a job with Lucas McKenzie, a wealthy alcoholic attorney and ranch owner under the name of Allison. The two fall into a toxic co-dependent relationship and eventually get married. Laren embezzles $90,000 from her husband's business account and he subsequently is disbarred for reasons not made clear.

In an uncharacteristic moment of honesty, Laren reveals to Lucas that she is actually from Destin, North Carolina and has had problems in her past. Lucas uses this information to find out Laren's actual name and her sordid past. From this point on Lucas threatens to turn her in to the authorities if she refuses to co-operate with him in helping more of his shady business ventures. In a state of fear, Laren sends Haylei away to school and hires a college student, named Kristin, to help her with the horses on Lucas' ranch. The two become very close (although never specified, a lesbian relationship between them is implied), to the dismay of both Lucas and Haylei. As their relationship disintegrates and the possibility of discovery grows, Laren decides to poison her spouse with Kristin's assistance.

One evening, Laren approaches Lucas in his hotel room during a conference where she poisons him. Laren and Kristen then remove the body from the hotel where they bury it under a bridge spanning a shallow creek, and it eventually is found.

Laren escapes with Haylei and leaves behind Kristin to shoulder the blame. Returning to Destin, she encourages her daughter to contact her grandparents and return to them, then surrenders to the police and eventually commits suicide, by hanging herself in her jail cell.


Differences between the film and actual events[edit]

In real life, when charged as an accomplice in the murder of Larry McNabney, Sarah Dutra pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors decided not to pursue the death penalty, but if found guilty of first-degree murder, she faced life in prison without parole. Her trial lasted two months, and the jury reached a verdict in March 2003. She was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 11 years and 8 months.[1]

  • In the film, Laren buries Lucas under a bridge. In real life, she buried him in a vineyard.
  • In real life, Laren's first name is Lauren, and she uses the name Elisa Mcnabney. Larry Mcnabney's name was changed to Lucas Mckenzie. Sarah Dutra's first name is changed to Kristin, and her surname is not mentioned. Haylei's surname was changed as well.
  • In the film, Haylei is said to be an only child, but in real life, she had a brother named Cole.


  1. ^ "Dutra Sentenced In McNabney Murder". KCRA. April 21, 2003. 

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