20/20 November 12 2021 – Julie Rea – ABC

On Friday November 12 2021 at 9 p.m. ET/PT and 8 p.m. CT, ABC broadcasts a new episode of 20/20 which reports on Julie Rea, who was wrongfully convicted of her son Joel’s murder. The two hour 20/20 reports on the case, the events of the tragic night, Rea’s wrongful conviction, and notorious serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells’ confession about the crime. 

Scroll down below to watch and read a preview of tonight’s (11/12/2021) episode of 20/20.


Episode Videos

A mother was wrongfully convicted of killing her only child. How did one 20/20 viewer help crack the case open, leading to a new confession by a serial killer?

After crime author Diane Fanning watched one of our 20/20 reports back in 2002, she soon uncovered information that cracked the case wide open and linked a notorious serial killer to the murder.

Joel Kirkpatrick’s family and friend remember him as a “brilliant” and “very happy and smiley” boy. In 1997, the 10-year-old was found murdered in his bedroom in the middle of the night.

She was packing a bag of groceries and clothes to help a stranger when she says the man attacked her. Now, Fabienne Witherspoon is sharing her story for the first about how she survived her encounter with serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells.

What could be worse than wrongfully convicted? Being wrongfully convicted of the murder of your only child.


Episode Summary

When a scream woke Julie Rea in the middle of the night, she realized her 10-year-old son Joel was missing from his bed. She encountered an intruder and struggled with him as he ran out of the house. When authorities arrived, she faced the unthinkable – Joel was dead and authorities began to focus on her, poking holes in her story about the home invasion. Rea ended up behind bars, convicted of Joel’s murder. When crime author Diane Fanning watched a 2002 “20/20” report on Rea, she soon uncovered information that cracked the case wide open and linked notorious serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells to Joel’s murder. A two-hour “20/20” reports on the case, the events of the tragic night, Rea’s wrongful conviction, and Sells’ startling confession about the crime. The program includes the first interview with Fabienne Witherspoon, a rare survivor attacked by Sells; and interviews with Ron Safer, the attorney who spearheaded Rea’s defense and ultimately her exoneration; and two of Rea’s closest friends, Rick Mitchell, who stood by her innocence from day one, and Dawn Hanzel, who was supposed to spend the night at Rea’s home the night of the murder. “20/20” also includes interviews with Rea from the ABC News archives. “20/20” airs Friday, Nov. 12 (9:01-11:00 p.m. EST), on ABC.




About 20/20

The hourlong broadcast includes insightful interviews with notable figures from the worlds of news, politics and entertainment, hosted by David Muir and Amy Robach. A revolving team of journalists from ABC News also contribute investigative stories.

This show is broadcast on ABC, also known as the American Broadcasting Company.

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