20/20 November 5 2021 – Happy Face Killer – Keith Hunter Jesperson

On Friday November 5 2021 at 9 p.m. ET/PT and 8 p.m. CT, ABC broadcasts a new two hour episode of 20/20 investigating the “Happy Face Killer”, Keith Hunter Jesperson. The episode looks into a confession that derailed the investigation of the first murder committed by Jesperson, which allowed him to remain on the loose, killing at least seven more women.

Scroll down below to watch the official preview and summary of tonight’s (11/5/2021) episode with reporting by Juju Chang.


Episode Videos

Who is The Happy Face Killer?

The daughter of the convicted ‘Happy Face Killer’ believes he would kill again if free: “I don’t believe my dad is sorry at all…what he is sorry about, though, is that he got caught.”

‘Sincerely, The Happy Face Killer’

Police interview tapes obtained by 20/20 reveal one woman’s incriminating confession to involvement in a 1990 murder case – but she later recanted her confession at her trial.

In 1990, Taunja Bennett was found dead near a scenic overlook at the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. Her sister Michelle White said Bennett was “a compassionate person” who “loved everyone.” Our new ABC 20/20 dives into the case of the first known victim of the ‘Happy Face’ serial killer.


Episode Summary

‘20/20’ Reports on How a Bizarre False Confession Derailed the Investigation Into the First Murder Committed by Notorious ‘Happy Face Killer’ – Two-Hour Program Reports How the Murderer Remained on the Loose, Killing At Least Seven More Before Arrest

How did a bizarre confession derail the investigation into the first murder committed by Keith Hunter Jesperson, the notorious “Happy Face Killer,” and allow him to remain on the loose, killing at least seven more women? A new two-hour “20/20” reports on how after authorities discovered the body of Taunja Bennett in the Columbia Gorge in 1990, 57-year-old Laverne Pavlinac confessed to the police that she took part in the crime. She provided convincing evidence that implicated her and her boyfriend, 39-year-old John Sosnovske, in the murder, and they were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In a shocking twist, Pavlinac’s confession turned out to be false in an attempt to escape what she described as an abusive relationship with Sosnovske. With reporting by “Nightline” co-anchor Juju Chang, “20/20” dives into how Pavlinac was able to dupe police, featuring audio from the couple’s confessions and police interviews, and from the hidden microphone installed in Pavlinac’s apartment when she tried to convince Sosnovske that he was involved in the murder. The two-hour program features an exclusive interview with Melissa Gavin, a friend of Julie Winningham, the last person Jesperson killed before his arrest; and new interviews with John Ingram, lead detective who investigated Bennett’s murder; Jim McIntyre, prosecutor for Pavlinac and Sosnovske’s cases; Darlene Carpenter and Bonnie McAlpine, Pavlinac’s daughters; Michelle White, Bennett’s sister; Melissa Moore, Jesperson’s daughter; and Alafair Burke, bestselling author and former prosecutor who based her first novel on the case. The program also features Chang’s interview with Jesperson from the ABC News archives and gives an inside look at how police ultimately tracked Jesperson down. “20/20” airs Friday, Nov. 5 (9:01-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC.



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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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