A film crew from the Discovery Channel was in town last week, doing background interviews and filming crime scenes. The sordid attraction was Barbara Opel, the now 46-year-old divorced Everett mother of three who hired 11 children and one male adult to kill her employer, Jerry Heimann, and empty his bank account. Five of the kids - including Opel's own 13-year-old daughter, Heather (left) - carried out the contract killing in 2001, beating Heimann with souvenir Mariners metal baseball bats and stabbing him as he cried for mercy.
The crew filmed scenes in Everett and Seattle, including Seattle Weekly's offices, for what producers say will be one of a 13-part series on deadly women. And Opel's Exhibit A: her sister called her, intellectually, "brain dead." She shouted out murder commands as the kids brutally beat the 64-year-old Heimann, a cancer sufferer and nice guy who had hired the homeless Opel to tend his ailing mother and live free in his basement. (The killers left the mother behind to die in her wheelchair, but she survived for three days by eating newspaper). Opel - who promised her daughter a dirt bike if she would stab Jerry, and who lured a boy into the plot by letting him sleep with Heather - would up with a life sentence after a SnoCounty jury spared her from being the first woman to be executed in the state. Heather and the others also went to prison, though supporters argued they were victims of Opel's abuse, too.