We all like to think we know when somebody is lying. Killer Women (ITV) set us a remarkable challenge, as a Florida murderer told Piers Morgan with utter conviction that she was the victim of an appalling miscarriage of justice.
Piers was looking straight into her eyes, and even he could not be sure. Though all the circumstantial evidence, the gossip and the coincidences pointed against her, there wasn’t a scrap of hard fact.
Rebecca Fenton, he decided, was either the most accomplished liar in America, or the unluckiest woman on the planet.
But as he said these words, the camera cut to Fenton’s impassive face. There was no gratitude in her eyes, just hard calculation.
The case certainly looked bad for her. She and her husband of three years, Larry, were at their Florida house in 2008 when he was shot dead.
Fenton says that she was in their home gym, working out to loud music, while he watched golf on TV. She came out to find her husband dead in a pool of blood, and the place ransacked.
Police suspected her from the start, but it was six years before they could scrape together enough clues. Fenton claimed she had felt for a pulse, but there was no blood on her hands.
The rooms had been turned upside-down, but nothing was taken. And the murder weapon was found under her car seat.
Fenton had a glib answer for all these anomalies. And when a later lover came forward and claimed that she had bragged of the murder to him, she simply dismissed him as a liar.
My own belief is that gigantic lies, especially when told on television, are very hard to skewer. It’s like trying to pop a Zeppelin with a drawing pin — there’s just too much to burst.
But little lies are much easier to explode. There was a moment at the start of Piers’s interview when he asked Fenton how she met her husband.
She gave him a well-rehearsed story, about bumping into each other at a public gym when they both tried to use the same exercise machine.
‘I hadn’t taken any special notice of him before,’ she claimed. We all know what that means: ‘I had my eye on him, and I timed my move perfectly. The poor schmuck never suspected a thing.’ They were married within a year.
If Fenton can lie so glibly about entrapping her hubby after someone has pumped five bullets into him, you can be pretty sure whose hand was on the gun. Case closed. Meanwhile, this series promises to be a treat for the armchair sleuth.
For history fans, the documentaries on Freeview channel Yesterday can usually be relied on for informative viewing.