“20/20” Reports on the “Happy Face Killer” and The False Confession That Allowed Him to Remain on the Loose

The new installment of ABC’s 20/20 will follow the investigation into Keith Hunter Jesperson—the “Happy Face Killer”—and how someone else shockingly confessed to his first murder, allowing the Jesperson to remain on the loose for years.

What’s Happening:

  • ABC has revealed that the next episode of 20/20 will explore the case of Keith Hunter Jesperson who became known as the “Happy Face Killer.”
  • Friday’s installment follows the 1990 investigation of the first murder commited by Jesperson, which was suddently derailed when a 57-year-old Laverne Pavlinac confessed to her part of the crime.
  • Pavlinac told authorities that she and her boyfriend, 39-year-old John Sosnovske were responsible and the couple was ultimately convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
  • Meanwhile Jesperson remained on the loose and killed seven more women.

  • But the story doesn’t end there. Pavlinac later revealed that her confession was false, she was trying to get out of what she described as an abusive relationship with Sosnovske.
  • This two-hour presentation of 20/20 dives into how Pavlinac duped police. Audiences will hear audio from the couple’s confessions, police interviews, and a hidden microphone installed in Pavlinac’s apartment when she tried to convince Sosnovske that he was involved in the murder.
  • 20/20 will feature reporting by “Nightline” co-anchor Juju Chang and presents an exclusive interview with Melissa Gavin, a friend of Julie Winningham, the last person Jesperson killed before his arrest.
  • Additional new interviews include:
    • 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
    • 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, November 5th (9:01-11:00 pm EDT), on ABC and streams on ABC News digital platforms and Hulu.

Creative Team:

  • 20/20 is anchored by David Muir and Amy Robach.
  • David Sloan is senior executive producer, and Janice Johnston is executive producer.
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