The Shocking True Crime Story that inspired the Sopranos theme song
Updated: May 17
In the early hours of a quiet June morning of 1991, Elizabeth Line, an attractive, dark-haired ex-nun, lay awake, waiting for her fat, slovenly, drunkard of a husband to come home.
She would not be surprised. It was the same thing every night when Roland returned from the pub.
The 51-year-old would barge into the bedroom at three or four in the morning and do what he wanted with his 29-year-old wife, who’d come to England from Poland in 1986.
Raised by devoted Catholic parents, Elizabeth became a nun at seventeen and a nurse three years later.
Elizabeth knew this morning, like every other, Roland would rape, assault, and bugger her until he fell into a drunken stupor.
During the day, fueled by a full breakfast and tea, Roland was an entirely different man. Kind. Loving. Fun. Caring. The perfect husband.
But at night, it was a different story.
This Jekyll and Hyde performance threw Elizabeth off during the first days of their marriage, even the first year.
But she became convinced of Roland’s propensity for violence when drunk.
One night her husband was so enraged that he threw Elizabeth’s kitten from the balcony of their high-rise flat in White City, west London, England.
Elizabeth stood it for as long as humanely possible. However, like the rest of us, she had a breaking point.
And she reached it this June morning as the sun rose.
Amid his drunken attack, Roland roared, “I will show you bitch. Which knife shall I use to cut your throat so you will shut your gob forever?”
More terrified than ever, Elizabeth ran into their kitchen and grabbed a knife.
She ran back into the bedroom and stabbed Roland, surprising herself with having the strength necessary to drive the six-inch blade deep into his flabby gut.
Elizabeth stabbed Roland again and again — seventeen times in all —not stopping until she couldn’t raise the blood-soaked knife above her head even one more time.
She looked down at Roland. Not thinking he was dead, Elizabeth ran next door to a neighbor's flat, frantically explaining, with blood dripping from her arms onto their floor, that she stabbed Roland during an argument.
Not long after the police arrived, Elizabeth stood one last time in the couple’s bedroom, watching as the local corner bagged her husband’s body for a ride to the morgue.
Oh yes, Roland was dead.
Elizabeth knew she would have to pay the price for this sin before her Lord and most immediately before the Queen’s Court.
Whatever happens, when Elizabeth stands before God, she receives forgiveness and understanding on Earth.
Convicted of manslaughter, Elizabeth was sentenced to 18 months. But the sentence was suspended for two years because of how Roland had treated her.
“Any unlawful killing is always a matter of the utmost gravity,” said Judge Gerald Butler QC. “Only in the most exceptional circumstances can it be dealt with by any other than an immediate sentence of custody. These exceptional circumstances exist here.”
Judge Butler looked down at Elizabeth and said, “You have suffered enough.”
And with that, in February 1992, he set her free.
The case of Elizabeth Line and Butler’s judgment that the woman had suffered enough abuse and then incarceration awaiting trial led many in Britain to wonder, “What about Sara Thornton?”
In Sara’s case, like Elizabeth, she’d also killed her husband, who had violently abused her for years.
The police had been called several times to the Thornton home because Sara had been attacked by her husband, Malcolm.
Someone from Alcoholics Anonymous testified at her trial that he’d seen Malcom punch Sara once. A neighbor told of how Sara had been beaten “black and blue” and lost consciousness.
However, the prosecution claimed Sara was a pathological liar who’d killed her husband for financial gain.
Sara was convicted of the 1989 murder, even though she claimed it was an accident.
The judge hearing her case was much less lenient than Judge Butler.
He sentenced Sara to life in prison for the murder of her husband.
But wait! Sara had only stabbed her hubby once. Elizabeth had used a knife with a six-inch blade seventeen times on her soon-to-be late husband.
What does that say about intent?
“Sara Thornton stabbed her husband once with medium force, according to forensic evidence, which is wildly different from stabbing someone seventeen times,” George Delf, a leader of a national campaign to free Sara, said upon learning of Elizabeth’s much more lenient sentence.
A political debate over how the courts should deal with domestic violence ensued, and Sara would be retried in 1996.
At the end of that trial, Sara was convicted of manslaughter and released from prison.
The case of Sara Thornton would later inspire the British band, Alabama 3, to write “Woke Up This Morning,” which Sopranos fans will remember as the theme song of the iconic HBO show.
"The Deadly Duo: A Tale of Crime and Chaos," takes you on a wild ride through the dark and twisted minds of two unlikely partners in crime.
Barney and Heidi, two individuals from very different walks of life, join forces to embark on a violent and unpredictable spree of robbery, murder, and mayhem.
The story begins with Barney, a bored thirty-something, meeting Heidi, a stunning woman — known as ‘Heid’ by her friends — when she comes running out of a liquor store with a bag of cash in one hand and the store’s owner in hot pursuit.
Barney and Heid quickly discover a mutual love for danger and excitement, leading them to team up for a series of heists and murders that leave a trail of destruction in their wake.
As their crimes become more daring and violent, Barney and Heid's relationship deepens, blurring the lines between their criminal partnership and their intense romantic connection.
But as their notoriety grows, so does the danger, as law enforcement closes in on them.
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The novel explores the complexities of human nature and the allure of power and danger, making it a must-read for fans of crime fiction and psychological thrillers.
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