Often going through my Crushable inbox consists of me speed-clicking through “urgent” alerts about celebrities wearing certain designers or fashion events I’ll never cover—I can get through fifteen messages in a matter of seconds judging just by the subject lines of the emails. But every once in a while, something stops me short with its sheer ridiculousness, and I know that not only will I read the message, but I wish I could have one of those apps where you can set your DVR from the office so you never forget to record anything. That happened today, when I stumbled upon a press release from TLC for their new special Half-Ton Killer?
Note the question mark, because TLC is trying to make this “true crime” special as classy as possible, and also because 1,100-pound Mayra Rosales‘ guilt is still being determined. But let me start from the beginning, and let TLC set the scene:
In a Texas border town, along a major corridor known for drugs and human trafficking, a young boy has been murdered. Mayra Rosales, a woman bedridden from obesity, claimed she accidently crushed and killed her two year-old nephew.
I’m sorry to say it, but immediately both Jenni and I were hooked. “Are they serious?” we asked each other. “No, this has to be fake. You don’t roll over and crush an infant!” Seriously, it sounds like the plot of a Law & Order episode. In actuality, you know that L&O is kicking itself for not catching this before TLC did. Let’s go on:
Immediately the case took fire—the media wanted to bring her to justice, citizens demanded their tax dollars go elsewhere, and the judicial system scrambled for a solution.
One man, Mayra’s attorney Sergio Valdez, realized something was wrong: the boy’s injuries appeared to be no accident. Furthermore, Mayra could barely move: deathly-ill from pneumonia, and weighing in at 1,100 pounds, she required 10 men, and an extra-large ambulance to even reach the hospital. Thus began an investigation into Mayra and her family’s suspicious behavior that revealed a story far more sinister than anyone realized.
I’m gonna guess that the nephew’s death had something to do with gangs, because why else would the press release make note of the drugs and human trafficking going on in the Rosales’ backyard? Unless they wanted to highlight how even in a crime-ridden town, obesity is the greatest danger of all. But wait, there’s another hyperbolic statement coming instead:
With exclusive access to Mayra and interviews with Sergio and various experts, HALF-TON KILLER? examines this puzzling case, and its disturbing outcome. Murder comes in all sizes in this compelling true story of law, love, and lies.
So now you know what to expect from TLC’s special in a few weeks. I don’t know about you, but from the moment I read the press release I was dying to find out as much as possible right now about Mayra Rosales and her family. Here’s what I could glean from news stories over the last four years, which should give you a better idea of what to expect.
1. Because of her condition, Mayra was bedridden. She was also not supposed to be taking care of her sister Jaime‘s kids because of her inability to move, but she often babysat them.
2. Mayra’s original defense was indeed that she had fallen on her little nephew Eliseo: She told police that she tripped and fell, hitting Eliseo with her hand in the process. Interestingly, at the time of her arrest, a newspaper described her as weighing “at least 800 pounds.” It’s unclear if someone conflated the numbers along the way, if the paper had the wrong info, or if Mayra has gained more weight since.
3. However, investigators quickly realized that Eliseo’s injuries were from blunt force trauma and that Mayra would have had to lift her arm to hit him that hard—a physical impossibility for her.
4. Although it seemed less and less likely that Mayra had killed Eliseo, she still had to go on trial. It took several months to locate a court room large enough to accommodate Mayra, and even then they had to remove the walls to get her in.
5. Mayra revealed that Jaime had been abusing Eliseo for some time and that in one instance she’d whacked her son with a hairbrush when he refused to eat. When the paramedics came for Eliseo, Jaime begged Mayra to take the blame. “I thought I was dying anyway,” Mayra said, “so I decided to admit that I’d done it to protect my sister because I love her.”
6. Then Jaime went on the run, which meant that she left Mayra to possibly face a death sentence.
7. Ultimately Jaime returned and confessed to killing Eliseo; she was sentenced to 15 years in jail. However, the stress of the case took such a toll on Mayra’s health that she is currently confined to a hospital bed in a hospital for the super-obese. She told Reveal magazine that it felt just like being in jail.
Even though we now know all the facts — and that the drugs thing was a bit of a red herring — I’m still going to watch Half-Ton Killer? because I’m morbidly fascinated by Mayra’s life and how she’s trapped in her body. And with nearly a year of perspective after the court made its decision in January, you have to wonder what she has to say now. You can watch the promo on TLC’s site; Half-Ton Killer? premieres Wednesday, October 10th, at 9 p.m. EST.