Is Josephine Bell in Under the Bridge based on a real person?

Hulu's "Under the Bridge," adapted from Rebecca Godfrey's true crime novel of the same name, revisits the 1997 murder of Reena Virk. The Canadian girl was attacked by a group of her peers at a party when she was 14. While only two teenagers were convicted of second-degree murder, six were convicted of assault, including Josephine Bell.

Like many of the characters in "Under the Bridge, " Josephine Bell is based on a real person. However, as Godfrey pointed out in a 2017 Vice article, "Josephine" was actually a pseudonym one of the attackers adopted to comply with a court-ordered publication ban.

Despite the fake name, Bell's prototype played a very real role in Vic's final hours.

violent confrontation

Godfrey died in 2022, but was credited as an executive producer on the Hulu series (which premiered on April 17). The acclaimed author wrote in her Vice article that Bell was angry with Vic because he reportedly spread rumors about her.

One night in November, Bell reportedly burned Vick's forehead with a lit cigarette and a group of other teenagers joined in the attack.

Darko Hickman/Hulu

Although Bell and the other girls dispersed, Kelly Ellard and Warren Glowacki remained. What happened next was a mystery for the time being - until Vic's body was found in a local waterway more than a week later. Ellard and Glowacki were ultimately found guilty of second-degree murder in connection with Vick's drowning, CBC reported.

What happened to Josephine Bell?

According to Godfrey, Ellard believed Bell might be blamed for Vic's death and claimed her friend often said "weird, crazy things." In the book "Under the Bridge" (originally published in 2005), Bell's mother recalled her daughter talking to Elad about digging a grave and burying someone alive. Godfrey said she believed it was a "what-if scenario" and not necessarily a serious plan.

Bell denied Ellard's version of events (she reportedly told investigators "we don't talk about murder") but ultimately did not testify against her friend. Bell himself was convicted of aggravated assault along with five other attackers. According to the 2009 NBC Dateline special "Under the Bridge," their respective sentences were no more than one year, served in juvenile detention facilities.

Bell, who used her real name in the special, insisted in an interview with Keith Morrison that she "takes no responsibility for [Vic's] death."

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