Early in Nancy Grace’s new television movie “Hailey Dean Mystery: Dating is Murder,” two of the characters muse about meeting people in the modern era. Doesn’t anyone still go looking for love by hanging out in coffee shops? Not in the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries project debuting at 9 p.m. Sunday; a hot new dating app factors prominently in the plot line.
The movie is a work of fiction although Dean, played by Kellie Martin, is an attorney turned therapist who’s suffered a traumatic personal loss, a character clearly inspired by Grace’s own experiences.
And it mirrors a societal trend the former Fulton County prosecutor wants people to be on guard against: living life unabashedly online, with our personal information easily accessible. See her site’s tips for staying safe with online dating here.
“Back in the DA’s office, it started becoming more and more prevalent,” Grace said. “Now it’s skyrocketed. At CNN, I covered so many cases where Craigslist or dating apps go wrong.”
Sadly, dangers can stem from online relationships. In May, 26-year-old Mezaio Pickett was shot and killed in Cobb County during a Craigslist transaction. Vincent Diandrez Brooks of Jonesboro, and Damien Akeen Scott of Decatur, were arrested on murder and aggravated assault charges and have been denied bond, the AJC’s Steve Burns reported.
In June, a man facing the death penalty in the 2015 killings of a Marietta couple pleaded not guilty to murder charges. Ronnie “Jay” Towns of Telfair County is accused of killing 66-year-old June Runion and 69-year-old Elrey “Bud” Runion by luring them with a fake ad purporting to offer a Mustang for sale, the AJC’s Ben Brasch reported.
In addition to releasing the Hallmark movie, Grace plans a public safety campaign stressing the need to be vigilant when meeting strangers online.
“We are lulled into a sense of safety,” she said. “People are generally trusting, and people are generally good. You go through life trusting until you’re burned.”
Since leaving CNN and after a stint on “Dancing With the Stars,” Grace has been focusing on writing the Hailey Dean mystery novels that have inspired the Hallmark movies, working on her site crimeonline.com and producing a true-crime podcast and SiriusXM show. Her most important role is that of mom; twins Lucy and John David are about to turn 10.
“I’ve only got eight summers left with them before they go off to school, God willing,” she said. “I’m going to make the most of it.”
She has more books and movies in the works and might have some additional broadcast news to share soon, but for now, she hopes viewers tune in on Sunday. (See hallmarkmoviesandmysteries.com for channel information).
“The good thing with Hallmark mysteries: you have answers at the end, and a sense of resolution,” Grace said. “That’s something you don’t get in real life.”