Is Netflix's New Series 'Devil in Ohio' Based On A True Story?

·2 min read

The premise of “Devil in Ohio,” a new Netflix series starring Emily Deschanel (Suzanne) and Madeline Arthur (Mae), involves a teenage girl — Mae — found scared and traumatized in a roadway in Ohio with a pentagram carved into her back. She doesn’t say much to the hospital staff who care for her, but after hospital psychiatrist Suzanne Mathis takes her into her own home, Mae begins to reveal that she has escaped some sort of Satanic cult. 

The clues begin to emerge once Suzanne tries to include Mae in family activities. From Mae saying grace to demons instead of God, to her making a creepy corn husk doll for one of Suzanne’s daughters, the extent of the teen’s traumatic cult-like past becomes apparent. And soon enough, a series of seemingly supernatural events begin, leaving the Mathis family fighting against a devil-worshiping cult.

And while the series is adapted from a 2018 best-selling young-adult novel of the same name, it’s also reportedly based on true events.

Madeleine Arthur as Mae Dodd
Madeleine Arthur as Mae Dodd

Madeleine Arthur as Mae Dodd in Devil in Ohio. Photo: Netflix

Daria Polatin, who wrote “Devil in Ohio” and serves as the showrunner for the new Netflix series, told Netflix companion site Tudum that “the book was inspired by true events from a story that our executive producer, Rachel Miller, heard, which actually took place in Ohio.”

Netflix has not immediately responded to Oxygen.com’s request for more details.

Madeleine Arthur as Mae Dodd
Madeleine Arthur as Mae Dodd

Madeleine Arthur as Mae Dodd in Devil in Ohio. Photo: icardo Hubbs/Netflix

Polatin told Tudum that she created a fictional cult for the series by studying real cults. 

“Me and my writers’ room studied all of the cults,” she said. “We tried to learn as much as we could about as many organizations, then we made up our own cult using elements of many different groups. We came up with our whole ideology — and we even wrote some of the Book of Covenants, the cult Bible [in the show].” 

While any direct inspirations remain opaque, WJW in Cleveland cites several Ohio-based stories that could have influenced the series, including that of Jeffrey Lundgren and his Mormon-based Kirtland Cult. Lundgren was responsible for the 1989 murders of Dennis and Cheryl Avery and their three daughters in Kirtland, Ohio. Lundgren, who claimed to be a prophet, forced his followers to help him murder the Avery family, but it took nearly 18 years for him to be convicted.