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There are multiple dark years covered in Dark Places—and multiple dark Days, too, as Libby Day circa 2009 works to uncover the truth behind her family's murder on the night of January 2, 1985. That night, Libby's mother and two sisters were brutally murdered. The suspect: Libby's brother, Ben, who in 2009 is still in jail for the crimes. As the only survivor, Libby testified that Ben did it, and he was locked away.
But maybe Ben didn't do it.
Libby starts to suspect her brother may be innocent after she is contacted by Lyle Wirth, the head of the Kill Club. No, he doesn't want to travel around the country with her, Natural Born Killers-style. The Kill Club is a group of people fascinated with crimes and murders—Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, Libby's Kansas Farmhouse murder.
Ever since the murder, Libby hasn't worked a day in her life, living off the kindness of strangers. That kindness has run out. So when Lyle offers to pay Libby to talk to people involved in the case and find out who the real murderer was, she jumps at the opportunity for a paycheck. Libby Day is no stranger to trading the victim card for cash.
So what did happen that fateful day to those fated Days in 1985? Well, that was the day a rumor started. Rumor had it that Ben was engaged in inappropriate conduct with a young girl in his sister's class, Krissi Cates. Krissi had accused Ben of molesting her, and when Ben's mother, Patty, found out, she and her sister, Diane, tried to find Ben and get the true story.
But Ben was with his girlfriend, Diondra, and their "friend," Trey. We put friend in sarcastic quotes here, because Trey is terrible to Ben, making fun of him at every opportunity. Diondra isn't any better. When she isn't laughing at Ben with Trey, she's manipulating Ben. The big gun in her arsenal: she's totally pregnant. She uses the baby to guilt trip Ben and wrap him around her little finger.
Back in the present, Libby doesn't know any of this. Ben has kept Diondra's identity a secret, and he won't tell Libby the truth when she visits him in jail. So Libby does her own detective work, interviewing her estranged father, Runner, and finding Krissi Cates. Krissi, now a stripper, confesses she made everything up. Seems like both Krissi and Libby were coached into giving false testimony back in the day. In the '80s, especially in the middle of the "Satanic panic," people were eager to pin blame on anyone different, especially an outcast like Ben.
Libby eventually finds Diondra living under an assumed name, along with Ben's now-grown daughter, Crystal. But when Crystal lets slip what really happened, Libby finds herself running for her life again.
Here's what really happened in 1985. After convincing Ben to engage in a Satanic animal sacrifice, Diondra persuades him to steal money from his family and run away with her, even though she's the one with money. Ben's family has no money. Worried about finances even more now that Ben might need a lawyer against Krissi's false accusations, Patty has made a deal… not with the Devil, but close enough. She's hired a man named Calvin Diehl to murder her so that her family can collect the life insurance.
Everything happens at once. While Ben is getting his money, his younger sister Michelle overhears Diondra saying she's pregnant. Michelle threatens to tell Patty, so Diondra strangles the girl to death. Yikes. As this is going on, Calvin Diehl comes to the door and stabs Patty… but Ben's other sister, Debby, witnesses it. Diehl shoots Debby and Patty and then runs away.
Hearing the commotion, young Libby runs away and hides in a field. Diondra tries to convince Ben to bring Libby back so that she can kill her, too. If the whole family is gone, the entire insurance settlement will be all theirs. Ben follows Libby into the field, calling out to her to stay where she is—not because he wants to kill her, but because he wants to save her.
Back in the present, Libby escapes Diondra and Crystal. Libby the klepto stole some lipstick from Diondra's bathroom before the murderous mother-daughter duo tried to kill her, and the DNA links Diondra to the crime. Soon, she is captured and arrested. Calvin Diehl is also found, and Libby learns the identity of her mother's killer.
With the real evidence in place, Ben is released from prison. Maybe someday he'll meet his daughter, because Libby didn't turn Crystal in. But until then, he wants to rebuild his relationship with his sister. Libby is just glad to put all these dark places behind her.