'True Detective' Season 3 Spoilers: Why Amelia Reardon/Hays May Be Guilty

We’re almost halfway through True Detective Season 3, and the identity of this season’s villain is still a mystery. There are plenty of suspects, but one particularly interesting theory argues that the murderer may be one person you probably didn’t expect: Amelia Reardon. Did Wayne Hays’ wife (played by Carmen Ejogo) kidnap Will and Julie Purcell and kill one of them? It might sound ridiculous, but she may have had a pretty good motive.

Possible spoilers for True Detective Season 3 below.

When we first meet Amelia in True Detective Season 3, she’s a school teacher in the year 1980 who ends up helping Wayne in his investigation. In the second timeline, in 1990, they’re married, but that relationship becomes strained when the case is reopened after it’s been discovered that Julie is still alive. And in 2015, Amelia is dead, and Wanye’s dementia appears to be blocking the memories of what happened to his wife.

None of that seems to suggest foul play, but a recent Reddit thread notes that Amelia was able to launch her career as a successful true crime writer thanks to a book about the Purcell kids. So is it possible she either kidnapped them to boost her career or simply wrote the book to cover up her own crimes? That would certainly explain how Amelia seems to know so much about the case, as Wayne repeatedly notes during his interviews in 2015.

A better explanation, however, is that Amelia may have been trying to protect Julie from her abusive brother and uncle, along with her alcoholic parents. That could explain why Julie survived while her brother didn’t, though, as The Ringer points out, Amelia seems particularly surprised to learn that Julie is alive when the case is reopened in 1990. So either she’s a very good actor or this True Detective Season 3 theory doesn’t add up.

One last bit of possible evidence: As another fan pointed out on Reddit, in the show’s opening credits, we see Amelia’s face illuminated by a full moon, which seems to be a reference to another major clue from the first episode of True Detective Season 3.


Based on all this evidence, we’re still not exactly ready to lock up Amelia just yet. Based on previous True Detective seasons, the final answer will probably be a little less shocking. The show’s message seems to be that evil rarely has to hide its true face in American society. Still, we wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Season 3 could truly surprise us, and making Amelia the murderer would do just that.

True Detective airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.