Skip to main content

In the third episode of True Detective, we watch as the investigation starts to turn to Mahershala Ali's Wayne 'Purple' Hayes character in the Purcell case. And according to a new theory on Reddit, things are only going to get crazier.

Worth digging into if you can't get enough of Nic Pizzolatto's wild world, the deep dive explains potential conspiracies and coverups across multiple timelines that not only feel plausible but significant, emotionally brutal, and downright magnificent. 

The author starts in 1980:

Will and Julie planned to run away the day they went missing. They went to meet an older person who was grooming Julie for abduction. Will was secondary, Julie was their main target. My main suspect is the wife of the chicken plant owner, who lost her daughter. The portrait in the office shows a woman holding a blonde child. She may have used surrogates. I believe she is the white woman seen in a brown sedan with a black man the day the kids went missing.

Why run away? The creepy-cousin-uncle molested Julie. Will found out. The parents either acted like it didn't happen, or didn't believe her, or didn't know. In any case, Julie doesn't feel safe and loved in her own home. Will and Julie plan to run away. At some point, they begin meeting with a stranger in the woods. Stranger buys them toys, plays games with them, and promises Julie someday she'll get married and she'll be taken away from all the pain at home. She starts drawing wedding pictures. I suspect the notes are from Will, passed through the peephole, promising to always protect his sister.

Chicken magnate goes on extended safari right before Halloween. Julie receives the dolls on Halloween. Julie talks with her abductors on Halloween. A week later she is missing. Julie, on the day she goes missing, asks her dad when mom will be home. She most likely feels bad that she won't be able to say goodbye.

The chicken magnates aren't part of a pedo ring, they only abducted the one child, Julie. The dolls are red herrings planted by the perps to make it seem like a cult thing. Purple remarks that the dolls seemed like they were staged, so he could find Will's body. Maybe Will fought back when they tried taking his sister. Maybe he tried running away and telling someone and accidentally died. Maybe they killed him to cover their ass.

The charity from the chicken plant puts a reward out. Hays and West are blindsided by it. One of their higher-ups was contacted by the charity, gave it the go-ahead, and didn't tell their lead detectives. Locals claim to never be interviewed by police. A single detective/prosecutor talks to the old man in the farmhouse doesn't file reports and possibly takes evidence from the house to cover his tracks. All signs point to the head prosecutor bungling the case intentionally. He does so to rise through the ranks and become state prosecutor, due to his chicken magnate benefactors that he is covering for. The other prosecutor deposing Hayes and West is suspect as well.

While a lot of this is pretty vague, it does make sense that this case alluded investigators for so long because it was being compromised by someone on the inside. Although, it would be surprising that an investigator as competent as Hays wouldn't notice that some foul play was afoot.

Now we're in 1990:

Amelia and Purple track down Julie through her prints at the Walgreens. She is still alive. She didn't rob the store, she was there as a regular customer. She somehow escaped or was let go by her captors. Purple finds her and she tells him everything. How the people who took her are very powerful, and she just wants to live her life and be left alone. She is probably married with kids and doesn't want to drag them into her horrible past. Purple starts covering up all the clues that led him to her and sabotaging the reopened investigation.

And finally back to 2015:

2015 Hayes does the interview with the journalist to see if they are close to finding Julie, to "see what they know". He's protecting Julie by trying to throw them off the trail. He keeps his gun in order to commit suicide in case he messes up, or feels like he can't trust himself anymore. He claims he will kill himself if put in a home because he might lose his faculties and reveal info that leads to Julie. He makes recordings of his own voice so he can keep his story straight, and to make sure he doesn't reveal too much info. (Side theory: Hayes fakes memory problems in 1990, but they become real in old age. Reminded me of Junior Soprano.)

I think Amelia wanted to out the powerful people through her book, and Purple was against it. He knew how the system worked and that they were outgunned. This is what leads to the breakdown of their marriage. Possibly also leading to his fallout with his daughter. She may remember her parents fighting constantly about the case, the drinking, the sullen absent father, the mother who seems to delight in working on such a morbid book, possibly running around on her dad. Amelia shows a lot of signs of sociopathy, using Hayes and other detectives for her own pleasure. She seems to love the case more than she loves her husband.

I think Purple may have stalked and hunted the chicken magnate, while the chicken man was hunting. He goes into the woods and comes back out with scalps. Purple kills him and destroys the evidence. Purple does so to protect Amelia, his kids, and Julie. He covers it all up.

There you have it–one interesting theory. Though some aspects of the case go answered, like the communion photos and the dice, the author has a knack for weaving stories together thoughtfully and realistically and it's easy to see something like this actually coming to fruition. Is it Sunday night yet....?