Warning: spoilers ahead.
Attention, mystery-lovers: The LA Times has been covering a suspenseful story of pills, pot and the PTA in a six-part series called “Framed” that‘ll have any amateur detective quivering in their (gum)shoes. Compiled by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Christopher Goffard, “Framed” follows the story of Kelli Peters, a mom and after-school volunteer in Irvine, California who was creepily targeted by a wealthy couple (Kent and Jill Easter) over an innocuous comment about their son. What followed was a half-baked scheme to frame Peters for drug possession that revealed a story so sordid, it makes “Real Housewives” look like “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
“Framed” paints an idyllic picture of Irvine, California as a pristine, safe city for raising a family—it then goes Jackson Pollack on that imagery with the saga of Kelli Peters. A free-spirit settling into suburban life, Peters quit her high-stress job to spend more time with her daughter Sydnie by heading up the after-school program at Plaza Vista Elementary, where she interacted with Kent and Jill Easter’s son. A minor incident led to a major misunderstanding between Peters and Jill Easter, who vowed to get revenge on the PTA president.
Jill, a former lawyer and stay-at-home mom, plotted with her husband Kent, a high-powered attorney in Newport Beach, to have Peters booted from the PTA and fired from her beloved after-school program. When that didn’t work, they took the logical next step: planting marijuana and pills in Peters’ car. The investigation into the Easters shed light on an affair, a broken marriage and a self-published book with ominous foretelling—not to mention all of the evidence needed to convict the two at trial.
Kent took the brunt of the jail time, while Jill feigned hearing loss and changed her name to Ava Everheart. Peters went on to win a civil suit in February against Kent and Jill Easter for $5.7 million dollars, as reported by People Magazine and Jezebel, but nothing has given her peace of mind since the incident. Though she’s decided to stay in Irvine, she is still hurt and fearful as a result of this attempted assault on her character, and is still trying to figure out what many readers were left wondering at the end of this exposè: why?
Released over the course of a week, each installment of “Framed” stands alone as a solid piece of storytelling, exploring one twisted avenue of the case against the Easters. Altogether, it’s a dark story of greed, economic disparity and fear that intertwines the lives of two families, forever ruined by the misunderstanding of a simple word.