The Deadly Cougar? | The Jimmie Sue Finger Story | The Real Case Behind The TV Movie ''Stay The Night'' | Part Two

(Jimmie Sue Finger Gambrel. Picture credit:

Continued from part one...

According to Michael and the evidence to suggest the case, Jimmie Sue and Michael planned to have Terry killed. When a hit man failed to do the job (he just took the money as Michael paid him up front), Michael took matters into his own hands but his plan was just to scare Terry.

On the night of February 22nd, 1986, Michael arranged to meet a 16 year old female friend (called Elizabeth Rizzi) at McDonald's. Elizabeth knew about the whole situation and agreed to be part of the plan but she was under the knowledge that this was all being done to just scare Terry. 

When Michael arrived at the McDonald's, he changed into dark clothing in the men's bathroom and told Elizabeth to drive him to a nearby school where he removed the licence plates from her car. They then drove to Terry and Jimmie Sue's house, Elizabeth dropped Michael off a little bit away from the house and she carried on until she was right outside the door. 

Elizabeth went to the door and Terry answered, she told him that her car had broken down. Terry said he would come outside and take a look at it and went to get some jumper cables. When Terry came outside and walked towards the car, Michael walked towards him with the gun pointed right at him. Terry shouted ''Please, God, no, don't''  but Michael fired five or six shots until there was nothing left in the gun. With Terry laying on the ground he jumped in the car and he and Elizabeth drove off.

Michael told Elizabeth to drive with the lights off for a few blocks before putting them back on and they carried on driving to a lake where they stopped. Elizabeth was panicking but Michael told her that everything was fine, Jimmie Sue was in on the whole thing and that she was now financially secure and free of Terry. He put the licence plates back on and threw the gun in the lake. They both drove back to McDonald's where Michael changed his clothes again.

Michael was stopped the next day by the police and Elizabeth was questioned. It was no secret in the town that Michael and Jimmie Sue were having an affair so Michael was the prime suspect. He told the police that he hated Terry and that whatever punishment he got for the killing would be just what he deserved.

In the beginning, Michael claimed that Jimmie Sue had nothing to do with Terry's murder and that it had all been his idea. There was nothing the cops could do if he was unwilling to tell them about her part. Michael was found guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. He still maintained his love for Jimmie Sue. 

Blanche was heartbroken and determined to get to the truth, she felt that Jimmie Sue was more involved than she was letting on, even the cops believed that. 

Seeing Michael (who had not long graduated and had his whole life in front of him) behind bars was traumatic for Blanche and together with her family they had to witness Jimmie Sue carry on with her life, getting married to another man and spending Terry's life insurance money whilst Michael sat behind bars.

Jimmie Sue was said to have visited Michael in prison just a few times ''to keep the flame alive'' , in other words, keep him quiet and he was so loyal to her even though he faced a very long time behind bars, he was so willing to protect her.

Blanche came up with a plan which some people, even the cops found crazy, she was going to try and get close to Jimmie Sue. Blanche hoped that one day, Jimmie Sue would slip up and say something that would reveal her part in Terry's death.

So Blanche and Jimmie Sue started spending time together whilst Michael was in prison, the more Blanche got to know Jimmie Sue, the more she could see what she was doing, trying to keep Michael sweet with endless promises that came to nothing, running around town without a care in the world when her son's life was in tatters. 

Blanche tried to get through to Michael and tell him what was happening but he didn't want to know at first, it took a long time before it started to sink in that he had been used and finding out about Jimmie Sue marrying another man really got to him. Jimmie Sue stopped coming to see him, didn't write to him as much. It was like she had forgotten him and was out there living her life. 

Blanche managed to persuade Jimmie Sue to come with her to visit Michael, she told Jimmie Sue that Michael was getting nervous and thinking about talking to the cops again so of course Jimmie Sue went to the prison, unknown to her, she was being recorded. Michael asked her questions about the night Terry was killed and she answered in a way that told the cops she knew and was part of the plan. She didn't pull the trigger but she knew it was going to happen and Michael claimed that she harassed him into doing it.

Jimmie Sue was arrested and found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. She spent the rest of her life behind bars and died at the age of 61 in 2011, reportedly due to complications from heart surgery. She was due to have a parole hearing in 2013. 

Michael ended up serving 7 years in prison and was released in 1993. He went on to marry and had a child.

(Stay The Night, the TV movie based on the case. Picture credit:

Jimmie Sue maintained her innocence and said that her affair with Michael only lasted 3 months. She claims she had no knowledge of what he was going to do that night. She said that she felt guilty for having the affair and that it had ended a year before Terry's death. 

Terry Finger apparently confessed to the sexual abuse of one of his daughters and was a violent man according to family members.

Whilst I was doing my research on Jimmie Sue I was surprised to see the outpouring of grief at her death. A memorial to her has been set up online and I've read comments where people have mentioned how supportive she was to them in prison and even people who claim to be relatives saying that nobody knows the full story. 

At the end of the day she didn't pull the trigger but there was evidence that she was in an abusive marriage. I wish there was more information online about this case and her side of the story. The TV movie ''Stay The Night'' was based on the case, Barbara Hershey (one of my favourite actresses) played the role of Jimmie Sue and Blanche said that the TV movie was 99% accurate. I'm sure the relatives of Jimmie Sue may disagree on a few things.

It's clear from her memorial that she was a well loved mother and grandmother so she could have made a change in prison, was she ever 100% guilty? I would have been interested to hear more of what she had to say. I do feel sympathy for the abuse she and her daughter suffered in her marriage. 

With Michael, I felt sorry for him being sentenced to life at a young age but he only served 7 years after testifying against Jimmie Sue. Looking back, the TV movie ''Stay The Night'' (I don't know why they chose that title of all titles) was one sided and Blanche seemed to be happy with the outcome but could that be a mother just wanting to show her son in the best light? He did fire the gun five or six times that night and didn't seem to be that shaken up after the murder. 

It's a tricky case, you could have sympathy on both sides, some people may think that Michael is 100% guilty, some might think that Jimmie Sue is to blame for all of it. What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below or elsewhere on social media.

Blanche was only 65 when she passed away in 2005. 

I'm surprised that there's no blogs about this case, maybe because it happened in the 1980s and ''Stay The Night'' came on TV in 1992. I tried to track down a copy of the movie (I watched it years ago and it was really good) but it's really difficult for me to get hold of it in the UK.

Do I think that Jimmie Sue should have been released? To be honest, yes. From what I have read, the fact that she remarried and her children and grandchildren as well as friends saw her as an inspiration and thought a lot of her showed me that it's quite possible she transformed whilst she was in prison or she could have been like that before?It's difficult to tell with the lack of information but by the tributes left, you could see that she was a well liked and well loved person.

UPDATE: The fantastic movie based on this case is now available on YouTube, free to watch here

I hope you found this case interesting and don't forget to let me know your thoughts, was Jimmie Sue guilty or was she innocent all along?

See you in the next post x


  1. Well parts one and two as always very well Research and written as always. This case is very difficult to see who the main guilty party is. Yes Michael was the one that fired the gun but if I remember rightly in part one. Jimmie sue would use sex to get Michael to do what she wanted. I agree with you I feel sorry for the abuse that jimmie sue and her daughter was going through at the time. Like you said she did not fire the gun. I think she should of done max time in side about 15 years. as for Michael he should of confess jimmie part in it sooner. But he only did 7 years and found love and got married it is a hard case to work out as there is not much out there about the case. You are Such an amazing and talented writer and Author when your book comes out. I am looking forward to reading it when it is out in the shops. 🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️

  2. I feel bad for all the abuse from her pedophile husband. But I don’t feel bad for the murder she had that boy take the rap for. I’m happy she was lock up too. She was wrong what she did to that young man

  3. I think Jimmie sue is not guilty

  4. It’s hard to believe people actually lived in such screwball roles: Michael for not seeing what a fluzy Jimmie Sue was, and Jimmie Sue herself. I now see why Blanche befriended Jimmie Sue, although how she was able to do that is beyond me (her son’s lover that is old enough to be his mother?) Then there is Terry. A pedophile? Why murder the bastard? Eliminate him by blowing the whistle…. what don’t I see here? But in the end, Jimmie Sue did influence Michael to kill Terry. She was complicit for sure.

  5. I recently saw the movie but remember it in the 90's. I'm surprised they were able to build such a strong case against her for conspiracy to commit murder. But I still don't see how he got out in 7 years. It's clear he was the actual trigger man. There are women who have set guys up to kill their husbands or boyfriends who got a LOT less time. Meanwhile, the guys who got sucked in and committed the murder are in for life or on Death Row.

  6. The movie is on YouTube now.

  7. Watched this on the old VHS and, as (at last!) it's been uploaded on YT, I watched it again. Barbara Hersey is quite a looker and JSF wasn't quite. Based on the movie, JSF was quite a character and MK was a moron. No one is innocent except JSF's daughter.

  8. I was in Alto with this guy and he played dungeons and dragons with a group of prisoners and I never thought he had regrets about killing that man because he played a game about imagination of killing other people.

    1. Just a game. Michael did have regrets and still lives with them, I imagine for the rest of his life.

  9. Young Michael was obviously manipulated by Jimmie Sue. Still, they were both guilty. Michael was not on obsessed with killing. He was just young and dumb at that point in time. I remember the making of the movie, Stay The Night, because I was seeing Michael for a few years in prison (before and after the movie), after being introduced by his sister. The day Jimmie Sue went with Blanch to see Michael and was recorded by police, I was in Michael’s bedroom with the door locked. I heard Blanch tell Jimmy Sue I was in Michael’s room. She tried her best to knock the bedroom door in. To what end I do not know. Maybe to flaunt she was going to visit Michael, not me. I remember having to rush to see Michael the next day because he was so upset seeing Jimmie Sue. He was afraid of being caught recording her. The whole ordeal overwhelmed him. I could write a book about what I observed/whitnessed! Bottom line, Jimmie Sue was self-serving and had an evil heart. Even the younger man (Mr Gambrell) she married after her husband was shot thought the same about her; he and I talked at great lengths.