Kellers Back in the News

Vanity Fair Confidential airs special on wrongly convicted couple

Kellers Back in the News

The Fran and Dan Keller story popped up in an unusual place last week: the Vanity Fair Confidential documentary series (on the Investigation Discovery TV channel, also available for $1.99 on YouTube). "Nightmares on Main Street" recounts the decades-long ordeal of the Kellers, who spent 21 years in prison for alleged "satanic ritual abuse" crimes at their Oak Hill day care center – that is, for crimes that never happened. The "forensic files" documentary style is jarringly melodramatic – heavy with jump cuts, brooding music and somber narration, and manufactured suspense – and is far too credulous of the nationwide Eighties "Satanic Panic" prosecutions. But the Kellers tell their story movingly and convincingly, and their attorney Keith Hampton and former Chronicle reporter Jordan Smith lay out in detail the hysterical prosecution and eventual overturning of the verdict. The broadcast has been followed by a desperately needed spike in the GoFundMe campaign supporting Fran and Dan (, and Hampton continues to work toward a long-delayed full exoneration. For more, see "Believing the Children," March 27, 2009, and "Learn­ing From Our Mistakes," March 11, 2016.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Fran and Dan Keller
Learning From Our Mistakes
Learning From Our Mistakes
Fran and Dan Keller were prosecuted wrongly and unjustly. It's long past time for their complete exoneration.

Michael King, March 11, 2016

More by Michael King
<i>Hope and Hard Truth: A Life in Texas Politics</i>
Hope and Hard Truth: A Life in Texas Politics
Life beyond the governor’s office with Ann Richards’ chief aide

Sept. 2, 2022

Embattled Doctor Prevails Against the Texas Medical Board
Embattled Doctor Prevails Against the Texas Medical Board
The little guy wins

June 24, 2022


Fran and Dan Keller, Dan Keller, Fran Keller, Jordan Smith, Keith Hampton

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle