Couples Retreat Murder: Is the Lifetime Movie Based on a True Story?

Directed by Amy Barrett, ‘Couples Retreat Murder’ revolves around a couple who go on a remote retreat to save their marriage but are embroiled in a series of murders. Becky and Jim agree that they have to work on their relationship and head to a couple’s retreat in a deserted wilderness. However, much to Jim’s chagrin, Becky’s ex from college also happens to be present at the getaway. Just as the hiking and camping begins, the host is found murdered while one of the guests is nowhere to be found. As the couples realize that they are trapped with a killer, the Lifetime thriller may strike a chord of familiarity with some viewers.

Couples Retreat Murder: A Getaway Gone Horribly Wrong

The horrifying stories of a couple’s retreat gone wrong haunt the television frequently, but similar cases have occurred in real life. While ‘Couples Retreat Murder’ is a fictional movie written by Adam Rockoff, it draws several parallels with the unfortunate case of couple Joshua Ford and Martha Margene Crutchley in 2002. A loving couple from Virginia, 32-year-old Joshua Ford, and 51-year-old Martha Margene “Geney” Crutchley, went on a seemingly idyllic weekend getaway to Ocean City, Maryland. However, when they didn’t show up for work on Monday morning, those concerned contacted the authorities. Upon investigation by law enforcement in Ocean City, their worst fears came to light.

Image Credit: Fairfax City Police Department

Ford and Crutchley had gone for a night out where they met another couple, Benjamin “BJ” and Erika Sifrit. Young and married, the two Pennsylvanians were having trouble with their bus fare, which the kindhearted Ford and Crutchley helped them out with. The Sifrits thanked them and extended an invitation to spend the evening at their rented north-end row penthouse suite. Liking their company, the older couple joined them at the highrise, only to be brutally murdered. Their bodies were hastily dismembered and disposed of, and the young couple continued on their vacation across town.

Inadvertent Capture and Emerging Evidence

The search for Ford and Crutchley was underway when the Sifrits were caught by the police while trying to break into a restaurant in an attempted robbery. As they were searched, the officers found Crutchley’s driver’s license in Erika’s purse. The couple refused to answer any questions, leading to the authorities conducting a thorough search of their condo, which revealed their pictures, faint blood stains, and bullet holes. Confronted with the evidence, Erika broke her silence and claimed that BJ had shot Ford while she had stabbed Crutchley in a drug-fueled state. BJ was trained as a Navy SEAL and knew how to cut up and dispose of bodies.


What threw off investigators the most in the case was motive. Individually, both BJ and Erika had been well-off rising stars in their respective domains before meeting each other. They seemed to go downhill after becoming involved in a relationship, with BJ claiming to have left the Navy because of Erika’s behavior while she alleged abuse on his behalf. The two then seem to have synergized towards enjoying criminal behavior, culminating in them murdering Ford and Crutchley for a thrill.

In their April 2003 trial, BJ pinned the crimes on his wife, getting acquitted of all charges associated with Ford while being sentenced to 38 years for first-degree assault and second-degree murder in the death of Crutchley. Erika was sentenced to life plus twenty years for the murder of both her victims. Researchers and investigators were further unsettled by neither of the murderers showing an iota of remorse for their actions, causing Officer Richard Moreck to leave the department’s criminal investigation division. ‘Couples Retreat Murder’ becomes immediately evocative of the case as it involves multiple couples and a mysterious murder followed by a shocking revelation.

Read More: Danger in the Dorm: Is it a True Story? Was Becky Swafford a Real Person?