Slashers in the Spotlight, the Case of the Randi Trimble

How far are you willing to go to make your film a success? Would you even kill for it?


Austyn Mizgorski, Author & Historian

I: Introduction

We made it to spooky month, my wonderful audience! I’ve been waiting a whole year for this. With the Halloween spirit high in the air, it’s about time we do a Tea Time with a Side of Crime Halloween Special! That’s right little meeples, a holiday special! Halloween is a holiday near and dear to my heart, so I’m so excited to be producing a special about a holiday that’s heavily inspired my series. This case is gonna be a big one, since it even got a whole documentary about it released in 2009. So, enough dilly-dallying, let’s get into it!

Scary movies! We love them, we hate them, depends on the person. They’re a pinnacle of the Halloween season. Especially around this time of year, there tends to be a lot of new spooky films coming out to scare the pants off of audiences everywhere. Making movies, however, is a hidden craft — it’s hard for the average person to imagine what it’s like being in the director seat. The main issue is making your movie a success; how exactly can you make your new independent film stand out? Perhaps throw in a dash of murder? Yep, we’re doing this. Strap in folks, and make sure watch your head, as we set out on this wild ride of a case. Tally ho!


II: The Storyboard

Our tale begins in late 2002, early 2003 with one Blaine Norris, an utter failure of a filmmaker. With the release and sudden surge of popularity from Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick’s Blair Witch Project gave Norris the bright idea of making a found footage horror film. Norris dubbed his new indie film baby Through Hike: A Ghost Story, and around the time of early production in, Norris met one Brian Trimble. He had offered to help with the cinematography of the movie and film it using his own equipment. However, what was odd to some of the actors for the movie is that they never saw Trimble — or his camera. Despite this issue, Norris refused to fire Trimble, and an anonymous backer who had invested $18,000 chose not to support the film any longer. Taken from an article published by NBC News on the case, actress Robyn Griggs who was meant to act in the movie had this to say in regards to the missing cameraman: “I mean you can’t block a scene without the director of photography. It’s gonna be based on lighting and all that, you know. Naturally you need the camera there.”

Now without a major investor, the film was already placed on a wobbly foundation. The day the cast was meant to hike up the Appalachian trail to begin filming, the realization that Trimble wouldn’t be able to make it due to his multiple sclerosis upon the insistence of his wife, Randi. Oh poor, poor Mrs. Trimble. . . What a foolish mistake that was. Little did she know that now, that $100,000 life insurance policy placed on her head was looking rather appealing to the director.

“If I had a nickel for every case I covered that had to do with life insurance, I’d have two nickels. ..Which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird that it happened twice.”


III: Lights, Camera, Murder!

Norris really wanted this film to take off, and without the funding from his unknown backer, what was a man to do? Was he just about to let his dreams crash and burn? Absolutely not. Around the time of January 2003, Norris had begun to conspire with his cameraman on how to get the funds necessary for their film. If you learned anything from my Blue Eyed Six episode, life insurance policies are an efficient way to net some cash, so that was the plan; they were gonna cash in some life insurance. The funding of the film was announced to be fake, and Norris found himself in increasingly hot water. He was some $18,000 dollars in debt that was rapidly piling up, he had just gotten divorced, and now his project was on the verge of collapse again.

A photo of Brian and Randi Trimble on their wedding day. Image taken from an article by TheCinemaholic.

Let’s cut the cameras and head to Trimble, shall we? Because oh boy, was he losing it. It was the morning January 10th, 2003 — and Brian was sobbing into the telephone that his wife was murdered. On the floor of their East Pennsboro Township home lay Mrs. Trimble, strangled with an extension cord and stabbed some 27 times. Yikes. The house itself was in horrible shape, with mattresses overturned and furniture strewn all over the room. The theory was conclusive; it had to be a homicidal break-in. Brian had supposedly been out having dinner that evening with a friend, about 40 minutes from his house. Since she had supposedly died around 7:30, and family testimonies shared how lovely the Trimble’s marriage was, some cleared Mr. Trimble as a suspect. However, Brian was still treading murky waters when a coworker of his testified that he had wanted a divorce, and planned to enact on it after Christmas. Then she just suddenly dies after Christmas? Oopsie daisy. . . That’s a little suspicious.

Brian was too weak to do it, according to more coworker speculation, so the idea of a hitman came into their minds. He was too scared to kill his own wife, so naturally, he paid someone else to do it. He did have the money now after all, as when detectives showed up at his house one day, they noted a new television set that looked pretty pricy. Throughout a period of fourth months following the death of his wife, Trimble was slowly being coerced by authorities into spilling the tea. And oh boy, was it a spill!


IV: Roll Those Credits!

All the cats were out of the bag now, thanks to Trimble finally losing his marbles. He confessed to paying Norris a whopping $20,000 dollars to commit the crime, around the same amount that he owed thanks to his debt. All the evidence and times lined up, so at last, they finally had their perp. Trimble wasn’t getting off that easy despite his confession, no no dear reader, that’s now how Tea Time rolls. Both of them got served on silver platters in front of the jury; Trimble received a life in prison sentence, and Norris received the same after the court chose not to give him the death penalty they were so heavily pushing for.

This spooky case comes to a satisfying close, which is somewhat rare for crime today — we never really get something wrapped up so nicely in a blood-soaked bow. Both were charged and sentenced, Randi Trimble’s family got the closure they were seeking, and the world still spins. I guess the main perk about me researching cases like this is the ability to appreciate life more; I read all these brutal and emotional cases and, by the end of it, I come to appreciate the life I live even more than I did before. Sure, life sucks, but I’m just grateful to still be walking around this little blue sphere we call home.

This has been Tea Time with a Side of Crime, where Pennsylvania’s most gruesome tales are served with a complementary cup of tea. Thanks for reading, and have a lovely spooky season!