Barbara Piotrowski, Richard Minns: ‘Sleeping With The Devil’ Movie, A Lifetime True Story




Barbara Piotrowski and Richard Minns inspired Sleeping with the Devil, a true story movie that aired on Lifetime in 1997. According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), Sleeping with the Devil stars Shannen Doherty and Tim Matheson. The true-crime movie was based on the book by Suzanne Finstad. Producers changed the real names to Dick Strang and Rebecca Dubrovich.


Sleeping with the Devil Movie Plot: When Rebecca Dubrovich, a stunning former beauty queen finds a hunky health club owner, Dick Strang, during a Colorado ski trip, she falls head over skis. But after the relationship turns abusive, hired thugs savagely attack Rebecca, leaving her wheelchair-bound. Who’s trying to kill Rebecca Dubrovich?




[Image via YouTube]


Sleeping With The Devil True Story

Barbara Piotrowski, now known as Janni Smith, had everything going for her. She was athletic, gorgeous, and sexy—a former California beauty queen and pre-med student. On a skiing trip in 1977, Barbara Piotrowski met a handsome devil named, Richard Minns, a body-building millionaire from Texas, who was twice her age. Minns was a guy who got what he wanted—when he wanted it. And Barbara found that attractive.

She was only twenty-three and looking for love. Forty-seven-year-old Minns was a smooth operator, a man who knew how to spin pretty words to make a woman fall hard. The red flag for Barbara, though she didn’t realize it at the time, was Richard Minns had a way of adapting his behavior and personality to fit any situation. Said another way, he was a handsome chameleon, who was not only passionate but dangerous.

Not long after meeting Richard Minns, Barbara Piotrowski moved to Texas to work for him as a model at several of the health spas he owned. He was intense and romantic. According to Barbara, being with him was like being in a fairy-tale-kind of love. That changed when Richard Minns’ wife, a woman who looked old enough to be Barbara’s mother, banged on her door one night, demanding to speak to her husband. She called him Dick.

Of course, Richard Minns explained it all away, telling Barbara that he failed to tell her he was married—but legally separated—because he was too afraid to lose her. To convince her, he lavished her with a college education and expensive gifts. Barbara believed him and continued the relationship, completely ignoring red-flag number two.

Six months later, she found out Minns had no intentions of leaving his wife. In fact, they were not legally separated. His wife filed for divorce after finding out her husband was keeping his mistress in the townhouse.

Soon after, the ugly side of Richard Minns appeared. He became angry and paranoid. His wife had won almost $6 million in the divorce settlement because she had helped him build the spa business from the ground up. Around the same time, Barbara Piotrowski found out she was pregnant with her married lover’s child. Minns put off the marriage and ranted every time they were together. His angry eruptions up-scaled to emotional abuse and physical abuse. Then he lowered the boom: Richard wanted Barbara to get an abortion and fast. She was devastated.

Refusing to have the abortion and fearing for her life, Barbara Piotrowski left the townhouse, took everything with her, and went underground. Richard Minns was shocked and furious to find her gone. A time later, he begged her to meet him at a hotel so they could talk. Barbara agreed but was arrested for assault after she arrived. Richard Minns had used his connections to set her up.

While in jail, Barbara Piotrowski was offered the chance to leave if only she’d sign a document that said she never knew Richard Minns and wasn’t carrying his child. Barbara refused, and shortly after, she lost the baby. Barbara was gutted.

After she was released from jail, she went into hiding again. But her problems didn’t end. The police still harassed her, and it was all orchestrated by Richard Minns.


Patrick Steen-Nathaniel-ivery-barbara-piotrowski-janni-smith-richard-minns-sleeping-with-the-devil-lifetime-movie-true-story

[Image via Unsolved Mysteries with Dennis Farina/YouTube]

In October 1980, in the parking lot of a donut shop, a black male approached Barbara Piotrowski and shot her four times inside the vehicle. She was left paralyzed from the chest down. Nathaniel Ivery and Patrick Steen were arrested. Barbara told investigators that Richard Minns was behind it. The investigation revealed that Richard Minns had put out a contract on Barbara’s life.

In a second interview, both Ivery and Steen admitted that a trucker named Robert Jess Anderson hired them to kill Barbara. Hotel stationery belonging to Richard Minns connected him to Dudley Bell and Robert Jess Anderson.

On October 28, 1980, Robert Jess Anderson was arrested. He cooperated with police. However, there was not enough evidence to arrest Richard Minns. But Barbara Piotrowski still had to go to court to face false theft and assault charges. They were eventually dropped on a technicality.

For the shooting of Barbara Piotrowski , Nathaniel Ivery and Patrick Steen were found guilty and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Barbara filed a civil suit for wrongful injury against Richard Minns, who had left the country.

In 1984, Robert Jess Anderson was caught on tape bragging about his involvement with Barbara Piotrowski’s shooting. Robert Jess Anderson and Dudley Bell were found guilty of soliciting murder and given 38-years in prison. Dudley Bell was released after four years.

Richard ‘Dick’ Minns has used the name Richard O’Toole and works as an international tax attorney in Switzerland. He was convicted of passport fraud and served four months in prison. He has never paid a dime toward Barbara Piotrowski’s $58 million judgment. The suit was later dismissed.



Here’s more on what Richard Minns is doing now. Check out the following video.

[Image via IMDB movie poster]

Traciy Curry-Reyes

Traciy Curry-Reyes is the founder and editor-in-chief of TV Crime Sky. She began her career as a true crime & entertainment freelance writer in the 1990's for her website, The Movies Based on True Stories Database/Archives. She has contributed content to other websites, such as and Traciy also appears as a true-crime expert and commentator on TV One's Fatal Attraction, For My Man, and Justice by Any Means; Investigation Discovery's Murder Calls and Scorned; Oxygen's Snapped; FOX's Crime Watch Daily; and Lifetime Television's Killer Kids.