TV Crime Sky

‘A House On Fire’: True Story Of Dr. Debora Green, Michael Farrar, Castor Bean Poison & Arson Case In Lifetime Movie

A House on Fire: a true story movie coming to Lifetime based on Dr. Debora Green and Dr. Michael Farrar— The castor bean poison and arson case made headlines in 1995 after Debora Green set fire to her $400,000 Kansas City mansion. Her two children, Timothy Farrar and Kelly Farrar died. A bitter custody dispute with her estranged husband, Dr. Michael Farrar, was the likely motive. The crime landed the former doctor in prison for life. Many ask where Dr. Michael Farrar is now. Today, he’s still a cardiologist at North Kansas City Hospital, where he has been practicing for almost 30 years. A House on Fire Lifetime movie airs this weekend and is inspired by true events. It stars Stephanie March and Shaun Benson. True-crime writer Ann Rule chronicled the real events in her book: Bitter Harvest, A Woman’s Fury, a Mother’s Sacrifice.


A House On Fire (True Story) Lifetime Movie Synopsis/Plot


[Image via social media & Lifetime w/ permission]

Crime Scene: Prairie Village, Kansas

On a windy October night in an affluent section of Kansas City, firefighters descended upon a sprawling mansion engulfed in flames. Two dead children were inside: Timothy Farrar, age 16, and his sister, Kelly Farrar, age 6. It was arson. Dr. Debora Green, 44, and her 10-year-old daughter, Kate, survived. Deborah ran out of the house, and Kate, a ballerina, jumped from a window. During an interview with Debora, she cried and said she woke up to a blazing inferno but managed to get out of the house and yell to her son, Timothy, to stay inside until she could get help. Sadly, the teen trusted his mother and burned to death. His younger sister, Kelly, died of smoke inhalation in her bed. Evidence from the smoldering ash and debris led them to Dr. Deborah Green and Dr. Michael Farrar as suspects.


[image via social media]

The Brilliant Couple had Almost Genius Intelligence

The couple was of bright intelligence and had been married for many years. They met in medical school in the late 1970s. Over the years, the relationship became strained. They believed a trip to Peru would help rekindle their love. However, on that trip, Dr. Michael Farrar had eyes for someone else. He met another woman (Celeste Walker) and began having an affair with her back home. Debora Green found out about the infidelity and fell into a deep depression. During the 16 years she was with Michael, Deborah lost her footing in the marriage. Eventually, she quit practicing medicine, the romance died, her weight swelled, and the bottle was the only thing that satisfied her.

Three children were born from that union: Kate, Timothy, and Kelly. For a while, life in the suburbs of Kansas City, Kansas, seemed perfect from the outside. But the couple’s dark secrets indicated the marriage was far from happy. After returning home, Dr. Michael Farrar fell ill. Chills, weight loss, and bouts of vomiting plagued him. It was a mysterious illness a doctor believed Michael picked up during their exotic South American vacation. 


[image via Kansas Dept. of Corrections/Lifetime w/permission

Dr. Michael Farrar eventually left Deborah (Debora) but claimed he still worried about her and the kids. From time to time, he’d visit, and it was during one of those visits that he discovered a packet of castor beans in Debora’s purse. A little research led him to a shocking conclusion. Debora used the castor beans to poison him! He tried to prove it, but because ricin, a deadly poison, leaves the body quickly, doctors couldn’t find it in his system. Even without that confirmation, Michael knew it was Debora, and he revealed his suspicions to detectives.

The night of the fire, Michael Farrar told investigators he argued with Debora on the phone. He said he called her crazy and told her she needed mental help. After that phone call, the fire broke out and lit up the entire street. Firefighters were met with roaring flames stretching 20 to 30 feet in the air.

When detectives questioned Deborah, she cried and faked concern for her dead children. Criminal records show prior to the fire, police were called out to the home during a domestic dispute. Deborah underwent a mental evaluation and later charged at her husband with an ominous message in front of the staff. The message was something along the lines of he’d get custody “over their dead bodies.” She was referring to the children.

All clues and evidence pointed to Debora Green (Deborah Green). And the path of the fire led detectives directly to Deb’s bedroom. That’s where the fire started, they deduced. She pleaded no contest to avoid the death penalty and was imprisoned for life. A House On Fire airs Saturday, at 8/7 p.m. Central on Lifetime. Note: Debora Green’s name is sometimes written as Deborah Green.



[Main image via YouTube & Lifetime w/ permission]

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.



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