Lifetime’s fall movie lineup continues with another true crime tale, this time with an Amish twist. Amish Stud: The Eli Weaver Story sets a seedy story of infidelity and murder against the usually tranquil world of the Amish.
The movie stars Luke Macfarlane — who we just saw on Hallmark in Notes of Autumn — as the titular Amish stud. If you’ve been waiting for Macfarlane to stop playing lovable hunks and break bad, this is the movie for you.
The real question is, though, just how true to life is Amish Stud: The Eli Weaver Story? Who is Eli Weaver and was he really an “Amish stud”? And if Eli Weaver is real, then where is he now? Fortunately we have answers to all those questions.
Yes it is, although it’s not as recent a crime as the true story behind last week’s movie. The murder of Barbara Weaver — a 30-year-old married mother of five and devout member of an Amish community — took place on June 2, 2009. Barbara first met Eli Weaver circa 1999 when they were on their Rumspringa, a rite of passage for the Amish wherein they explore the outside world. While Barbara had a hard time with leaving her faith behind, Eli threw himself into them by partying and hooking up with women.
Following their Rumspringa, Eli and Barbara married and had five children together. Eli was still regularly cheating on Barbara with women from outside the Amish faith. Eli would meet women using a dating profile where he dubbed himself the “AMISH STUD,” and he ultimately fathered a child with one of these women. When questioned by police, multiple women said Eli talked about getting rid of his wife frequently during their affairs. Eli even left Barbara for a little while, resulting in him being shunned. He ultimately asked for forgiveness and returned to his wife and the community. Barbara’s sister later said that Barbara suspected Eli of having a new mistress just prior to her murder.
That mistress was likely Barb Raber, a 39-year-old married, Mennonite, mother of three who spent her time working as a driver for those in the neighboring Amish community. In the weeks leading up to Barbara’s murder, Eli and Raber spent a lot of time coming up with a murder plan via text message. A computer found in Raber’s home held 800 different searches for ways to murder someone, including “10 best ways to kill yourself” and “How much rat poison will kill a person?” The two considered everything from a poisoned cupcake to setting the house on fire with her in it. When Raber asked about the fate of Eli’s five children, Eli said they didn’t matter because if they died “they would go straight to Heaven.”
Raber first tried to murder Barbara a few weeks ahead of her murder, but she got scared and called it off. Eli convinced her to try again and psyched her up when she expressed doubt. To give himself an alibi, Eli went on a fishing trip with his friends while Raber snuck into the Weaver household and shot Barbara with a shotgun. Barbara’s children later alerted their neighbor, who called the police.
The police immediately suspected Eli, even though he had an alibi. To try to cover their tracks, Raber had a friend call and leave a voicemail saying, “Eli, you can run but you can’t hide. We’ll get you. Obviously we got the wrong person last night.” This did not convince the police. When they discovered Eli’s online dating activities, they also realized that Eli had to have a cell phone despite his Amish faith. The cops set up a sting with one of Eli’s ex-flings and got his cell phone number. They subpoenaed his phone records and discovered that the phone was in Barb Raber’s name, as well as all of the texts between Eli and Raber about how to murder his wife. Case closed.
If you want more of a true crime telling of this story, you can check out A&E’s City Confidential, episode 7×2.
Both are currently in prison. Eli Weaver testified against Raber, was convicted of complicity to murder, and was sentenced to 15 years to life. He will be eligible for parole next year, 2024, when he will be 44. Barb Raber was convicted of aggravated murder, and sentenced to life in prison. She will be eligible for parole in 2032. She will be 62.
It may seem like a weird question to ask, but it is valid. Not only is Eli Weaver’s attractiveness a crucial part of the true crime story, as it explains his sway over so many women as a self-proclaimed “Amish stud,” the movie cast the objectively attractive Luke Macfarlane in the role. So, what’s the deal?
Honestly, Eli Weaver has way more of a Chris Pratt in Parks & Recreation Season 1 vibe to him.
Amish Stud: The Eli Weaver Story debuts on Lifetime on Saturday, September 30 at 8 p.m. ET. If you have a cable login, you will be able to stream the movie as it airs online via Lifetime’s website.
Following the premiere on Saturday, September 30 at 8 p.m. ET, Amish Stud: The Eli Weaver Story will re-air on Lifetime at the following time:
If you miss Amish Stud: The Eli Weaver Story when it airs on Lifetime, you will still be able to stream it on Lifetime’s website for free (with ads). You can also stream it on-demand via Sling TV, frndly, Hulu, , and Philo..
Luke Macfarlane (Bros, Platonic) plays the Amish stud; Miranda MacDougall (The Flash) plays Eli’s wife Barbara; Kirsten Vangsness (Criminal Minds) plays Barb Raber; Clare Filipow (Virgin River) plays Abigail.
Amish Stud: The Eli Weaver Story premieres on Lifetime on September 30 at 8 p.m. ET.