The Real Story Behind 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'

There is intense Oscars buzz around the film, which stars Frances McDormand as a woman who rents out the massive ads to shame police into solving the rape and murder of her daughter.

A Texas family who inspired the acclaimed film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is breaking down the story behind the Oscar-nominated film.

The movie has racked up a total of seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. It has already won numerous Golden Globes, BAFTA and SAG honors.

In the film, Frances McDormand plays a grieving mother who rents out three billboards to shame police into solving her daughter's rape and murder. 

Now, the Texas family who became the real-life inspiration for the film is discussing the case. 

Since 1991, the Fulton family of Vidor, Tex., has been putting up billboards demanding that cops make an arrest in the cold case murder of Kathy Page. 

“My dad inspired that movie by putting those signs up,” Sherry Valentine, Page's sister, told Inside Edition. 

Page was a married mom of two and was found dead in a car wreck 100 yards from her home. The family claims it was murder. 
An investigation determined the victim had her nose broken and was strangled. In addition, the police probe found that her body had been placed in the car after she had been slain.  

Bloodstains were found on her underwear and skin, but none on her outer clothing.

The billboards, which appear on a road outside Vidor, have been up ever since, serving as a public expression of the family's frustration. They say they are up because they want to be heard and are seeking justice. 

The family changes the billboard slogans periodically.  

The most recent points a finger directly at the victim’s estranged husband, Steve Page, a former insurance salesman who has since moved out of town. 

The couple was married for 13 years, but she was planning to divorce him, according to reports. 

“I said, ‘Steve did you kill my sister?'" Jim Fulton told Inside Edition. "[Page] said, 'Jim, I would never have harmed your sister. I loved her.'"

Page has never been charged and claims he is innocent, but the victim’s father and her siblings are convinced he is responsible.

“I don’t think he meant to ever kill her,” the victim’s sister, Diane Daigle, said. “I really don't think that. It went totally out of his control. He snapped.” 

Rod Carrol is the current police chief, the fifth since Kathy’s murder.

“We’ve always had our person of interest," he told Inside Edition. "I can't go into the details what we determine to be the truth vs. rumor. I understand the family's frustration. I will be quite honest with you — I believe every victim cries for justice." 

The police tell Inside Edition that they have a person of interest and will identify the individual at the time that they are charged with a crime.

The family is not giving up their quest for justice for Kathy and hope all the attention Three Billboards is receiving will result in closure for them. 

Now 86, the victim’s father visits his daughter's grave almost every day. He says the billboards will stay up until the case is solved.

“If they want to solve this case, I can put a sign up here thanking them for doing it,” he declared. 

In the last 25 years, Fulton says he has spent more than $200,000 on the billboards and on a federal court case, according to reports.

Grand juries since the murder have not indicted Page. In 2000, a civil jury found Page liable in a wrongful death suit and awarded the victim’s family $150,000 in damages. The verdict was upheld on appeal.

The billboards and Kathy Page's murder caught the eye of British writer and director Martin McDonagh as he was traveling through Texas on a Greyhound bus nearly 20 years ago. The sight inspired the 2017 film.

“It was this raging, painful message calling out the cops about a crime,” McDonagh told the Express. “The title [of the film] came from the concept and the concept came from that image, which stayed in my mind for years. What kind of pain would lead someone to do that? It takes a lot of guts – and anger.”