Page 1 of 4

Barbara Piotrowski-Inspiring To Us All

PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 3:31 am
by sarahconnor
The true story of Barbara Piotrowski... Image

From Publishers Weekly
Finstad ( Heir Not Apparent ) fails to paint a credible picture of a romantic, naive younger woman who fell in love with a handsome, sociopathic older man, with disastrous consequences. The situation appears to be that both Barbara Piotrowski, California beauty contest winner, and Richard Minns, Texas millionaire, expected they would get everything they wanted; when they wanted each other, both became obsessed. Their passionate and stormy relationship ended when she left him; a short time later, he tried, she contends, to have her killed. She was left paralyzed after the shooting, and he allegedly fled the country. The aftermath of their violence would seem to sully justice: Minns was never questioned by police, despite the fact that he is reported to have revisited his native state frequently. For her part, Piotrowski has made amazing strides to rehabilitate herself.

So the movie is different from what really it would be...

The book was written in 1991, so the event must have happened in the 80's, I would imagine...

She did change her name to Janni Smith, and here is a letter she wrote herself.

Note what she says about Shannen. Image

As promised, I am sending some of my "thoughts" about the television movie to be aired on CBS this month [the film was aired on Tuesday, April 22]. These are informal musing I scratched down quickly in no particular order.

This move is not my life story. I served as a member of the production team and as a technical advisor. I also had an infinitely tiny acting part, which was great fun. A few events form my life became a springboard for the script.

There are many things in the movie that are contrary to who I am, what I stand for and what I believe. I asked the producer not to use my name and he was kind enough to comply.

The character does not reflect my attitude, feelings, or beliefs. The movie does not include any of my hard-won accomplishments or the work I've been involved in all these long years. It also does not include Dr. Petrofsky's Nobel prize nomination.

This move is going to help me fulfill a lifelong dream--to go to medical school

I've had numerous move and book offers over the years and although many of them were generous, I've always declined. But in this case the timing seem providential. I want to attend medical school (hopefully Loma Linda) and this move has provided me with the tuition to do so.

I was shot four times at point blank range and as a result I am paralyzed form the chest down. When those four bullets struck my body, I prayed that my life would be spared. And I promised that if it was, I would make my life as rich and productive and fulfilling as possible. I have always been grateful that my prayer was answered. The character in the movie becomes bitter and angry when she learns of her paralysis, because this is a more "normal" response. Still, I think it's a shame that it was done that way, because it doesn't acknowledge the power of prayer and the gratitude we owe for our good fortune.

At one point in my life walking was my dream and I pursued it vigorously. It was exhilarating beyond words when that dream came true. But I hope this move does not send a message that walking is the end-all for people with paralysis. Really, it's something most two-year-olds can do and it shouldn't define you as a human being. I do hope, instead, that the move inspires people to go after their dreams, whatever those dreams might be.

All of the actors, members of the production team, crew, and extras were a great pleasure to work with. Shannon Doherty was an angel who put in endless hours training for this role. I think she gave what read in the script as a weak, self-possessed, whiny character an extraordinary strength.


Janni Smith

Here are details about what really happened, and how the case unfolded...the police actually knew she was in danger, yet did nothing.



Irvine rehabilitation specialist Janni Smith always believed that the Texas millionaire she claims arranged to have her shot -- leaving her paralyzed from the waist down -- would one day be captured. After a 14-year wait, her fugitive ex-lover was behind bars.

Richard Minns, 64, was arrested Tuesday at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on suspicion of obtaining several passports with fraudulent information and names. Minns, who was never charged in Smith's shooting, fled the country in 1981. He now faces a $60-million judgment she later won against him in a personal injury lawsuit. "It took me completely by surprise," said Smith, 41, a former wheelchair marathoner whose work at the Petrofsky Centers for Rehabilitation and Research has been featured on national television news programs. "I'm one of those people who never really gives up hope."

Back in the '70s, the millionaire and his young girlfriend were a glamorous presence on the Houston social scene.

Minns was a charismatic, youthful-looking health club tycoon when they met on a Colorado ski slope. Smith, whose name at the time was Barbra Piotrowski, was a bright and beautiful California pre-med student and part-time model 24 years his junior.


Seven months after Smith broke up with Minns in 1980, she was shot four times in the back while parked in a Houston lot. Four men, including a private detective hired by Minns to tap her phone and harass her after they broke up, were later imprisoned for conspiracy to commit murder. Fearful for her life after the shooting, she changed her name.

The district attorney's office, which was criticized by members of the legal community and the public for not having indicted Minns, maintained there was insufficient evidence.

Frustrated by the failure of the criminal justice system to charge or even question Minns regarding her attack, Smith in 1982 filed a civil suit against him for causing her injuries. But by then Minns already had liquidated all his assets and left the country.

On Tuesday, he was on a flight from Cancun, Mexico, that stopped off at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport when he was arrested, according to Eric Nichols, the assistant U.S. Attorney who will prosecute the case. The flight's final destination was Vancouver, Canada, where Minns now lives. During a routine customs check, Minns was stopped and later detained.

Nichols would not comment on whether law enforcement agencies had been pursuing Minns for anything besides the alleged passport violations. But during a Wednesday night phone call to The Times, he quoted the county district attorney saying on television that local prosecutors still believed there was insufficient evidence to pursue Minns for the Smith attack.

Nichols would not comment on how federal authorities discovered the passports, which the indictment alleges were obtained by using false names. He said they will argue in court Friday that Minns should remain in custody during his trial.

The attorney who represented Minns in court Wednesday, Michael Ware, could not be reached later for comment.


Minns, who has been living in different countries over the past decade, was using the alias Harlan Allen Richardson at the time of his arrest. His capture is the result of a two-year investigation.

As a wheelchair athlete after the shooting, Smith won more than a dozen marathons. As president of the Petrofsky Centers for Rehabilitation and Research, she has helped develop medical technologies that enable paralyzed muscles to move for exercise as well as for walking and hand movement.

The shooting and Smith's love affair with Minns was chronicled in the 1991 book, "Sleeping With the Devil," by former trial lawyer Suzanne Finstad.

Finstad, who was attending law school in Houston at the time, remembers a full-length, front-page photo of Smith in her bikini with the headline: "Who Shot the Golden Girl?"

During her research for the book, Finstad had discovered that Minns was living under the name Richard O'Toole in the Bahamas, where he was posing as an international tax lawyer and living in a lavish waterfront estate.

Finstad said a State Department official heard an interview with her on TV's "Hard Copy" in which she expressed her "frustration that the (Houston) DA hadn't pursued a case against Minns."

Steve Sumner, the Dallas lawyer representing Smith's civil suits, said Minns' arrest is a "positive development from Janni's standpoint. Now that he's surfaced, it opens the door for us to be able to take his deposition and find out where his assets are so she can collect on the judgments against him."

Sumner also represents Smith in a civil rights lawsuit, which was filed last year. It claims that the Houston Police Department was aware of a contract to have Smith killed six weeks before the shooting and did not warn her.

Piotrowski, who didn't die but was paralyzed and remains in a wheelchair.
She has since changed her name to Janni Smith, is married and lives in
California. Shannen Doherty is playing Rebecca Dubrovich, the character
based on Smith, and Tim Matheson co-stars as thingy Strang, who is based on
Minns. Steven Ford, the actor son of former President Gerald and Betty
Ford, plays the character based on Houston attorney thingy DeGuerin. ...

Still in a wheelchair, huh? Hmmm... Image

Barbara Piotrowski-Inspiring To Us All

PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 3:40 am
by sarahconnor

^^^Barbara/Janni, walking!!! This is actually her... Image

So couragous... Image

She and Dick Minns met in 1977...although the movie is set years from then...

The above link is where the info comes from.

Please don't delete this, as this info is on public record, so cannot be that private, and besides, I think we should all admire this lovely young woman...she been through a lot, and she picked herself up, and moved on, and now she is happily married. Image

Oh and sorry for the mnay posts, didn't think it would all fit into the one post...

Anyway, have a read, very interesting, she was quite famous, it seems. Image

Barbara Piotrowski-Inspiring To Us All

PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 2:33 am
by sarahconnor
The reason I made more than one post is because you can only have about 10,000 charactors (letters) per post, right? This post is to much... Image

Barbara Piotrowski-Inspiring To Us All

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 12:57 am
by sarahconnor
Then how many letters or words can you have in each post? Image

Barbara Piotrowski-Inspiring To Us All

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:01 pm
by alwaysastar
Image ill see this movie if it kills me Image

Barbara Piotrowski-Inspiring To Us All

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:25 am
by sarahconnor
I hope you get to see it, it is a brilliant film!

Barbara Piotrowski-Inspiring To Us All

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 6:37 pm
by alwaysastar
I will

Barbara Piotrowski-Inspiring To Us All

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 6:18 pm
by alwaysastar
You did but no honey sweetheart it will be on tv at some point Image

Barbara Piotrowski-Inspiring To Us All

PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 12:01 pm
by sarahconnor
I hope you'll see it soon! Image

Barbara Piotrowski-Inspiring To Us All

PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 12:18 pm
by alwaysastar