'Home Before Dark': True story of Hilde Lysiak, the real-life child reporter the series is based on

Lysiak's passion for journalism sprung with wanting to follow her journalist father's footsteps but all hell broke loose when she reported on a local woman's murder


                            'Home Before Dark': True story of Hilde Lysiak, the real-life child reporter the series is based on
Brooklynn Prince and Hilde Lysiak (IMDb/Wiki Creative Commons)

Spoilers for 'Home Before Dark'

Apple TV+'s upcoming child murder mystery sees a nine-year-old Hilde Lisko move from Brooklyn to the quaint town of Erie Falls that is riddled with secrets and trauma. Thus begins a tale of watching her solve a cold murder case from 30 years back. Inspired by the true story of Hilde Lysiak, the series borrows a lot from the reporter's life. The show sees her character actually solve the case with her equally young sidekicks and a kind police offer who's tired of sexist dynamics in the workplace.

In real life, however, Lysiak's story was a lot different. Now all of 13, Lysiak is the youngest member of the Society of Professional Journalists. She has a book series with Scholastic apart from the Apple TV+ show and passionately seeks the truth and reports them in the Orange Street News, a local newspaper in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, from 2014 to 2019 and in Patagonia, Arizona since moving there in 2019.

Lysiak's passion for journalism sprung at a young age with wanting to follow her journalist father's footsteps. Much like the Apple TV+ series depicts, Lysiak would accompany her father Matthew to his homicide cases, and with his assistance, she had founded the Orange Street News in 2014. The first edition of her paper was a news story about the birth of her younger sister Juliet, in the form of a family newspaper written in crayon. It wasn't until two years later in 2016, when Lysiak was following up on a vandalism case at the local police station when she embarked on this twisted tale from her father's past.

Brooklynn Prince as Hilde in 'Home Before Dark' (AppleTV+)

As we see on the show, a friend of her father's had been murdered, presumably by her husband and Lysiak shot for the story right away, reaching there before any of her competitors and actually putting out a full report on her newspaper's website with exclusives from the neighbors and the police. And just like the show, Lysiak had also been hit by a barrage of negative criticism with people sending harsh comments on the nine-year-old covering such a graphic crime. From mocking her as a 'reporter' to asking her to go play with teacups and dolls. Lysiak came across hatred in sometimes not as many words, but always as intense. She would later say she doesn't let such negative criticism faze her, but much like the show, she joined arms with her older sister Izzy in taking her haters down.

Speaking of the show, the biggest disparity that remains is the conclusion to the report Lysiak had published. While her report on a woman being murdered wasn't necessarily investigated and solved by her, the show sees Hilde Lisko actually unearth buried secrets from the fictional Erie Falls community and bring up suppressed trauma, solving the murder case of her father's childhood best friend, Richie. In real life, however, Lysiak went on to sign a book deal and co-write a series of four books with her father, titled 'Hilde Cracks the Case'. In the upcoming Apple TV+ series inspired by her, Brooklynn Prince plays Hilde and Jim Sturgess plays her father, Matt.

Lysiak had also been on the news a year ago for taking down a police officer trying to teach her the ethics of journalism. After being stopped by the officer, she tried explaining she was a member of the media, and he told her “I don’t want to hear about this freedom-of-the-press stuff.” She recorded it all on video and shared it online, following which Nogales International newspaper reported that town officials had “taken action” against the officer, proving once again that there's no shutting true reporting down.

'Home Before Dark' premieres on Friday, April 3, only on Apple TV+.

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