Movie Reviews

What Happened To The Real Dusty Pace After Under The Bridge?

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Under the Bridge.


  • Dusty is a fictional amalgamation of several real teens involved in the case, but the showrunners haven’t confirmed whom they used as a reference.
  • Dusty’s storyline in the show mirrors Missy Pleich’s involvement in the real crime, highlighting their connection to Reena Virk’s murder; however, it’s speculation that Missy Pleich inspired Dusty.
  • Missy Pleich served time in juvie, like all the Shoreline Six, pointing to the consequences of their actions in the true story.

Dusty is central to the plot of Under the Bridge, leading to curiosity about what happened to the real Dusty Pace after the events of the show. Hulu’s true crime miniseries has spent seven episodes exploring the psyche of teenagers who commit horrendous acts of violence and even murder. With Under the Bridge‘s finale releasing on May 29, the characters’ storylines are beginning to wrap up. One such character is Dusty Pace.

Dusty is now in juvie after her arrest for assault, where she reflects on her role in the attack and murder of Reena Virk. She will likely appear in the final episode as she testified in Kelly’s trial in the Under the Bridge true story. However, she has come to a natural narrative stopping point. Because the story is based on an actual crime, the characters’ stories may end, but their real-life counterparts lived on past the trial. Dusty’s story finishing raises the natural question about what happened to the real person after Under the Bridge.


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Dusty Pace Is Based On Several Real People From Reena Virk’s Case (But They Haven’t Been Confirmed)

According to the incredible actor Aiyana Goodfellow, who plays Dusty in the Under the Bridge cast, Dusty Pace is a fictional amalgamation of several real people from the case (via The Wrap). The show’s creatorshave not confirmed the exact teens who were combined to create Dusty. However, it’s very possible they took influences from Dusty from Rebecca Godfrey’s book. On top of this, the show notably leaves out two of the Shoreline Six, Willow and Eve. The writers could have easily taken inspiration from either of these two teenagers without changing another character’s backstory in the miniseries.

Additionally, one of the most prominent theories about Dusty is that she is based on Missy Pleich, one of the two teens who came forward and gave an interview about their involvement on the MSNBC Dateline show Bloodlust Under the Bridge. While this hasn’t been confirmed by either the showrunners or Missy Pleich herself, there are strong similarities between confirmed information about Pleich’s story and Dusty’s story.


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How Dusty’s Story Compares To Missy Pleich In Under The Bridge

The Backstory And Leading Up To The Attack

Jo and Dusty get out of a car in Under the Bridge

The only interview Missy Pleich ever did about her life and the attack on Reena was for the MSNBC Dateline program Bloodlust Under the Bridge, which is available through the internet archives. When comparing the stories, Missy Pleich and Dusty Pace (both the book and Hulu versions) have numerous similarities. Both Missy and Dusty were the youngest children in big families. Missy had 12 siblings, and Dusty had 6 – a detail that would have needed to be changed under the publication ban because it could identify Missy.

By cross-referencing a quotation Josephine gives to an NBC program, detailed in Godfrey’s
Under the Bridge
, with a quotation from Nicole Cook in
Bloodlust Under the Bridge
, it’s confirmed that Josephine Bell is based on Nicole Cook.

Dusty’s voice is described in the book as “full of melody and quite charming,” which matches the lilting tone heard in Missy’s interview. When discussing how Reena and Missy met, the narration explains that they bonded over being outsiders. This matches up with Hulu’s Under the Bridge, which shows Reena and Dusty bonding over being excluded, seemingly due to their race. Both Dusty and Missy were kicked out by their moms for being too much to handle. They both ended up in foster care.

In her interview, Missy discusses her previous anger at Reena for getting with her ex-boyfriend, which is also part of Dusty’s story in Rebecca Godfrey’s Under the Bridge. However, this part of Dusty’s story isn’t included in the Hulu miniseries. In real life, Missy and Nicole were friends with Reena, while Dusty and Jo are friends with Reena in the book and show. Missy and Nicole lived together at Seven Oaks at the time of Reena’s attack and murder. This matches up with Dusty and Jo, who live at Seven Oaks when Reena’s attack and murder occur.


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The Night Of The Attack On Reena Virk And Afterward

Missy explains in the Bloodlust Under the Bridge interview that she was the person who invited Reena to the party that night, which Dusty mirrors. When talking to the interviewer, Missy confirms that Reena was one of the best friends she ever had. Dusty and Reena have the closest and most honest friendship in Hulu’s Under the Bridge. After the attack, Missy and Nicole had to leave to make curfew, which is the same reason Jo and Dusty take off.

The day after the murder of Reena Virk, Missy, Nicole, and Kelly got Reena’s shoes. Under the Bridge episode 3 changes the true story, in which Dusty and Josephine dispose of Reena’s shoes. The last similarity between Missy and Dusty is their reaction afterward. Missy makes it very clear that she blames herself and is haunted by what they did to Reena. This matches the book – where Dusty blames herself and thinks about Reena all the time – and the Hulu miniseries – where she blames herself and the others who attacked Reena. The sheer number of parallels is uncanny.


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Missy Pleich Served Less Than A Year In Juvie In Real Life

All The Shoreline Six Served Time In Juvenile Detention

Dusty looks to the side in Under the Bridge

By confirming herself as one of the Shoreline Six, Missy Pleich confirms that she went to juvie for the crime. It doesn’t matter exactly which character she matches up with. This fact remains true because all the Shoreline Six from Rebecca Godfrey’s Under the Bridge were sentenced to some time in juvie, with one year being the maximum. If Missy Pleich is indeed Dusty from the book, she will have spent one year in juvenile detention. If not, she was either sentenced to six months or sixty days – depending on which teen she was meant to be.

Sources: Under the Bridge by Rebecca Godfrey and internet archives

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