How Plans for a Horror Flick Led to the Murder of Randi Trimble

How Plans for a Horror Flick Led to the Murder of Randi Trimble

Image for postBlaine Norris holds up a knife ? Source: Amateur Sleuth

I had forgotten about this case until last night, when I was flipping around on YouTube, watching various true-crime videos. I can?t believe I forgot about it; one of my best friends dated Blaine Norris, one of the guys at the center of the case, before he turned into a cold-blooded killer. I don?t think I ever hung out with him, but I can?t remember exactly. I would have been in high school.

Let?s not mince words here, OK? Norris was a first-class, bonafide dweeb who looked like his only real concern in life was making sure he had his favorite pocket protector with him at all times. By my friend?s own admission, he was odd, but lots of people are odd.

Most odd people don?t brutally slaughter their co-worker?s wife. And my friend is a normal, sane person who never would have dated someone if she?d thought that person was capable of such carnage.

A New Horror Genre Brings Big Opportunities

In the early 2000s, one of the most popular horror movies in America was ?The Blair Witch Project? (TBWP). In case you?re too young to remember, the movie was about three student filmmakers who go for a hike in the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland, in 1994 to film a documentary about their hunt for a local legend known as the Blair Witch. The three go missing, but their equipment and footage are found a year later.

Image for postSource: The Black List

The entire story was fiction, but the movie was so convincing that a great many people thought it was real, which added to the horror and allure of the film. You never see what actually happens to the main characters, so it?s more of a psychological thriller than a true horror movie.

?The Blair Witch Project? was a low-budget movie that earned big bucks, so writers and filmmakers all fought to produce the next big documentary-style horror flick. This new genre was the impetus behind future highly popular movies like ?Paranormal Activity.?

Image for postSource: Amazon

Blaine Norris was looking to cash in on the popularity of TBWP. A Harrisburg resident, Norris partnered with his co-worker Brian Trimble to produce a low-budget horror film titled ?Through Hike: A Ghost Story.? [1]

The film was to be set along the Appalachian Trail in Central Pennsylvania. Norris had big dreams but no experience as a director. [2]

By day, Blaine Norris was a computer technician for an insurance company. From the outside, he appeared to be a good guy who had the world at his fingertips. As a student at Warwick High School in Lititz, Pennsylvania, Norris was an honor roll student. He was an Eagle Scout who played in the marching band and worked part-time at McDonald?s. When he graduated from high school, he went on to attend Millersville University in Central Pennsylvania.

There was nothing ? and my friend can attest to this ? to suggest he was capable of murder. He was just a dweeby dude with a boring, run-of-the-mill career.

Image for postBlaine Norris ? Source: Through Hike: A Ghost Story

When it came to making the movie, Norris found himself in a bind. He didn?t have the money or equipment necessary to make the next blockbuster. Fortunately for him, Trimble offered to let Norris use his camera equipment and Trimble offered himself up as the cameraman. The duo even received an $18,000 investment to cover the costs.

Image for postBrian Trimble ? Source: PennLive

Actors were hired and production was set to begin when the plan began falling apart.

Leaping Hurdles

The first hurdle Norris and Brian faced was Brian?s multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Brian was diagnosed years, but its progression left him unable to hike the trails to film the movie.

Then, the film?s investor took back his money and abandoned ship.

Frustrated but undeterred, Norris used his credit cards to pay for the movie, which put him in deep debt. He soon realized there was no way he would be able to complete the project on his own.

But hey, there?s always murder, right?

Image for postRandi Trimble ? Source: Randi?s House of Angels

Brian?s wife, Randi, was working two jobs to keep the family afloat, but that wasn?t enough for Brian. He was a greedy, self-centered man who wanted more money than he and his wife could reasonably accumulate, so he came up with the idea to kill Randi and collect on a $100,000 life insurance policy.

When Brian approached Norris to recruit him to assist in the murder, Norris jumped at the opportunity. The timing was perfect. Brian promised to split the insurance money with him, and it looked like the film would get made after all.

For a small fee of $20,000, Norris agreed to whack Brian?s wife.

A Bitter Betrayal

If anyone deserved happiness in life, it was Randi Trimble.

Randi?s father severely abused both Randi and Randi?s mother, Nancy Chavez, when Randi was a young girl. [7]

Image for postA young Randi Trimble ? Source: Randi?s House of Angels

Chavez said of her ex-husband:

?My name was ?f-ing bitch? ? that?s how I knew myself.?

After seven years of marriage, Chavez left Randi?s father, whom she refuses to refer to by name to this day.

Randi met Brian when the two of them applied to work at the same daycare center at the New Cumberland Army Depot. They both got the job and soon began dating. Chavez thought Brian was a nice guy ? the very type of husband she wanted her daughter to marry.

Shortly before the couple?s wedding, Randi started to notice unusual patterns in the way her fiancee spoke. Randi was majoring in speech pathology in college, and she knew that Brian needed to be evaluated by a doctor, and when that day came, he was diagnosed with the early signs of multiple sclerosis. Randi was understandably heartbroken.

Image for postRandi Trimble and her mom, Nancy Chavez ? Source:

Chavez told Harrisburg Magazine:

?Once she graduated from college, I sat down with her and I asked Randi if she was sure she wanted to go through with the marriage. I wanted her to know what she?d need to prepare herself for; he could be wheelchair-bound, maybe they couldn?t have children ? everyone was very concerned. With that in mind, she said, ?Mom, I can?t do that. I love this man. I wouldn?t want him to do this to me. I?ll stay with him, this is what my life will be devoted to ? him and my children.? I knew then that she was truly in love with him.?

Image for postBrian and Randi on their wedding day ? Source: Amateur Sleuth

Brian and Randi became Mr. and Mrs. Trimble on September 9, 2000. Things seemed to be going well for the new husband and wife, and it wasn?t long before the couple started to discuss having a baby.

But when Brian told Randi about the movie, and about how Norris wanted everyone involved to invest $5,000 in the film, Randi outright rejected the idea. Brian seemed to drop the subject and everyone went about their lives, even going on a cruise and enjoying family holidays. Little did anyone know that Brian was plotting his wife?s murder the entire time.

Once the evil deed was done, Chavez had Brian over to her house to console him. She said she promised him:

?Brian, I?m going to do anything that I can to take care of you, because that?s what Randi would want, she loved you terribly and we?re going to find out who killed her.?

Image for postPolice tape blocks entry to the Trimble home ? Source: PennLive

Randi?s funeral was attended by none other than Blaine Norris. After hugging Chavez, he sat at the back of the funeral home, right beside Chavez?s brother-in-law.

The Big Moment

Brian and Norris decided to end Randi?s life on January 10, 2003.

On that day, Randi was at work all day, so Brian went out to eat with a group of friends while Norris waited for Randi in the Trimbles? garage, per their prearranged plan. When Randi arrived home, Norris brutally murdered her. [3]

First, Norris strangled Randi. She passed out but didn?t die. [7] So, Norris dragged her into the garage, where he slammed her head into the concrete floor, stabbed her 27 times, and slit her throat.

Brian just wanted his wife gone, but Norris wanted to watch her suffer, first.

Brian returned home, found his wife lying dead in a pool of blood, and played the part of the grieving husband in a phone call to 911.

The Trimble home was trashed. When police arrived, they found overturned furniture throughout the house. It appeared to be a robbery gone wrong, but nothing was taken. Realizing almost immediately that the scene had likely been staged, the police considered Brian a suspect right away.

Now, Norris may have been an honor student in high school, but he must not have been very bright, as the then-25-year-old began sending ?cryptic,? taunting letters to area reporters in an effort to throw investigators off his trail.

Image for postSource: PennLive

Norris and Brian were so clueless as to how to murder someone and make it look like a random crime that Brian sent an Internet link to Norris to the website ?Hit Man Online,? which was a sort of manual for people who wanted to ? you guessed it ? become hitmen. [5]

When questioned by police, Brian admitted to taking part in the murder plot and ratted out Norris. Both men were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, though the prosecution initially sought the death penalty for Norris.

According to Chavez, Brian had been plotting to murder his wife for seven months before she was killed and ?Through Hike: A Ghost Story? simply provided the timing and opportunity to commit the crime. [6]

She told The Sentinel:

?He was very diabolical, able to portray the perfect husband that she wanted and that I wanted for her.?

The $20,000 that Brian used to pay Norris for murdering his wife was actually a nest egg that Randi had accumulated and put aside to prepare her and her husband for the baby that Randi so desperately wanted. [1]

This Was No Crime of Passion

Seven months is the length of time that Brian Trimble plotted his wife?s death. [7] For seven months, Randi Trimble worked two jobs and devoted herself to the care of her husband, but all the while, her husband was working out in his mind how he was going to end her.

According to Chavez, it came to light that Brian frequently put down his wife to other people, telling them that she was controlling and unreasonable, that she never let Brian do anything, and wouldn?t even give him money for lunch.

One day, Norris offered to end Brian?s phony suffering. He offered to kill Randi, both for the money and for the thrill of knowing what it was like to murder someone.

When Randi came home on the night of January 10, 2003, she had no idea what she was walking into. She didn?t stand a chance.

And neither does Brian.

I believe in God?s justice. Perhaps you do, too, or maybe you believe in karma. Either way, Brian Trimble is paying for his crimes by suffering from multiple sclerosis in a prison cell. Prison is a nightmare for anyone, but being debilitated behind bars has to be horrific. He could have been a free man being cared for by an adoring and devoted wife.

Instead, Brian chose to live out the rest of his life in chains, literally and figuratively. He is a sitting duck in prison. God help him if he ever does end up in a wheelchair.

Norris may have done the heavy lifting, but Brian did the betraying. He pretended to be something he wasn?t. No one in Randi?s family ever really knew him, and that hurts as much if not more than the murder itself.

Some people consider the death penalty to be the ultimate punishment for a crime. Me, I find the idea of a debilitated man spending the rest of his life behind bars thinking about how great life could have been to be a much harsher sentence.

Image for postBrian Trimble ? Source: PennLive


  1. PennLive
  2. CrimeOnline
  3. LancasterOnline
  4. The Sentinel
  5. Pocono Record
  6. The Sentinel
  7. Harrisburg Magazine

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