Documentary seeks answers in murder case

“Missing Micah,” a documentary based upon the disappearance and death of 26-year-old Micah Pate, and produced by mass communication instructor Ginger Blackstone, highlights Micah Pate’s life and ponders the underlying causes of her death. 

Micah Pate, a 2006 graduate of the College of Nursing at Harding University, was killed on April 30, 2009 near her home in Bartlett, Tenn. Her husband, Thomas Pate, pled guilty to her death, saying it was an accident. 

Lou Butterfield, retired Harding professor and executive producer of the “Missing Micah” documentary, runs a nonprofit organization for Christian Broadcasting and his latest series dealt with pornography addictions. Butterfield said his desire to produce “Missing Micah” began with Micah Pate’s father, Dennis Rine, a Harding Academy teacher, telling him to read her prayer journal. Butterfield said that inside of the prayer journal she mentioned her husband’s pornography addiction around 8–10 times.

“When I saw that, I wondered how much that addiction and his drinking played into her death,” Butterfield said. “So, I suggested to the Rines that we make a documentary on the life and death of Micah. My interest was especially from the addiction standpoint.”

In addition to pornography, Butterfield said they found in Micah Pate’s journal mention of Thomas Pate’s other love interest. Telephone records show that Thomas Pate contacted this woman numerous times the week of Micah Pate’s death, and his last call to her was on his way to the police station. 

Butterfield said they plan to show evidence from the case and want to be fair to both sides. 

“We play to the drama, because it was dramatic,” Butterfield said. “We want it to be interesting, but we are not fabricating any evidence. We did not go into this to prove that Thomas killed Micah, but we went into it to find out what effects his addictions had in him killing her, accidental or on purpose.”

According to Blackstone, they are letting interviews from friends, family members of both sides, the authorities and even Thomas Pate himself tell the story. Blackstone will be using Micah Pate’s prayer journal entries to piece together the rest.

“There are so many layers to this,” Blackstone said. “There is redemption, but then there is also ‘What went wrong?’ Something obviously went wrong, but what was it?”

Blackstone said, accident or not, lessons can be learned from Micah Pate’s death and she plans on portraying those lessons in the documentary. 

“If it was an accident, what can we as Christians take away from this? What can we learn?” Blackstone said. “Sadly though, it is a mystery and we may never really know what happened.”

“Missing Micah” will premiere at Harding Academy on April 27. On April 29, the documentary will be shown again on the Malco stage theater in Bartlett, Tenn. Admission will be free of charge, but donations are welcome. For more information on the premieres visit