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Every episode of the Jessica Biel produced Freeform TV series Cruel Summer gives a little more background on Martin Harris (Blake Lee). Before he kidnapped Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt), he talked to her numerous times and groomed her. At one point in Cruel Summer Episode 5, the assistant principal told Kate that he mistook her for an adult. What does Martin Harris have to do with the mystery of who Annabelle is?

Blake Lee as Martin Harris in Cruel Summer
‘Cruel Summer’ Blake Lee as Martin Harris | Bill Matlock/Getty Images

How did Martin Harris die in ‘Cruel Summer’?

Viewers found out how Martin Harris died in Cruel Summer Episode 1. At the very end of the episode, in a 1994 clip, Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) and her parents, Cindy (Sarah Drew) and Greg Turner (Michael Landes), watch a breaking news report. 

“Tonight’s top story, missing teenager Kate Wallis was rescued today, and her abductor has been killed in a deadly shootout,” the reporter announces. “And in a shocking and disturbing turn of events, Kate Wallis’ alleged kidnapper was Martin Harris, who was the assistant principal at Skylin High School in Texas.”

As far as viewers understand, Martin Harris died on June 21, 1994, as Jeanette and Jamie Henson (Froy Gutierrez) returned home from Jeanette’s birthday celebration. Vincent Fuller (Allius Barnes) heard the gunshot and came outside to ask Jeanette and Jamie if they heard it as well. Jamie insisted that it was a car backfiring; however, we know that it was the gunshot from Martin Harris’ home.

Kate Wallis mentions Annabelle in her therapy tapes

In Cruel Summer Episode 4, we found out more details about Martin Harris and Annabelle when Kate listened to her old therapy tapes from 1994. Kate told a story around the campfire to her parents in 1995 about a girl named “Annabelle.” The story sounded very similar to what happened to Kate when Martin Harris abducted her. At first, viewers thought Annabelle was another name for Kate or an alternate personality she created. However, later, when she listened to her therapy tapes from Sylvia Parks (Lee Eddy), things sounded a little different.

“Things got worse, much worse,” Kate told Sylvia. “He came downstairs right before I was rescued, and something was different. Something was wrong — that was when I met Annabelle.”

“Who was Annabelle?” Sylvia asked.

“I don’t know,” Kate responded. “I can’t remember.”

Who is Annabelle on ‘Cruel Summer’?

One new Cruel Summer fan theory about Martin Harris and Annabelle could have some truth to it.

“So, I have another theory, which is that Martin killed his father to defend himself from prolonged abuse,” one viewer wrote on Reddit. “Martin created the split personality of Annabelle to cope with having to kill, and his family swept the abuse and the incident under the rug and publicly claimed it as a suicide. Thus, Kate only meets Annabelle on the last day of her captivity because Martin only brings out Annabelle when he has to kill, a decision he likely came to because he realized the captivity had no end in sight.”


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Some viewers think if Martin Harris is Annabelle, the writers are not very creative. The fans pointed out that it is a tired TV trope. 

“I really hope that Annabelle isn’t a split personality thing,” another fan added. “Dissociation and DID are real responses to trauma, but it’s lazy writing. I’m hoping Annabelle is a gun that ties into Martin’s father’s death. I feel like there’s a plot reason Martin tells Kate about his father.”

Many fans feel that if Annabelle isn’t Martin’s split personality emerging, then it’s his gun or a former student.

Viewers find out more when Cruel Summer Episode 6 airs on May 18, 2021, on Freeform.