This is the story of Dennis DePue who’s true crime was the inspiration for the Jeepers Creepers killer, a horror movie that has a small, but loyal fan base.
Plenty of horror movies have been inspired by true crimes and actual events over the years. Here at AHistoryOfMystery, we cover them all, from Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs and Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s inspiration taken from Ed Gein to The Exorcist getting its from Roland Doe’s real-life exorcism and even Wes Craven getting his inspiration for the Springwood slasher (Freddy Krueger) from A Nightmare on Elm Street being inspired by a young boy who died in a nightmare after his family escaped the Cambodian Killing Fields.
On Easter Sunday, 1990, Ray and Marie Thornton took a drive together, but after turning onto an isolated country road, they noticed a fast-approaching truck in the rear view mirror.
The couple watch as the truck raced up behind them, then overtook them and sped off. As they drove further up the road, they saw the van parked at the side of an abandoned school and the man appeared to be round the back as the couple glimpsed him waving a bloody sheet.
They continued to drive on, but the truck raced up behind them again and rode their bumper for a couple of miles before they pulled off down a side road.
Wanting to investigate further, the couple did a u-turn and saw the truck pulled up on the side of the road with the driver changing the license plate. With the passenger door left wide open, Marie noticed what looked like blood splatter all over the inside of the door panel.
Suspecting he’d done something, and with him busy on the side of the road changing the plate, the couple returned to the school yard in search of the bloody sheet.
After walking through the rough terrain, they discovered the sheet and verified it was in fact covered in blood. The couple immediately left the scene to call the police.
Upon police attending the scene and forensics later examining the sheet, it was discovered that the blood belonged to Marilynn Depue, husband of Dennis Depue.
The couple had been married for eighteen years, but after tension in the marriage, Marilynn filed for divorce, which was granted and finalized in December 1989.
After the divorce, the couple fought, even in front of their three children. On Easter Sunday, 1990, the two had an argument that resulted in Dennis pushing Marilynn down the stairs and beating her on the floor in front of their three children. Shortly afterwards, Dennis announced to the children that he was going to take her to the hospital, but they never made it there.
Dennis was also in a relationship with another woman named Mary who lived in Dallas, Texas, but she only knew her boyfriend as Hank Queen and his true name was apparently never shared with her by Dennis.
Dennis (Hank) asked Mary to make him some sandwiches for a road trip, claiming he had to leave as his mother was sick. Mary noticed the broadcast on television for a police hunt after discovering the body of Marilynn DePue, an announcement that Dennis tried to distract her from.
While she made him some sandwiches, Mary spotted him putting several items in a suitcase before saying goodbye and leaving in his van.
Later that evening, Mary discovered that Hank was in fact Dennis DePue, the man police were looking for after being suspected of murdering his wife. One of Mary’s friends called the telecenter and gave DePue’s Texas license plate number to them.
Louisiana state troopers soon spotted Dennis’ van, but in an attempt to try and pull him over, the wanted man fled and led police into Mississippi on a 15 mile high-speed chase.
DePue broke through police barriers in an attempt to escape, prompting deputies to shoot his back tires out, forcing him to end the game of cat and mouse. After aiming at deputies and firing three shots, he turned the gun on himself, pulling the trigger and shooting himself on the spot.
Though Dennis DePue committed suicide, his crime and story later inspired the 2001 horror movie, Jeepers Creepers. A creature that feeds every 23 years and hunts anyone it can get its hands on.
If you look at the abandoned school, as well as the country road that Ray and Marie Thornton were driving on when they noticed DePue, it’s clear Victor Salva, the director of Jeepers Creepers, took inspiration from the story. Even the description of the rusty old truck that chased them can been found at the start of the movie.
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