Did 1990 Michigan murder inspire 'Jeepers Creepers' film?

Is 2001 horror flick based on Michigan crime?

Screenshot/Jeepers Creepers Trailer

DETROIT – Is the 2001 horror flick "Jeepers Creepers" inspired by a gruesome 1990 Michigan murder?

In 1990, on Easter Sunday in Coldwater, Michigan, Marilyn DePue, a high school counselor vanished under suspicious circumstances.

DePue's husband, Dennis, was immediately the prime suspect.

They had a rocky marriage, and when she filed for divorce - he snapped. DePue assaulted his wife in front of their three children and then took her away.

She was later murdered by a gunshot to the back of her head. He left her body behind an abandoned church and fled Michigan.

The case was featured on "Unsolved Mysteries" on March 20, 1991. Just a day or so after the broadcast, DePue was located in Dallas under the alias Hank Queen.

He fled when he saw himself being profiled, leading police on a lengthy chase, eventually ending in Mississippi.

Here is an excerpt from an Associated Press report on the chase in 1991:

Dennis Depue, 47, was found slumped behind the wheel of his van about 4 a.m., only moments after he had fired a .357-caliber Magnum at Warren County deputies and Vicksburg police during a chase that began in Louisiana, Sheriff Paul Barrett said.

''My wife and I had watched the TV program about him and the next morning I am with other officers firing into his van,'' said Barrett. ''I'd say that's not going to happen every day.''

Abbott said Depue's case was featured on the NBC weekly program ''Unsolved Mysteries'' Wednesday night and we ''are following very closely what happened down there.''

Barrett said a preliminary examination indicated Depue had died of a bullet wound that entered his mouth and came out the back of his head.

''That means it was a suicide because our bullets would not have gone in that direction,'' he said.

''The van was full of clothes and boxes and our bullets were not getting to him,'' the sheriff said.
He said an officer rushed the van when the shooting stopped and opened the driver's side door, only to find Depue dead ''with the .357 in his left hand and his thumb on the trigger.''

Although the crime was horrendous, it was the testimony of two eyewitnesses who saw him dump the body that may connect the events to "Jeepers Creepers."

While driving on a Michigan road, Ray and Marie Thornton spotted DePue committing the crime, only to find themselves being followed by DePue himself, who tailed their van for several miles.

In the 2001 Victor Salva film, the opening scene almost directly mirrors a re-enactment of the testimony from the "Unsolved Mysteries" broadcast. (See the comparison video below)

Salva has never cited the story as an inspiration to the film, or even the episode of "Unsolved Mysteries," but it the video speaks for itself.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.