The Disturbing True Story Of The Killer Who Inspired Jeepers Creepers

"Jeepers Creepers" was a hit horror movie in 2001 that made over $59.2 million during its original release, per Box Office Mojo. Directed by Victor Salva, it told the story of a brother and sister being stalked by a demonic, flesh-eating creature nicknamed The Creeper who embarks upon an eating spree every 23 years. It's hard to imagine that such an outlandish premise could be at all inspired by real-life events, but all evidence points to this being the case, despite Salva never acknowledging it.

As reported by iHorror, in 1990 a man named Dennis DePue shot and killed his estranged wife Marilynn in the town of Battle Creek, Michigan. He then put her body in his car, drove to an abandoned schoolhouse, and dumped her behind the building. Eyewitnesses Ray and Marie Thorton were out for a drive and noticed DePue behind the schoolhouse. DePue spotted them, too, and proceeded to creepily follow them in his van for several miles. The Thortons reported DePue and his van to the authorities. 

A year later, the television show "Unsolved Mysteries" did a story on DePue, who at that point was missing, as he was able to elude law enforcement. As is its style, the program included reenactments within their story, including one of DePue chasing the Thortons in his van.

"Jeepers Creepers" and "Unsolved Mysteries"

Ten years later, "Jeepers Creepers" was released, and the opening scene, in which The Creeper is spotted by a pair of siblings out for a drive and reacts by menacingly following them in a van, is markedly similar to the "Unsolved Mysteries" reenactment (a comparison of the two scenes is available on YouTube.)

Mere hours after Dennis DePue was featured on "Unsolved Mysteries," he fled the Dallas, Texas home of his girlfriend "Mary," who later spoke about the experience to "Unsolved Mysteries," available on YouTube, telling her he had to visit his sick mother. Later that night, "Mary" realized that the man she knew as Hank Queen was actually Dennis DePue. Her friend called in the license plate number to the authorities, and DePue was soon spotted by state troopers, but he refused to stop and led them on a high-speed chase. After officers shot out his tires, DePue shot at them three times before turning his gun on himself and committing suicide. 

As for the original "Unsolved Mysteries" segment that seemingly inspired the opening scene of "Jeepers Creepers," Victor Salva has never mentioned it as an inspiration for his film; per iHorror, he has credited the Steven Spielberg movie "Duel" as an influence but has reportedly never mentioned DePue or "Unsolved Mysteries."