The Michigan Murder Story that Inspired a Hollywood Horror Film


By: Jon Corrigan

Do you remember the chase scene from the 2001 horror film Jeepers Creepers? It turns out that wasn’t from the mind of a Hollywood writer, but inspired by a 1990 true event which occurred in Coldwater, Michigan.

According to Only in Michigan, Ray and Marie Thornton were on a Sunday drive when they were passed by a speeding van.

The couple were playing a game where they created words from letters on license plates – similar to what the characters did in Jeepers Creepers – and Marie caught ‘GZ’ on plate before the van disappeared down the road.

A few minutes later, the Thornton’s passed an old school house where they noticed both the van and a man holding a bloody sheet. They kept driving, but it wasn’t long before the van caught up.

When they pulled over to let the van pass, the van pulled over too. They turned their car around and saw the man changing his license plate – the open van door was reportedly covered in blood.

The story was featured on a 1991 episode of Unsolved Mysteries. The murderer had evaded capture for a year, but fled once the show aired.

His name was Dennis Depue. He had killed his wife and Ray & Marie had seen him burying her body.

Depue eventually shot himself during a standoff with police.

More from Jon Corrigan
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