Is Jeepers Creepers real? The real-life murder behind the film

Jeepers Creepers

The release of Jeepers Creepers Reborn has reignited interest in a film series that debuted to a grand reception in 2001. In the film, siblings Jenner and Darry participated in a cat-and-mouse game with the terrifying Creeper, a supernatural being that killed and ate human body parts which then formed part of his own body. 

The first film’s ending set up the equally successful sequel, prequel, and reboot. Given the film’s supernatural elements, it’s challenging to conceive that Jeepers Creepers has real-world inspirations. Before you get alarmed, the Creeper is entirely fictional; however, the creature’s crimes have connections to true crime. 

Jeepers Creepers is loosely based on Dennis DePue’s murder of his ex-wife

In Jeepers Creepers, an old truck aggressively tailgates the car Jenner and Darry are driving in before overtaking the siblings’ vehicle. A little later, they observe the car parked adjacent to an abandoned church, with the driver dumping human bodies into a large pipe. 

Darry and Jenner investigate the pipe and find evidence of unsolved murders in the area. The creature driving the old truck follows the siblings as they flee the area and forces their car off the road. The pair inform authorities, who begin a dangerous search for the Creeper. 

Writer Victor Salva drew this sequence from Dennis DePue’s 1990 murder of his wife. In mid-April 1990, Ray and Marie Thornton were driving along Snow Perry Road in Coldwater, Michigan, when a Chevy truck passed them at high speed.

Later, they encountered the truck parked near an old schoolhouse and saw a man disposing of a sheet drenched in blood. As Ray and Marie looked for a phone to call the police, the Chevy truck pulled up behind them and followed them for a few miles. 

Marie needed to see the truck’s plate again, so they turned and pursued the car. They found the man changing the Chevy’s plates and observed the vehicle’s interior covered in blood. 

By then, police were already looking for Dennis DePue after the disappearance of his ex-wife. It emerged that DePue had shot his ex-wife, dumped her body, and was disposing of the sheet he’d used to wrap his ex-wife when Ray and Marie spotted him. 

Marilynn and Dennis DePue

Dennis evaded capture for a year after starting a new life in Dallas, Texas. He fled after his girlfriend’s friend identified him from an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Four hours after the friend called authorities, Louisiana State Trooper spotted DePue’s truck and initiated a high-speed chase. 

After evading arrest for about 16 miles, Dennis stopped his car and shot himself. He was buried in Lagrange County, Indiana, miles away from his wife’s grave in Oakland County. Michigan. 

Salva used Ray and Marie Thornton’s sworn testimony to craft some scenes in Jeepers Creepers. He completed the movie by incorporating its many fictional elements.