Real Name: Dennis Henry DePue
Aliases: None known
Wanted For: Murder
Missing Since: April 15, 1990
Details: Forty-six-year-old Dennis DePue is wanted for the murder of his forty-eight-year-old estranged wife, Marilynn. He was a property assessor and she was a Coldwater high school guidance counselor. They had been married for several years and raised three children. However, there was great tension in the marriage; after he became withdrawn, he accused her of turning their children against them. She often told friends that she was unhappy and wanted a divorce.
Finally, in 1989, after eighteen years of marriage, Marilynn filed for divorce. She told her attorney that Dennis was trying to ruin her life and would not let her make decisions on her own. He tried to keep the marriage intact; however, the divorce was finalized in December 1989. He was granted biweekly visitation rights, but their children were often reluctant to spend time with him. He was also given access to the guest house, which he used as an office. However, it was believed he used that as an excuse to maintain control over his family. Marilynn later changed the locks on the doors, but he still managed to find a way to enter the home.
On Easter Sunday, April 15, 1990, Dennis arrived at the home to pick up two of their children. Their younger daughter, Julie, had already refused to go with him. When he went inside, their son, Scott, was reluctant to go. When Marilynn tried to talk to him, he became angry and started yelling at her. He then grabbed her and pushed her down the stairs. At the bottom, he continued to beat her, even after their children pleaded with him to stop. Their oldest daughter, Jennifer, ran to a neighbor's house to call the police. Dennis then carried a seriously injured Marilynn back up the stairs. He told their children that he was taking her to the hospital. They, however, never arrived there. An immediate and widespread search began for them.
Later that afternoon, Ray and Marie Thorton were going on a Sunday drive on Snow Perry Road near Coldwater, when a speeding van passed them. They noticed that its license plate began with "GZ", but did not pay much attention until a few minutes later. As they passed an abandoned school, Marie noticed the driver carrying a bloody sheet behind it. Minutes later, the van pulled up behind them and rode their bumper for several miles.
Finally, Ray turned off the highway. They noticed the van pulled off to the side of the road. They turned around and noticed the driver changing the license plate. They also noticed blood on the passenger side door. They decided to return to the school, where they found the bloody sheet in an animal hole. After they contacted the police, they learned that the man they had seen was Dennis.
Tire tracks at the school belonged to Dennis' van and the blood on the sheet was Marilynn's. Based on the evidence, it appeared that he had killed her. However, it wasn't until the next day that this was confirmed: highway workers discovered her body near a deserted road in Bethel Township. She had been shot once in the back of the head.
A few days later, Dennis sent several bizarre, rambling letters to friends and family. In them, he tried to justify Marilynn's death. Altogether, he sent a total of seventeen, postmarked in Virginia, Iowa, and Oklahoma.
- This case first aired on the March 20, 1991 episode.
- It was also featured on the ID show "Man with a Van".
- Some sources spell Marilynn's name as "Marilyn".
- Recently, it has been theorized that the beginning portion of the broadcast was used as an inspiration for the opening scene in the 2001 movie Jeepers Creepers.
Results: Solved. At 8:30 pm on the night of the broadcast, a woman named "Mary" arrived at her home outside Dallas, Texas. Her boyfriend, "Hank Queen", was already there. His van was parked in the driveway, which was out of the ordinary because he usually kept it inside the garage. When she came inside, he told her that his mother was very ill and that he needed to make an emergency trip home. He asked her to make him some sandwiches for the trip. She felt that something else was going on, but was not sure what that was. As he gathered up his clothes and some personal items, he gave her instructions on preparing the food for his trip. After putting his belongings in the van, he said goodbye to her. She could tell something was troubling him; she had a feeling that she would never see him again.
Later that night, Mary was shocked to learn that "Hank" was actually Dennis, and that he had just been featured on the broadcast. She believes that he was watching the show and deliberately keeping her distracted in the kitchen so that she would not see it and that he could leave. Interestingly, she had been suspicious of him in the past, asking a private investigator to look into him. Nothing was found at that time.
One of Mary's friends called the telecenter and provided authorities with a Texas license plate number of Dennis' van. Four hours later, his life came to a violent end just across the Louisiana/Mississippi state border. When Louisiana state troopers spotted Dennis' van, they attempted to pull him over. He led police on a fifteen-mile high-speed chase and broke through two police barricades. Warren County, Mississippi, Sheriff Paul Barrett told his deputies that if the van refused to stop, they should shoot out its front tires. They missed the front ones, but got both back ones. Dennis traveled about a half mile before his van came to a stop. At around 4 am, after firing two shots through his windshield at deputies, and another through an open window, he turned his gun on himself and took his own life. Paul believes that he intended to die that night, either by the deputies or by his own hand.
Dennis was the first fugitive featured on the broadcast to have committed suicide.
- Couple sought - April 16, 1990
- Murder victim died of a gunshot wound - April 18, 1990
- Missing man sought in wife's slaying - April 18, 1990
- Search turns up empty; murder suspect still free - April 20, 1990
- Fugitive murder suspect mailed letters to 7 people - April 27, 1990
- Murder - July 12, 1990
- Police believe letters are from victim's killer - July 17, 1990
- "Unsolved Mysteries" steps into Depue case - March 19, 1991
- Man featured on crime show takes own life - March 21, 1991
- Man Wanted for Michigan Murder, Featured on TV, Dies During Shootout - March 21, 1991
- Man wanted for murder dies in police shootout - March 22, 1991
- Fugitive dies - March 22, 1991
- Case ends in death - March 22, 1991
- Authorities trace Dennis DePue's last actions - March 22, 1991
- Fugitive kills himself after shootout - March 22, 1991
- State fugitive kills himself - March 22, 1991
- Television program unmasks local fugitive - March 24, 1991
- Woman finds boyfriend is murder suspect - March 24, 1991
- TV show reports mystery it aired no longer unsolved - March 28, 1991
- Did 1990 Michigan murder inspire Jeepers Creepers film? - February 15, 2017
- Arson suspected in an abandoned school fire - March 26, 2017
- Dennis DePue: The Real-Life Killer That Inspired Jeepers Creepers - July 1, 2021
- Marilynn and Dennis DePue on Find a Grave
- Dennis DePue on WikiTree