Tag Archives: Mark Twitchell Case

Dates From Hell: Investigation Discovery

MELBOURNE — Gilles Tetreault’s experience of being lured to “Dexter Killer” Mark Twitchell’s kill room under the ruse of meeting a woman is certainly one of the “Dates From Hell” worth featuring on Investigation Discovery.

The new series profiles the young man’s survival story in Edmonton, Canada, during an episode first broadcast on US cable on Wednesday night. (I’m not sure of when or if it will air in Canada, or elsewhere.)

His experience is frightening, unbelievable, and will surely terrify anyone planning on meeting up with somebody they’ve just had a connection with through an online dating website.

But let’s hope this TV snapshot of the case is also the starting point for discussions among those viewers who are hearing of it for the first time.

There is a lot more to this true story explored at-length in The Devil’s Cinema, from the perspective of the killer, the detectives, and the victim, Johnny Altinger, who tragically did not share the same kinds of luck as the man who got away.

Their stories merge, however, through that dating site, in that now infamous garage, and years later, when a courtroom would reveal all.

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Murder feed: Luka Magnotta and Mark Twitchell

MELBOURNE — The police case against fugitive Luka Magnotta has been drawing comparisons to Mark Twitchell, a Dexter-inspired wannabe serial killer whose crimes are explored in my narrative non-fiction book The Devil’s Cinema.

Both were heavy Internet users — especially social media — and were eager self-promoters who ended up documenting their (alleged) crimes.

An element of reality and fantasy had also merged in their lives in very twisted ways. Hollywood fiction likely provided some degree of inspiration for real-life tragedies in both cases. And clearly filmmaking played a central role, too.

Twitchell was far more covert in his killing, however, so this case ventures into different territory on that front. The killer here is seeking out global publicity while Twitchell had global publicity thrust upon him. The motives and techniques used in selecting a victim are completely different as well.

But in any event, both of these strange cases show how a new breed of criminal is thriving in a digital age: the social-media killer.

With rapidly expanding technology that links all of us together instantly, killers are now able to be just as social-media savvy as the rest of us, as I explained in an opinion piece for the Globe and Mail (“Murderers have become online broadcasters. And their audience is us.”).

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Notes on the Devil’s tour

MELBOURNE — The initial tour for The Devil’s Cinema has reached its end with my return to Australia, leaving my book on the Mark Twitchell “Dexter Killer” case in the hands of the first wave of North American readers.

These past few weeks have been a fascinating and jolting experience.

A manuscript grows out of relative secrecy and then seemingly overnight these same words are suddenly appearing in hardcover, stacked on bookstore shelves, boxed up for shipping to people’s homes, and transmitted straight into portable e-readers: Kindle, Nook, and so on.

Authors are then subjected to great extremes while on tour: 4am wake-up calls, back-to-back interviews, then long pauses of nothingness that can quickly plunge into another round of public events and encounters with little to no warning.

But it’s been an absolute pleasure meeting many readers and stumbling into old friends as I walked these well-worn trails of book authors and their publicists.

Sincere thanks must go to a few keen and early readers who have spotted a couple of typos in the first edition, which have now been noted and corrected for all subsequent printings.

Many readers have also been messaging me with further questions.

I’ve answered some of them in a Q and A for Book Lounge, and another for Open Book Toronto. But please feel free to contact me with a question and I’ll try to post responses to the most common questions in future postings.

Until then, here some of the highlights from the tour:

Edmonton, Alberta

I arrived to a fresh snowfall blanketing the city, and this proved to be the best welcome home present I could ask for.

Canadians often complain about the bitter winters, but there is something quite refreshing about seeing snow once again for those of us returning after an extended absence (of course, this novelty quickly vanishes and the reality sets in, especially since it was early spring and the snow should have been long gone).

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