It’s pretty sad that it sometimes seems to take the slightest push to turn a normal person into a murderer. But what’s really sad is being inspired by a TV show to take a human life. In this feature, we’ll spotlight ten slayers who took television as their inspiration to snuff somebody out.
One of the grimmest stories on this list gets special attention because of the age of the perpetrator. Andrew Conley was a 17-year-old boy in Rising Sun, Indiana whose parents obviously didn’t monitor his media intake, because he was a huge fan of the Showtime serial killer drama "Dexter." One day, Andrew locked his hands around his little brother Connor’s neck and strangled him for 20 minutes until he died. When the police found the body in a nearby dumpster, Andrew confessed to the grisly deed, saying that he felt like Dexter was a kindred spirit and the desire to kill, for him, was “like someone craving a hamburger.”
Murderers get their terrible ideas from many different places, but soap operas? That’s what gave young Daniel Bartlam the idea – and the methodology – to murder his own mother. Long-running British soap "Coronation Street" featured a character named John Stape who beats a woman to death with a hammer and then pretends to find her in the wreckage of a train crash. Bartlam told police that a masked intruder had broken into his house, killed his mother and started a fire to erase evidence, but upon interrogation he eventually admitted that he’d copied the plot from the TV show to rid himself of his parent.
One of the most chilling killings on this list came in May 2011, when Jeff Hall was shot to death by his own son, Joseph. The elder Hall was not a good citizen – he was a prominent neo-Nazi leader in his community who was frequently abusive to his wife and children. So when his ten-year-old son happened upon an episode of "Criminal Minds" in which an abused child kills his parent and isn’t jailed for it, the idea was planted in his mind. So one morning, Joseph took a .357 from an open shelf and shot his father once in the ear. He was found guilty and sentenced to incarceration in juvenile detention until he turns 20.
It’s not surprising that the show that’s best represented on this list is the one featuring a serial killer as its protagonist. One of the most unusual killers inspired by "Dexter" was a woman in Sweden, who stabbed her 49-year-old father straight through the heart with a knife. The pair had been drinking at a bar when they “came to an agreement” that she should kill him, and when investigators came to arrest her she told them that Dexter was her inspiration, as she’d patterned the kill after his ritual and even researched the best way to put a knife in the heart on the Internet before doing the deed.
Mark and James Baigent
Shows like "CSI" are a buffet of ideas for sociopaths. With a new murder presented every week, it shouldn’t be a surprise that eventually someone in the real world will claim one for their own. Siblings Mark and James Baigent watched an episode of the popular show where the killer chopped off his victim’s head and hands and buried them in separate places, then decided to do the same to their half-brother Andrew Scanlan, who they blamed for the death of their mother. With an accomplice, the Baigent boys stabbed him, cut him up, and then used sticky tape and a fluorescent police light to make sure their car was free of evidence, just like on the show. Unfortunately for the brothers, phone records and a strong motive did them in and they were given life sentences for the grisly murder.
'Valley of the Wolves' Killers
It’s not just English-language TV that inspires copycat killers. One of the most popular shows in Turkey is "Kurtlar Vadisi," which translates as "The Valley Of The Wolves." It’s about a government agent who gets plastic surgery and infiltrates the Eastern European mafia as a vigilante, and ran for 97 episodes and a feature film. The series aired all over the globe, and two teenage boys in Jordan were so inspired by it that they set out to start a vigilante group of their own. Unfortunately, their first act was to interrogate a taxi driver and then murder him when he wouldn’t cooperate. When police picked them up and they confessed to the crime, it set off riots in the city of Mabada.
AMC’s "Breaking Bad" was all about normal people in criminal situations, so it’s not surprising that an average Joe tried to mimic Walter White’s chemistry action. In the show’s second episode, Walt and Jesse dispose of the body of a drug dealer named Emilio by dissolving it with hydrofluoric acid. It also destroys Jesse’s bathtub in the process, but Washington man Jason Hart wasn’t going to make the same mistake. After he strangled his girlfriend Reagan Jolley in a domestic dispute, he placed her body in a plastic tub filled with acid in the garage. Cops found a "Breaking Bad" DVD in his player at home that was cued up to the exact episode.
The third of the killers on this list who used "Dexter" as a template, Canadian man Mark Twitchell is notable for the attention to detail he gave to imitating his on-screen idol. An aspiring horror filmmaker, Twitchell lured a man named John Brian Altinger to a “kill room” his garage using a fake online dating profile. He then murdered and dismembered him, disposing of the corpse in black plastic garbage bags just like Dexter. He was planning a trio of murders, but police caught him in 2008 and convicted him of the crime. Amazingly enough, he has a TV in his jail cell and caught up on all the episodes of "Dexter" that he missed.
Victor Bautista and Matthew Montejo
Oddly enough, a good number of these killings involve kids murdering their parents. I guess it’s true that parking your little ones in front of the boob tube isn’t good for them. Inspired by a scene in "The Sopranos," California siblings Victor Bautista and Matthew Montejo killed their mother, chopped off her head and hands and dumped her body in a mountain ravine. They’d first tried to dispose of the corpse in a dumpster at a construction site but were chased off by workers. Bautista readily confessed to his actions when police picked him and his brother up. Just a tip, guys: Tony never would have squealed.
Next: The 10 Creepiest Kid's Shows From Around the World
Here’s another case inspired by an overseas TV show. "CID" is one of the most popular dramas airing on India’s Sony Entertainment Television, running for 16 years as of press time. The series follows a team of detectives in Mumbai as they investigate a variety of cases. In 2012, three long-time fans of the show decided to take inspiration from the bad guys and kidnap one of their classmates to demand ransom from his father. He paid, but the perpetrators strangled the boy to death and left his body on a hill in Kolkata. Just like on the show, the police solved the case and arrested the trio.