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Crime News Serial Killers

As The New Season Of 'Dexter' Nears, Who Are The Real Life Killers That Inspired (Or Were Inspired By) The Show?

With a new season of "Dexter" set to begin streaming on 11/7, here are some true crime connections from the show's past seasons. 

By Gina Tron
Dennis Radar Dexter G Showtime

As “Dexter” fans await the much anticipated new episodes season of the show on Nov. 7, it's time to revisit the true crime connections of the past seasons.

Dexter: New Blood” will revive the original series with ten new episodes, and will be set ten years after the last season, which concluded in 2013. The show, which first premiered in 2006, follows Dexter Morgan, played by Michael C. Hall who is also set to return in the all new limited series.  

And while the show was and is obviously fictional, that doesn’t mean it didn’t pull from some very real serial killers.

“BTK Killer” Dennis Rader 

The “Trinity Killer,” featured in season 4 of the original series, was a particularly ruthless murderer. That completely checks out as he was based on the true life cold-blooded serial killer Dennis Rader, Screen Rant noted in August.

Rader, known as the BTK killer (short for his method of binding, torturing, and killing his victims), ruthlessly murdered 10 people in Kansas between 1974 and 1991 while maintaining the guise of a family man and respected member of the community. Married with two kids, he was also a Boy Scout troop leader and the president of the local Christ Lutheran Church.

In 1974 he murdered a large portion of a family the Otero family in his community for his own sick sexual satisfaction. The children, Josephine and Josephine were just 11 and 9, respectively.

Rader became notorious for taunting the media about his crimes, and that tendency to want credit for those crimes ultimately led to his capture. Rader completely stopped his killing spree, which is atypical of most serial killers. Still he couldn’t help himself from seeking out infamy. In 2004, he mailed a floppy disk to police that authorities were able to extract a DNA sample from. 

Dennis Rader G

The “Trinity Killer,” played by John Lithgow in "Dexter", also pretended to be a normal family man who remained under the radar for 30 years. The serial murderer was very involved with his church and community, which helped shield him from capture. In the show, he's the leader of a Christian Four Walls charity while BTK was voted president of his Christ Lutheran Church council. He also, like Rader, had no issue killing children. The Trinity Killer murders a 10-year-old boy in the show.

Pedro Rodrigues Filho

Pedro Rodrigues Filho is a Brazilian serial killer that influenced the creation of Dexter Morgan. Why? Because he also murdered other murderers and criminals. The vigilante was sentenced for 71 murders but he claimed to have killed about 100 people, a Brazilian outlet Folha De S.Paulo reported in 2018.

But many of the so-called criminal victims were hardly violent or dangerous. For example, at 14, he apparently claimed someone who fired his father over unsubstantiated claims the dad was stealing food, LAD Bible reported this year. He then went on to kill the actual food thief. 

Criminologist Ilana Casey maintains that Pedrinho was not a vigilante but an avenger who targeted people that challenged his own code of ethics, Folha De S.Paulo reported.

Despite killing a large quantity of people, Brazilian law prevents any criminal from serving more than 30 years. He was released from prison in 2018.

Mark Twitchell

This murderer didn't influence any characters in "Dexter." Rather, the show was an apparent source of inspiration for the killer. Mark Twitchell, also dubbed "The Dexter Killer," is one of Canada’s more notorious murderers in recent history because of the disturbing way he blurred the line between fiction and non-fiction, his obsession with "Dexter" included. The aspiring filmmaker made a short movie called "House of Cards" about a male killer who “poses as a female on an Internet dating site, lures a married man into a garage where the film was being done," a detective told ABC News in 2008. "That male is knocked unconscious and duct taped to a chair. Info about his bank accounts and passwords on his computer are all solicited from him before he is decapitated and his body cut up."

And that’s pretty much exactly what Twitchell did to John Brian Altinger. Twitchell lured Altinger to a garage in Edmonton after posing as a woman looking for a date on PlentyOfFish. He then killed and dismembered him. 

Twitchell was so obsessed with the show “Dexter" that he ran a “Dexter” Facebook fan page where he wrote about the episodes as if he was Dexter and even detailed his own crimes. 

Steve Lillebuen, a reporter who covered the case for the Edmonton Journal before writing a book on the subject entitled “The Devil's Cinema,” told the St. Albert Today, "The people who were reading his Facebook page were thinking it was just a Dexter fan and were not realizing his posts were actually referring to real life incidents. So there was a lot of, was it real, was it fake, and where is that line?" 

Twitchell was subsequently found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

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