Good news for those of you who are into serial killers, graphic novels, graphic novels based on serial killers, or movies based on graphic novels based on serial killers: Variety has reported that actor Michael Sheen is set to make his directorial debut as well as star in Green River Killer from QC Entertainment.
It's a passion project for Sheen, who also wrote the screenplay, which landed on the Black List last year. For context, here's a snippet of a script reading from the Black List:
The script was based on the Eisner Award-winning graphic novel Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen and artist Jonathan Case, which was in itself based on the story of Jensen's father, Tom Jensen, who spent two decades hunting the killer.
The story of the Green Way Killer is a truly shocking one. Born Gary Leon Ridgway in 1949, Ridgway would go on to become the most prolific serial killer in American history, murdering at least 49 women between the 1980s and '90s. Today, we know there are a number of factors and patterns that, if developed in early childhood, indicate a much higher likelihood of someone growing up to be a serial killer. From an early age, Ridgway checked many of those boxes, including
1.) He suffered childhood abuse and neglect
An exceptionally high number of serial killers have been found to have suffered some sort of abuse in childhood, whether sexual, physical, or emotional, and it affected them during this developmental stage to the point of permanence. Ridgway was privy to his parents' violent arguments, and his mother was domineering and emotionally and sexually abusive.
2.) He did poorly in school
Despite their intelligence, or lack thereof, most serial killers have a history of performing poorly in school. Ridgway was no exception, with extremely poor grades, perhaps due to his below average IQ, or troubled home life. His fellow students didn't necessary bully or torment him, but rather, they treated him as a nonentity, a largely forgettable boy that drifted along.
3.) He was a bed wetter
Bed wetting is also another factor that has been tied to multiple serial killers. Ridgway wet the bed well into his teens, and his mother's way of handling it furthered the damage. When she discovered he'd wet the bed again, she'd march her teenage son naked into the bathroom to bathe him. It both embarrassed and strangely aroused Ridgway, leading to the next:
4.) He had recurring fantasies
Understandably, serial killers are obsessive-compulsive, building obsessive fantasies throughout their lives that end up being acted out through ritualistic killing. The combination of Ridgway's mother's domineering personality and habit of crossing inappropriate physical boundaries with her teenage son caused him to have recurring fantasies of a sexual and violent nature about his mother.
5.) He escalated
Animal cruelty is another regular hallmark of a serial killer's childhood. Most serial killers work their way up to the murder of a human, and their violent tendencies will be acted out in other, smaller ways. Usually, they escalate: First animal cruelty, then animal killing, then the abuse or murder of a child. When Ridgway was 16, he committed his first murder: a six-year-old boy that he lured into the woods and then stabbed in the liver. Though the boy survived, Ridgway later remembered walking away laughing while saying, "I always wondered what it would be like to kill someone."
Ridgway confessed to more than 70 murders, and investigators believe the number is probably closer to 100. His method of operation was, like most serial killers, very consistent, with a pattern and routine he returned to again and again. Ridgway targeted vulnerable women, mainly prostitutes, first gaining their trust by showing them a picture of his son. In most cases, after having sex with the prostitute, he'd then strangle her, but after a few victims fought back and left marks on his body, he started strangling them with ligatures.
The vast majority of the bodies were left in wooded areas near the Green River, hence his nickname. While police were aware of the dump sites, it was actually another famed serial killer, Ted Bundy, who tipped police off to one other aspect of Ridgway's pattern on a hunch: Ridgeway would regularly return to the dump sites with the bodies to have sex with the corpses.
He was caught and arrested in 2001 at the Kenworth truck factory where he worked after his DNA was linked to four of the murders. Currently, he is serving a life sentence without parole after working out a plea bargain with prosecutors in exchange for telling them the location of his other victims.
There is no word yet on when Michael Sheen's movie adaptation will be hitting theaters, but with such a highly sought-after script, it will likely go into production sooner rather than later.
Have you read Green River Killer: A True Detective Story? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!