Suspected Killer May Have Copied Showtime's 'Dexter'

Canadian police say the murder of a Canadian man resembles Showtime's "Dexter."

Nov. 14, 2008— -- Authorities in Canada continue to investigate a gruesome killing ripped from the pages of a Hollywood script.

Filmmaker Mark Twitchell, 29, now sits in an Edmonton jail cell, charged with first-degree murder in the disappearance and death of John Brian Altinger.

Edmonton Police are asking the public for help finding a red 2003 Pontiac Grand Am, belonging to Twitchell. Police Det. Mark Anstey told ABC News that authorities are "hoping someone has seen him [Mark Twitchell] dispose of some evidence. ... We believe John Altinger's remains were in that car at some point."

Twitchell will enter a plea later this month. His lawyer has yet to return calls from ABC News.

The two strangers were brought together one October night by a collision of fiction and reality. Edmonton Police allege that Twitchell brought scenes from his own grim and violent screenplay to true life.

In a white, two-car garage in Edmonton's Mills Woods neighborhood, Twitchell spent countless hours putting his scripts to film. In an eight-minute movie short he created, titled "House of Cards," the main character is a violent and twisted vigilante.

"A male killer in the movie poses as a female on an Internet dating site, lures a married man into a garage where the film was being done," detective Anstey said. "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."

In real life, Altinger, a 38-year-old pipeline industry worker, disappeared Oct. 10 after going out to meet what he believed to be a woman he encountered online, police said. Before leaving for his date, Altinger left directions for his destination with a friend.

Days later, police said, friends received an e-mail from Altinger's account, reading, "I've met an extraordinary woman named Jen who has offered to take me on a nice long tropical vacation."

His friends, suspecting he was not the author of the note, soon contacted authorities.

Using the directions left behind, investigators found their way to a white, two-car garage in Edmonton's Mill Woods neighborhood.

Police soon learned the property had been rented by Twitchell. As in "House of Cards," authorities allege that Twitchell posed as Altinger's online romance, set up the fake meeting, attacked and killed his victim and disposed of the body.

The whereabouts of Altinger's body is a mystery but authorities said they have gathered forensic material from the scene of the crime.

"There is a lot of evidence to prove [Altinger] is deceased," detective Anstey told reporters soon after the incident.

On Halloween night, three weeks after Altinger disappeared, Edmonton police charged Twitchell in the killing. They have since interviewed a second man they say was also lured and attacked by Twitchell in the same garage a week prior to Altinger's disappearance.

That victim, whose name has been withheld by investigators, was able to escape his attacker.

"I believe this male entered the garage and was attacked by another male who was wearing a hockey mask," detective Anstey said in a recent news release. "The male was able to break free and run into the lane, being chased by the male in the mask."

Authorities have recovered a black and gold mask they believe to be the one worn by the attacker that night.

Investigators believe "House of Cards" may not have been the lone inspiration behind Altinger's death. Police say Twitchell was an avid viewer of Showtime's hit show "Dexter," in which the lead character, Dexter Morgan, a blood-spatter expert for the Miami-Dade Police Department, exacts revenge on criminals by taking justice into his own hands, killing his victims.

"We have a lot of information that suggests he definitely idolizes Dexter, and a lot of information that he tried to emulate him during this incident," Anstey told The Globe and Mail.

As on the show, the character in Twitchell's film worked for the police. When contacted by ABC News, Showtime had no comment.

Those who know the suspect struggle to understand how he could be capable of the acts authorities allege.

One of Twitchell's neighbors, Debi Banbridge, told CTV that although he was separated from his wife, he lived with her and a baby in Edmonton.

Soon after Twitchell's arrest, Banbridge said, the wife took off. "She said she could never come back to her home to live, that people would be talking about her, pointing fingers, she felt her home and herself tainted by whatever is going on," she said.

Neighbor Chris Durham told CTV, "I was very shocked just like anybody, I think, that came in contact with Mark."

Even seasoned police investigators are left scratching their heads. "This is as bizarre as it gets," detective Anstey said. "Some of the evidence we can't disclose is even more bizarre. Once the trial goes, it will be even more mind-boggling."

The next chapter in the case continues Nov. 26 when Twitchell is expected to enter a plea at an Edmonton provincial court.