Fan Film, Fan Films

Fan Film Murder Suspect Hits Court Wednesday

Mark Twitchell

Mark Twitchell

As reported on FCT yesterday, Mark Twitchell, a Star Wars fan filmmaker in Edmonton, Canada, was arrested on Halloween for allegedly killing a man. The suspect was originally expected to appear in court yesterday, but will now go before a judge on Wednesday.

In late September, Twitchell filmed a short horror movie, House of Cards, in which a man is lured to a garage, stunned and subsequently tortured into divulging computer passwords to his bank accounts and social networking pages, before being murdered and dismembered. Police allege that a few weeks later, Twitchell essentially acted out the flick in real life, with Johnny Altinger as his victim. Although no body has been found, Altinger has been missing since October 10 and police believe they have enough evidence to charge Twitchell with first degree murder.

Although Twitchell didn’t appear in court Monday, new facts about the case emerged in the Canadian media.

The Edmonton Sun noted that the suspect was a married father of two, while the Calgary Herald quoted an unnamed friend who said the marriage had been essentially over for a while, and that Twitchell’s wife was making plans to leave him for good.

The Sun also quoted Lynda Warren, a resident who lives near the garage, who reported that its windows had been covered over in recent times: “It is like a horror movie. There was always sawing going on and we just thought they were building. And we don’t know—maybe they were building.”

The filmmaker may well have been shooting his film, however. The CBC TV network quoted Detective Anstey, a spokesman for the Edmonton police, who confirmed that the film was called House of Cards and that it had been shot as planned in late September: “It was actually filmed and there are actors; we interviewed the actors. We’ve interviewed everybody, and that film actually did take place.”

Police found this hockey mask in Twitchell's home.

Police found this mask in Twitchell's home.

A key aspect of the case was an unknown man who got away after being assaulted in the area by someone in a painted hockey mask on October 3. The incident was reported to police at the time by witnesses; with the emergence of the Altinger case, Edmonton police put word out in the media that they hoped to find the victim and speak with him.

Monday evening, the National Post reported that police had interviewed the man, who contacted the authorities over the weekend. A hockey mask matching the description of the one worn in the assault was found in Twitchell’s home.

Twitchell had been slowly making a Star Wars fan film, Secrets of the Rebellion for a few years, and was fairly well known in fan film circles. Accordingly, the reaction from the Star Wars fan film community was initially one of incredulity. “There’s something about the entire thing that screams ‘viral publicity stunt,’ given the accused’s flair for the dramatic in self-promotion,” remarked one poster on TheForce.Net’s fan film forum, while another noted, “I hope this is a joke (odds say it is). If it’s not… great, just what we need, another stigma.”

As news reports made it increasingly clear that the morbid tale was true, doubt turned to shock and sadness. One Canadian poster wrote, “To think I met the guy and know people who worked with him on SOTR. I feel sorry for his wife and kids and the family of the victim.” Another forum poster wrote, perhaps only half-joking, “None of you are ever invited to my house.”

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