What is the best way to get away with murder? Is it to cover your tracks, stay out of the public eye? Or would it be smartest to be part of the investigation?
Such goes the strange story of Jack Unterweger, an Austrian journalist turned serial killer. In 1974, after a lifetime of being in and out of prison for petty crimes he was put away for good for killing an 18-year old girl (by strangling her with her own bra). Placed in prison for the rest of his life, he eventually became a literary sensation from his short stories, poems, plays and even an autobiography (that even was adapted into a film). Authors from around the world rallied for his release- surely a man with such great talents could prove an asset to society, and it was obvious that he was rehabilitated! In 1990 their efforts proved successful, and Jack was set free in Austria.
He killed 6 prostitutes the year after his release.
The cases were never solved, and soon Jack moved to LA to become a crime journalist… and it wasn’t for another whole year that the FBI finally realized that the murders he was reporting on where being committed by the man himself.
Last year John Leake wrote a book about this insane case called Entering Hades (official website here), and Variety reports that Warner Brothers is adapting it for a film. They’ve signed on the director of Flightplan and The Time Traveler’s Wife, Robert Schwentke, for the project. If that seems like a strange choice it shouldn’t, the man also directed 2002’s Tattoo, about a German serial killer with a thing for stealing people’s ink.
Producers Bob Cooper and Richard Saperstein are producing. “Robert, Richard and I want to do a movie that is more than a dark serial killer story,” says Cooper “This is about the power of celebrity, and what happens when this sociopath goes to Los Angeles, a city that is the prototype for reinvention.”
Besides the case detailed in The Devil in the White City (which also has an adaptation on the way!), this is one of the most fascinating true crime stories around. Let’s hope they do it well.