The Clovehitch Killer: Is The Clovehitch Files a Real Book?

With Duncan Skiles in the director’s chair, ‘The Clovehitch Killer’ revolves around Tyler Burnside as he uncovers the possibility of his father being a serial killer. In a small Kentucky town, ten women went missing at the hands of the so-called Clovehitch Killer, who got his name after the eponymous knot he ties around his crime scene. A decade after the disappearances, Tyler finds photographs and drawings around his house, which point to his father being involved with suspicious activity. He joins up with local sleuth and teen pariah Kassi, who has been conducting a private investigation into the Clovehitch Killer.

Kassi refers to ‘The Clovehitch Files,’ a book written by Barbara Donnelly, who used to work for the police. The book contains all the information the police collected on the Clovehitch Killer over the years. Enthusiasts of the movie may seek to dig deeper into the ‘The Clovehitch Files’ and see if any real-life versions of the book exist.

The Clovehitch Files Draws Parallels With a Real Book

Since the Clovehitch Killer is actually based on the BTK Killer, Dennis Rader, the Clovehitch Files is a fictional storytelling tool included in the film. The book symbolizes the extent to which the killer has impacted the community of the Kentucky town. The number of gruesome crimes he commits shakes the community to its core, forcing many of the citizens into action. People like Kassi and Barbara Donnelly are shown to compile their own information on the killer, relying on police files and publicly available information to carry out their own investigations.

In real life, a similar book was written on the BTK Killer by lawyer Robert Beattie, called ‘Nightmare in Wichita: The Hunt For The BTK Strangler.’ Beattie began writing the book by talking to police officials and investigators with first hand experience of the case. Much like ‘The Clovehitch Files,’ his book contains primary sources and details the killer’s crimes and methodology.

The book was being written at a time when the BTK killer was still on the loose after having committed at least ten murders. In a twist of fate, Beattie’s book became pivotal in ultimately catching the serial killer. As the lawyer was researching his crimes in the early 2000s, Rader heard about the upcoming book. Hungry for attention, he sent more information on his atrocities to a media house via floppy disk, hoping it would be included in the book. The floppy disk ended up giving away Rader’s identity to the police through its metadata and became the key lead that led to Rader’s arrest.

‘Nightmare in Wichita: The Hunt For The BTK Strangler’ was released just as the BTK was captured and faced trial, debuting at number four on The New York Times bestseller list. Thus, while ‘The Clovehitch Files’ is a fictional book confined to the film, it may have drawn inspiration from Beattie’s work, which also focused on compiling police data and incidentally led to the capture of Dennis Rader.

Read More: Where Was The Clovehitch Killer Filmed?