Are Dan Lawson and Colin McGregor Inspired by Actual Killers?

Terry McDonough’s action thriller film ‘Damaged’ revolves around Scottish police officer Glen Boyd and Chicago-based detective Dan Lawson’s efforts to capture a serial killer in Edinburg. Boyd seeks Lawson’s assistance since the killer’s modus operandi mirrors the crimes committed by a murderer investigated by the American detective. The Scottish cop’s attempts to unravel the mystery behind the killings lead him to the discovery that there are two killers under his nose and one of them is none other than Lawson. Colin McGregor, the other killer, is merely a copycat who has been imitating the murders Lawson had committed in his country!

The Creation of the Killers

Dan Lawson and Colin McGregor are fictional serial killers without any real-life counterparts. Gianni Capaldi, who wrote ‘Damaged’ with Koji Steven Sakai and Paul Aniello, was inspired by several serial killer movies to craft the characters and their narratives. His love for David Fincher’s ‘Seven’ and ‘Zodiac’ is evident in the way the killers operate and commit murders in the crime drama. John Doe’s murders in ‘Seven’ are based on the Christian concept of the seven deadly sins, which are similar to the murders McGregor commits as a religious maniac who wants to cleanse his victims through death. The signs and clues he leaves behind are guaranteed to remind the viewers of the cryptic clues the Zodiac killer leaves behind in ‘Zodiac.’

Even though McGregor is not based on a real copycat killer, he does resemble Heriberto “Eddie” Seda, who is infamous as the copycat of the Zodiac killer. Seda allegedly admired the Zodiac killer like McGregor admired Lawson. The signs the religious killer leaves behind for the police officers can be paralleled with the codes Seda sent to the cops and media. While the real-life killer chose his victims based on their zodiac signs, McGregor follows a similar pattern, selecting his victims based on their faith. Seda, according to reports, was also a “preacher” who spoke about good and evil and God and Devil to drug dealers. His religious background can be compared with the religious cult of McGregor.

Lawson, on the other hand, is not drastically different from the numerous serial killers who used their profession as a police officer to hide their murders. One of the most infamous murderers who was a cop while committing crimes is Joseph James DeAngelo, who worked as a police officer between 1973 and 1979. During the same time, he did commit multiple murders and several rapes. After committing the murders, Lawson decapitated and cut the dead bodies of his victims, reminding us of Mikhail Popkov, a Russian serial killer who is known as “The Werewolf” since he mutilated the bodies of his targets. Like Lawson, Popkov was also a police officer.

Another aspect that connects Lawson and Popkov is the motive behind their murders. The fictional killer commits murders after learning about the infidelity of his partner, who cheats on him with his colleague. Similarly, Popkov accused his wife of being unfaithful to him. Like Lawson kills Bravo, his former colleague, Popkov did confront the alleged lover of his wife. “There was an incident with the infidelity of my wife. Then I… if I can say so… ‘treated’ that young man,” he said in an interview. The media portrayed Popkov’s murders as acts of revenge against his wife, just like Lawson killed any person who was connected to his partner’s affair with Bravo.

Capaldi and his co-writers conceived Lawson and McGregor with several intricate details, which makes them rooted in reality. Although they do not have exact counterparts in reality, the similarities they share with real-life murderers make their storylines believable, which enhances the viewing experience of ‘Damaged.’

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