DOYLESTOWN, PA—Saying they have begun to make significant headway in the case, law enforcement officials told reporters Monday that new evidence in an ongoing murder investigation has allowed them to narrow down the list of actors who could portray the killer in a Hollywood movie.
Until this week, police confirmed, their inquiry into the Jan. 3 homicide of local woman Debra Hambleton, 39, has provided them with few clues as to who might star as her murderer in a dark retelling of the story on screen. But now, a forensic analysis of the derelict cabin in which the victim’s body was found suggests a prolonged, violent struggle, an indication the killer would likely be played by a physically imposing Tom Hardy type, or perhaps someone like Nicolas Cage, whom detectives said they could see “just totally losing it” for the murder scene.
“At the present time, we are looking into eight actors who we believe may have the potential to pull off something like this,” said Sgt. Hank Bouchard of the Doylestown Police Department, who has previously stated that if the killer turns out to be the victim’s boyfriend, he should be played by someone with the simmering tension of Sean Penn, only younger. “From the descriptions given by witnesses, we should be looking for a white male in his late 30s or 40s, which at first made us think Joaquin Phoenix, though something about him just didn’t seem to fit.”
“There was no sign of a break-in,” Bouchard continued, “so it was either someone the deceased trusted or someone who looked trustworthy enough to let inside her home—handsome, with both a kind face, like Matt Damon or Bradley Cooper, but also a tinge of menace in his eyes.”
Additionally, Bouchard noted that composite sketches suggest the murderer is of medium build with prominent cheekbones and a sharp jawline, causing investigators to reassess their initial inclination toward an actor along the lines of Russell Crowe, unless the performer agreed to lose weight for the role.
In an effort to take advantage of the new developments in the case, authorities said they have assembled a special unit that will spend the next few weeks scouring through hours of film footage and talent agency databases in order to find the person who could portray such a heinous crime while also having enough star power to carry a big-budget film adaptation. On Monday, the team reportedly sat in an office surrounded by headshots of Hollywood A-listers and discussed the possibility of a more offbeat casting choice, pinning up photos of Sam Rockwell and Ed Norton on a bulletin board next to an autopsy report and images of Hambleton’s body.
“There is a strong likelihood it will turn out to be an actor who has done this kind of thing before, but we’re not totally discounting the possibility of an up-and-comer,” said Bouchard, explaining that producers wouldn’t have to settle on someone obvious like Christian Bale, who played a serial killer in American Psycho. “This could be a role for a new face, a talent able to evince a deeply unsettling mien who could go on to become his generation’s Willem Dafoe or Christopher Walken.”
“At this point, one thing’s for sure: We’re going to get the sonuvabitch with the range to do this,” he added.
Though Bouchard and his detectives expressed confidence they were on the right track, others have put forward their own theories as to who could be Hambleton’s murderer on screen someday.
“I don’t think he’d be acting alone—the evidence just doesn’t add up,” said Bucks County assistant district attorney Sam Avery, telling reporters he has been putting in 80-hours weeks on the case and believes there were three individuals present at the crime scene, the victim and two perpetrators. “Maybe instead of spending all this time trying to find our man, we should be looking for a pair of co-stars with undeniable chemistry, like Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill.”
The one thing all law enforcement officials seem to agree on is that Hambleton, who was chased through the woods and stabbed 42 times in the chest, bears a strong resemblance to Toni Collette, and if her murderer manages to evade justice for decades, he could perhaps be portrayed in his older years by a Bruce Dern type.
At press time, Bouchard held a press conference to announce that because of new information provided by an anonymous tipster, police have turned their attention to television and made phone calls to see if Jason Sudeikis is available.