Michigan Man Pushes Ex-Wife Down The Stairs, Kills Her On The Way To The Hospital

Dennis DePue, 46, didn’t anticipate being spotted by a couple who were out for a drive when he tried to hide the evidence of his crime.

Marilynn DePue, pictured here, was murdered by her husband, Dennis DePue, after he threw her down the stairs in front of their children then told them he would drive her to the hospital.

Dennis DePue, 46, didn’t anticipate being spotted by a couple who were out for a drive when he tried to hide the evidence of his crime.

Photo by: Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "Man With A Van")

Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "Man With A Van")

Ray and Marie Thornton were out for a Sunday drive on April 15, 1990. It was their weekly ritual — a few hours on the backroads in southern Michigan near the Indiana border to unwind without their children before the next week began.

As Ray drove, he saw a large, brown van approaching in the rearview mirror. Ray sped up, but the van sped past him in the wrong lane and continued down the road.

A few moments later, Ray and Marie passed an old schoolhouse and saw a man carrying a red-stained sheet in the field behind the school. His vehicle was parked nearby; it was the brown van that had passed them.

Two or three more miles down the road, Ray again saw the brown van approaching in his rearview mirror. Instead of immediately passing, the driver tailgated dangerously close for several minutes before the van again blazed around their car and sped down the road.

The Thorntons decided to go home, with plans to call in the license plate number on the brown van, but as they crossed the state line into Indiana, the Thorntons saw the van again. It was pulled off on the side of the road with the passenger side door open. The driver knelt down behind the vehicle to change the license plate.

They peered into the open passenger door as they passed, and Marie recognized immediately that there was blood inside the van.

A Shattered Family

Five hours before the Thorntons first spotted the suspicious van, Dennis DePue arrived at the home of his ex-wife, Marilynn, to pick up his teenage children for a court-appointed visit.

The pair had been married for 17 years before separating. Dennis worked as an appraiser for the state, and Marilynn was a high school guidance counselor. Their children — two daughters and a son — were in high school when Marilynn filed for divorce in 1989.

The DePue children didn’t want to go with Dennis for the visit, and Marilynn soon found herself in a shouting and shoving match with her ex-husband. Dennis pushed her down the basement stairs as the kids watched.

Dennis assured their children that he would take Marilynn to the hospital and come back later as he carried her to the passenger side of his van.

It was the last time the children saw their mother alive.

Four hours after Dennis left with Marilynn, one of their daughters called the police to report the assault and the planned hospital trip. When police arrived at the hospital, there was no record that the DePues had been there that day.

Where were Marilynn and Dennis? Watch Man With A Van June 17 on ID at 8/7c. Episodes are available now on discovery+.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence or abuse from a romantic partner, you can visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, call 1.800.799.SAFE, or text START to 88788 for help. Advocates are available 24/7 to help callers talk through their situation and connect them with local resources. There is no charge to reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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