They say that sometimes the truth is more stranger than fiction, but the one place in which that absolutely shouldn't apply is in the court of law (at least - you would really, really hope). And yet this week Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl was forced to speak out as one legal team used the plot line of her book as a defence to argue that a missing mother of five, suspected to have been murdered, staged her own death to spite her husband. Yes... Really.
Mind-boggling as it is, an attorney for Fotis Dulos, husband of missing 50-year-old Jennifer Dulos with whom he was locked in a custody battle at the time of her disappearance almost two months ago said he's 'investigating the possibility that this is a ‘Gone Girl’-type case and considering the possibility that no third party was involved in foul play.' Jennifer Dulos disappeared on the 24th of May this year whilst locked in a custody dispute with her husband. Police have said that they discovered bloodstains in Dulos's garage - indicating that an assault had taken place, while surveillance footage has surfaced allegedly showing Fotis Dulos disposing of clothes stained with Jennifer's blood into a rubbish bin.
Fotis Dulos and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis (who is alleged to have been driving the car when Fotis disposed of the blood stained garments) have since both been charged with with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution.
Gillian Flynn was so appalled that her book had been used in the court case that she was compelled make a statement to WTNH. In it, she said 'I have been following the story of Jennifer Dulos’s disappearance, this situation is so incredibly painful, I can’t imagine what her children, her family, and all those close to her are going through. I am deeply sorry for Jennifer and her loved ones.'
She added 'I’ve seen in recent coverage that Jennifer’s husband and his defense attorney have put forward a so-called 'Gone Girl theory' to explain Jennifer’s disappearance, it absolutely sickens me that a work of fiction written by me would be used by Fotis Dulos’s lawyer as a defense, and as a hypothetical, sensationalized motive behind Jennifer’s very real and very tragic disappearance.'
In Flynn's psychological thriller, the plot follows the alternating perspectives of a husband and wife, Nick and Amy Dunne who's marriage has dissolved until Amy Dunne (portrayed by Rosamund Pike in the 2014 film of the same name) disappears on their anniversary, leaving a breadcrumb trail of incriminating clues that frame her husband in her own staged murder. While it might make a gripping fictional read, it's troubling that a sensationalized narrative has been inserted into what appears to be another incident of violence against women.
Furthermore, It wouldn't be the first time that the murder of a woman was reduced to popular fictional tropes or used to encourage macabre interest while forgetting the experiences of the victim. We see it regularly in the way that that serial killers become the subject of popular true crime series or films (see Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile featuring Zac Efron as Ted Bundy and more recently Once Upon A Time In Hollywood). While in this instance, the violence leading to Jennifer Dulos's death has been reversed back into a pre-existing fictional story rather than becoming the basis of one, it implies just as much of a shocking disregard and indifference towards the suffering of the victim.
Thankfully, it appears most share Flynn's view that the use of her novel in a real investigation is inappropriate, callous and completely unacceptable. We will continue to hope that Jennifer Dulos, her children and those that have been affected by her disappearance will receive the justice that she deserves.