'Passion' prompted man to admit murder

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The Independent Culture

A 21-year-old man was so moved by watching Mel Gibson's film The Passion of The Christ it prompted him to confess the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, Texas police said.

A 21-year-old man was so moved by watching Mel Gibson's film The Passion of The Christ it prompted him to confess the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, Texas police said.

Sheriff's deputies in the suburbs of Houston had assumed the death of Ashley Nicole Wilson back in January was suicide. She was found hanged in her apartment near a letter in which she said she was depressed because of her pregnancy and because the father wanted no part of raising the child.

That theory, however, was overturned when Dan Leach walked into a police station earlier this month and said he felt compelled to admit he was responsible for her death. He explained how he had strangled her and arranged the scene to look like a suicide.

The spur for his confession, police said, was watching the Mel Gibson movie. " The Passion of the Christ moved him spiritually," Detective Mike Kubricht said. "He wanted redemption." The film caused him to confide in an old family friend who was also a church minister. Shortly before giving himself up, he addressed the congregation at the Church of Christ in Rosenberg, his home town. "He told them he was about to go on a journey that was going to take him away for a long time, and he wanted the congregation to support him in prayers," Mr Kubricht said.

There was no immediate response yesterday from the producers of the film, but the incident is likely to be seized upon by evangelical Christians as evidence of the film's religious powers. In the US, the film has divided audiences between those who find it inspiring and those who find it gratuitously violent and anti-Semitic.

According to the Texas police, Mr Leach was an attentive television and film watcher whose arrangement of the crime scene was inspired by episodes of the cop show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

He allegedly coaxed Ms Wilson into writing a letter describing her unhappiness.

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