In 2016, Blake Leibel was arrested on suspicion of the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Iana Kasian. Last week, Kasian’s autopsy was released as part of a civil lawsuit filed by her family agains Leibel. Now, after learning the details of the crime, multiple major news outlets including The Independent and the NY Post are reporting that Leibel’s 2010 graphic novel Syndrome includes “chilling parallels” to the real-life murder case. Fox News writes:
“The heinous slaying reportedly bears similarities to a fictional crime in Leibel’s 2010 graphic novel “Syndrome,” in which a serial killer hangs a couple from their ankles and slashes their throats — draining their bodies of blood.”
But while there may be coincidental similarities between the murder Blake Leibel is accused of and one depicted in Syndrome, there’s one big problem with that narrative, as The Independent writes:
“The man accused of the gruesome torture and murder of his girlfriend by scalping her and draining her body of blood in a Los Angeles apartment had already written a fictional version of a similar crime in one of his graphic novels, it has been reported.”
The problem is, Leibel didn’t actually write the book.
In a 2010 interview with Broken Frontier, writers R.J. Ryan and Daniel Quantz, who did the actual work of creating a comic along with artist David Marquez, reveal that Leibel had seemingly little to do with the creative process. In fact, Leibel’s name is only brought up once in the entire interview, when Ryan explains how little he had to do with the story:
“With Syndrome, Blake Leibel, who created the concept, just sort of posed a couple of provocative questions to us—especially about how one would actually treat, as opposed to simply punish, an actual, bona fide psychopath—and then gave us the freedom to find the answers through our storytelling, this group of characters, and our work with our artist David Marquez. It was the ideal set-up with which to make a graphic novel.”
So how much influence did Leibel have on things like the details of a fictional murder? That’s something we may not learn until all the legal dust is settled.
However, one parallel between Syndrome’s serial killer and Blake Leibel’s case remains strikingly similar. Like the serial killer in the book, Leibel, currently awaiting trial in the Los Angeles County Jail, could face California’s death penalty if convicted.