Dennis Quaid to Portray Killer in True Crime Series “Happy Face”

Dennis Quaid Happy Face Killer

February 18, 2024

Written by Kelli Marchman McNeely

Kelli Marchman McNeely is the owner of She is an Executive Producer of "13 Slays Till Christmas" which is out on Digital and DVD and now streaming on Tubi. She has several other films in the works. Kelli is an animal lover and a true horror addict since the age of 9 when she saw Friday the 13th. Email:

Award-winning actor Dennis Quaid, known for his iconic roles in films like Innerspace, Frequency, and The Day After Tomorrow, as well as the new “Yellowstone” spin-off series “Lawman Bass Reeves,” will next play a real-life killer. Quaid has signed on to star in the upcoming Paramount+ series “Happy Face,” based on the harrowing true story of Melissa Moore and her serial killer father.

From Father to Foe:

Quaid portrays the dual nature of Keith Jesperson, known infamously as the “Happy Face” killer. He got his moniker due to the smiley faces he left etched on crime scenes. The series explores the fractured relationship between Melissa (played by Annaleigh Ashford) and her incarcerated father.  After decades of silence, he resurfaced to torment her with his crimes.

Melissa confronts a terrifying reality: an innocent man might be executed for a murder committed by her father. Time is of the essence as she uncovers the truth, grappling with the devastating impact Jesperson’s actions had on the victims’ families. This journey forces Melissa to confront her own identity and reconcile her past.

Beyond the Headlines:

Happy Face” delves deeper than just the sensationalized crimes. It promises a nuanced exploration of the psychological complexities of a family shattered by violence. Melissa’s internal struggle, navigating the emotional minefield of familial ties and moral responsibility, adds a captivating layer to the narrative.

The series is an adaptation of Moore’s memoir, “Shattered Silence,” and the podcast of the same name. It is adapted by writer, executive producer, and showrunner Jennifer Cacicio. Quaid’s proven talent for portraying complex characters and Ashford’s emotional range promises a powerful on-screen dynamic.

The Truth Behind the Story:

In 1994, The Oregonian paper received a strange letter. It began with a happy face written in ink and the line: “I would Like to Tell my story!” He discussed his crimes in brutal detail. The letter and those to follow revealed facts only the killer could know. He signed each note with a happy face. However, what initially appeared to be an innocent note was the confession of a serial killer, later to be revealed as Keith Hunter Jesperson. He was an intimidating man, standing at six foot eight and weighing 240 lbs, and he used his strength to kill.

Between 1990 and 1995, Jesperson slaughtered at least eight women in five different states. However, when he was finally captured, Jesperson confessed to brutally killing over 166 women from coast to coast. He couldn’t help but brag about his crimes before and after his capture. And would leave messages in bathrooms and on walls, as well as send letters to news stations and newspapers.

His first victim was 23-year-old Taunja Bennett, whom he met in a bar. What was supposed to be a night of passion turned into terror when he beat her to death with his bare hands. He realized it liked the power, and thus, his reign of terror began. He liked to kill close-up, regularly strangling his victims.

Driven by the belief he was about to be apprehended, Jesperson wrote a chilling confession letter to his brother detailing the murder of Teresa Willingham and seven other victims. This unexpected move sparked a media frenzy and led to his swift arrest on March 30, 1995. Facing overwhelming evidence, Jesperson opted for a guilty plea just days before his trial. He would spend the rest of his life behind bars, where he remains today.

Coming to Paramount+:

While the debut season of eight episodes won’t arrive on Paramount+ until 2025, “Happy Face” already sparks intrigue with its unique premise and talented cast. This true-crime drama is poised to deliver a chilling exploration of family, justice, and the enduring echoes of the past.

Happy Face Killer Dennis Quaid

Share This Article

You May Also Like…