After a decade of investigating the disappearance of Amos Mortier, journalist Nathan Comp is turning his work into a documentary. A senior contributor to Isthmus, Comp is teaming up with California filmmaker Kristina Motwani, a UW grad, to co-produce the true crime doc, What Happened to Amos? A KickStarter campaign was launched Oct. 18 to cover production costs. The month-long crowdfunding drive has a goal of $30,000.
Amos Mortier vanished from his Fitchburg home in November 2004. Police suspected the 27-year-old was killed over drug money but no charges have been filed in connection with his murder. Mortier's body was never found.
Comp became interested in the case after talking to Mortier's mother, Margie Milutinovich, while researching a book on unsolved homicides in Dane County.
“What she told me blew me away,” he says. “None of it had been reported. A lot of it was bizarre and didn’t add up with what police were telling the press.”
An anonymous source leaked thousands of pages of police reports, witness testimony and other evidence to Comp. Detailed in a 2009 Isthmus cover story, Comp reveals a complicated backstory that calls into question the actions of investigators and why some suspects were targeted over others.
“This film is about doing what’s right. It shows what happens behind the scenes [during criminal investigations] and I think people will be shocked.”
Comp says more previously unreleased evidence will be included in the film. He hopes the documentary will also convince investigators to take another look at evidence presented.
“Amos was basically written off by police because he didn’t come from money or power,” says Comp. “That’s the worst part about it.”
The film follows other recent documentaries examining crimes and controversial convictions, including the international hit series Making of a Murderer, which was released on Netflix in December 2015. That series brought attention to the conviction in Wisconsin of Brendan Dassey and Steven Avery for the murder of Teresa Halbach in 2007. On Aug. 12, a federal judge overturned Dassey’s conviction.
Comp and Motwani have already shot some footage. If their Kickstarter campaign is successful, filming will pick up again in early 2017. Comp hopes to complete the film that year. He also plans on publishing a book about the case in conjunction with the movie premiere.
“We hopefully will be included in film fests in 2018,” says Comp. “Unless we make a deal with Netflix first.”