Is Detective Jack Roth A Real Person? Jeremy Sisto's ‘Wicked City’ Character Is A Los Angeles Legend
Life in 1982 is tough for Det. Jack Roth (Jeremy Sisto) on ABC's Wicked City . The Los Angeles cop is juggling a family, a mistress, and the fact that there seems to be a copycat killer of the Hillside Stranglers at Sunset Boulevard hangout Whisky a Go Go. But, is Detective Jack Roth from Wicked City a real person? That doesn't seem to be the case. Wicked City has stated that Jack was instrumental in the capture of the infamous Hillside Stranglers — aka cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, Jr. — in the late 1970s, which has been well-documented in books and even several movies — but none of them feature a police officer named Jack Roth.
The Case of the Hillside Strangers was a TV movie that aired in 1989 and followed the real LAPD Detective named Bob Grogan, who spent years on the investigation of the case of 10 tortured, raped, and murdered women in Los Angeles — and the real Grogan has a cameo in the film, according to the New York Times review of the flick. So it seems like Det. Roth is purely fictional, but probably based on Sergeant Grogan, because they sure seem to be super dedicated police officers on the hunt for serial killers. Though it's unclear if Grogan ever encountered a charming, yet sadistic killer like Kent Grainger (Ed Westwick), which Jack is dealing with now on Wicked City.
In any case, here's what the real Grogan and the fictional Roth share in common.
They're Committed To Cracking The Case
According to The Lineup, Grogan spent six years investigating the Hillside Strangers case. As for Jack, well, I'm guessing he'll need as many seasons as ABC gives him to track down Grainger.
They Both Know Los Angeles Well
Grogan was a pro at finding addresses in LA in a pre-GPS world, according to The Lineup. Jack also seems to jet to City of Angels locations pretty quickly, too (oh, the magic of TV).
They Both Have Resourceful Partners
On Wicked City, Jack's partner is Paco Contreras (Gabriel Luna), an ambitious transfer to the department who is very motivated. In real life, Grogan's partner was Dudley Varney, who was adept at figuring out the age of corpses in the Hillside Stranger case.
They Both Blurred Personal & Career Boundaries
According to the book The Hillside Stranglers by Darcy O'Brien, Grogan let the Hillside Stranglers case cross into his personal life — at one point, it was all he could talk about. Jack also blurs the lines between professional and personal on Wicked City — his mistress is Det. Dianne Kubek, who is working on undercover on the Sunset Strip.
They Both Have Teen Daughters
On Wicked City, Jack has a teenage daughter named Vicki (Anne Winters). Grogan also had a teen daughter in real life. according to The Lineup. And, for both men, these two cases mean/meant protecting their progeny from these killers at all costs.
They Both Can Catch A Killer
In parallel universes, Grogan and Jack helped catch Bianchi and Buono and became legends. But, can Jack stop Kent Grainger before it's too late? We'll have to wait and see how the drama unfolds.
Images: Eric McCandless (2), Bob D’Amico, Vivian Zink (3)/ABC