A villainous Virginia resident was arrested Friday afternoon for emulating the infamous grim-faced Joker of Batman lore in broad daylight.
ABC News reports that 31-year-old Jeremy Putman was booked and charged with wearing a mask in public, a Class 6 Felony in the northeastern state, after being witnessed parading around town as the maniacal, clown-like fictional character while also carrying a sword.
As the Virginia Code 18.2-422 notes, “it [is] unlawful for any person over 16 years of age, with the intent to conceal his identity, [to] wear any mask, hood, or other device [that covers] a substantial portion of the face,” save for Halloween, when the law is somewhat loosened.
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“The provisions [do] not apply to persons wearing traditional holiday costumes,” the Code further explains, “[people] engaged in professions, trades, employment, or other activities, [or those who] wear protective masks which are deemed necessary for the physical safety of the wearer or other persons.”
Furthermore, those who are “engaged in any bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball; or wearing a mask, hood, or other device for bona fide medical reasons,” are also exempt from any crime.
If convicted of the arresting act, the Joker-loving Putman could be held upwards to five years within the Virginia prison system. As of now, he is currently being held at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center on $2,000 bond.
According to the Winchester State Police, phone calls regarding Putman’s costumed stroll began to flood in around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon, with worried passerby describing a caped “suspicious male” walking near Papermill Road and South Pleasant Valley in the city while brandishing a weapon.
“Officers with the department caught up with him in the 2600 block of South Pleasant Valley Road,” WHSV adds, “where they took [Putman] into custody.”
Images taken of Jeremy by Virginia law officials display the 31-year-old still in full-on Joker make-up following his arrest, including green-dyed hair and a drawn-on extended lip line as to give the appearance of facial scarring, much like the caricature shown in the Academy Award-nominated The Dark Knight, which featured the late Heath Ledger as the infamous Batman foe (Ledger would posthumously win a Best Supporting Actor trophy for the role).
Incidentally, it was his deep dedication to the dark role that many, including the actor’s father, Kim Ledger, feel led to the actor’s untimely 2008 death at the age of 28.
“He galvanized the upcoming character,” Mr. Ledger relayed during a documentary on Heath’s life that was covered by MTV News.
“That was typical of Heath. He would do that. He liked to dive into his characters, but this time he really took it up a notch.”
Journal entries written by Heath throughout the filming of The Dark Knight describe how the Australian-born entertainer immersed himself completely into the murderous Joker, whose movie backstory stemmed from a place of love and compassion for an accident-prone wife who no longer wanted him after he purposely disfigured himself to mirror her own injuries, by locking himself in a hotel room and diving headfirst into the character’s twisted canon.
“I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices,” Heath shared in a 2007 interview with Empire.
“It was important to try to find somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath – someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts. He’s just an absolute sociopath, a cold-blooded, mass-murdering clown.”
Less than a year later, in January 2008, Ledger’s lifeless body would be discovered inside his New York City apartment in an apparent accidental drug overdose. The actor’s final film, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, was released in 2009 and dedicated in his memory.
Despite the inherently silly nature of Jeremy Putnam’s actions, Winchester police have reminded the community that an illegal act did take place.
“Officers do not believe there are additional suspects,” they said of the arrested Joker copycat, “but [we] want to remind [Virginia residents] of the seriousness of the crime.”
[Featured Image by Winchester Police Dept.]