It was supposed to be a carefully guarded secret. The identity of Days of our Lives serial killer was to be revealed for the first time on Wednesday, January 28th. But well over a week before the actual on-air reveal, several popular soap opera magazines featured front page stories declaring that Marlena was, in fact, the "Salem Stalker."
Soap Central visitors flooded the DAYS Online message board in record numbers to discuss the stunning news. Others sent email to blast us for being out of the loop when we didn't follow suit and reveal the killer's identity. So why didn't Soap Central reveal the killer's identity as soon as we found out?
Days of our Lives execs went to great lengths to keep the identity of the killer a secret. Up until around the show's Christmas break, none of the show's performers or crewmembers knew the identity of the killer. When DAYS execs filmed scenes in which the killer appeared, they used body doubles - someone different every time. Because of the taping schedule, the cast learned the killer's identity about a month before the actual on-air reveal. To keep the secret a secret, the stars of the show were required to sign papers stating that they would not reveal that identity of the killer to anyone. If they were to blab the secret, they could be fired on the spot.
Obviously, any performer who wanted to keep their job would keep the show's big secret. But what about an actor who had already been given a pink slip? That's exactly how the identity of the serial killer was first leaked to the media.
Outgoing DAYS star Thaao Penghlis (Tony DiMera) was featured in scenes when the serial killer was revealed. Penghlis had learned way back in October that his days on Days of our Lives were coming to an end. With one foot out the door, Penghlis apparently felt he had nothing to worry about in the way of job security.
Following a mauling by a tiger - the work of the serial killer -- Penghlis' character laid lifelessly in a hospital bed as the serial killer approached him. He opened his eyes in time to see the killer injecting a potent medicine into his IV line. The camera then panned up and revealed the face of the killer for the first time - Marlena.
During an interview with an Israeli publication, Penghlis revealed that Marlena was the killer. According to setside sources, DAYS execs were furious, to say the least. The show immediately moved to do damage control. Initially, there were denials about what Penghlis had said during his interview. A denial was even issued by Penghlis, who said that his comments were taken out of context. Within a few days, however, DAYS head writer James E. Reilly had granted an interview to TV Guide and confirmed that Marlena was, in fact, the killer.
The first victim of the serial killer, Abe Carver, was killed on September 29, 2003. Now, four months later, the whodunit has finally been solved. Well, sort of.