9. Twisted backwoods couple
I was just talking about this today. Scary because of human nature.
My neighbor at my old apartment was a state park ranger for years, now retired. Apparently when he first got the job, there was a younger kid who went missing while out on a camping or hiking trip.
They organize a huge search of the area to no avail. No clues or anything, kid is just missing.
A few years go by, and some evidence turns up that wasn’t in the direction they originally searched. It was part of his camping equipment. On his off time my neighbor took to searching the area where it was found hoping for more clues.
Just outside the state park lived a couple in a ramshackle hovel who were quite reclusive and odd. One day my neighbor had to talk to them about something unrelated to the missing kid. He is in their house, which is a mess of junk, no running water, etc. Hard to focus on anything there. While he is talking to this couple he realizes that the guy’s ashtray looks weird. He looks closer and realizes that it’s a skull, and it looks small.
There’s this investigation into the couple, and here is where things get really weird. An investigation shows that they were innocent of killing the kid. He probably died of exposure or dehydration. Apparently this guy came across the body afterwards and his dogs were after it. When he took the skull, it was really recent after death and apparently was still a head–features, hair, everything. The guy took it and defleshed the damn thing and took the top off to use as an ashtray.
Apparently he was well aware there was a then current search for missing child and could recognize the kid from the pictures, but it never dawned on him or his wife to go to the cops and inform them of the find. He just saw an opportunity for an ashtray.
Apparently he showed them where the remains were and they scrounged together enough for burial, but kept it quiet so that the family didn’t know some guy put out his Marlboros in their kids head for five years after letting his dogs eat his remains.