13 Brutal Halloween Murders

© Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0
© Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0
Forget all the urban legends and ghost stories and “scary” Hollywood movies: These cases are all real, and they all happened on Halloween.

1. Man stabs girlfriend to death over missing bag of Halloween candy.

Level Peoples (Cook County Sheriff's Office)
Ledell Peoples. (Cook County Sheriff’s Office)

On Chicago’s South Side in 2011, 55-year-old Ledell Peoples blamed his girlfriend for stealing his bag of Halloween treats. An argument ensued and 49-year-old Maria Adams threw a plate at Peoples’s head, which struck him above the eye and caused a gash. Peoples then grabbed a knife and stabbed her multiple times, killing her.

2. Father poisons his son with Halloween candy.

Ronald Clark O'Bryan (Harris County Police Department)
Ronald Clark O’Bryan. (Harris County Police Department)

People purposely poisoning strangers’ Halloween candy is mostly the stuff of urban legend, but this 1974 case in Deer Park, TX involves a father who laced his son’s Pixy Stix with cyanide with the intent to kill him so he could collect on an insurance policy. The father, Ronald Clark O’Bryan, had fallen deeply into debt, so he decided to claw his way out of his self-inflicted money hole by murdering his son. He purchased potassium cyanide, sprinkled it inside five Pixy Stix straws, crudely stapled them all shut, and handed them out to his son, daughter, and three other neighborhood kids. To avoid suspicion, his plot was to kill them all and blame a neighbor.

After trick-or-treating, O’Bryan’s 11-year-old son Timothy, apparently at his father’s urging, swallowed the Pixy Stix powder and complained that it tasted bitter. He soon began vomiting uncontrollably and was dead before reaching the hospital. O’Bryan was found guilty of murder and died via lethal injection. He subsequently earned the sobriquets “The Candy Man” and “The Man Who Killed Halloween.”

3. Man confronts kids who egged his car and gets shot.

While driving his girlfriend and her son home through the notoriously dangerous South Bronx on Halloween in 1998, twenty-one-year-old computer programmer Karl Jackson had his car egged by a group of local ne’er-do-wells. Jackson stepped out of the car to confront them and got back in the car after a brief argument. One of the youths got into a car to pursue Jackson. They caught up with him a few blocks later and shot him dead in the head.

4. Seven-year-old boy shot to death while trick-or-treating.

Seven-year-old Tony Bagley was wearing a skeleton costume and trick-or-treating with his sister, mother, and aunt early on Halloween night in 1994 on the north side of Las Vegas. A man in a hooded sweat suit leaped out of nowhere and fired at the family before hopping in a getaway car, which peeled away with its lights off. Bullets hit Tony’s sister in the liver, his aunt in the leg, and his mother in the chest, but they all survived. Tony did not. His biological father, who reportedly never commented to the police on Tony’s death, was arrested a few years later for an unrelated street shooting. Tony’s murder remains unsolved.

5. Man answers front door on Halloween, is shot to death.

Back in 1957, Los Angeles resident Peter Fabiano was having marriage problems with his wife Betty that led her to briefly leave their house and shack up with a woman named Joan Rabel. After Peter and Betty reconciled and she moved back in with him, Rabel became consumed with jealousy. She conspired with another woman, Goldyne Pizer, to murder Fabiano on Halloween, reasoning that it was the best night of the year to wear a mask without engendering suspicion. Rabel put together a costume for Pizer consisting of red gloves, face paint, and a mask. The pair sat for two hours outside the Fabiano residence on Halloween night waiting for the house’s bedroom lights to be turned off. When the lights went out, Pizer walked up to the house and rang the doorbell. Fabiano answered, probably anticipating a late-night trick-or-treater. Pizer shot him dead in the chest with a .38-caliber handgun.

6. Trick-or-treaters knock on man’s door and he blasts them with an AK-47.

On Halloween night in 2008, convicted drug dealer Quentin Patrick of Sumter, SC heard a knock on his door. Assuming it was rival gang members, he grabbed his full-auto AK-47 and blasted at least 29 bullets through his front door at them. Eleven of those bullets hit 12-year-old trick-or-treater T. J. Darrisaw, killing him. T. J.’s father and younger brother were also hit but survived.

7. Preacher strangles woman to death, then dresses her son up for Halloween.

Although he’d previously served separate prison sentences for stabbing one woman and murdering another, John D. White was paroled and became the pastor of a small Michigan church. Living in a trailer park, he became romantically involved with a female resident a few trailers down and would frequently babysit the woman’s three-year-old grandson. On Halloween night 2012—while the three-year-old boy was in the trailer—White knocked the boy’s mother out with a rubber mallet and strangled her to death with a plastic zip tie. He stuffed her in a garbage bag and dumped her in the woods. Then he returned to the trailer and dressed the boy in a Halloween costume, whereupon the boy’s father came by to pick him up. After being arrested for murder, White told police his crime was part of a lingering fantasy to have sex with a corpse, but that he’d “forgot” whether or not he completed that act.

8. Teen allegedly rapes elderly nun and stabs her to death.

From all available evidence, Johnny Lee Garrett endured a brutal childhood of physical torture and sexual abuse that rendered him psychotic and brain-damaged. After examining him, one psychologist said that Garrett’s life story was “one of the most virulent histories of abuse and neglect…I have encountered in 28 years of practice.”

In 1981 when Garrett was 17, a 76-year-old nun in Amarillo, TX was raped and stabbed to death in the early morning hours of Halloween. Garrett’s fingerprints were found on her headboard. In a statement that he refused to sign, police quote him as confessing to the murder:

There was a nun in bed and she acted as if she was going to scream. I covered her mouth so she couldn’t make any noise….I started choking her until she passed out. I had sex with her. I left the convent the way I came in.

Garrett later denied murdering her and instead claimed to have burglarized the convent a few days before Halloween. Still, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Although it seemed like an open-and-shut case, details emerged that cast doubt on Garrett’s culpability. Such details include a prosecutor who wound up killing himself, a forensic investigator who was convicted of falsifying evidence in multiple cases, and a convicted murderer who told police that he was the one who’d raped and killed the nun. The doubt was so formidable that even the Pope petitioned the Texas governor not to execute Garrett for the nun’s murder. But after a brief reprieve, Garrett was executed in 1992.

9. The “Tool Box Killers” torture a female hitchhiker to death while tape-recording it.

Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris were known as the “Tool Box Killers” because they routinely employed implements such as pliers and hammers in their unconscionably vicious series of kidnap/rape/torture/murders of five teenage California girls in 1979.

The last of these murders, that of 16-year-old Shirley Ledford, occurred after they spotted Ledford hitchhiking home from a Halloween party. They picked her up in their van, and over the course of hours, they bound and gagged her, smashed her elbow repeatedly with a hammer, sodomized her with pliers, and finally strangled her to death with a wire coat hanger before dumping her on a random front lawn.

During the course of Ledford’s murder, they tape-recorded themselves taunting her while she screamed for mercy. Norris was later quoted as saying:

We’ve all heard women scream in horror films … still, we know that no one is really screaming. Why? Simply because an actress can’t produce some sounds that convince us that something vile and heinous is happening. If you ever heard that tape, there is just no possible way that you’d not begin crying and trembling. I doubt you could listen to more than a full sixty seconds of it.

10. Man stabs and kills woman in Betty Boop costume.

Jeremy Bryan Jones was a drifter and self-proclaimed ladies’ man who was raised in Oklahoma but wound up in Georgia. He eventually befriended a woman who allowed him to stay at her home. On Halloween night 2012, after dolling up the woman’s 12-year-old son and the boy’s friend in makeup so they’d resemble Ace Frehley and Gene Simmons of the rock group KISS, Jones went to a popular tavern in Douglasville, GA, where he stabbed a woman wearing a Betty Boop costume to death in the parking lot.

11. Man wearing Scream mask shoots and kills Brooklyn teen.

Last Halloween a man wearing a ghost-face mask that resembled the killer in the movie Scream shot and killed 19-year-old Anthony Seaberry on the streets of Brooklyn, NY. The case remains unsolved.

12. Man rapes, tortures, and kills nine-year-old girl.

On Halloween night in 1973, nine-year-old Lisa French of Fond du Lac, WI dressed up as a hobo and went trick-or-treating. After she rang the doorbell of neighbor Gerald Turner, he took her into his house and shut the door behind her. Turner would later write:

I can still see you standing in the doorway with that felt hat beaming at having recognized me….Then I see the delight in your eyes turn to fear as I close the door behind you….

He raped her, killed her, stuffed her body in a plastic bag, and dumped it in a field. Although he was convicted of her murder, he was later paroled and would go on to file a discrimination complaint when Waste Management of Madison refused to hire him.

13. Serial killer cuts girl into three pieces, buries her.

Richard Biegenwald (New Jersey Department of Corrections)
Richard Biegenwald. (New Jersey Department of Corrections)

Like many males who grow up to be killers, Richard Biegenwald had a childhood stuffed to the gills with beatings and trauma. Very early on, he also displayed psychotic behavior of his own. At five, he set fire to the family house. He was drinking at age eight. At nine, he received electroshock therapy. At eleven, he attempted to set himself on fire.

One of his estimated five murders occurred on Halloween night in 1981. Seventeen-year-old Maria Ciallella of Brick, NJ had been out trick-or-treating late at night. Shortly after midnight, a patrolman spotted her walking alone on Route 88 in the direction of her house. Around 10 minutes later he had turned around back to offer her a ride, but she was already gone. Her corpse was later found chopped into three pieces and buried in the yard of Biegenwald’s mother’s house on Staten Island. TC mark

Jim Goad

Stop worrying about good and bad...and start thinking about true and false.

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