The Most Shocking Murders In History
Over a period of 10 weeks in 1946, five people were killed and another three survived the attack by a man in the tiny town of Texarkana on the Texas-Arkansas border. He was named “The Phantom Killer” because of his disturbing white mask, which was just a sack with holes for eyes. He beat his victims and made them run away. He would then chase them and shoot them. The townspeople armed themselves and a curfew was instated. The killer was never found and the murders remain unsolved.
Weeks following the 9/11 attacks, several news outlets and senators in the USA received letters laced with anthrax spores. Five people were killed and 17 were injured. According to the FBI, the ensuing investigation became “one of the largest and most complex in the history of law enforcement.” The prime suspect in the case was a scientist named Bruce Edwards Ivins who worked in U.S. government's biodefense labs. He committed suicide with an overdose of acetaminophen in 2008. So the case still remains open.
A Spanish woman named Enriqueta Martí turned to prostitution after divorcing her husband. During the day, she would dress up in rags and beg on the streets of Barcelona. She used poor children to pass off as her own in an effort to appeal to potential donors. When night fell, she prostituted the children or murdered them in order to use their remains for her “potions” because she was also a witch doctor. She was arrested in 1912 and died a year later at the hands of her prison mates.
In 1980, a 32-year-old woman named Dorothy Jane Scott disappeared one night when helping a coworker at a hospital. For months before her disappearance, she was receiving anonymous phone calls from a stalker who was threatened her. She was last seen in her vehicle speeding speed out of the parking lot of a hospital. Her parents then started receiving weekly, harassing phone calls from the abductor for several years. She was never found and her abductor has never been captured.
In 1989, when the Hattamer family was at the child’s grandparent’s house in Holcombe in Wisconsin, 10-month-old Nicole Hattamer went missing. Police found her after midnight, 72 feet from the house, frozen and face down in the grass. The autopsy revealed that she had been thrown to the ground, landed on her chest, causing internal bleeding and was subsequently let die. FBI investigation came out with a whole lot of nothing and the case still remains unsolved.
Amelia Dyer was a "baby farmer", i.e., she housed pregnant women with unwanted or illegitimate babies for an upfront fee. When the babies were delivered, the mothers would leave the baby with her. She would care for them until they were adopted. In reality, Dyer was only interested in collecting the upfront fee for housing the mother. She neglected the babies until they died of malnutrition. She was arrested when investigators found 50 bodies of babies in Thames, wrapped in paper with her address printed on it. She is suspected of killing as many as 400 infants. She was hanged in 1896 in London.
In 1993, 10-year-old Holly Piirainen went missing while visiting her grandparents in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Two months later, her body was discovered on a rural road. People reached out to the family including 10-year-old Molly Bush, who wrote them a condolence letter. About 7 years later, in 2000, Molly went missing at the age of 16 and her body was found three years later buried in a similar manner to Holly. Police believe their murders are linked and to this day the murders remain unsolved.
Micajah Harpe and Wiley Harpe are the earliest documented serial killers in the USA. In the 1700s, the body count they left behind had every wilderness traveler on edge. They were kicked out of a pirate gang for being too brutal. They killed men, women, and children by disemboweling them and filling their cavity with rocks. They threw many victims off the cliffs. One of them even killed his own daughter for crying too loud. They murdered close to 50 people.
In 2007, Robert Pickton was convicted for a string of murders. He mainly targeted prostitutes in Canada. Though he is serving prison time for 6 murders, he once confided to an undercover police officer that he had killed 49. He said he wanted to make it 50, but got sloppy and was caught. He owned a pig farm and investigators found that he had probably fed to his pigs the bodies of several women. There was also evidence that he mixed the human flesh with pork, and canned it before selling it to the public.
18-year-old Alexis Valdez who lived with his aunt and her boyfriend Silvestre Diaz got into an argument in late December of 2013 because Alexis was living there rent-free and not contributing to the household. On Christmas Eve, when his aunt was out, he smashed Diaz’s head with a hammer. Then he chopped off Diaz’s arms and pulled out his eyes. He then decapitated him, leaving his head on his aunt’s pillow as an “early Christmas present.” He then called 911 and confessed to the murder and said he would have killed his aunt too had she been home.
Robert Hansen who grew up in Iowa moved to Alaska after his wife divorced him. In Anchorage, he started a bakery, married second time and had two kids. Over 12 years, Hansen abducted women who were mostly prostitutes and strippers and raped them. Some of them, he let go, but other he flew into the Alaskan wilderness and proceeded to hunt them like a wild game, armed with a knife and his Ruger Mini-14 rifle.
On Christmas Eve of 2008, a man named Bruce Pardo knocked on the door of his ex-wife dressed as Santa Claus in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California. Inside the house, 25 people had gathered to celebrate the holiday. When the 8-year-old niece of his ex-wife opened the door, he shot her in the face. He then began shooting senselessly at everyone inside the house and purposefully executed some. Then he used his homemade flamethrower to set the house on fire. After this, he drove to his brother’s house and he shot himself. He managed to kill 9 people.
Throughout the 1980s, a number of young women disappeared in Eastern Ukraine. They were abducted by Serhiy Tkach who killed them and performed necrophiliac acts on them. He was a former forensic expert used his law enforcement knowledge to throw police off his trail. He was eventually caught and he confessed to killing 100 people. However, before he was apprehended, 15 men were arrested and imprisoned for his crimes, one of whom even committed suicide.
In 1981, 36-year-old Glenna Sharp was renting a cabin with her five of her children in Keddie, California. When her 14-year-old daughter returned to the cabin one morning after a sleepover, she found her mother, her brother and one of his friends were bludgeoned to death with a hammer and bound with medical tape. One of her sister, Tina Sharp, was missing, while her two other siblings were sleeping in the next room. The remains of the Tina were found 3 years later. The case still remains unsolved.
In 1852, Mary Anne Cotton married a laborer. Seven out of eight of her children died of gastric fever. Later her husband died too of stomach sickness. She remarried and her second husband died and soon did her mother pass away. Later her last remaining child and her second husband’s children died. Her third husband kicked her out. Later her fourth husband died as well as his sister, his son and a child he had fathered with Mary. After 20 years of mysterious deaths, the police investigation found she was poisoning her victims with arsenic in order to collect insurance money.
In 1968, a 10-year-old girl named Mary Flora Bell killed two boys. She and her accomplice strangled the second kid to death and carved their initials into his stomach and mutilated his genitals. The crime scene was described by the inspector as “There was a terrible playfulness about it...and somehow the playfulness of it made it more, rather than less, terrifying”. Psychological testing revealed she was a sociopath. She was convicted and then released at the age of 23 under a new identity.
In 1929, shortly before Christmas, Charles Davis Lawson took his wife and their seven children into town to buy new clothes and have their portrait taken. A few days later, on the afternoon of December 25, he shot two of his daughters near his barn and ensured that they were dead by bludgeoning them. Then he went to his house and shot his wife and three other children. Lastly, he killed his baby by bludgeoning her to death. He then went into the woods and shot himself. The only survivor was his eldest son, 16-year-old Arthur, whom he had sent on an errand just before committing the crime.
In 1980, a 12-year-old girl named Georgia Jane Crews went missing in the small town of Montverde in Florida. Two days later, the local police department, the girl’s grandmother and the police marshal’s wife all received an unidentified caller saying, “You know that 12-year-old girl you’re looking for? She’s dead.” Eight days later her decomposing body was found near a K-Mart parking lot, with a stab wound in the back. The killer was never found.
In 1995, 29-year-old Mary Ann Holmes was murdered in her home in Thatcher, Arizona. One of her daughters escaped and ran, naked and bound to tell her neighbor that her mother was murdered. Mary Holmes was found in her bathroom with her hands cuffed and her head bashed in. Investigators found that she was sexually assaulted after her death, while both her daughters were bound and forced to watch. In 2016, 53-year-old Phillip Turley was named a prime suspect though he wasn’t formally charged.
James Patterson Smith had a violent history. In his 40s, he started dating 17-year-old Kelly Anne Bates. Over the period of 4 weeks, Smith gouged her eyes, scalded her skin, partially scalped her, mutilated and killed her. The pathologist in charge of the case described her injuries as the worst he had ever seen. Smith was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1997.
In 2013, guests staying at the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles complained about problems with water pressure, it being black and having an unusual taste. Next morning, the body of 21-year-old Elisa Lam was found in the water tank atop the hotel. She was last seen on the hotel’s elevator security camera. In it, she was seen exiting and re-entering the elevator, talking and gesturing in the hallway outside, and sometimes seeming to hide within the elevator, which itself was malfunctioning. Her case still remains unsolved.
In 1989, actress and model Rebecca Schaeffer was fatally shot to death in the doorway of her West Hollywood apartment building by a stalker. Her killer, Robert John Bardo, had gotten the idea to hire a P.I. from Arthur Richard Jackson, who stalked and stabbed actress Theresa Saldana in 1982 after he hired a detective to find Saldana's address. Schaeffer's death helped prompt the 1990 passage of America's first anti-stalking laws, as well as the Driver's Privacy Protection Act in 1994.
In 1977, the camp counselor at Camp Scott in Mayes County, Oklahoma woke up to a gruesome scene at the farthest tent from the camp. Three girls between the ages of 8 to 10 were dragged from their tents, raped, beaten, strangled and stuffed back into their sleeping tents. Gene Leroy Hart, an escaped convict who grew up near the camp was charged and acquitted. Although there was DNA evidence found on the bags in 2007, it was too deteriorated to be tested. The case still remains unsolved.
An Italian woman named Leonarda Cianciulli went through 17 pregnancies during her marriage, but only four of her children made it into adulthood, so she was very protective of them. When one of her boys was preparing to enlist for WW2, determined to protect him, she resorted to human sacrifice. She killed 3 women who were all her neighbors. She then cut them into small pieces, turned their body fat into soap which was given to her neighbors. She also used their blood as an ingredient for cakes which were eaten by her friends, her son and herself.
Manson Family was a cult led by Charles Manson. The group consisted of about 100 followers who were mostly young girls who were drawn to the commune by hippy culture and drug use. They were radicalized by Manson’s teaching and believed he was a manifestation of Jesus. In 1969, he sent five members of his “family” to two homes in Los Angeles to kill anyone who lived there. They killed actress Sharon Tate (who was 8-1/2 months pregnant) and four other people who were renting with her. They were also responsible for a number of other murders, assaults, petty crimes and thefts.
In 1874, the whole of Stelzriede family residing in the small town of Saxtown was murdered overnight. When their neighbor hadn’t seen them in a while, he went to investigate and found that his neighbor’s little boy had been brutally murdered with an ax. Inside, he found the boy's father, mother, grandfather, brother, and sister all killed with an ax, some with their throats slit. These murders deeply affected the town as the murderer was never caught and people grew suspicious of everyone in the town.
In 1974, two men robbing a Hi-Fi store in Odgen, Utah held captive and tormented five individuals. Only two of the captives survived. Among the sadism levied on the captives were the following: Violence included a pen being kicked into an ear and the brutal rape of a teenage girl who was later shot in the head. Corrosive drain cleaner was also forcefully given to the hostages causing horrific burns to their mouths and throats. Not only were they forced to drink drain cleaner but their mouths were then taped shut so they couldn’t spit it out or vomit it up. One of the victims, Orren Walker, was shot several times, strangled and had a pen kicked into his ear but still survived.
In 1985, authorities found unidentified remains of two females in a barrel in Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire. The woman and the young girl were killed by blunt force trauma before being stuffed into the barrel. 15 years later another barrel was found not far from the first with two more young girls inside. Testing revealed all four had died around the same time and at least one of them was related to the other two. In 2017, investigator announced that Terry Rasmussen was the most likely suspect in the case, but he had died in prison in 2010. DNA evidence confirmed that he was the father of one of the kids found.
In 1981 6-year-old named Adam Walsh was kidnapped from a Sears store and 16 days later his severed head was found 120 miles from his family home. Seven years later, while his son’s killer was still unknown, John Walsh began to host America’s Most Wanted. He was a hotelier earlier, but after his son’s death, he devoted himself to criminal justice and more than 1200 criminals were captured thanks to AMW. In 2008, the Florida Police identified his son’s killer as Otis Toole, a serial killer who died in prison in 1996 while serving life for other crimes.
In 1922, 6 inhabitants of a small farmstead in German countryside were found murdered. Days prior to the crime, farmer Andreas Gruber discovered footprints in the snow leading from the edge of the forest to the farm, but none leading back. He also heard footsteps in the attic and found an unfamiliar newspaper on the farm. The house keys went missing several days before the murders. Investigators believe that four victims were lured into the barn one by one, where they were killed. The perpetrator then went into the house to kill the remaining victims. It was established that a mattock was the most likely murder weapon. The case still remains unsolved.