October 31st – a night of attending costume parties, carving pumpkins, lighting bonfires, playing pranks, visiting haunted places, sharing ghost stories, and watching horror films. But for others Halloween has been a night far from harmless fun, it is the night they lost their lives to cold-blooded killers. Some of these horrific murder cases, more than decades later, are yet to be solved.
11. The Murder of Martha Moxley
15-year-old high school student Martha Moxley was murdered as she left a Halloween party in 1975. She was last seen alive spending time with friends at the home of 15-year-old Michael Skakel in Belle Haven, Connecticut. The case attracted global publicity, as Michael was the nephew of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy.
Martha’s close friends witnessed her leaving the Skakel home, flirting with Michael, kissing and then “falling together behind the fence” in the backyard at around 9.30pm.
The next day, her body was discovered under a tree in the backyard, surrounded by pieces of a broken six-iron golf club. An autopsy revealed she had been bludgeoned and stabbed with the club, which belonged to the Skakel family.
Although Michael had become the prime suspect, the investigation was difficult as his father banned access to his school and mental health records. The case went cold and nobody was charged.
An outraged public wanted justice, several books were published about the murder and vigilante investigators found that Michael had significantly changed his alibi for the night of Martha’s murder; Michael claimed he had been window-peeping and masturbating in a tree beside the family home from 11:30pm to 12:30am – a weak alibi as there was no witnesses and this still placed him at the crime scene.
Two former school friends testified they heard Michael confess to killing Martha with the golf club. They said he bragged, “I’m going to get away with murder. I’m a Kennedy.”
Finally in 1998, after an 18-month investigation, it was decided there was enough evidence to charge Michael with murder and now he was no longer 15-years-old he would be tried as an adult. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison and sent to the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut.
10. Nun Strangled To Death By Convent Boy (Allegedly)
In 1981, at the St. Francis Convent, Texas, Johnny Frank Garrett was 17-years-old when on Halloween he allegedly broke into the room of 76-year-old Sister Tadea Benz then sexually assaulted her before strangling her to death.
Garrett was arrested after his fingerprints had been found on a bent butter knife near the body of Sister Benz. Another of his fingerprints had been found on the nun’s headboard.
The case has caused much speculation as other evidence at the scene pointed more towards his innocence. Numerous foreign prints not belonging to Garrett were found at the scene alongside foreign curly, black hairs not belonging to him either.
Also a bloody V-neck T-shirt not belonging to Garrett was found at the scene and shoe prints found outside the convent did not match Garrett’s.
Although his innocence will continue to be speculated as he was ultimately executed aged 28-years-old at Huntsville Unit, by lethal injection in 1992.
9. The Liske Family Massacre
When 16-year-old Devon Griffin arrived back at his Toledo, Ohio, home the day after Halloween in 2010, he believed his family was playing dead as part of a chilling prank. The bodies of his 53-year-old father, William Liske, 46-year-old mother, Susan Liske, and 23-year-old brother Derek Griffin were all laid in their beds covered in blood. This was no prank – they had all been shot and bludgeoned to death.
24-year-old William Liske Jr, the oldest son of murdered William Liske, was arrested 170 miles from the crime scene. Liske Jr had repeated run-ins with law enforcement that included jail time and mental health treatment. During the trial, the court heard that Liske Jr had sexually assaulted Mrs Liske just a week before he murdered his family in cold blood.
Liske Jr had no explanation why he killed them all – blaming his actions on poor mental health. He told the jury, “I loved my dad very much, and it makes me feel sick every time I think about what I did. I can’t really explain why this all had to happen, but I think most of all it had to do with my mental illness.” He is currently serving a life sentence at Ottawa County Jail, Port Clinton, Ohio.
8. The Real Life Candy Man
Ronald Clark O’Bryan, now nicknamed The Candy Man and The Man Who Killed Halloween, was convicted of killing his 8-year-old son Timothy on Halloween 1974 with potassium cyanide. He gave Halloween candy laced with the poison to his son, daughter, and three other children in an attempt to cover up the crime – making it seem as if all the candy in the area was poisoned – however the other children didn’t eat the deadly treats.
O’Bryan had financial problems, he lived with his wife and two children in Deer Park, Texas, and he was in debt of more than $100,000. Six months before the death of his son, he took out $10,000 life insurance policies on both of his children. Then just one month before he took out additional $20,000 policies on each child again.
On June 3rd, 1975, a jury took 71 minutes to sentence him to death. On March 28th 1984, O’Bryan was executed by lethal injection at the Huntsville Unit, Texas. In his final statement, O’Bryan maintained his innocence stating that he felt the death penalty was “wrong”. Adding, “I forgive all – and I do mean all -those who have been involved in my death. God bless you all and may God’s best blessings be always yours.” During the execution, a crowd of 300 demonstrators gathered outside the prison and many yelled: “Trick or treat!”
7. Minister Strangles Young Girl To Death – Then Asks Congregation To Pray She’s Found Safe
John White, a former minister of a small Michigan congregation, killed his fiancée’s 24-year-old daughter, Rebekah Gay, as he allegedly had a fantasy to be with a dead body. White, who had two prior convictions for attacking women, was sentenced to never leave prison – but he killed himself in his prison cell in 2013.
According to police, White confessed to killing Gay in her Broomfield Township home the night of Halloween in 2012. He regularly babysat his fiancée’s two children as she went to work. On the day of the murder, White drank several beers and repeatedly struck Rebekah’s head with a mallet and then strangled her with a zip tie. Once he had dumped the body in the woods, he returned home, dressed Rebekah’s 3-year-old brother for Halloween and took him to see his father.
As police searched all rural areas around Isabella County, Michigan, White asked his congregation to pray she would be found safe. Rebekah’s mother, Sally Gay, later broke down in tears in court and screamed at White, “For 20 excruciating hours we prayed that Rebekah would could home. She was not yours to take. How dare you.” Sally also added that Rebekah was the family’s “heart and soul.”
6. Woman Stabbed Over Halloween Candy
In 2011, 55-year-old Ledell Peoples was so angered over a missing bag of trick or treat candy that he stabbed 49-year-old Maria Adams several times on the night of Halloween in Chicago. Adams died later that night at Stroger Hospital.
Investigators found a fight broke out between the friends over a missing bag of candy. Adams threw a plate and cut the eye of Peoples, then as the fight continued to escalate, he grabbed a knife and fatally wounded her.
5. The Trick or Treat Murderer
In 1957, on Halloween night, beauty shop owner Peter Fabiano and his wife Betty heard the doorbell ring at their home in Los Angeles. Peter went downstairs to answer the door, believing it was late night trick-or-treaters and he was shot down in cold blood. Betty ran down the stairs, found her husband with a gunshot wound to the chest, and heard the sound of a vehicle speeding off.
Peter died on the way to the hospital from his injuries. It took two weeks for investigators to piece together exactly what had happened to such a well-loved and respected couple. Then it all became clear…
Betty had become close to a woman who had worked in the beauty shop named Joan Rabel. Peter was jealous of the two women, who had became lovers, and he demanded his wife never see her mistress again. After interviewing Joan’s acquaintances, detectives learned that she was most definitely not at home the night of the murder and they also found a .38 caliber gun in a lockbox under her name that matched the one used to kill Peter.
Rabel pleaded not guilty but accepted a plea deal for second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
4. Drug Dealer Kills Trick or Treaters With An AK-47
27-year-old drug dealer Quentin Patrick shot 12-year-old TJ Darrisaw more than a dozen times with an AK-47 because he knocked on his door as he was trick or treating. On Halloween in 2012, the paranoid crack dealer fatally wounded the boy, believing he was sent by a rival drug dealer to kill him.
Patrick and his girlfriend were “freaked out” by people walking around the neighborhood in Sumter, South Carolina, wearing masks. When he was arrested, police found $7,500, four ounces of cocaine and other drug paraphernalia on his property.
He was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter instead of murder and sentenced to just 16 years behind bars.
3. The Murder of Tony Bagley
On Halloween night 1994, tragically 7-year-old Tony Bagley was murdered whilst trick or treating in his neighborhood at North Las Vegas. Dressed as a skeleton, he wandered down the street and a mystery gunman reportedly jumped out of the darkness and opened fire at his family.
His older sister, mother and aunty were also hit but they survived. The only description of the gunman they could give was that he was African American, about 5’8″ tall and wearing dark-colored clothing. Some of his family members speculated the killing was a hit from a rival drug gang who were after revenge on his father.
More than twenty years has passed and still the case remains unsolved.
2. Jake Evans’ Halloween Inspiration
17-year-old Jake Evans of Aledo, Texas, watched the remake of John Carpenter’s Halloween three times before the urge to kill struck. Impressed at the ease in which the main character, Michael Myers, committed the murders, and the lack of remorse the character felt, Evans plotted his own course of murder.
At first Evans intended to kill his 15-year-old sister and his mother with a knife, which was the weapon of Michael Myers’ choice. However, he decided on a revolver, which he stole from his grandfather. He wanted to make the killing less painful for his family he later admitted to the police.
Then on September 2012, he entered his sister’s bedroom and turned the gun on her. At first she thought he was joking, typical of her brother’s erratic behaviour, yet sadly it was no joke and he shot her in the back of the head. He then moved on to his mother’s room and pointed the gun at her. He shot her three times until she was dead. Afterwards he heard a noise from his sister’s room and he realised he had failed to properly kill her, returning to her room he shot her again until he was satisfied she was gone.
Evans then dialled 911 to confess his crime. He told the operator that the killing “just kind of happened”. When she asked for more details Evans told her he had been planning to kill for a while and when asked who, he said “pretty much anybody”. When the operator asked him why he killed two members of his family, he said “they were just suffocating me in a way…I’m pretty, I guess, evil..” He then told the operator “This is going to really mess me up in the future”.
As he was under 18-years-old he avoided the death penalty and received a 45 year sentence instead.
1. The Tool Box Serial Killers
American serial killers Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris were known as the ‘Tool Box Killers’ who kidnapped, tortured and murdered five teenage girls over five months in South Carolina in 1979. They earned their name through the choice of household weapons they would kill their victims with – often carried from the crime scenes in a tool box.
Their crimes were so depraved; FBI Special Agent John Douglas said they were the most disturbing individuals upon whom he has ever performed a criminal profile.
The fifth and final victim was 16-year-old waitress Shirley Ledford, who they killed on Halloween night. She was hitchhiking home from a Halloween party in the Sunland-Tujunga suburb of Los Angeles and investigators believe she accepted a ride from the twisted pair. After two hours of torture, they strangled her to death with a wire coat hanger. A jogger found her discarded body the following morning.
After they were caught for their hideous crimes, Bittaker was sentenced to death in 1981 and is currently incarcerated on death row at San Quentin State Prison. Norris accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to life imprisonment and he is currently incarcerated at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility.