With Halloween right around the corner, it’s easy to let your guard down in order to have a good time. Whether you’re going to a costume party or handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, one is never fully safe from the dangers of the world.
While horror movies like John Carpenter’s Halloween have depicted terrifying scenarios that have occurred on Halloween, one need not look further than the local news for some truly terrifying tales.
Wicked Horror takes a look at some chilling, real-life horror stories that happened on or around Halloween. The following stories prove that the boogeyman is very real, and he comes in many forms.
Trick or Treat Murder
At around 11:30pm on Halloween night in 1957, 35 year-old hairdresser Peter Fabiano opened the door to a trick-or-treater—or so he thought. Standing on his doorstep was a person disguised in jeans, a jacket, red gloves and a mask. The stranger held up a .38 Smith & Wesson and shot Fabiano in the chest. He died shortly after.
As it turns out, the shooting was not random. In fact, Fabiano’s wife, Betty, had orchestrated the entire ordeal with her friend Joan Rabel, who recruited friend Goldyne Pizer to actually do the dirty work.
Court records show that before the murder the Fabiano’s had a rough patch, which brought Betty and her friend Joan closer. Peter wasn’t too happy about the blossoming relationship and he forbade the pair from ever seeing each other again. This restriction didn’t sit well for the two and they decided that he needed to die. Betty was never charged with the murder, but Joan and Pizer were charged with second-degree murder.
Grisly Halloween Decoration
Halloween decorations have become increasingly realistic over the years, so much so that people in Frederica, Delaware didn’t realize that a woman had hung herself from a tree days prior to Halloween. Around October 27, 2005, police discovered that a creepy “decoration” was actually a 42 year-old woman who had hung herself. Her body was suspended 15-feet above the ground and was located on a busy residential street.
In a similar case in October 2009, 75 year-old Mostafa Mahmoud Zayed sat dead on his balcony from a single gunshot wound to the head. It took several days for people to realize the scene was real and not just a Halloween decoration.
The Disappearance of the Playboy Bunny
South Korean college student Hyun Jong Song (aka Cindy) almost made it through Halloween safely. Dressed up as a Playboy bunny for a college Halloween party in 2001, the Penn State integrative arts major partied until 2:00 AM with friends. She was dropped off at her apartment at around 4:00am and was never seen or heard from again.
Her apartment showed no signs of a disturbance; even parts of her costume—like false eyelashes—were there. Several different theories revolved around the case, like a woman resembling Song being spotted in Philadelphia, or that Song was high on drugs at the time. However, the most interesting theory is one that revolves around criminal Hugo M. Selenski and the discovery of over a dozen bodies found on his property.
An accomplice implicated Selenski in the disappearance of Song and claimed that she was kidnapped and imprisoned until she died. No evidence was found to support the claims, and Selenski was acquitted of all murder charges against him. To this day, Song has still not been found.
The Smiley Face Murders
When heavily intoxicated college student Chris Jenkins disappeared after leaving a bar on Halloween night in 2002, his death was believed to be an accident following the discovery of his body four months later in the Mississippi River. Despite initial findings, the Jenkins family insisted that the case was not an accident, and eventually further investigation prompted the police to reopen the case as a homicide.
A jailhouse informant claimed he was there when Jenkins was murdered and thrown off a bridge, but due to the nature of Jenkins body and location of the bridge, the scenario was highly unlikely. Detectives on the case also theorized that Jenkins was the victim of a serial killer—or killers—they dubbed “The Smiley Face” killer(s).
The Smiley Face Murder theory was created by two retired NYPD officers after they connected the deaths of 45 college males whose bodies were found in water of apparent accidental drowning across the Midwest. In each location there was graffiti depicting a smiley face. While the theory is an interesting one, there is no definitive proof behind it and the Jenkins murder remains unsolved.
The Martha Moxley murder
Martha Moxley, aged 15, probably never imagined that attending a Halloween party at a friend’s house would result in her brutal murder. The young teen spent October 30, 1975 at the home of Michael and Thomas Skakel, relatives of the famous Kennedy family. The girl was seen flirting and kissing Thomas Skakel that night, and last seen leaving the party with him.
Moxley’s disheveled body was discovered underneath a tree in her backyard on Halloween morning. A broken golf club was next to her body and an autopsy showed that she had been bludgeoned and stabbed with the object, which was later traced back to the Skakel home.
Although Thomas was the last to be seen with Moxley, it was his younger brother Michael who was eventually convicted for the crime. His motive? Michael was reportedly in love with Moxley and jealous of the attention she was giving his brother. Questions regarding Skakel’s guilt or innocence still remain hotly debated and he was even granted a new trial and released on bail in 2013.
The Man Who Killed Halloween
Greed will make some people do just about anything, including murder. On Halloween in 1974, Ronald Clark O’Bryan and a neighbor took their children out trick-or-treating in their Texas neighborhood. At the end of the night, O’Bryan handed his children Pixy Stix and soon after his son Timothy ingested the powdered candy, he began vomiting and convulsing uncontrollably. He died en route to the hospital.
An autopsy showed that Timothy had consumed a fatal dose of potassium cyanide, and the death was initially believed to be a case of poisoned candy. Eventually it was discovered that O’Bryan, who was $100,000 in debt, had taken out hefty life insurance policies on his children—only one of which actually ate the poisoned candy. He was arrested and sentenced to death for his son’s murder.
The Halloween Killer
Over 40 years ago, a crime rocked Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, forever changing how Halloween would be celebrated there for years to come. On Halloween night in 1973, nine year-old Lisa French chose to go to the wrong house while trick-or-treating. She wasn’t rewarded with handfuls of candy when she rang her neighbor Gerald Turner’s doorbell, but instead she was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered. Her naked body was discovered wrapped in plastic, discarded on a nearby farm.
Nine months later, Gerald Turner was convicted of second-degree murder and was eventually released from prison. However, he violated his parole and is now behind bars. To this day, the town of Fond Du Lac has a strict trick-or-treating curfew. Children are only allowed to make their rounds between 3:30 and 5:30pm.
The Missing Halloween Candy
One of the joys of Halloween is all of the free candy you get to devour later that night. Well, when 55 year-old Ledell Peoples couldn’t find his bag of candy on Halloween night in 2010, he was pretty upset about it. He was so upset that he got into an argument with his girlfriend, 49 year-old Maria Adams, and accused her of stealing his goodies. She threw a plate at his head and he stabbed her in the chest. Adams died from the blow and Peoples was arrested.
The Girl in the Skunk Costume
Kid’s Halloween costumes can be really cute—and sometimes too lifelike. When a nine year-old girl dressed as a skunk was enjoying a Halloween family bon fire, she made the mistake of playing on a hill in the family’s yard. Because it was dark and hard to see the little girl was mistaken for an actual skunk and shot by a family member with a shot gun. The girl was seriously hurt and had to undergo surgery to repair organ and spinal damage from the gun blast.
The shooter, her uncle Thomas Grant, had no alcohol or drugs in his system and didn’t face any jail time for the accident.
Nightmare in Napa Valley
When roommates and best friends Leslie Mazzara and Adriane Insogna went to bed on Halloween night in 2004, they were unaware they were being watched and preyed upon by a disturbed man standing in their yard.
The man smoked cigarettes as he waited and watched their movements, until he eventually climbed through a window at 2 AM and stabbed both women to death. A third roommate on the first floor escaped and called police.
The police were able to trace the distinct cigarette brand found at the scene to Eric Copple, the husband of Adrianne’s close friend. Copple was reportedly jealous of the friendship between his wife and Adrianne, which is why he killed her. Unfortunately for Leslie, she just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Copple admitted to the crime and is currently serving a life sentence.
Halloween night can bring out all kinds of people and behaviors and in 2013 violence overtook the streets of New York City. In Brooklyn, a man dressed as Ghostface from Scream shot 19 year-old Anthony Seaberry in the torso. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. The killer was never caught and Seaberry’s death isn’t the only tragedy to occur that night.
Earlier in the night, a 46 year-old man was gunned down and murdered in his car, and around 11:30pm that same night, another man was fatally shot by a disguised man. The gun violence continued throughout the night, making for a dangerous evening for trick-or-treaters in the city.
Pasadena Halloween Homicides
As a kid, trick-or-treating is supposed to be harmless fun with friends and family. However, in 1993 a case of mistaken identity resulted in a deadly Halloween night for three teenage boys in Pasadena.
The innocent trick-or-treaters, 13-year-old Edgar Evans, and 14-year-olds Stephen Coats and Reggie Crawford, were mistaken as Crips gang members by members of a rival Bloods gang. The five gang members were on the hunt to retaliate for the death of a fellow member when they spotted the three boys near a rival gang member’s home.
According to the trial, the shooters waited in the bushes for the boys to pass, jumped out and shouted, “Trick or treat,” before proceeding to shoot and kill them. Throughout their trial the suspects threatened to murder bailiffs and jury members, and shouted obscenities without a care for their actions. Three of the gang members were sentenced to death in 1996, on the third anniversary of the Halloween slayings.
The Tool Box Killers
On October 31, 1979, sixteen year old Shirley Ledford was hitchhiking home from a Halloween party in a suburb of Los Angeles. Ledford made the unfortunate mistake of accepting a ride from two men, Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris.
Bittaker and Norris were deeply disturbed individuals with a shared love of sexual violence and misogyny, and in 1979 the pair kidnapped, tortured and killed at least five teenage girls over a period of five months. Shirley Ledford was their final victim.
Over the course of several hours Bittaker and Norris drove around in their van brutally torturing Ledford with toolbox appliances, sexually assaulting her, and beating and strangling her to death—which was all recorded by the deranged psychopath’s on a recording device. The pair became known as the “Tool Box Killers” for their choice of attack, and both are currently on death row.