The Most Frightening Crimes That Happened On Halloween

Halloween is the scariest night of the year. Some of our ancestors used to think that was when the divide between the living and the dead was at its thinnest, and even today you can almost convince yourself that figure in the distance is a ghost. And you should definitely be terrified of them, because what they're much more likely to be is someone who wants to kill you. Sick, twisted people with murderous intentions don't take All Hallows' Eve off to enjoy a costume party and some apple bobbing. If history is any indication, some think it's the perfect night to get their killing on.

Sometimes they might have been planning their crime for ages, other times it's completely spur-of-the-moment. But the end result is always the same: Someone ends up dead, often in horrific ways. These are some of the most frightening crimes ever to occur on Halloween.

It's tacky to invite your victim's mom to your wedding

In 2004, Lauren Meanza, Leslie Mazzara, and Adriane Insogna moved into a house together. They held a small housewarming party, and the guest list included a good friend and her fiancé, Eric Copple.

On Halloween of that year, Meanza woke up to the sound of someone coming up the stairs, according to ABC News. She assumed it was one of the other girls' boyfriends and ignored it. But then there was a "blood-curdling, terrified scream." Meanza ran out of the house and hid in the backyard. After a bit she went inside and found one of her roommates stabbed to death, and the other one quickly dying. She called 911 and fled.

Cops were at a loss. Despite talking to more than 1,200 people they had no suspects. They found DNA on two cigarette butts and in a drop of blood, but didn't have a match. Almost a year later, after Copple's family realized he smoked the same uncommon brand of cigarettes, he turned himself in and confessed. But the Weekly Calistogan says that even though he admitted to the crime, he never gave a reason why he did it.

And Copple might have been able to get away with it. He certainly went about his life in the previous 11 months as if nothing was amiss. He even invited the mother of one of his victims to read a Bible passage in her honor at his wedding, just two months after the killings.

People take Halloween candy seriously

One of the greatest things about being an adult is you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Want cereal for dinner? Done. A leftover piece of cake for breakfast? Bam. Candy at literally any point in time? Nobody is going to tell you no. So the bag of Halloween candy that was so precious to you as a child kind of loses its importance when you get older. As an adult, you can eat diabetes-inducing amounts of candy any day of the year.

NBC News says Ledell Peoples, a 55-year-old very much grown-up person who could easily buy himself candy, forgot this on Halloween in 2011. He had a bag of Halloween candy, and it went missing. Instead of accepting this and moving on, or politely asking everyone if they had seen it, he immediately accused his acquaintance Maria Adams of taking it. Somehow, this turned into a "brawl."

Things seem to have escalated pretty quickly. At one point, someone threw a plate at Peoples and he got a gash over his eye. The violence peaked when Peoples pulled out a knife and stabbed Adams numerous times. Somebody there must have had a cool enough head to call 911, because Peoples was almost immediately arrested, and Adams was rushed to a hospital.

Peoples was originally charged with attempted murder, but his charges were upgraded when Adams died of her wounds a few days later. Can you go trick-or-treating in prison?

Everyone needs to just quit throwing eggs

Egg-throwing is a Halloween tradition. A terrible tradition, but a tradition nonetheless. It also often ends in violence. The most famous incident was the death of Karl Jackson on Halloween in 1998.

The 21-year-old Jackson was driving his girlfriend and her young son home from a children's party in the Bronx, according to the New York Times. They were going to drop the child off with a babysitter and then head to another party. But on the way an egg hit their car. Jackson got out and confronted the group of young men responsible. After words were exchanged, Jackson drove away. But one of the egg-throwers was pissed off and followed them. When Jackson stopped a few blocks later, the youth shot him in the temple. Jackson was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.

Fortunately, the killer was caught and convicted. Another New York Times article says that as of 2010 he was still behind bars, and that every year he gets a special Halloween card from Jackson's mother, always with the same message: "I'm glad you're still there."

But this was far from the only egg-related killing in New York City alone. People also died as a result of the prank in 1984, 1987, 1989, 1994, and 1995, while 1993 and 1996 saw non-fatal shootings of children. All because some people think Halloween is the perfect time to chuck breakfast food around.

Rule 34 has a lot to answer for

Fifty-five-year-old John Douglas White was messed up in the head. Apparently having exhausted all the other dirty stuff on the internet, he turned to watching snuff videos and ones of people violating corpses. And this gave him what he thought was a brilliant idea: He would kill Rebekah Gay, his 24-year-old neighbor, and violate her dead body.

White, a former church pastor, didn't do this on a whim. According to CBS, he later told police he had been thinking about it for two weeks. Finally, in the early hours of Halloween in 2012, he drank four or five beers to get liquid courage. Then he broke into Gay's mobile home and knocked her unconscious with a mallet. He strangled her with a zip tie and, once she was dead, undressed her. Then he was seemingly too drunk to finish his sick mission because he told cops he couldn't get it up. So instead White just disposed of the body.

This whole time, Gay's 3-year-old son was in the trailer. White, despite having just murdered the kid's mom, seemingly didn't feel comfortable leaving him alone. So he hung around for hours, then dressed the child in his Halloween costume and delivered him to his father for trick-or-treating.

After Gay failed to show up for work and was reported missing, White was almost immediately brought in for questioning and confessed to the twisted crime. He will serve at least 56 years in prison.

Even the Kennedys' cousins have issues

On Halloween 1975, 15-year-old Martha Moxley's body was found in her family's yard. The Daily Beast says she had probably been killed late the night before, beaten to death with such force that the golf club used had shattered into three pieces. The police called the frenzied attack "overkill," which usually indicates the victim knew their attacker, and there was a personal anger involved. But despite evidence almost immediately pointing to Michael and Timothy Skakel, seriously disturbed brothers who were neighbors and friends of Martha, cops decided it must have been a random attack by a hitchhiker. Maybe they didn't want to believe the teens did it because they were nephews of Bobby Kennedy and were insanely rich.

When finally interviewed by a private investigator years later, both brothers said their DNA might have been at the scene because it just so happened they each pleasured themselves, separately, at the exact tree Martha was found under on the night she died. Eventually, police reopened the case and evidence implicating Michael specifically started piling up.

He was finally put on trial and convicted in 2002, but then the appeals started. In 2013, Michael was released on bail based mostly on the argument his lawyer had been glaringly ineffective. He was still out in 2018. Meanwhile the Kennedys have closed ranks around him. In 2016, Michael's cousin Robert Kennedy Jr. even wrote a book claiming the real murderers were two black teenagers from the Bronx who killed Martha "caveman" style.

The 'Toolbox Killers' were unbelievably sick

One of the problems with prison is you have a lot of time to sit around and think. And since there are many twisted people behind bars, the stuff they think about is often messed up. Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris were both career criminals when they met in jail in 1978. By the time they were released a year later, they had come up with a sick plan. Working together, they would kidnap, torture, and kill several teenage girls. They converted a van into a mobile murder machine and began driving around looking for victims. Within two months they killed five girls, and the last died on Halloween 1979.

Thought Co. says her name was Lynette Ledford and she was 16 years old. After her kidnap, she was tortured and mutilated, before being strangled. The sadistic killers recorded her cries and pleas for mercy, clearly enjoying it. When she was finally dead, they dumped her on a suburban lawn to see how the media would react.

But Norris couldn't help bragging about their killing spree, and one person he told went to the cops. Both men were arrested. Norris cooperated with the police, and claimed it was Bittaker who did all the killing. At their trial, the tape they made of Ledford begging for her life was played to the jury. Bittaker got the death penalty, but for squealing on his accomplice Norris only got 45 years. He's up for parole in 2019.

A love triangle led to the Trick-or-Treat Murder

In 1957, salon owner Peter Fabiano thought his love triangle problems were over. He had just reconciled with his wife, Betty, who he had split with over her adulterous relationship -– with a woman. In the '50s this was beyond scandalous. Newspapers referred to lesbians as "abnormal" and saw them as "murderous degenerates." While these were horrible stereotypes, in this case they got the murderous part right.

According to the LA Times, Betty had been in a relationship with Joan Rabel. And Joan did not take being dumped well. She set out to get revenge on the man who had stolen her girlfriend, but she didn't want to do the killing herself. For over a month she talked about Peter to her friend Goldyne Pizer. Despite the fact Goldyne had never met him, she said she "built up an intense hatred for him" because Joan painted Peter as "a vile, evil man who wanted to destroy all people around him" and deserved to die.

Joan and Goldyne went together to buy a gun and two bullets, and then on Halloween they sat in a car outside the Fabianos' house. Eventually Goldyne, dressed in a costume and mask with the gun in a paper bag, went to the door and rang the bell. When Peter answered, expecting trick-or-treaters, she shot him. He died soon after.

Despite trying to cover their tracks, both women were arrested and convicted of second-degree murder.

The Jersey Shore Thrill Killer still had his mom

Around 6 p.m. on Halloween in 1981, 17-year-old Maria Ciallella told her parents she was going out and would be home by midnight. At 12, a cop saw her walking down the street. Just 10 minutes later he came back to offer her a ride, but she had vanished. No one would know what had happened to her for 18 months, when her body was found in a shallow grave cut up into three pieces, along with another corpse. They were in the yard of Richard Biegenwald's mother's house.

According to the New York Daily News, Biegenwald "was a demon from day one." He was just 5 years old when he tried to burn down his family's home. Then he got "wilder and more dangerous with each passing year." He escalated to robbery and car theft, and by 18 had killed a guy and was sent to prison for 17 years. When he got out he was quickly back to his old ways.

Things unraveled for him in 1983, when two boys found a body in some bushes. This led to an accomplice of Biegenwald's, who totally squealed. Soon the ex-con was connected to five new bodies, including Ciallella's. Dubbed the "Jersey Shore Thrill Killer," his motive was apparently just that he "wanted to see someone die." Biegenwald was headed back to jail for life this time.

But through all this, he always had his mother. She told reporters she still loved him and that she would care for him and visit him.

Halloween pranks are the worst

We can probably all agree that pranks in general are terrible. Have they ever been funny? Did anyone actually enjoy Punk'd? If you're going to try a prank, one of the most important things to think about before you do it is: Does this have the potential to kill anyone? On Halloween in 2011, Frank Alba, a fully grown adult with all his faculties, forgot this golden rule. Instead, he decided it would be fun to traumatize some children for life.

He planned the "prank" with a friend. Courthouse News Service says Alba knew some children would be returning from trick-or-treating nearby, so he was ready for them. He dressed in a "bloody" apron and grabbed a real, actual chainsaw. Then he hid in the bushes and waited.

As the children approached, he jumped out of his hiding place, revving the (once again) real, actual chainsaw right in their faces. Of course, they were scared out of their minds and fled. One of them, Leslie Garcia, ran into the busy road and was hit by a truck. She sustained serious injuries to her head, neck, arms, legs, back, and spine, some of which were permanent. Her family sued Alba, saying he had to know that waving a chainsaw around could lead to kids getting hurt or dying, not to mention they will probably be waking up screaming every night for the next few decades. The outcome of the lawsuit is unclear.

Johnny Frank Garrett's mental state was an issue

Sometimes people do unspeakably evil things, but they might not be legally responsible for their actions. The case of Johnny Frank Garrett started an international conversation on insanity and the death penalty in America.

On Halloween in 1981, 17-year-old Garrett got drunk and high on LSD. He broke into a convent, allegedly to steal a stereo, but it ended up being a million times worse. While there, he went into the bedroom of 76-year-old Sister Tadea Benz and raped her. Then he stabbed and strangled her to death.

It was a horrific crime and Garrett was convicted and sentenced to die. But news articles compiled by Murderpedia show that a lot of people started questioning if the sentence was fair. One of his lawyers said he was insane, suffering from multiple personality disorder, and "simply too crazy to kill." It was possibly down to Garrett's childhood, since a mental health expert who examined him said the killer had "one of the most virulent histories of abuse and neglect ... I have encountered in 28 years of practice." Amnesty International opposed his execution, and even Pope John Paul II and the nuns from the victim's convent asked for mercy.

Despite all this, Garrett was executed by lethal injection in 1992, aged just 28. He declared his innocence until the end.