Cold nights. Warm fires. Cozy celebrations. That’s what Christmas is all about for most of us. But, sadly, the high emotions that surround the holidays can sometimes turn horrifically dark.
While many savor the joy of the season, some people’s lives are destroyed by deranged psychopaths.
The Murder of Michelle O’Dowd
Described as a sweet and gentle woman, 67 year old Michelle O’Dowd liked to help people. So, during the holidays in 2011, Michelle invited a down and out family friend to stay at her home in a quiet Florida gated community. The friend – 40 year old Patty White – was even given access to Michelle’s debit card to purchase groceries for the both of them.
But, despite Michelle’s generosity of free housing and food, White apparently wanted more. And when she didn’t get it, things went horribly wrong for Michelle. Several weeks before Christmas, Michelle’s twin brother discovered Michelle’s beaten and strangled body hidden beneath presents under her own Christmas tree.
After killing Michelle, White fled to South Carolina. Prior to fleeing the state, White was caught on surveillance footage withdrawing $1,000 from Michelle’s bank account. The cowardly killer stole the money using the debit card generously offered by Michelle for groceries.
White was caught within days of the murder, and was extradited to Florida to face murder charges. She was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
It was Christmas Eve, 2008. The Pardo family was celebrating the holidays with a gathering of 25 people. As the celebration was drawing to a close, someone knocked on the door around 11:30 pm. When an 8-year old girl answered the door, she was greeted by a man wearing a Santa Claus suit. In one hand, Santa held a semi-automatic handgun, and in the other hand – a gift wrapped homemade flamethrower. That’s right. A flamethrower.
The man in the Santa outfit was Jeffrey Pardo. And he had just finalized his divorce a week prior. The home being invaded by Pardo was the residence of his former in-laws.
When the young girl opened the door, Pardo immediately began shooting. The young girl sustained a facial injury. Pardo then opened fire on the rest of the 25 partygoers. He had 4 guns in total, and when Pardo was done shooting, he unleashed the flamethrower – burning the house to the ground.
By the time Pardo was done with his rampage, nine people had died and three more were injured. The ensuing fire was so bad, that it took 80 firefighters to extinguish the flames. Dental records were required to identify the victims.
Shortly after the macabre event, Pardo was found dead 30 miles away with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In 2014, Dustin Klopp, his wife – Stephanie Kilhefner – and their children were getting ready to leave their home for a Christmas Eve shindig at Klopp’s parents’ house. Then, Klopp and Kilhefner got into a heated argument, which ended in Klopp cutting his wife’s throat with a knife, and striking her head repeatedly with an axe.
Their children did not witness the event. So, after killing his wife, Klopp dragged her body into the shed. He then gathered the children and went to his parents’ house to celebrate Christmas Eve.
After telling his father about the killing, Klopp was urged to turn himself in to the police. Which he did.
Klopp was charged with murder and abuse of a corpse, which stems from the allegation that he sexually assaulted his wife after the killing.
In 2015, Klopp died in prison as a result of hanging himself.
Murder Mansion of Los Feliz
Weeks before Christmas in 1959, a dark event took place in the swanky Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz. At 4:30 in the morning, cardiologist Harold Perelson pummeled his sleeping wife with a ball-peen hammer. She choked to death on her own blood.
After killing his wife, Perelson headed over to the room of Judye, his teenage daughter. He struck Judye with the same hammer. But, his aim was off. And she escaped to a neighbor’s house. Judye then called the police.
Judye’s screams of terror woke Perelson’s youngest two children. When the kids approached their father, Perelson advised them to go back to sleep, as they were merely experiencing a nightmare. They were not killed.
Before the police arrived, Perelson had already killed himself with pills. During the investigation into the motive, it was revealed that Perelson was having financial problems. It was also discovered that Perelson had attempted suicide on several occasions, and that he was due to be committed to a mental hospital. The mansion where the murder took place remained untouched for nearly 50 years.
These terrifying true stories are a reminder of the dangers that exist in this world. The poor victims were primed to enjoy Christmas and all that comes with the holiday season. Yet, their fates were sealed by the hands of psychopaths who had no respect for human life.
Let’s all be grateful for the love in our lives, and continue to show respect for the people around us.
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