Halloween Horror: 4 True-Life Stories of Holiday Terror

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Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com.

Halloween – the creepy holiday where people decide it’s okay to release their inner freak. And for the most part, it’s all in the name of fun. But sometimes, the creepiness goes too far and people wind up hurt. Or even, dead.

Here are 4 horrific true-life stories of Halloween mayhem.

Mischief Leads to Murder in the Bronx

Egging, a popular and dangerous Halloween tradition, has sometimes led to very unfortunate consequences. And the reason is simple. Innocent, unsuspecting people are pelted with raw eggs, and then anger ensues. Most of the time, cooler heads prevail, and everyone goes on their merry way. But not this time.

On Halloween night in 1998, twenty-something Karl Jackson was driving with his girlfriend and her son through the Bronx. Suddenly, an egg slammed into their car. Understandably angry, Karl stopped the car, got out and exchanged words with the teenage eggers.

Karl eventually got back in the car and drove off. Little did he know, but one of the punk teenagers, Curtis Sterling, got into his own car and followed Karl. Shortly thereafter, 17-year old Sterling approached Karl’s parked car and shot him in the head. Killing Karl instantly.

A tragic story indeed. Sterling was sentenced to 20 years in prison. And each year on Halloween, Karl’s mother sends the killer a card that simply reads “I’m glad you’re still there.”

The Slaying of Marvin Brandland

The year was 1982. And the night started out as a typical Halloween for Marvin and Ethel Brandland. They joyfully handed out candy to neighborhood trick or treaters. Then, something went terribly wrong. The doorbell rang one last time on that notorious Halloween evening. Standing in the doorway was a young man wearing a pillowcase for a mask.

The masked man immediately threatened to shoot the elderly couple if they did not fork over some cash. But this was no random robbery. And that’s because the man specifically demanded money from the Brandland’s basement safe. And only a handful of people knew about that safe. So, it had to be someone they knew. But who specifically, they had no clue.

Based on the size and apparent age of the man, Marvin thought the whole situation was an annoying teenage prank. So, he laughed it off and reached for the gun. That’s when the thief shot Marvin in the throat. In panic mode, the killer threw off the pillowcase and fled.

Ethel ran to help her husband, and never got a chance to see the murderer’s unmasked face. The investigation into Marvin’s murder never materialized into any convictions. The case went cold.

Then, many years later, the case was reopened. And, in 2010, the pillowcase was submitted for DNA testing. But unfortunately, the pillowcase did not contain enough genetic material, leading to an inconclusive analysis. To date, no one has been brought to justice for the slaying of Marvin Brandland.

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Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org.

Murders of Ronald Sisman and Elizabeth Platzman

In the early hours of Halloween in 1981, Ronald Sisman and Elizabeth Platzman were murdered in their Manhattan apartment. Their bodies were found severely beaten, and each of them had bullet holes in the back of their heads. Investigators determined that they were shot execution style.

Many theories as to the motive were tossed around. However, no solid leads ever turned up. Then, one day, the police had a potential crack in the case. A prison snitch told investigators that he heard a fellow inmate discussing the murder weeks before it occurred.

And who was that inmate? Well, it was none other than serial killer David Berkowitz…also known as the Son of Sam.

Supposedly, Berkowitz belonged to a satanic cult who would commit crimes on his behalf. The snitch claimed that the murder victim, Sisman, had photographic evidence of one of Berkowitz’s unsolved crimes. And, in an effort to escape unrelated drug charges, Sisman was planning on handing over the evidence to police. So, in an effort to stop this, some of Berkowitz’s cult members murdered Sisman and his girlfriend.

The informant’s story gained some traction, but there was never enough evidence to pin the crime on any individual. The murders were never solved, and the case still remains open with the NYPD.

Halloween Mayhem

It was a peaceful Halloween night in 1963 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Hundreds of people were enjoying a special “Holiday on Ice” skating event at the fairgrounds’ Coliseum. At around 11 p.m., the skating public was just finishing up a Mardi Gras themed medley of songs. Everyone was in great spirits.

But then, the unthinkable occurred.

Propane gas had begun to leak from a rusty tank located at the concession area of the Coliseum. But no one had a clue that this was happening. And just as the skaters began to form a pinwheel formation for a special skating dance, the leaked gas came into contact with an electric popcorn machine.

Then, boom!

A massive explosion shot a blast of fire 40 feet into the air through the seating area located above the concession area. Body parts and building debris rained down. The explosion was devastating. 54 people were immediately killed, with 20 more perishing soon thereafter from injuries, resulting in a death toll of 74. A striking 400 more people were injured.

Despite the clear negligence that led to this horrifying deadly event, no one was ever convicted. The only semblance of justice was the $4.6 million in settlements received by survivors and victims of the explosion.

No amount of fake spiderwebs or spooky carved pumpkins could top the horror of these truly disturbing events. Do you have any scary Halloween stories to share?

***

Read the latest in the Forensic Mystery Award-winning Series.

SCENE OF THE CRIME, A Chip Palmer Forensic Mystery

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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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