If you’re into true crime, it’s probably safe to say that with all the stuff you read, hear and watch on the topic, that it’s pretty difficult to really scare you, right?
I’m also assuming that as a true crime fan, you’re probably into Halloween. So, since we’re halfway through October now and the 31st is fast approaching, I thought I’d put together a countdown of the most terrifying cases I’ve come across in my research that just completely scare the bejeezus out of me. This is stuff that should be made up, but it’s not.
So if you’re planning to sleep tonight, I suggest leaving this page right about now…
Warning: some of the description here is graphic/upsetting and may not be for everyone.
5. Who Put Bella In The Wych Elm?
It’s 1943 in Worcestershire, England. Four boys decide to go to Hagley Wood, which is located on the grounds of the estate Hagley Hall. The boys are not meant to be there; they made the decision to go to the wood because they thought it would be a good place for hunting (in this case, poaching) for birds. One of the boys climbed a tree and ended up finding something he wasn’t expecting, however: a human skull, located within the trunk of the tree.
Given that the boys were not meant to be on the land in the first place, they made a pact not to tell anyone about their discovery. However, the pressure got to be too much for the youngest boy; he broke down and told his parents, who then reported it to the police.
On investigation, police found a full skeleton in the tree, as well as a shoe and a gold wedding ring. Forensic examination of the skeleton and skull allowed investigators to come up with a pretty clear picture of what the woman looked like when she was alive. They determined that she had been dead for around 18 months, having most likely been suffocated, given the piece of taffeta they found in her mouth.
So many people went missing during WWII, however, making it near impossible to identify the woman. The name "‘Bella” stuck, given that she was found in a Witch Elm, and Belladonna is associated with witchcraft. There was even a theory that the woman had been involved in witchcraft and murdered because of it.
Even though the crime happened over 70 years ago, it is still a regularly debated case. It was given the name when graffiti began to appear around Birmingham saying, “Who put Luebella down the wych–elm?” The graffiti has come and gone; currently the words “Who put Bella in the in the Witch Elm” have been written on the Wychbury Obelisk in Worcestershire, England, since 1999.
Read more here.
4. The Black Dahlia
If you don’t know the Black Dahlia, where have you been? It’s one of the most notorious unsolved cases in history. In 1947, 22 year old Elizabeth Short, a Boston native, was living in Los Angeles, in hopes of becoming an actress. Short was working as a waitress in the city while attending auditions. Short’s dreams never came true, however. In fact, her life came to an abrupt and horrible end.
On January 15th, 1947, a woman and her child were taking a walk shortly before 11am. On the walk, they came across something that looked very much like a mannequin from a clothing store. However, on closer inspection, the mother realised that this was no mannequin; it was a human corpse.
The most shocking part of the case of The Black Dahlia, and the reason it is so well known, is the horrific circumstances in which Short was found. Her body had been cut in half and posed in a grotesque manner. She was extremely pale, having been completely drained of blood. She had been cut on either side of her face, from her mouth to her ears, creating the effect of a “Glasgow Smile”.
The name “The Black Dahlia” was given to Elizabeth Short due to her dark hair and clothing she was known to always wear. Several theories exist as to what happened to The Black Dahlia, and her case has been the subject of a number of books and films. The case remains unsolved to this day, however, and most likely will always be.
3. The Icebox Murders
I admit this is kind of a new one to me, but I had to put it in here because it’s short and sweet and extremely terrifying. It was 1965 in Houston, Texas and Charles Rogers, aged 43, was living with his parents, Fred and Edwina. No one knew a whole lot about Charles; he was pretty much a recluse. Supposedly the only way he communicated with his parents was through notes passed under his bedroom door. Charles was a smart guy - he had a BSc in Nuclear Physics from the University of Houston and spoke 7 languages. In WWII, he served as a pilot for the US Navy, and after the war, was employed by Shell Oil as a seismologist (someone who studies earthquakes).
On the 23rd of June 1965, Marvin, Edwina’s nephew, called the police as he had not heard from his aunt for several days. They were in contact regularly; it wasn’t like his aunt to not call him back. The police went by the house to see if anything out of the ordinary was going on. When they entered the home, nothing seemed amiss. They entered the kitchen, where nothing had been noticeably disturbed. When one of the police officers opened the fridge, they found several cuts of meat sitting inside, which they thought was from an animal, such as a cow or a pig. This still didn’t seem odd, until one officer noticed a silhouette at the back of the fridge. Here things changed; on further investigation, what the officers found at the back of the fridge were 2 human heads, belonging to Fred and Edwina Rogers. And the meat in the fridge? That didn’t belong to an animal…
Charles was nowhere to be found, however; he had disappeared into thin air. To this day, the case remains unsolved. Charles, who was declared dead in absentia in 1975, was the only suspect in the murder of his parents.
2. Luka Magnotta
Maybe not Halloween related specifically but terrifying all the same. Canadian Luka Magnotta went on a quest for fame that went all kinds of wrong. At age 21, Magnotta was working as a male escort and appearing in low budget porn films. Completely self absorbed, Magnotta had convinced himself that he possessed overwhelming sex appeal and planned to pursue modelling. His modelling career failed to ever take off, however, it’s peak being a pin-up in a 2005 issue of fab magazine out of Toronto. In 2007, he auditioned for modelling TV show COVERguy and was turned down. Having had several plastic surgery procedures, Magnotta also auditioned for the reality show Plastic Makes Perfect but was once again turned down.
As his life spiralled, he became more involved in criminal activity, including identity theft and fraud. Magnotta began to spread rumours about himself on the Internet using different names and accounts on social media; one of them being that he was in a relationship with convicted murderer Karla Homolka.
Some years later, in May 2012, a lawyer from Montana came across a video on the Canadian shock site bestgore.com, which he believed depicted a real murder. It was titled 1 Lunatic 1 Icepick and the content was truly horrific (I won’t describe it here, but you can imagine). The lawyer reported it to authorities in the US and Canada, but it was dismissed as being a fake. After a number of further complaints about the video, police took another look. This time they determined the video was genuine.
Several days later, a package containing a human foot was delivered to the Conservative Party of Canada Headquarters, while another package was delivered to the Liberal Party containing a human hand. Around the same time, residents of an apartment block in the Snowdon neighbourhood of Montreal complained of a foul smell coming from behind the apartment block. The police investigated, and inside a discarded suitcase they found a human torso. They identified the torso as belonging to Lin Jun, a Chinese international student studying in Montreal. Discovery of papers and other discarded items, as well as security camera footage from the apartment block, meant they were able to identify Luka Magnotta as their prime suspect.
On searching the apartment, no doubt remained for investigators that Luka Magnotta was the murderer. However, by then Magnotta had fled to Paris. He had not covered his tracks particularly well, having bought a plane ticket in his name. Canadian authorities had Interpol put out a Red notice for Magnotta, which meant he could be arrested and sent back to Canada by authorities in whichever country he was located.
Once again, Magnotta had not been particularly careful at concealing his identity. At the time he was arrested, he was located in an internet cafe in Berlin reading news stories about himself. On the 4th of June, German police arrested him. The next day, two Vancouver elementary schools received further packages, one containing a human foot and the other containing a human hand.
On June 18th, Magnotta was brought back to Canada on a military plane. His hearing began on the March 11th, 2013. He was charged with first-degree murder, offering indignities to a human body, distributing obscene materials, using the postal service to distribute obscene materials, and criminal harassment. Magnotta was so despised by the public that his defence team requested that the media and public be banned from attending the trial; rightfully so, this request was turned down.
On December 23, 2014, the jury found Magnotta guilty on all counts, and he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Lin Jun - 25 years without the possibility of parole. He was also sentenced to a further 19 years for the 4 other charges. Magnotta is an example of humanity at it’s very worst; he’s the definition of a monster if I ever heard of one.
RIP, Lin Jun.
1. Richard Chase aka. The Vampire of Sacramento
If there ever was a vampire that was real, it was Richard Chase. As a teenager, Chase began to abuse drugs and alcohol and with that complained of a number of bizarre health conditions, for example, having his pulmonary artery stolen, that his heart was shrinking and would randomly stop beating, and that the bones of his skull were moving around.
Shortly after moving out of his mother’s house, Chase began to capture small animals and eat them raw or put them in a blender with Coca Cola, having convinced himself that this may stop his heart from shrinking. In 1976, a 26 year old Chase spent time in a mental institution after injecting himself with rabbit blood.
Released from the mental institution, Chase moved from on from drinking animal blood to human blood. From December 29, 1977 to January 27, 1978 Chase went on a killing spree, where he murdered 6 people with the motivation of drinking their blood to stay alive.
In May 1978 Chase was convicted of 6 counts of first degree murder and sentenced to death. While in prison, Chase was interviewed by FBI Behavioural Analyst Robert Ressler, whom he told that Nazis in UFOs were responsible for the murders as they forced him to kill. He also took from his pocket a large handful of macaroni and cheese that he believe the prison guards had poisoned and asked Ressler to have it tested.
On December 26, 1980, Chase was found dead in his cell as after overdosing on antidepressants.