Ah, children. They bring joy and laughter to families, making their parents proud as they hit milestones in their young lives that moms and dads hope to remember forever. Well, most children.
In 1956 there was a movie called The Bad Seed. At the center of the story was eight-year-old Rhoda who seemed as if she was a sweet, adorable, kind-hearted little girl. Yet, there were series of events that made her housewife mother suspect that her daughter was really a diabolical, murderous sociopath. Though this is a work of classic film fiction, the mom paid close attention to crazy little Rhoda, but not after learning *spoilers!* that she’d killed two people.
Sure, this plot makes for a great film (really, you should watch it), but it isn’t so far off from reality. We’re shocked when we read about the brutal murders that adults carry out every day around the world, but the more disturbing tales come from killer kids. It’s believed that people who become notorious killers as adults exhibit creepy antisocial, animal-abusing, fire-starting, voyeuristic behaviors… or maybe like the kids on this list, they didn’t wait until they got older and just started murdering before they were old enough to vote.
15. Two Boys Kidnapped A Toddler From A Mall And Tortured Him In A Remote Area
Two-year-old James Bulger was visiting a shopping mall with his mother, Denise, in February of 1993. At the same time, two ten-year-old boys, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, were skipping school. They went to the shopping center and stole a few items from various stores before they watched children pass by. They were looking for the perfect victim, and that’s when they saw James.
Denise turned her attention away from her son for just a moment, and that’s when the two boys lured the toddler away from his mother and out of the mall. Dozens of people saw the trio together, but when they were asked any questions, Venables and Thompson told them that James was their little brother. After taking the boy to a remote area by some train tracks, they put modeling paint in James’s eye before they kicked him and stomped on him. They put batteries in his mouth and threw sticks and rocks at him. A 22-pound iron bar was dropped on him, fracturing his skull in 10 places. The boys weighed down James’s body on the tracks, hoping to disguise their crime. James’s body was cut in half by a train.
They were both found guilty and were held until they turned 18. They were released and given new identities in 2001, but in 2010, Venables was sent back to prison for violating his parole. He was released again in 2013.
14. He Became A Famous Serial Killer, But His First Murder Was At 15
Paranoid schizophrenic Edmund Kemper would go on to be recognized as “The Co-ed Killer.” He would target young female hitchhikers, earn their trust, then drive them to remote areas where he would kill them. He then took their bodies back to him home where he engaged in necrophilia and possible cannibalism. Sometimes, he would keep the heads of his victims for days before he would finally get rid of them. In 1973, he beat his mother to death with a clawhammer and slit her throat. He then invited her friend over and strangled her to death before cutting off her head. Kemper turned himself over to police.
These weren’t all of Kemper’s victims. In 1964, when he was 15-years-old, Kemper was living with his grandparents in California. He hated it there, and one day, he got into an argument with his grandmother. He went and got the family’s .22 rifle and shot and killed her while she sat at the kitchen table. When his grandfather returned home, Kemper shot him as he made his way up the driveway. He told authorities he “just wanted to see what it felt like to kill Grandma.” Kemper is currently serving out eight life sentences.
13. A Morbid Teen Dug Shallow Graves For Her Victims
When Alyssa Bustamante was sentenced in 2012 at the age of 18, she addressed the court and expressed remorse for her heinous crimes. However, that certainly wasn’t the case three years prior when Bustamante called the act of killing her nine-year-old neighbor, Elizabeth Olten, “enjoyable.”
Bustamante had a reputation of being a bully who leaned more to the dark side, but no one thought she would turn to murder. Elizabeth was friends with Bustamante’s six-year-old sister, and the teen wasn’t a fan of the young neighbor. As Elizabeth left her friend’s house to make her way home, Bustamante offered up a detour and took her into the woods. There, the young girl was beaten, strangled, stabbed, and her throat slit. Days before, Bustamante had dug two graves, and she put Elizabeth’s body in one.
Someone wrote a letter to police telling them they should question Alyssa. It didn’t take long for the 15-year-old to confess, and she led detectives to Elizabeth’s body. She pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.
12. He Stuffed The Body Of His Eight-Year-Old Neighbor Inside Of His Bed
Florida resident Larry Grisham almost went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. His neighbor, eight-year-old Maggie Clifton, had gone missing, and police were questioning everyone about her disappearance. Decades prior, Larry was arrested on two occasions for sexual battery, but in both cases, the charges were dropped. He was given a lie detector test and asked about Maggie’s disappearance, and he failed. He had an alibi, but police were sure they had their guy.
That was the case until Missy Phillips decided to clean up the room of her 14-year-old son, Joshua. She noticed there was a pool of liquid at the foot of his bed and thought that his waterbed had sprung a leak. When she examined the bed to see what the problem was, she found the body of Maggie Clifton hidden inside. According to Phillips, Maggie showed up at his house one day wanting to play, and as they were playing baseball, he hit the ball, and it struck Maggie in the eye. She started bleeding, and it made him panic, so he took her to his room where he strangled her with a phone cord. He hit her with a baseball bat and stabbed her 11 times to make sure she was dead. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, but he has a resentencing hearing this summer.
11. The Brother And Sister Shot Their Father’s Girlfriend
Catherine and Curtis Jones, 13 and 12 years old, respectively, were convicted of murder back in 1999. The killer brother and sister pair took their father’s gun and shot their dad’s girlfriend, Sonya Nicole Speights. They told authorities that they planned on also killing their father and another male relative who was sexually molesting them.
The duo didn’t get to take anyone else’s life because after they had killed Sonya, Catherine and Curtis freaked out and ran to a neighbor’s house. They told the person that the shooting was an accident, but as their neighbor called for help, the siblings ran into the woods to hide. Prison isn’t anywhere near the most comfortable place to be, but Catherine told reporters that she was happy to be away from her assailants and that she felt safe in jail. Both Catherine and Curtis were released from prison in 2015.
10. Opened Fire On An Elementary School Because “I Don’t Like Mondays”
At 16 years old, Brenda Spencer was an antisocial outcast. She lived a destitute life with an alcoholic father whom she stayed with after her parents separated. All over their home were empty liquor bottles, and the father and daughter shared a single mattress that they slept on in the middle of the living room.
The home was directly across Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California. Spencer’s father wanted to do something nice for his daughter, so on Christmas of 1978, he gave his daughter a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle with a telescopic sight and 500 rounds of ammo. A month later in late January, Spencer dug herself a sniper nest, pointed her gun at the school across the street, and opened fire on the children waiting for their principal to open the gates. Eight children and a police officer were shot and injured but survived. Both the principal and a custodian were killed while trying to protect the children. Spencer was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, and she’s currently living out her days behind bars.
9. Unnamed Teenage Girls Spent Hours Torturing Their Victim
Angela Wrightson didn’t have much when it came to earthly possessions. The 39-year-old stood 5’4, had a frail frame, and was known to be a severe alcoholic. While she wasn’t a popular person with a winning personality, Angela didn’t deserve to die the way she did.
For nine hours, two girls, 13 and 14 years old, beat and tortured Angela in her home. They found a shovel and repeatedly hit her with it. They struck her with a computer printer. They slammed her against her coffee table. They hit her with her small television. They used a wooden stick with nails in it to beat her. In the middle of their act, they took a selfie with Angela, who was begging for her life, and posted it to SnapChat. At one point, they left to go home, even getting a ride from a police officer. They returned hours later to finish Angela off.
The callous pair have gone unnamed because of their ages. When they were convicted, they sobbed uncontrollably, but when they were sentenced to life in prison, one of the girls repeatedly yawned as the other nibbled on her fingernails, emotionless. They’ll be eligible for release in 15 years.
8. The Eight-Year-Old Baby-Killing Child Killer
He has cute little cheeks that you just want to squeeze, but trust me, Amarjeet Sada isn’t a kid you want to mess with. The eight-year-old is widely accepted as being India’s youngest serial killer. In 2007, he was arrested in connection with the kidnapping and murder of a six-month-old baby who was his neighbor’s daughter. When police brought the boy into custody and questioned him about the baby girl, Amarjeet confessed to killing his eight-month-old sister three months prior and his six-month-old cousin a year before. He told authorities that he took each of the babies out to a field where he hit them with a stone and buried them in shallow graves. Police say during his confession, Amarjeet smiled and asked for biscuits. His uncle said that the family did know that he had killed his sister and his cousin but felt as if they could handle it on their own seeing as it was a “family matter.”
7. The Teenage Burglar Who Viciously Stabbed A Family To Death
Craig Price’s first murder occurred when he was 13 years old. His neighbor, 27-year-old Rebecca Spencer, lived only two doors down from him, and as risky as it was, Price decided he would break into her house. He took a knife from Rebecca’s kitchen and stabbed her 58 times until she was dead. Police believed that Rebecca startled her burglar who then unleashed his fury on her.
Two years later, a family of three who also lived in Price’s neighborhood, met the same fate. Joan Heaton and her two young daughters, ten-year-old Jennifer and eight-year-old Melissa, were found stabbed to death in their home. The act was so violent that the knife broke off in little Melissa’s neck, and each of the young girls was stabbed approximately 30 times. Because the scene was such a bloody mess, detectives thought that the suspect must have cut himself in the process. While canvassing the area they came across a bandaged Price who said he had cut his hand on a broken window. When he finally confessed his crimes, detectives said he showed no remorse. Price could be out of jail as early as 2020.
6. Don’t Let Mary Bell’s Baby Face Fool You
She’s currently a free woman who’s enjoying her life as a grandmother, but when Mary Bell was just a day shy of her 11th birthday, she was playing in a rundown house with four-year-old Martin Brown. That’s when she strangled him and went home as if nothing happened. Two months later in 1968, Mary and her 13-year-old friend Norma strangled three-year-old Brian Howe in the same area. The girls left the scene, but Mary returned with a pair of scissors. She carved the letter “M” into Brian’s tiny body, cut a lock of his hair, made scratches on his legs, and mutilated his genitals.
Norma was later acquitted due to her feeble mind, but Mary was convicted of manslaughter. After serving 12 years in prison, Mary was released from prison at the age of 23 and granted anonymity by the court and given a new name. She had a daughter four years later.
5. Two Murders Under His Belt By 14
In the area of Charleston, Massachusetts between 1871 and 1872, young boys were being brutally attacked. Each child reported the same thing: an older boy would lure them into the woods and then unleash an attack that was so brutal that it left some of the boys scarred for life.
In 1872, James Pomeroy’s family moved from Charleston to South Boston, where curiously, similar crimes began to plague a community. Finally, Pomeroy was arrested and sent to a reform school, but his criminal life was just beginning. Two years later, Pomeroy was paroled and sent back home to his mother who now had her own dress shop. He was home just for one month when 10-year-old Katie Curran disappeared. Just a few weeks after that, four-year-old Horace Millen’s mutilated body was found dumped in a marsh. Police knew Pomeroy was responsible, but they didn’t have evidence tying him to either crime. It wasn’t until detectives searched his mother’s dress shop where they found Katie’s remains in an ash heap that they were able to charge Pomeroy with murder. He was sentenced to die by hanging, but the sentence was commuted to life in prison where he stayed until his death in 1932.
4. A Toddler On His Way To Camp Goes Missing
Bullying has different effects on people. Some people don’t let it get to them, others take their own lives by suicide, and some turn into heartless killers. Eric Smith, who was teased over his red hair, glasses, freckles, and ears became a cold-hearted 13-year-old boy. A psychiatrist diagnosed him with having intermittent explosive disorder, meaning he would lash out violently, many times without cause.
In 1993, four-year-old Derrick Robie was walking to summer day camp when Smith, who was riding his bike to the same camp, came across the toddler. Smith convinced Derrick to go with him into a wooded area, but that would be where the little boy lost his life. It was there that Smith dropped a large rock on Derrick’s head, took off his clothes, and sodomized him with a stick. Smith later told police that he took out his rage and anger for being bullied on Derrick. He was sentenced to nine years to life and has been denied parole eight times. Smith’s next parole hearing is in 2018.
3. School Shooters Shot 15 People, Killing Five
Arkansas Westside Middle School students Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson may not be household names when it comes to school shooters, but it doesn’t make their crimes any less horrific. The friends were known to be bullies on campus and talked openly about wanting to join a gang.
On a tragic day in 1998, the boys loaded up Golden’s mother’s van with over a half dozen guns and 2000 rounds of ammunition. The next morning, they drove the van to the school, and as Golden pulled the fire alarm, Johnson unloaded the weapons in the nearby woods. As teachers and students made their way out of the buildings, the boys opened fire on the crowd. A teacher and four female students were killed. Ten others were shot, but their injuries weren’t fatal. They boys tried to run to the van for their quick escape, but police caught them, and they were arrested. Johnson was released in 2005 on his 21st birthday after spending seven years in prison, but his run-ins with the law landed him back in jail. Golden spent nine years in prison and was released in 2007.
2. He Dressed Up As A Gunslinger And Held His Algebra Class Hostage
Another awful shooting happened in 1996 at Frontier Middle School in Washington. On a mysterious day in February, 14-year-old Barry Dale Loukaitis dressed up as a Wild West gunslinger. He wore a black duster and had three guns on him that he’d stolen from his father. Loukaitis left his house and made it to school by fifth period. He walked into his algebra class and began shooting at students. He killed two boys, both 14, before he shot and killed his algebra teacher. Loukaitis also shot a 13-year-old girl twice, but fortunately, she survived.
A gym teacher heard the shots and ran to the classroom where he found Loukaitis holding the students hostage. The teen thought he could use one of his classmates to help him get off the campus alive. The teacher volunteered himself, but outwitted Loukiatis and wrestled the gun out of his hand before subduing him. Loukaitis was sentenced to serve two life sentences and an additional 205 years without the possibility of parole, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that murderers younger than 16 couldn’t receive those types of sentences, so his case will be reexamined this year.
1. Six-Year-Old Shoots Boy Over Scrap Metal
Cases that involve children as young as six shooting another person are usually terrible accidents. That wasn’t the case with Carl Newton Mahan, who took his father’s shotgun and killed his friend, eight-year-old Cecil Van Hoose. It was 1929, and families were going through serious financial struggles. The young boys would often go out looking for scrap metal to sell to various junk dealers in hopes of making money to help their families. Carl and Cecil came across a piece of iron, and the boys began to fight over who should take it. During the argument, Cecil hit Carl in the face with the scrap. Livid, little Carl ran home, took his daddy’s gun, and shot and killed his friend. Carl was sentenced to 15 years in prison at a reform school, but a judge believed that a child of that age shouldn’t have appeared in front of a jury. He was just sent home with his parents.