In the history of comics, the Joker is definitely one of the top villains of all time. His contention with and direct opposition to Batman’s ideals is simply a terrible conflict to behold, and his twisted sense of fun is enough to leave the strongest of men with nightmares. In many of the film and video game adaptations he’s had, he’s always been the star. After all, if you’re going to include the Joker, you’d better get him right.
However, the fun and love for the Joker doesn’t always end with the pages or the big screen. Now, there is plenty of Joker memorabilia to purchase, of course, but I’m talking about something a bit more sinister. There are actually many people in the real world who idolize the Joker. Reveling in some form of demented mental illness, their love for the Clown Prince of Crime often goes to extremes. When a crazy serial killer is your hero, you’re bound to do some insane things from time to time. A very scary thought but unfortunately a true one.
Because the frightening reality is that there are in fact many people who have taken on the real life persona of the Joker to commit disastrous crimes. While our police forces are much more competent in real life than in Gotham City, the results are still quite horrifying and bring into question the true insanity of some people.
Here are 15 terrible crimes caused by real life Jokers. As this is no laughing matter, my deepest sympathies go out to all that were affected by them.
15. Dark Knight Rises Shooting In Colorado
This is the most infamous and notable crime caused by the Joker. Back in 2012, when The Dark Knight Rises came out, one audience in Aurora, Colorado got a bit more of a show than they bargained for. Only a short time into the film, James Holmes disappeared and came back dressed as the Joker, decked out in all kinds of weaponry and an assault vest to boot. Many people thought it was an elaborate joke, but after he threw the gas cans, the terror started to sink in. Then Holmes unloaded his shotgun, assault rifle, and handgun into the audience, simply killing without any rhyme or reason. Police quickly arrived at the scene and detained Holmes, but the damage had already been done. 12 people lost their lives and 70 others walked out with many injuries. This event became the deadliest Colorado shooting, and even started a huge debate on gun control. After Holmes was put into custody, he claimed to the authorities that he was the real version of the Joker. Suffice it to say, many people in that area have not forgotten about this tragic event.
14. ISIS Joker
ISIS and the Joker. Those are two entities that should never mix, lest the results be horribly disastrous. Unfortunately for mankind, there was an individual who was well on his way to becoming a Joker-inspired terrorist. Florida native Enrique Dominguez was a big Joker enthusiast and took that love to new heights. He reportedly bought a shotgun that he planned to kill his boss with, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Dominguez also had big plans to side with ISIS while dressed as the Joker. The first step was to kill his boss. After that, he had some attacks planned and even admitted to the authorities that he had planned a shooting after a “day of allegiance.” While it was never discovered what Dominguez meant by that, the lasting effects of his intentions are still there. The only reason that he was caught before any harm was done is that he couldn’t keep his big blabber mouth shut. He informed one of his co-workers of the plans to kill his boss, and even took to social media to show off the knife collection that he had amassed, while hinting to his dangerous plans for the future. After he was arrested, there was even more deadly equipment found in his possession.
13. Viral Robbing
Youtube is a pretty hard market to reach if you’re trying to build your career off of it. Even if you have excellent content, there’s no guarantee that anybody will watch or subscribe to it. As such, people have gone to some extreme methods in order to increase the people that see them. One teen took it a bit too far. Donald Finnie Jr. decided to host a prank over the video streaming website to get some publicity. He put makeup on to resemble the Suicide Squad Joker (not the best choice) and went to his local Walgreens, filming himself all the while, obviously. Once in the store, he went to the counter and demanded that all of the pills be given to him. Police eventually showed up and arrested the young man. While he didn’t cause any immediate harm, he was charged with inducing panic. This crime was fairly recent, happening just this past November, which says that there are still plenty of people who take the Clown Prince of Crime to some dangerous extremes. When it comes to this incident in particular, I’m just thankful that nobody was hurt and we can move on much more easily from it than some of the others.
12. Employer Bomb Threat
“Guns don’t kill people. I do.”
Those were the words found on the shirt of Neil Edwin Prescott when the authorities came knocking on his door. Why were they there, you say? A mere week after James Holmes shot up the theater, Prescott walked up to his employer, claimed that he was the real Joker, that he wanted to blow everyone up, and that he wanted to see his supervisor’s brains come out of his head and scattered on the pavement. Naturally, there were some calls made to the police and they showed up at Prescott’s door. Thankfully, they came into the mix before any real harm was done, but found approximately 25 different weapons that belonged to him, as well as more ammunition than most gun owners get in a lifetime. Prescott was immediately placed for a psychiatric evaluation, but apart from that, he was not arrested. The judge ended up dismissing his case, as there was no evidence of a crime. Because he was released back into society, it’s likely that he still has his guns handy as well. It’s not like he stole them, after all, they were all legit. Scary.
11. Sandy Hook
Just a few months after Holmes and Prescott committed their crimes, something much more horrifying took place. Whereas the Dark Knight shooting was the deadliest in Colorado history, this massacre was the deadliest school shooting in US history. Adam Lanza one day decided to shoot up a local elementary school. He began his spree by killing his mother in their home, then drove to the school building. The doors to the building were locked thanks to new security protocols, but Lanza simply blasted them open. There were a few faculty members killed as the young man stormed the halls of the building, but many managed to hide in safety. One room wasn’t so lucky, though. One substitute teacher attempted to hide all of the children in the class’s bathroom, but Lanza found them. The teacher, another faculty member, and all but one of the children were killed. Many other children and faculty members tried to run for safety. Some of them managed to get out, and others were met by Lanza. When authorities finally arrived to confront Lanza, he ended his spree by shooting himself in the head. While not directly inspired by the Joker, it fits the character’s MO. After the event, it brought up the gun control issue once more.
10. An Arsonist Lights Up His School
High school isn’t always filled with the best of memories, as I’m sure many of you can attest to, but burning the whole building down is taking those memories to new extremes. One student, Christopher Young, had enough of his school to the point where he took matters into his own hands. Allegedly, he felt that the teachers and faculty members were “hypocrites” who mistreated him and his friends. Whether they did or not, it was Young’s perception of it that made all the difference. Young dressed himself up as the Joker with all of the white makeup and red lipstick you can imagine, and dumped a lot of gasoline throughout the school’s halls. Without so much as a second thought, he then sent the building up in flames. Thankfully, he was detained and place in a court of law to figure out where to send him. When asked about the event by the judge, he stated that he was happy that he did it, but this did not land him a jail cell. He was sentenced to get some mental help instead. Wow.
9. Trespass And Assault
Love is a powerful emotion, and often times it can lead to dangerous feelings of jealousy and rage. This can result in people doing crazy things (I once knew a guy that would stand outside the house of a girl he liked for hours on end, simply staring). Another perfect example of this is what happened with Cole Vetterkind. After becoming single, Vetterkind decided to dress himself up to resemble the Joker and go out to find his ex-girlfriend. After arriving at her house, he then trespassed and broke in, only to find out that she was in fact sleeping with his cousin. He was enraged at the sight of this, and quickly began attacking his cousin. The fight was in Vetterkind’s favor as he strangled his kin, but the cousin reacted quickly and shot Vetterkind in the leg. At the end of it all, Vetterkind was charged with assault and battery, to which he claimed to be innocent. Despite this, he was convicted and sentenced to about ten months in jail. Who knows how his cousin feels about it now, but I can certainly imagine what his ex thinks of the entire thing.
8. Dendermonde Nursery Attack
When dealing with people inspired by the Joker, one must remember that they can’t ask the question of why? That would assume that the people doing these crimes would be thinking rationally enough to answer said question. True Joker fans just do- they don’t have any overarching plan or desire. Well, maybe some do, but Kim De Gelder definitely didn’t. In January of 2009, Gelder went to a nursery in Dendermonde dressed as the Joker to reportedly “ask a question.” He then pulled out a blade and began attacking anybody he could get in range of, quoting The Dark Knight throughout. The attack was very brutal, and two of his kills were only nine month old children. When he was finally brought in, he had three deaths to his name as well as 12 who were severely injured. Their wounds were so great that many of them required plastic surgery after the event. When questioned by authorities, Gelder took the Joker approach. After laughing (mocking them like he still had the upper hand) and giving them the roundabout, he admittedly gave them five different identities, similar to the Joker’s different origin stories from the 2008 film.
7. Soldier Gone Insane
Many of the “Joker” killers on this list are simply individuals like you and me with an unhealthy liking of the character. But what if someone had some training to go with it? That’s the story of Christopher Lanum. He did serve in the military and was trained to use a weapon. After he came home, it was obvious that he had a creepy obsession with Batman’s greatest rival. As such, he had told his girlfriend that he needed to “go to war.” After all of his preparations were in order, he fled to the Shenandoah National Park dressed as the Joker- after being investigated for the stabbing of a fellow soldier. Police then chased Lanum down in a van driven by his girlfriend. He handed his shotgun to her begging for her to kill him, but she wouldn’t do it. Then he continued to aim it at police with his finger on the trigger. Because he wouldn’t comply with their requests to lower the weapon, they shot and killed him on the spot. Afterward, his girlfriend was arrested for being an accomplice. She also confirmed everything about her boyfriend’s terrible obsession with the Joker.
6. Teacher Attacked By Student
One of the things we questioned throughout The Dark Knight was how the Joker got his scars? While we may never know, we are certain how a girl in Indiana got hers. It was a seemingly uneventful day at a quiet school when a young girl stated that she had to go to the bathroom. For reasons unknown, the girl lost her mind when she went in. When she returned to the classroom, she had full Joker make up on, took a razor, stuck it in her mouth, and gave herself facial scars very similar to Heath Ledger’s version of the character. After that horrifying display, the girl then took the razor and turned on the teacher. There was no doubt that the girl wanted to do some damage, and the teacher had to fend her off with nothing but a desk and a chair. After the authorities arrived and the dust settled, the girl was immediately sent to a mental institution. The fact that I have not been able to find any cause for her going over the edge definitely reveals some sort of psychological illness. That, and the fact that she managed to work through her natural self-preservation instincts and cut her own face.
5. Threatening Cards
Christopher Nolan introduced one of the greatest teases at the end of Batman Begins. James Gordon calls Batman and tells him about a killer who loves the theatrical, and then proceeds to show him the “calling card” of said killer. The card is nothing more than a Joker card from a standard playing card deck. One guy decided to take this scary “card trick” and take it to the next level. After his marriage crumbled horribly, Joshua Van Buskirk felt that his best man and groomsmen were responsible. On top of that, he also managed to lose his job and felt that he wasn’t getting the emotional support he wanted from that group of guys. As such, he thought it fair to go looking for revenge. Stories state that Buskirk had begun to light some of their property on fire, such as vehicles and houses. When the friends would find the wreckage, all they would see left behind was a simple Joker card. Anybody that has seen The Dark Knight knows that if you get a Joker card from a crazy person, there’s a target on your head and it’s not pretty. However, Buskirk states that he didn’t do anything of the sort.
4. Muslim Threatening
A lot of people get inspiration from Heath Ledger’s Joker and use specific scenes to orchestrate some of their horrible acts. The scene that motivated a man from Quebec was the one where Joker sends a video of himself threatening to kill people if Batman doesn’t turn himself in. What did this guy do as a result? Nearly the same thing, except with a bit of a twist. Dressed as the Joker, he posted a video stating that “as of next week, there will be murders all across Quebec.” He then went on to specifically target those that were affiliated with Islam. He stated that he would kill one Arab a week, starting the week after he posted that video. While there was no proof that he would follow through on said killings, this happened shortly after Paris was bombed by ISIS, so authorities took it very seriously. They did not arrest this man, but instead stated that from that point on, anyone posting viral threats would face serious repercussions in the real world. That stuff might fly in a world that has the Justice League, but here, not so much.
3. The Assaulting Of Braydon Heather
It’s one thing for people to become real life psychotic Jokers, but it’s always a sad story for those that get the bad end of it. What makes these situations worse is when the incident is focused on one particular individual. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to teenager Braydon Heather just last summer. Another teen ambushed and attacked Heather. While it was not reported that the assailant was wearing any Joker makeup or outfits, his intent should be noted. Using a machete, the teen attacked Heather’s face, attempting to give him a Joker smile by cutting his mouth. While it was a brutal assault, Heather did live, but he did not walk away. He managed to lose a thumb, his jaw was broken, and he had many head and torso injuries that necessitated a stay in the hospital. He also suffered those obvious injuries to his face and his mouth. Thankfully for the other concerned parents in the area, the attacker was caught, charged, and arrested. Unfortunately for poor Brayden, that’s probably a day that will always play over in his mind.
2. High Speed Joker
Regardless of your thoughts about the police on certain occasions, you have to admit that there are many instances where they are really good at what they do (I’m personally glad to have them around). One instance where they were able to stop a killing was with another Joker fan. Timothy Courtois was ready to kill his employer while The Dark Knight Rises was still in theaters. Naturally, he couldn’t be inconspicuous- he made himself as out there as possible, similar to what the actual Joker would do. He sent his car speeding down the road at 110 mph with his hazard lights turned on. It wasn’t long before police chased him down and stopped him. After admitting to what he was planning on doing, the police searched his car and found that his trunk was full of all kinds of weapons and ammo. You can imagine the sighs of relief they all shared after they realized they had stopped a crazy man from bringing up the death toll yet again. The last thing we want is for the public to hear of another mass murder caused by someone who took a few too many notes from the Joker.
1. Joker And Harley Quinn Killing Spree
When there’s a Clown Prince of Crime, you always need a Princess, and when you get that combination, the results are about as deadly as you’d imagine. Jerad Miller was a fellow that was very discontented with the law and how the US was run, so he took to social media to express his frustrations- dressed as the Joker of course. However, nobody thought anything of it at first. At the end of his series of videos, though, he and his wife (Amanda Miller) dressed up as Joker and Harley Quinn and went to Vegas. There, they ambushed two police officers in a restaurant and killed them both. Afterward, they covered the bodies in “Don’t Tread on Me” symbols and swastikas. Once they were finished with that, they fled into a nearby Wal-Mart. There they killed a civilian who tried to stop them. Eventually police arrived on the scene and a brutal shootout took place. After being cornered, Jerad was shot and killed by the authorities, and Amanda shot herself after being wounded. It’s one thing to have one person go on a crazy killing spree, but to have two people that are equally insane is the stuff that true horror movies are made of.