With Halloween just around the corner, ghosts and ghouls of all kinds are all over our TVs, cinemas... and perhaps, if the ancient pagan beliefs hold true, our own streets and even our houses. It's the season of hauntings, ouija boards, and sexy cat costumes.
One of the favourite spooky legends - particularly fashionable in the media these days - is the vampire, who has evolved from literary beginnings as Bram Stoker's Dracula to pop culture depictions like the hit Twilight franchise and TV's Vampire Diaries. As such, there's a wide spectrum for interpretation of the vampire theme: Should you decide to dress up as one for Halloween, you could be a bloodsucking caped monstrosity, a sensual man-eating provocateur, or simply channel Robert Pattinson.
Outside of these fictional depictions, however, a startling number of people genuinely identify as vampires and their destructive appetites for blood-red liquids aren't limited to too much red wine at the Halloween party. 'Vampires' like these come from all over the world, with varying cultural backgrounds. Some of them think that they're actually ancient vampires, hundreds of years old, while others demonstrate their vampiric side by drinking human blood. Understandably, lots of these people have been arrested and imprisoned for their actions. The following are ten spooky, real life criminal cases of modern day vampires from across the world, from Mexico, to Germany, to Scotland.
Trigger Warning: Some graphic descriptions of violence
10 Josephine Smith
Kicking off the list is 22 year old Floridian Josephine Smith, who left her victim in no doubt as to her plans by allegedly preceding her attack on a senior citizen by saying "I am a vampire, I am going to eat you".
In September of 2011, Smith attacked a sixty-nine year old homeless man who had been sleeping on a porch in the early hours of the morning. The man in question, Milton Ellis, had invited Smith to join him on the porch while she waited for a relative to pick her up. During the attack Smith bit chunks of flesh from Ellis's face, lips and arms, before he managed to escape and call 911. Smith later claimed to have no recollection of the attack, and could not explain to police why she was covered in blood.
9 Emi Coleman
Another vampire-like attack took place in the US in 2011, this time in Denver. The actions of Emi Coleman were caught on security camera when she attacked two people in a convenience store. Coleman, then thirty-one, walked into the store and took a male customer's drink from him, before grabbing his genitals and biting him on the neck. She then turned on the female store cashier, asking her for a hug before also biting her neck. Coleman then left the store with a male accomplice, but was caught by police as a result of the CCTV. Coleman was sentenced to a mere thirty days in jail, as part of one year of supervised probation.
8 Jeffrey Mitchell
In 2008, sex offender Jeffrey Mitchell was sentenced by police for offenses relating to sexually assaulting a four year old girl. The manifestly disturbed Mitchell, who preferred to go by the name "Draven", believed that he was a 225 year old vampire; he embodied this by wearing black and even capping his teeth so that they'd look like fangs. The Florida-based Mitchell was arrested after sexually assaulting three female children, and was charged with aggravated sexual battery amongst other crimes.
7 Jan O
The mysteriously-named Jan O is a German 'vampire' who was arrested on charges of killing two teenagers in 2010. It was decided that Jan O had originally attacked the first teenager, Nina, in order to sexually assault her, but was overtaken by "vampiristic and cannibal tendencies" instead. The murderer admitted "when she was on the ground I didn't want sex any more, only flesh and blood." The second teenage victim, Tobias, was killed and similarly defiled days later. Tobias was mistaken for a girl by Jan O because of his long hair. During his trial Jan O expressed remorse to the victims' families, saying he didn't know what had come over him.
6 Mathew Hardman
A seventeen year old student from Wales, Mathew Hardman, was arrested on charges of killing his elderly neighbour in 2001 in the hopes of becoming a true vampire. In a horrific attack Hardman broke into a ninety year old widow's house, butchered her, and used a kitchen knife to cut open her chest before removing her heart, which he placed in a saucepan on a silver platter. Afterwards, he put two brass pokers at her feet in the shape of a crucifix. At Hardman's trial, the result of which was life imprisonment, there was a German exchange student present whom Hardman had implored to bite his neck a few months previously, believing her to be a member of a vampire community.
5 Stephanie Pistey
In an interesting twist on the "I'm a vampire" excuse, Stephanie Pistey attempted to account for her strange activities by claiming that she was part vampire and part werewolf. She was arrested in 2011 at the age of eighteen in her home state of Florida on suspicion of playing a part in the murder of Jacob Hendershot. Pistey's Facebook profile was a red flag hinting at her violent tendencies, listing "blood" and "unworldly things" amongst her interests. She also admitted to having drunk the blood of her fiancé William Chase, but denied drinking Hendershot's blood.
4 Manuela and Daniel Ruda
Merging Satanism with vampires, couple Manuela and Daniel Ruda killed and drank the blood of one of their friends, claiming they were acting on the Devil's wishes. Manuela ran away from her home in Germany to England at the age of sixteen. There, she was first introduced to the world of all things vampire, attending "bite parties" at which people drank one another's blood. She met her partner in crime, Daniel, through a lonely hearts column, and the two committed the murder exactly a month after their marriage, which was on 06/06/2001. The murder was committed on July 6th, and was carefully planned in order to combine the dates of the marriage and the killing to make up the number 666.
3 Allan Menzies
In 2003, Scottish vampire wannabe Allan Menzies stood trial for the murder of Thomas McKendrick. The then-twenty-two year old Menzies said that he had been ordered to kill McKendrick by a character in the film Queen of the Damned, which he had watched around a hundred times. He claimed to have been told that he would be rewarded for the murder with immortality and would become a vampire "in the next life".
2 Mauricio Lopez
Mexican Mauricio Lopez killed the man his niece was having an affair with, drinking a cup of the victim's blood afterwards. Lopez had previously warned the two to end their affair, but when his warnings went unheeded he stabbed the man, Macario Cruz, in the heart and liver. He then drank a plastic cup of Cruz's blood before fleeing. He was captured by police in Florida three days later, when a woman recognized him from wanted posters and informed the authorities. Lopez claimed that he drank his victim's blood as part of a Mexican ritual which would allow him to escape the police — evidently, it wasn't particularly effective in this instance.
1 Andrew Whiteman
To leave you all on a much lighter note than some of the horrific stories on this list, this is the story of Andrew Whiteman, a student from Michigan. He got drunk and tried to convince police that he was a vampire.
In 2010 Whiteman, highly intoxicated, tried to break into a drugstore, and hassled a newspaper deliveryman. The police were called, at which point Whiteman declared himself a hundred year old vampire and threatened to suck the deputy's blood, which he could allegedly smell from the back of the patrol car as he was being transferred to jail. At the Oberlin Municipal Court, Whiteman pleaded not guilty and said that he was "still learning how to drink".