Halloween is an ancient tradition born of man's most fundamental questions about the metaphysical world, the afterlife and concerns for loved ones that have passed on. Over the centuries, the tradition has evolved into a celebration of the spooky, grim and macabre. Our fascination with the all things scary comes from those same instincts that led Celtic cultures to recognize All Hallows Eve; we can't help but wonder about what mysteries lie beyond the grasp of our consciousness.
It’s not just spirits and ghosts that evoke our fascination with the dark side. Time and again, living people have proven they can be even more terrifying than the most horrible ghoul folklore or legend could depict...
True crime books and movies are consistently popular. Titles like Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood are considered literary classics for the engaging way they describe truly horrific tales. Stories about murderers and serial killers are disturbing to a lot of people, but many of us can't help but take strange pleasure in reading about these real life monsters. Some people even collect 'murderabilia' – collectables related to murders, serial killers of violent crimes.
Most of the murder stories typically recounted around halloween are fictional; realistic horror movies like Halloween and The Shining prove popular around the spooky season. Yet, unfortunately, there are some real life horrors that have occurred on or around Halloween - all the more gruesome for the fact that these stories had real life victims. The following are some shocking examples of real life murders that took the fright factor of All Hallows’ Eve out of the realm of fun and games into the much darker realm of true crime.
9. Seven-year-old boy Tony Bagley: Killed while trick or treating
Tony Bagley’s life was cut tragically short in 1994 when he was gunned down in Las Vegas on Halloween night, while he was out trick or treating with his aunt, sister and mother. He was dressed as a skeleton, and as he turned the corner a masked assailant shot him. Bagley later died in hospital from his injuries.
His killer was never found, but police speculate the incident was gang related. Bagley’s father was arrested and charged with murder three and a half years after his son’s death in an unrelated incident. His father is currently serving two consecutive life sentences.
8. Pasadena murders: Three kids killed in crossfire of gang violence
Three teenagers - Edgar Evans (13), Stephen Coats (14), and Reggie Crawford (14) - were murdered and three others injured on Halloween night 1993 in Pasadena, Calif. Members of the Bloods gang opened fire on the teens as they were returning home from a Halloween party. The Bloods were retaliating for a murder by a rival gang earlier in the night, but they ended up shooting the wrong group and killing innocent teens. Two years later three gang members were found guilty of first-degree murder.
1 Leslie Mazzara and Adriane Insogna: Killed by a friend's fiancé
Leslie Mazzara and Adriane Insogna were murdered on Halloween night in 2004. Their roommate Lauren Meanza escaped after she ran outside when she heard someone break into their home in Napa Valley, Calif.
When Meanza went back inside after the assailant left she found her two friends stabbed to death. The murderer was apprehended a year later – it was Eric Copple, the fiancé of one of Insogna’s close friends.
6. Small town Canadian girl Taylor Van Diest: Followed, attacked and murdered
Taylor Van Diest was found brutally beaten next to a railroad track in Armstrong, British Columbia on Halloween night in 2011. The 18-year-old woman had texted her boyfriend earlier to tell him that she thought she was being followed...
She died from her head wound after being rushed to hospital. Matthew Foerster was found guilty of first-degree murder earlier this year.
5. Karl Jackson: Killed by unnamed hooligan
Twenty-one-year-old Karl Jackson was out with his girlfriend on Halloween night, on the way to pick up his nine-year-old son. The couple were initially victims of a prank, but things quickly descended into chaos.
Teenagers threw eggs at Jackson and his girlfriend, but when he confronted them one of the teenagers pulled a gun and shot him in the head. His killer was never brought to justice.
4. William Liske Jr.: Kills his father and his new family
On Halloween 2010, William Liske Jr. broke into the home of his father, William Liske, in Martin, Ohio. Liske Jr. not only killed his father, but his father’s new wife and one of her sons. Another son, Devon Griffin, discovered the horrific crime. Griffin described seeing his mother, brother and new step dad brutally murdered in a scene akin to “something from a haunted house.” At first he thought it was some sort of Halloween prank.
Liske Jr., who suffered from a history of mental illness, was later apprehended in the halfway house in which he stayed in Sandusky, Ohio.
3. Ronald Clark O'Bryan AKA 'The Candy Man': Poisons his son with cyanide-laced candy
Known as the Candy Man, Deer Park, Texas resident Ronald Clark O'Bryan killed his son Timothy on Halloween in 1974 after feeding him pixy stix laced with potassium cyanide. O’Bryan also attempted to kill his daughter and three other children in the same manner.
O’Bryan planned to cash in on his son’s life insurance policy, but instead ended up being sentenced to death by lethal injection.
2. Peter Fabiano: Killed by friend of woman who had a crush on his wife
On Halloween night in Los Angeles way back in 1975, Peter Fabiano opened his door to his murderer. He was expecting trick or treaters, but instead he found a masked woman who shot him with a .38 Smith and Wesson.
The woman who shot him was Goldyne Pizer: It emerged that Pizer was convinced to kill Fabiano by a woman called Joan Rabel. The motive? Rabel wanted Fabiano out of the picture because she had a crush on his wife.
1. Martha Moxley: Killed with a golf club
On October 30th, 1975, 15-year-old Martha Moxley was at a Halloween party at a neighbour's house. On the day of Halloween, 1975, Martha was found partially naked and beaten to death in the backyard of her Greenwich, Conn. home. She had been murdered with a golf club.
It wasn’t until 2002 that Michael Christopher Skakel was convicted of her murder and sentenced to 20 years to life. However, Skakel was released in 2013 on $1.2 million bail and is currently awaiting a new trial.
Skakel is the nephew of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, widow of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Some speculate this is the reason why it took so long to charge him with murder and why he has been allowed a new trial.