They don’t call it “Devil’s Night” for nothing. Halloween is often an occasion for masked marauders to flaunt the law and go wild. Sometimes this is just innocent blowing off steam, like throwing eggs at houses and TPing trees. But sometimes it’s a bit more sinister. In this feature, we’ll page through the police blotter to shine the spotlight on 10 of the most horrible Halloween crimes ever perpetrated.
Tony Bagley murder, 1994
This one is incredibly tragic. Seven year old Las Vegas boy Tony Bagley was all ready to go trick-or-treating on Halloween night in 1994, but he never had the chance to enjoy his candy. Tony, his sister, aunt and mother were walking down the street in the Northtown area when a man in a sweatsuit with a hood over his head ran into the street with a gun and opened fire on the family, killing Tony and wounding his family before jumping into a waiting car and speeding away. Speculation was that it was revenge for a drug deal gone wrong – just a few years later, Tony’s father was found guilty of a different murder – but the killer has never been caught.
Leslie Mazzara and Adriane Insogna murders, 2004
After a quiet Halloween night spent handing out candy to Napa, California trick-or-treaters, roommates Leslie Mazzara, Adriane Insogna and Lauren Meanza all headed to bed. Meanza was woken up by sounds of a scuffle upstairs at about 1:00 in the morning, and she ran in terror from the house, hiding in the backyard and watching an unidentified assailant climb out of a window. She ran upstairs to check on her roommates to find them both viciously stabbed to death. It took nearly a year to find the killer, but cigarette butts found at the scene eventually fingered a man named Eric Copple, the fiancé of one of Insogna’s friends. He thought that their friendship was threatening the upcoming wedding and just lost it in paranoid violence.
Karl Jackson murder, 1998
Halloween is often a time for pranksters to get their jollies by causing property damage and other shenanigans. Most of the time, people just clean it up and move on with their day, but Bronx father Karl Jackson never had the chance. Jackson, who had just turned 21, was a quiet, friendly data entry worker at Morgan Stanley who kept to himself a lot. On Halloween night, he went with his girlfriend to pick up her 9 year old son from a party. While there, some teenagers threw eggs at their car. Jackson got out, exchanged words with the throwers and stepped back in the car. Then one of the teens pulled a gun and shot him through the head, killing him instantly. The perpetrators were never caught.
Woodbridge Abductions, 2009
When kids are out alone on Halloween night, it’s like a buffet for criminals and scumbags to sup from. In 2009, three teenage girls were abducted on their way home from trick-or-treating in Woodbridge, Virginia. The lone assailant managed to overcome all three girls, threatening them with a gun and sexually assault two of them before the third managed to call her mother on her cell phone, causing the rapist to flee. Two years later, they caught Aaron Thomas, who by then had become known as the “East Coast Rapist,” responsible for dozens of sexual assaults from 1997 to 2009. In custody, Thomas tried to commit suicide by hanging himself in his cell.
Martha Moxley murder, 1975
The scene was Greenwich, Connecticut. The night before Halloween, Martha Moxley left to attend a neighborhood party. It was the last time she was ever seen alive. Her body was found on Halloween morning, brutally battered to death beneath a tree in her backyard. The murder weapon, a shattered golf club, lay nearby. This hideous crime went unsolved for almost twenty-five years, when Michael Skakel was finally charged and convicted of her murder. Skakel’s alibi – that he had been masturbating under that tree earlier the same night, but had no connection to the crime – turned out to be flimsy, and several witnesses claimed that he had confessed to the crime while in drug rehab.
Pasadena Murders, 1993
One of the most shocking Halloween crimes of all time happened in Pasadena, California. On Halloween night in 1993, decades of gang violence culminated in a horrific shooting where a group of five Bloods opened fire on trick-or-treating teenagers, killing three of them and wounding three others. The group of victims were walking home from a Halloween party when the assailants jumped out of bushes they had been hiding in and opened fire randomly, spraying them with bullets. After arrests were made, the police reasoned that the shootings were revenge for a killing earlier that night, but the Bloods had the wrong kids, murdering innocent people.
Peter Fabiano murder, 1957
When you hear that knock on your door on Halloween night, you’re not expecting anything but a little tyke in a colorful costume begging for candy. But for Los Angeles resident Peter Fabiano, “trick or treat” was the last thing he heard. On Halloween night, Fabiano opened the door to reveal a grown-up in full disguise, who shot him in the chest with a .22 in a brown paper bag before fleeing the scene. The murderer was actually a woman named Goldyne Pizer. Pizer was friends with a woman named Joan Rabel, who had a lesbian crush on Fabiano’s wife Betty. Pizer and Rabel hatched a plan to get the man of the house out of the way, but cops managed to track them down and got them jailed for second-degree murder.
Liske Family murder, 2010
In 2010, Halloween landed on a Sunday. But for Ohio teenager Devon Griffin, it didn’t turn out to be so holy. After returning to his Martin, Ohio home after attending church, Griffin found the corpses of his brother Derek, mother Susan and her new husband William Liske. All three victims had received blunt force trauma to the head, and Devon was so traumatized he could only say it was like “something out of a haunted house.” The perpetrator was Liske’s son from a previous marriage, William Liske Jr. With a history of schizophrenia and violence, Liske was picked up at the halfway house he lived in in Sandusky and pleaded guilty to all three murders without ever providing a motive as for why he did it.
Taylor Van Diest murder, 2011
Small towns can be breeding grounds for Halloween violence as well. On Halloween night in 2011, a young woman named Taylor Van Diest was heading home from a party in the small town of Armstrong, in the northern Okanagan territory of Canada. She never made it. Taylor was found brutally beaten into unconsciousness, and she wasn’t able to identify her attacker before dying of her injuries. Her death traumatized the town of just over 5,000 people, especially after it was revealed that she’d sent a text to her boyfriend before the attack saying she was being “creeped on.” Police eventually used DNA evidence to arrest both Matthew Foerster for the crime and his father Stephen for helping him cover up the crime.
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Timothy O’Bryan Poisoning, 1974
One of the most enduring Halloween urban legends is the story of candy or other treats tampered with in some way, whether it be spider eggs in bubble gum or razor blades in apples. Most of these stories are malarkey, but there have been real incidents. One of the most famous came in 1974, in Deer Park, Texas. After trick-or-treating, 8 year old Timothy O’Bryan chose a Pixy Stix to cap off his evening. After eating it, he began convulsing and died after being rushed to the hospital. Terrifyingly, the perpetrator was his own father, Ronald O’Bryan. Deep into debt, O’Bryan was hoping to cash in on the life insurance from his kids by poisoning their candy with cyanide. Instead, he wound up dying by lethal injection a few years later.