Halloween is a time for tricks and treats. But many horrifying crimes have been committed on Halloween, giving some the impression the holiday can be dangerous. While urban legends of razor blades in candy and child kidnappings have caused paranoia in many overprotective parents, the majority of these tales are false. Though the chances of being hit by a car double on Halloween, the crime rate does not go up. Neighborhood watches become extra vigilant at this time of year, and law enforcement is at their best. It’s actually a bad time to commit crimes. However, despite this, there have been some pretty horrifying true Halloween tales. The holiday is definitely a magnet for the macabre.
The Liske Family Murders
On Halloween 2010, 16-year-old Devon Griffin got up early to go to church. His parents had divorced years prior, and he’d been staying at his father’s for the weekend. However, on the way to church, he stopped by his mom’s house to change his shirt. His mother had remarried and had a stepson from the new marriage named William Liske Jr. (or just B.J. for short.) Devon had never gotten along with William, and the two rarely spoke or had any interaction with one another that wasn’t usually unpleasant. So when William greeted him cheerfully that early Halloween morning, it definitely threw Devon off. William asked how long he’d be gone, and after telling his stepbrother, he was going to church, he left the house.
Devon went to church, and after the service was over, he returned home to his mother and stepfather’s house. William apparently left, and Devon thought everyone else was just asleep because no one was up and about. So he decided to kill some time by playing video games. But after a while, the house was still bizarrely silent. Devon got up and decided to investigate why everyone would sleep in so late, or to see if they’d gone somewhere without telling him.
When he looked downstairs in the master bedroom, Devon saw what at first he thought was a Halloween prank. His mom and stepdad were lying in bed with the sheets pulled up over their heads. He started talking to them, joking about how it was a good prank, but they didn’t respond. Devon’s mother’s foot was poking off the bed out of the covers, so he poked it. When she remained silent, he pulled the covers off them, and the true horror of what had happened became apparent. Devon ran from the house in horror.
William “B.J.” Liske Jr. had bludgeoned his stepbrother Derek Griffin to death with a claw hammer before shooting his father and stepmother in the head many times. Why he spared Devon in the first place while he was on his way to church is still a mystery. However, based on the two stepbrother’s relationship, many speculate it was William’s sick way of making Devon suffer.
William was caught very soon after committing the murders, though. The killer had a history of mental illness and hated his mother in law. Physical evidence also showed she was sexually assaulted just before or after her death. William was verbally abusive and antagonistic to his stepfamily for years, but during his trial, William lamented that he’d killed his father saying:
“I loved dad very much, and it makes me feel sick every time I think about it. I can’t explain why this all had to happen, but I think most of it had to do with my mental illness.”
William “B.J. Liske Jr. was sentenced to life imprisonment for three counts of first-degree murder. He committed suicide in prison.
Murders of Elizabeth Platzman and Ronald Sisman
On Halloween 1981, a couple in Manhattan were brutally beaten, then shot in the back of the heads execution-style, and their apartment was ransacked. Upon investigation, police found no clues who the murderers of Ronald Sisman and Elizabeth Platzman could have been. Ronald was into drugs and associated with some pretty shady people. So law enforcement originally thought the motive was drug money related in some way. But the whole thing took a twist for the weird when a prison informant to the police claimed a fellow inmate of his had predicted the murders weeks before they occurred. This inmate turned out to be non-other than David Berkowitz, the notorious “Son of Sam” serial killer. In 1977 the killer brought fear to anyone who walked the streets. The “Son of Sam” killer shot innocent people leaving behind six fatalities and seven victims horribly wounded before being caught. The whole incident blew up in the media, essentially making the killer David Berkowitz famous.
Though there’s always been speculation, the “Son of Sam” didn’t do all the killings on his own, and that he was actually part of a secret society. Some even claiming him to be a member of a satanic cult. These rumors have always been backed up by Berkowitz, even though little evidence has ever been found to prove his claims. The police informant said that Berkowitz told him his cult was going to strike on Holloween to conduct a ritual murder then trash the apartment to get rid of the evidence. According to the “Son of Sam” killer, Ronald was a member of his cult and had a snuff film of one of Berkowitz’s killings. Ronald was going to hand over the tape in exchange for law enforcement to drop drug charges on him. But apparently, the cult would have none of that, and the man had to go. His girlfriend Elizabeth was just collateral damage. Despite these bizarre connections and the “Son of Sam” killer confessing so much about his alleged cult, these murders remain unsolved to this day.
The Trick Or Treat Murderer
On Halloween in 1957 just outside L.A. California, Betty and Peter Fabiano heard their doorbell ring a little later than they’d expected kids to be trick or treating. It was past 11 p.m. and unusual for the children in the area to still be out collecting candy. Peter got up to answer the door while his wife listened from upstairs. She heard him say, “Isn’t it a little late for this type of thing?” Betty heard a muffled response and couldn’t make out whatever the person at the door was saying, but she did think it sounded like a full-grown man impersonating a woman’s voice. Then all of a sudden, a shiver of horror shot through her as Betty heard a gun go off, followed by her husband falling to the ground violently. When she ran downstairs, she found Peter shot in the chest and bleeding out. An ambulance got to the crime scene quickly, but sadly Peter died on the way to the hospital.
The next day in the newspaper, the press dubbed the incident the “trick or treat” murder, but the police couldn’t come up with any reasonable motive. Peter Fabiano was a war hero who served in the Marines during WWII and was also a successful businessman. Though he did have a few run-ins with the law in his past, he’d long since straightened up and become a very respected member of L.A. society. There was no way law enforcement was ever going to let the murderer of a hero get off free, and vowed to solve the crime with all the resources the L.A.P.D. could muster.
It only took them two weeks to find a probable suspect. It turned out Betty and Peter Fabiano had been having marital issues and actually only recently moved back in with one another after a separation. During the separation, Betty had been living with a 40-year-old divorced freelance photographer by the name of Joan Rabel. Joan had worked for Peter for a short time and, when questioned by police, told them that the Fabianos were “two of my closest friends.” However, when Betty and Peter got back together, Peter made her swear never to see the woman again. He’d taken a strong dislike to Joan and essentially exiled the woman from their lives. But after being questioned, the woman was sent free for lack of evidence.
With the case going cold, the police were ecstatic when an anonymous tip told them to search a rented locker. There they found the murder weapon. After researching sales records for firearms sold in the area, police found a new suspect, Goldyne Pizer, a 40-year-old close friend of the former suspect Joan Rabel.
Goldyne admitted to committing the murder that Halloween night, but Joan had been the person goading her into killing Peter Fabiano. Joan had brainwashed Goldyne into hating the man because of the intense jealousy she felt after Peter had cut her out of his wife’s life. Joan had even taken Goldyne to one of Peter’s businesses, so she knew exactly what he looked like for the night they planned to kill him. The women drove the Fabiano home and waited until all trick or treating had died off. The two thought that Holloween would be the perfect night to kill Peter because no one would think twice about masked people walking the streets.
The two women were sentenced to life imprisonment, where they’d spend the rest of their days.
The urban legend of razor blades in apples or poison in candy is pretty horrifying. Luckily, for the most part, these tales are complete fiction. However, there are a handful of these tales that are very real. Truth is stranger than fiction, and there have actually been people evil enough to harm children on the holiday with treats. Monsters may be a common sight on Halloween, but it’s rare to find a monster dressed up as a dad.
Ronald Clark O’Bryan was a father who fell on tough times financially. You’d think he’d want his financial problems fixed so he could take care of his family, but no, not Mr. O’Bryan. He was secretly a sociopath who only cared for himself.
O’Bryan, his wife, and his children Timothy and Elizabeth started off Holloween like any normal family in Pasadena, Texas, by having an evening meal before trick or treating. Afterward, O’Bryan took his son and daughter out for a night of candy hunting. At one point, they came upon a dark house but rang the doorbell anyway. There was no response, so the kids moved on, but their father lagged behind in the darkness. Moments later, he came running up to them with large pixie sticks in his hand. He said it was their lucky day because there was a rich person in the dark house that was giving away expensive candy. He gave the candy to the kids, and they continued their trick or treating.
That night when they all returned home, O’Bryan told the kids they could each have a piece of candy before bed. Timothy chose the pixie stick. The boy stopped eating the candy after the first taste saying it was bitter. O’Bryan handed the boy Kool-Aid to wash it down and told him not to waste the expensive candy. Soon after, Timothy began screaming and crying, calling for his father. He complained of intense stomach pain and vomited uncontrollably. Eventually, the boy died a slow, agonizing death.
When news got out of the boy’s demise, O’Bryan wasted no time in telling the press his son was killed from poisoned Holloween candy. He said:
“It seems like it wasn’t long before he was up and complaining his stomach hurt and he didn’t feel good. He was bent over vomiting, and I was holding him when he just went limp. We thought we were so careful. We had even wondered if we should go out trick-or-treating this year. There isn’t going to be any more trick-or-treating for us.”
Police began an intense investigation. During the autopsy, it was discovered that there was enough cyanide in Timothy to kill three grown men and that the candy had been opened and stapled shut. Luckily no other children ate the candy, and all the poisoned pixie sticks were recovered. Police almost immediately began to suspect O’Bryan after investigating the man’s story. He claimed the pixie sticks were shoved into his hands by a hairy arm in the darkness at the dark house he and the kids had stopped by, but no one answered. Well, the man who lived at the house was an air-traffic controller who had a staggering 200 people vouch for him that he was at work all night on Holloween. Also, his arms were not very hairy, and there was no one else at his home during the holiday.
O’Bryan’s story didn’t add up, and upon further investigation, detectives discovered some pretty damning things. Ronald Clark O’Bryan was 100,000 dollars in debt. He was about to lose his house, his car, and, most likely, his entire lifestyle. He was also about to lose his job because it turned out he’d been stealing. Not only that, but O’Bryan had a history of being fired all throughout his adult life from a mixture of unethical activities. However, the icing on the cake to the detectives was that O’Bryan had recently taken out life insurance policies on his children, concluding that the motive behind the poisoned candy was to collect the insurance money from his children’s deaths. That’s some pretty twisted stuff right there…
Soon after the investigation, Ronald Clark O’Bryan was arrested for the murder of his 8-year-old son. The trial was quick. Many who knew him testified that he’d inquired about how to get cyanide, and how much it would take to kill someone. At the stand, his sister-in-law said that during his son’s funeral, O’Bryan talked about taking a long vacation with the insurance money from his child’s death. It only took 46 minutes for the jury to come to a conclusion, and on May 1975, Ronald Clark O’Bryan was found guilty for the murder of his son. The sentence was death.
The whole thing was dragged out for almost ten years, but eventually, on March 31, 1984, the evil father was executed by lethal injection. During the whole process, there was a mob outside the prison dressed in Holloween costumes yelling, “Trick or Treat!” O’Bryan earned two nicknames for his notorious poisoning of his own son, and attempted poisoning of his daughter, “The Candy Man,” and “The Man Who Killed Holloween.” He brought an urban legend to life in an attempt to mask his crimes. He murdered his own blood for money. The only monster walking the streets on that Holloween night was Ronald Clark O’Bryan
On Halloween night in 1982, Marvin Brandland and his wife Ethel were ready for a night in and handing out candy to trick or treaters. The couple was getting on in age, enjoying life in the quiet town of Fort Dodge, Iowa. All was normal for a while with children and teenagers knocking on their door every so often, with Marvin handing out handfuls of candy. It was getting pretty late when, yet again, another knock came at the door. But this time, when they opened it, a full-grown adult was standing there with a mask on. The man stood there silent for a moment before saying, “Trick-or-treat. Give me your money, or I’ll shoot.”
At first, the couple thought it was some sick joke, and Marvin reached out to try and pull the mask off the man. The masked man just swatted him aside and forced his way into the home, then pulled out a gun and aimed it at the aging couple. Menacingly the man told them to take him to their basement and give him the money they had in a safe stored down there. The couple looked at each other, then turned to the man suspiciously. There were very few people who knew that they kept their money in a safe down in the basement. So this further led Marvin to think the whole thing was a prank.
He concluded the masked man had to be a friend, or at least someone they were close with. So, Marvin wasn’t taking the situation as seriously as it truly was. When the couple was leading the masked man through the house toward the basement, Marvin reached out and tried to rip the gun from the masked man’s hand. The intruder shot Marvin in the throat, and he fell to the floor, grasping the hole in his neck, dying shortly after. The intruder then fled the house, but for some reason, left the mask behind.
Ethel died a few months later. The traumatizing murder of her husband before her eyes just too much for her. Years later, a distant friend was overheard bragging about being the masked killer. When these rumors were confirmed, an investigation was sparked, and DNA tests were performed on the mask and the alleged murderer. However, there wasn’t enough evidence to pin it on the suspect, so he still walks free to this day, and the case officially remains unsolved.
Nima Louise Carter
A child vanishing from their crib is a nightmare for any parent, but on Halloween night 1977, this nightmare became a reality. The inhabitants of the quiet city of Lawton Oklahoma was familiar with petty crime at most, so when the parents of Nima Louise Carter put her in her crib only to find her missing the next day, it sent a shockwave of horror through the communities. The odd thing about the whole kidnapping was the windows to Nima’s room were locked. This led many to speculate it was the parents themselves who were responsible for the baby’s disappearance (which was quickly proven wrong), or the kidnapper was actually in the house somewhere waiting for the parents to fall asleep.
For an entire month, there was no word of the missing child or even a ransom demand. However, the parents had not given up hope. Sadly this hope was for nothing because a group of kids exploring an abandoned house about four blocks away from Nima’s home discovered something truly horrible. The abandoned house had an old non-functioning refrigerator within it, and when the kids opened it up, there was Nina. The corpse had been decomposing for some time, and it rolled out of the fridge to fall at the feet of the horrified children. Later, law enforcement determined the cause of death was suffocation.
A similar crime had occurred merely a year before Nina’s murder. This incident concerned 3-year-old twin sisters. They were allegedly tricked into leaving their house by a woman named Jacqueline Roubideaux, then put in the refrigerator of an abandoned house. Tina and Mary Carpitcher were found only two days later after their vanishing, though, and Tina even managed to survive. Mary wasn’t so lucky and died of suffocation. Tina told the detectives it was a local babysitter named Jacqueline, though there wasn’t enough evidence to convict her, and the 3-year-old’s testimony couldn’t be taken seriously by the jury because of her young age. So she walked free.
The following year Jacqueline Roubideaux would become the babysitter for Nima Louise Carter. She was a suspect after the baby vanished. But then after Nima was found murdered by suffocation in an abandoned fridge, all eyes of law enforcement looked towards Jacqueline. It would be an unlikely coincidence her being involved in two child murder cases with the victim being killed in the same way. However, yet again, there was not enough evidence to convict the babysitter, and this time there weren’t any witnesses whatsoever. So yet again, Jacqueline walked free.
After years of intense investigation by law enforcement, eventually, there was enough evidence to arrest Jacqueline Roubideaux. However, it was for the murder of 3-year-old Mary Carpitcher, not Nima Carter. Her trial was swift, and she was given the well-deserved sentence of life imprisonment. She never admitted to the murder of Nima that fateful Holloween night, and no more evidence was ever found to confirm she was guilty. The killer babysitter did get her just desserts though by dying from liver cancer in 2005 after a long and painful battle.
The Napa Holloween Murders
Napa Valley may be known worldwide for its wine and beautiful scenery, but it’s also host to some strange legends and alleged paranormal activity. Such as the local monster legend of the Napa rebobs and the haunted River Inn. Every year it’s flooded by thousands of tourists savoring the exquisite wines and delicious food to be found there. However, very few are aware of the darker aspects of the idyllic Wine Country, and back in 2004, two grisly murders occurred in Napa on Halloween night. One time beauty pageant winner Leslie Mazzara and her roommate Adriane Insogna were handing out candy to children trick or treating like any typical Halloween night. Eventually, when the kids stopped coming, the two went to bed. They lived in adjacent rooms upstairs, and their other roommate Lauren Insogna lived in a room downstairs near the back of the house. Little did the women know, a man waited outside in the darkness chainsmoking cigarettes.
Around 2 A.M. Lauren was awoken by strange noises coming from upstairs. When she realized the bizarre sounds were the screams of her roommates gradually getting louder, she jumped out of bed, horrified. As Lauren moved towards the stairs, she froze and hid as she heard someone rapidly descending them in heavy footsteps. There she waited for a time scared to even move as she heard the girls upstairs crying out for help in agonized rasps. When she eventually went upstairs, she found Leslie and Adriane dying from multiple stab wounds. However, by the time law enforcement was on the scene, the two young women had already died.
The whole city of Napa was shocked, with some people putting bars on their windows, and others selling their homes and moving away from the area the murders took place. Many rumors and theories ran rampant throughout the Wine Country as the shocked citizens of the quiet city of Napa came to terms with what happened. The girls lived in a safe neighborhood, and no one could think of any reason the girls would be murdered. They were well-liked, happy young women with everything going for them. Some people claimed it was a mob hit. Others claimed the girls were secretly into drugs and were killed over money drug money or something of that nature. All these speculations were considered ridiculous by the Napa Police Department, though. However, law enforcement was quite positive that the girls were targeted, and it wasn’t a random crime. They questioned 1,300 people and took 218 DNA samples going through the possible suspects for the brutal crime. And N.P.D detectives dug deep into the girl’s lives. Police discovered many cigarette butts outside the house that had been smoked down to the filter at the scene of the murders and had the DNA of the killer. There was also blood from the killer found at the murder scene because the two girls fought back. The blood matched the DNA from the cigarette butts. But despite this, none of the suspects were a match, and almost a year went by with there still not being any real answers to the Halloween murders.
The search ended on Sept. 27, 2005, when Eric Copple turned himself in for the murders. On Halloween night, he’d waited outside the girl’s home, and when Eric knew they were all asleep, he shimmied his way through an open window, where he ruthlessly attacked Leslie with a knife. Adriane heard her friend in the adjacent room screaming and went to her rescue, where Eric stabbed the two to death before running downstairs and escaping through a window. There was nothing to suggest he was ever dangerous and was well known for his sense of humor. Eric was Adriane’s best friend’s fiancé, and the girls knew him well. Before he turned himself in, he was even in interviews with the family and circle of friends of the victims where they all spoke very highly of him.
Real corpses that people thought were Holloween decorations
Two days after Halloween back in 2012, 46-year-old Dale Porch was dropped off from his graveyard shift only to collapse on the way to his front door. It’s not known exactly when he died but no one driving by stopped to help him thinking he was just a Holloween decoration. A mailman even had to step over the corpse to deliver mail, but he just thought Dale was a display as well. Eventually, the man died. He wasn’t discovered until around midnight when his son came to visit. The family was outraged at the mailman for not calling an ambulance because when Dale’s son found the body, it was still warm.
On October 13th, 2015, the city of Chillicothe, Ohio, was fully enchanted with the Halloween spirit. Though there was a decoration hanging from the fence of an electric power substation that many found so realistic, it unnerved them. It was a body so horrifying a neighbor called it “The worst Halloween decoration straight out of a horror movie.” For an entire day, dozens of people saw the corpse as they went by conducting their affairs. Eventually, a man walking his dog got close enough to the supposed decoration to notice a revolting smell coming from it. And that the body wasn’t hanging from some sort of hook or something like a traditional decoration, but by the shirt it wore. Only then was it discovered to be the actual corpse of a woman named Rebecca Cade.
At first, law enforcement thought that Rebecca was just the latest victim in a spree of killings that had been happening in Chillicothe throughout the years prior by an unknown serial killer (still not caught.) However, detectives quickly dismissed this theory because it didn’t take them long to discover the actual killer. The night before the body was discovered, her boyfriend Donnie Cochenour, Jr. and her were in a heated argument in a field near the power substation. The man beat her horribly before picking up a large rock and striking her in the head with it repeatedly. A blood trail from the field led directly to where the corpse was found hanging from the fence. Rebecca had survived the assault and fled. She managed to make it to the fence, but her shirt got caught on it as she attempted to climb over it. She died while suspended there either from brain damage or blood loss. The woman was so badly beaten law enforcement couldn’t even tell what her gender was when they found her.
In Los Angeles, California, back in 2009, a 75-year-old man named Mostafa Mahmoud Zayed was found dead on his porch with one eye having bled profusely. Zayed was well known by his neighbors to go all out for Halloween and have elaborately horrifying displays on his porch for a holiday. He had been sitting on his porch in plain view of the public for five days before people realized it was a real corpse. Strange, none of his neighbors recognized him. They all thought it was just one of his latest displays. But Zayed had actually committed suicide five days prior by shooting himself.
During the Halloween season in Lakewood New Jersey, there’s a haunted hayride attraction. But back in 1990, things got a little too real. Brian Jewell worked at the attraction playing a hanging victim that the hayride passes by on its route. He was supposed to talk to the crowd and scare them. However, when the hayride passed by him, Brian remained motionless with the driver wondering what was going on. It turned out he was dead, and everyone on the ride witnessed an actual dead body without knowing it. The strange thing is that Brian’s feet were on the ground, but the noose around his neck was tightened. He could have just used his hands to loosen the noose but didn’t. The bizarre way in which he died made police think his death was foul play or suicide. Though some claim he was murdered through supernatural means because there was no motive to kill him and Brian had no indications he would ever commit suicide.
In 2014 close to Holloween, a 35-year-old man committed an unspeakable crime in Farmingdale Long Island. Derek Ward murdered his own mother, Patricia, a well-known professor at Farmingdale State College. She was beheaded in the street right outside the apartment complex they both lived in, yet somehow no one witnessed the murder. After cutting off his mother’s head, he kicked it down the street for a while before committing suicide by jumping in front of a train not far from the murder scene. Patricia’s corpse had broken bones, and multiple stab wounds, so many wondered how such an atrocious event could occur in broad daylight without anyone noticing.
Neighbors and police went right by the murder scene many times throughout the day, thinking it was a Halloween display. One neighbor even tapped the decapitated head with his foot out of curiosity. When questioned later, most of the witnesses said they just thought it was a Halloween prank and not to be taken seriously. In fact, no one thought to investigate the body until her son’s corpse was found on the train tracks nearby. Police went to the apartment to notify Patricia of Derek’s death, and only then did things start to come together for law enforcement. No motive was ever discovered, and no one will never know what truly transpired between them that lead to a son murdering his mother because of the lack of any witnesses. However, Derek did have a history of mental illness.