Whether we like to admit it or not, there’s something morbidly intriguing about stories featuring violent crime. Murderers and killers are real-life boogeymen who send chills down our spine and make us question if humanity is really as good as we claim it to be.
Here in this article, are some of the most disturbing crimes that didn’t get much attention on a national level, but still remain as bone-chilling as ever.
1 | The school teacher who tortured teens by demanding they cleanse themselves of demons – Tampa, Florida
Danielle Harkins gathered the kids around a fire one night and told them to cut their skins and let the evil spirits out. They then had to burn their wounds to keep the demons from re-entering in a bizarre and dangerous ritual. The teens were all ethnic Asians, and no one told their parents. A friend of the group found out about it, told his parents, and Harkins was arrested on charges of child abuse.
2 | The woman who went missing and ended up as a skin suit – Vistula River, Poland
Polish student Katarzyna Zowada went missing in 1998. Two months later, a tugboat discovered something floating in a river. It turned out to be some kind of suit made from Zowada’s skin. Some of her limbs were also found nearby. A man was arrested for the crime in 2017, but the case hasn’t been resolved yet.
3 | The Krugersdorp cult killings – South Africa
A group of individuals, with Cecile Steyn at the helm, murdered 11 people between 2012 and 2016. They called themselves Electus per Deus (Chosen by God) and they harassed and tortured their victims, notably those from an opposing religious group called Overcomers Through Christ. They also killed for money, and brutally murdered one of their own members who wanted out.
4 | The Airbnb murder, Villa La Mas – Costa Rica
Reviews of this Airbnb rental called it “scary” and “a nightmare,” but Carla Stefaniak decided to stay there for her 36th birthday. She texted her sister-in-law, “It’s pretty sketchy here,” and went missing for a week before her body was found covered in plastic and half-buried. It is believed that a security guard killed her.
5 | Man’s decapitated head found in sex toys box – Cantabria, Spain
Maria del Carmen’s husband went missing, but she claimed he took some money and left on vacation. She asked her neighbor to keep his box of sex toys because she didn’t want it in her house. Eight months later, the box was smelling pretty bad, and when the neighbor opened it she found the husband’s head inside. The rest of his body is still missing. The man’s family said they’d been in contact with him, but he supposedly had a new number and sounded strange, claiming to have dropped his original phone in the tub while on vacation.
6 | The Lululemon murder, or murder in a luxury yoga store – Bethesda, Maryland
In March of 2011, two employees were found inside the Lululemon Athletica store, one brutally murdered and the other wounded, saying that masked men robbed the store and killed her co-worker. But the survivor, Brittany Norwood, was the actual killer. Apparently caught trying to steal pants from the store, Jayna Murray confronted Norwood, who flew into a rage and bludgeoned, choked and stabbed Murray to death. She then gave herself some wounds, tied her own hands and feet, and lay next to Murray’s corpse to be discovered the following morning.
7 | The blogger who killed her son and blogged about it – Chestnut Ridge, New York
Lacey Spears slowly poisoned her kid with salt, and blogged about him falling ill due to “natural causes.” Little Spears died on January 23, 2014. The cause of death was determined to be high levels of sodium leading to swelling in his brain. Lacey Spears, was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter of her 5-year-old son. Doctors believe she has Munchausen by proxy syndrome (MSBP) ― a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care, such as a child, an elderly adult, or a person who has a disability. Because vulnerable people are the victims, MSBP is a form of child abuse or elder abuse.
Swedish twins Sabina and Ursula Eriksson were visiting the UK in 2008 when something went wrong. They started running into traffic on a highway, claiming that someone wanted to steal their organs. Even though they were both hit by cars, they somehow survived. Ursula went to the hospital with a crushed leg, and Sabina spent the night at the police station, but was released the next morning. She found lodging with a local man, but stabbed him and was seen running down the street, hitting herself with a hammer on the head. She then jumped off a bridge onto a highway, and still survived.
9 | The girl who was murdered by her classmates, Scream-style – Pocatello, Idaho
Cassie Jo Stoddart was house-sitting when her boyfriend and two of his friends, Brian Draper and Torey Adamcik, came over to watch a movie. Draper and Adamcik didn’t stay long, but before they left they unlocked the back door. They cut the lights, Stoddart’s boyfriend left, and the two snuck back into the house and up the stairs sporting masks and knives. The boys were obsessed with serial killers, and made videos of their murder before and after the killing.
10 | The young man who just disappeared – Minnesota
Brandon Swanson (19) was driving home one night when he accidentally drove into a ditch. He called his parents, unsure of where he was, but said he was following the lights to a nearby town. While on his phone with his dad, he suddenly swore and the call went dead. He was never seen or heard from again.
11 | The family who wiped themselves out – Springvile, Utah
Benjamin and Kristi Strack were the parents of four, and they struggled with serious mental health issues. For one, they obsessed over the ‘evils of the world’, and believed that they had to escape the inevitable apocalypse. They also befriended a convicted killer in prison for some reason. In 2014, the parents killed themselves and three of their kids using a cocktail of lethal drugs. Much of this crime remains a mystery.
12 | The Snowtown murders – Adelaide, Australia
In 1999, acid barrels were found in a bank vault containing the remains of eight people. Three men were eventually charged and convicted for the killing of 11 people in total. Some of the bodies were cooked, some of the victims were tortured, and some were killed purely for knowing about the crimes. The perps also tried to claim social security benefits for some of their victims.
13 | The British man who got caught smuggling roasted fetuses wrapped in gold leaf – Thailand
Uh, quite the sentence there. When the man was arrested he had six fetuses in his possession as part of a black magic spirit ritual. He had bought them and was planning on selling them as good-luck charms.
14 | The couple who trafficked people and kept them as slaves – Warrington, England
A couple in their thirties were caught luring two separate Luthuanians in their fifties to England, only to have them work as slaves without pay and sometimes without any food. They first trafficked a man, who slept in a cupboard under the stairs, and when he managed to escape, they lured a woman who they hardly ever fed. Sadly this kind of crime is way too common around the world.
15 | The Burger Chef murders – Speedway, Indiana
One of the strangest cases in the US, the murders of four young employees of the restaurant chain back in 1978 still baffles authorities. The employees were closing up the store around midnight when, something went horribly wrong. Their bodies were found two days later in a wooded area a good stretch away. It seemed like a robbery gone wrong, but the abduction doesn’t quite make sense, and the murders even less so.