There is a certain fascination with stories about violent crime, even though we may not want to admit it. Murderers and killers are examples of real-life evil that can cause fear and make us question the nature of humanity.
This article presents some of the most disturbing yet lesser-known crimes that will still send shivers down your spine.
1. The School Teacher Who Tortured Teens By Demanding They Cleanse Themselves Of Demons – Tampa, Florida
Danielle Harkins led a group of children in a dangerous ritual where they cut their skin and burned their wounds to release evil spirits. The teens, who were all of Asian ethnicity, kept the ritual a secret from their parents. It wasn't until a friend of the group revealed the ritual to their parents that Harkins was arrested for child abuse.
2. The Woman Who Went Missing And Ended Up As A Skin Suit – Vistula River, Poland
In 1998, Polish student Katarzyna Zowada went missing. After two months, a tugboat discovered a suit made from her skin floating in a river. Additionally, some of Zowada's limbs were found nearby. A suspect was arrested in 2017, but the case remains unresolved.
3. The Krugersdorp Cult Killings – South Africa
Cecile Steyn led a group known as Electus per Deus, which murdered 11 people between 2012 and 2016. The group targeted and harassed members of a religious group called Overcomers Through Christ, as well as committing murders for financial gain. They also brutally killed one of their own members who attempted to leave the group.
4. The Airbnb Murder, Villa La Mas – Costa Rica
Carla Stefaniak stayed at an Airbnb rental despite reviews calling it "scary" and "a nightmare" for her 36th birthday. She texted her sister-in-law expressing her concerns, saying "It's pretty sketchy here," before going missing for a week. Her body was later found covered in plastic and half-buried. It is suspected that a security guard was responsible for her death.
5. Man's Decapitated Head Found In Sex Toys Box – Cantabria, Spain
Maria del Carmen's husband disappeared and she claimed he left on vacation after taking some money. She asked her neighbor to hold onto his box of sex toys because she did not want them in her home. However, 8 months later, the box had a bad smell and upon opening it, the neighbor found the husband's head inside. The rest of his body is still missing. The husband's family reported that they had been in contact with him, but he 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 2011, two employees were found inside a Lululemon Athletica store, one brutally murdered and the other injured, claiming masked men had robbed the store and killed her co-worker. However, it was later revealed that the survivor, Brittany Norwood, was the actual killer. Norwood had been caught trying to steal pants from the store, and when confronted by her co-worker Jayna Murray, she flew into a rage, brutally beating, choking, and stabbing Murray to death. Norwood then inflicted wounds on herself, 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 child with salt and blogged about his illness being caused by "natural causes." Her son died on January 23, 2014, due to high levels of sodium leading to swelling in his brain. Lacey was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter. It is believed that she suffered from Munchausen by proxy syndrome (MSBP), a condition where a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under their care, such as a child, elderly adult or someone with a disability. MSBP is considered a form of child abuse or elder abuse because it victimizes vulnerable people.
8. The Eriksson Twins And A Suspected Shared Psychosis – West Midlands, England
In 2008, Swedish twins Sabina and Ursula Eriksson were visiting the UK when an incident occurred. They began running into traffic on a highway, claiming someone was trying to steal their organs. Both were hit by cars but miraculously survived. Ursula was taken to the hospital with a crushed leg, and Sabina spent the night at the police station before being released the next morning. Sabina then stayed 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, yet survived again.
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 left the house but before they did, they unlocked the back door. They turned off the lights, and after Stoddart's boyfriend left, they snuck back into the house, wearing masks and armed with knives. The boys were obsessed with serial killers, and they recorded videos before and after the murder.
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 his location, but stated he was following the lights to a nearby town. During the phone call with his father, he suddenly exclaimed and the call disconnected. He was never found or heard from again.
11. The Family Who Wiped Themselves Out – Springvile, Utah
Benjamin and Kristi Strack, who were parents of four, struggled with severe mental health issues. They fixated on the "evils of the world" and believed they needed to escape an impending apocalypse. They also had an unexplained relationship with a convicted killer in prison. In 2014, the couple killed themselves and three of their children by administering a mixture of lethal drugs. Many aspects of this crime remain unexplained.
12. The Snowtown Murders – Adelaide, Australia
In 1999, acid barrels containing the remains of eight people were discovered in a bank vault. Three men were eventually charged and convicted for the murder of a total of 11 people. Some of the victims were tortured, some were killed simply for being aware of the crimes, and some of the bodies were even cooked. The perpetrators also attempted 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
When the man was arrested, he was found in possession of six fetuses as part of a black magic ritual. He had purchased them and intended to sell them as good luck charms.
14. The Couple Who Trafficked People And Kept Them As Slaves – Warrington, England
A couple in their thirties were apprehended for tricking two separate Lithuanians in their fifties to come to England, only to force them to work as slaves without pay and sometimes without food. They first enslaved a man, who slept in a cupboard under the stairs. When he managed to escape, they lured a woman and barely gave her any food. Unfortunately, this type of crime is all too common around the world.
15. The Burger Chef Murders – Speedway, Indiana
The murders of four young employees of a restaurant chain in the US in 1978 remains one of the most mysterious cases. The employees were closing up the store around midnight when something inexplicable occurred. Their bodies were found two days later in a wooded area some distance away. While it appeared to be a robbery gone wrong, the manner of abduction and the murders are difficult to understand.