While most tend to think of violence and murder as being associated with big cities, small towns are not immune to devious people looking for a kill. In fact, crimes in small towns can be even more gruesome and upsetting than those in big cities. Not only is it unnerving when places with low crime rates suddenly suffer serious horror, but the suspect is also usually someone everyone in town knows. With small-town killings, you're forced to face the prospect that the killer is someone you know - someone you think of as a friend.
There is no shortage of small-town killings, but these gruesome murders make the list for being especially brutal and creepy. It's amazing to see how much violence can happen in places normally considered quiet, peaceful, and safe. And they all take place in areas where children can normally walk around without worry, where doors are never locked. The murders in those places are a special sort of unnatural.
They will make you reconsider your next trip to somewhere nice and quiet. You might want to stick to the cities, where at least you know to keep an eye out.
The Saxtown Ax Murders
One of the creepiest small-town murders dates all the way back to 1874 in a small town in Illinois. The entire Stelzriede family was killed in a single night. A neighbor, who noticed he hadn't seen the family in a while, went to check on them and found the whole family brutally murdered with an ax. Inside, he found the boy's father, mother, grandfather, brother, and sister all dead. The brutality of the ax, especially against children, makes this an extra bone-chilling murder.
Nicholas Pistor, who wrote a book on the murders, explained how the incident affected the town: "Not only did they know this family very well, but the person who did it most likely was living amongst them. And it set off this horrible suspicion among everyone, thinking someone with an ax is out there and he might come and try and kill me."
The killer was never found.
Holly Piirainen And Molly Bish
The strange connection between these two murders makes them all the more disturbing. In 1993, 10-year-old Holly Piirainen went missing while visiting her grandparents in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Only her shoe was found until over three months later, when her body was discovered near a rural road. The surrounding area was devastated and many reached out to Holly's family, including 10-year-old Molly Bish, who wrote a letter to the family expressing her condolences.
But then in 2000, Molly went missing at the age of 16. Despite frantic searching, her body wasn't found until three years later. It's unclear if it was the same killer, but because they were buried in a similar manner in the same region of Massachusetts, some believe they are linked. Brothers Rodney and Randy Stanger have been suspects in the two cases - Rodney in Molly's case and Randy's in Holly's.
However, no one has ever been charged with either crime. These two murders remain a mystery.
The Death Of Baby Nicole Lee Hattamer
The murder of 10-month-old Nicole Lee Hattamer still haunts the community of Holcombe, Wisconsin. In 1989, the entire Hattamer family was at the child's grandparents' house when the child went missing. The police found the child just after midnight, around 70 feet from the house and frozen facedown in the grass. According to the autopsy, the baby was thrown on the ground, landed on her chest - which caused internal bleeding - and was subsequently left to die.
The questions around the murder led to an FBI investigation - quite the the event for a town that currently has under 300 residents - but nothing was found. There have also been multiple John Doe hearings, to no avail. The murder remains unsolved.
The Unsolved Bear Brook Murders
The murders in Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire came to light when the unidentified remains of two bodies were found in a barrel in 1985. A young woman and a girl appeared to have been killed by blunt force trauma before being stuffed in the barrel.
But it gets weirder: 15 years later, another barrel was found not far from the first. The remains of two young girls were inside. Testing revealed all four died around the same time, and the woman who was found was related to at least two of the girls.
The case remains one of New Hampshire's biggest, and investigators are still trying to figure out what exactly happened.