Halloween crimes are usually thought of as the thoughtless mayhem of demented strangers who enjoy poisoning candy or putting razor blades in apples. But crimes committed on Halloween are much more serious - and more real - than those urban legends. There have been numerous murders, kidnappings, and assaults that have taken place on October 31, and many are directly related to the festivities of the holiday. While it remains debatable as to whether or not there's a spike in crime on Halloween, there's no debate that all that these particular assaults happened in connection with the holiday.
Many of these crimes have been carried out by people who took advantage of the occasion to wear a costume and fool their victims for just long enough to kill them. Others involve people out trick-or-treating, or returning from parties late at night. But as with most violent crime in general, crimes that happen on Halloween are usually committed either by someone known to the victim, or in a case of mistaken identity. In a few cases, the crime has never been solved, and years or decades have gone by with no closure for the loved ones of the victims.
Here are some true stories of the worst crimes ever committed in connection with Halloween.
The Woodbridge Abductions
In 2009, three teenage girls were abducted by a man on their way home from trick-or-treating in Woodbridge, Virginia. All three were taken at gunpoint to a wooded area, and two were sexually assaulted. The third girl was able to call her mother, causing the man to flee.
Police arrested Aaron Thomas, who was already a suspect in numerous sexual assault cases since the 1990s. Thomas pleaded guilty to the crime in 2012.
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Yoshihiro Hattori was a Japanese exchange student living in Baton Rouge as part of the American Field Service program. On Halloween night 1992, Hattori and the young son of his host family went to a Halloween party for AFS students. Unfamiliar with the neighborhood where the party was, the boys rang the doorbell of the wrong house.
When they got no answer, they started walking back to their car. The owner of the home, Rodney Peairs, then opened the door armed with a .44 Magnum. Hattori turned around and said, "We're here for the party." Claiming he feared for his life and that the exchange student was "scary," Peairs shot Hattori, ending his life.
Only when both the governor of Louisiana and the Japanese consulate got involved was Peairs arrested, after which he was acquitted of manslaughter.
Murders Of Ronald Sisman And Elizabeth Platzman
Sometime in the early hours of Halloween 1981, Manhattan couple Ronald Sisman and Elizabeth Platzman were slain in their Chelsea apartment. The couple was severely beaten before being shot execution-style, with the apartment completely ransacked. New York police initially believed drug money to be the motive, but then the case took a turn for the bizarre. A prison informant claimed that one of his fellow inmates had predicted the crime weeks before it actually happened. That inmate turned out to be the “Son of Sam” killer, David Berkowitz.
Berkowitz had long been rumored to be involved with a satanic cult that helped him with some of his misdeeds. According to the informant, Berkowitz had told him that his cult was planning to enter a residence near Greenwich Village (Chelsea would qualify for that) on Halloween to carry out a ritual slaying. When questioned, Berkowitz claimed that Sisman had footage of one of the “Son of Sam” shootings and was planning to hand it over to the authorities in exchange for dropping some controlled substance charges.
While no evidence was found to support Berkowitz’s claims, he was basically right about the description of Sisman’s apartment. The crime is still unsolved.
Pasadena Gang Shootings
On Halloween night 1993, a group of five Pasadena gang members opened fire on trick-or-treating teenagers returning from a party, killing three and wounding three others.
The gang members were soon arrested, and police determined they had fired at the wrong people. Three Bloods were found guilty of the crime.