What is it about the worst of human nature that so many people find fascinating? It may be the quest to understand the depraved mind of a psychopath, or perhaps, it’s the glimpse into the darkest parts of humanity that makes true crimes worth studying. Either way, whenever a strange crime or terrible act is committed, the public can’t help but examine the cases and news reports. These 14 tales are bizarre for different reasons. In one instance, a man lived with a body coated in wax for the better part of a decade, undetected. Others are also notably unusual due to details of the criminals, like the pre-teen who believed her boyfriend was a werewolf - or the Japanese cannibal-killer who made a case for the "affluenza" plea decades before Ethan Couch, the "Affluenza Teen" from Texas. Not to mention the unique factoid about the man later dubbed "The Dating Game Killer."
Throughout history, people have sunk to ghastly depths to handle the world around them. Law-abiding citizens may not be able to comprehend why exactly some commit crimes, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s something intriguing about them. Read on for a list of some of the strangest crimes in history.
In 2010, police arrested Rodney Alcala, a professional photographer, and brought him to trial for an incredibly expansive list of crimes. By the time prosecutors had tallied up all of his potential victims, they discovered that Alcala had raped and possibly murdered over 100 women and children between 1978 until his capture. During the investigation, police uncovered photographs of potential victims and continued to charge Alcala as the identities of victims were confirmed - even after he was sentenced to death in his 2010 trial.
The weirdest bit of Alcala’s crime spree, though, was his 1978 appearance as a bachelor on The Dating Game, which he won.
In 1931, 56-year-old Carl Tanzler was working at a hospital in Florida when he fell in love with a 22-year-old Cuban-American woman named Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos. When the couple met, de Hoyos was dying from tuberculosis - a terminal condition in the 1930s. Throughout the last year of her life, Tanzler reportedly showered the young woman with gifts and even purchased an expensive mausoleum when she passed.
After her death, Tanzler visited de Hoyos’s grave, singing Spanish love songs to her. He later claimed that her spirit encouraged him to remove her from the grave and take her home. So, one night in 1933, allegedly haunted by these ghostly requests, Tanzler carried de Hoyos back home in a wagon.
Over the next seven-plus years, Tanzler preserved the woman. He replaced her skin with silk and wax, stuffed her body with rags to keep its shape, and used perfumes to disguise the smell. It wasn’t until 1940 - when de Hoyos’s sister, Florinda, stormed into his home with police in tow - that the truth was discovered. Tanzler wasn’t actually prosecuted because the statute of limitations on his initial crime had already lapsed.
In August of 2016, 22-year-old Jasmine Richardson was set free from a Canadian prison, 10 years after her and her ex-boyfriend's convictions. In 2006, then-12-year-old Richardson and her boyfriend, Jeremy Steinke, murdered Richardson’s family - her parents and younger brother - in cold blood. The crimes took place in the Richardson family's home in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
In the months leading up to the murders, the pre-teen reportedly had made a quick transition from a bright and happy girl to dark and morbid. Authorities claimed that this transition was a result of 23-year-old Steinke’s influence. Steinke, in fact, believed himself to be a 300-year-old werewolf.
In June 1981, Japanese citizen Issei Sagawa was caught in a Parisian park with two suitcases in his hands. Inside the suitcases were the remains of Renée Hartevelt. Three days before he was caught, Sagawa had shot and killed Hartevelt and then spent the intervening time eating various parts of her body. For his crime, the affluent Sagawa spent five years in a psychiatric hospital, after which time he was able to check himself out and return to his native Japan.
Over the 30 years since his crime, Sagawa has not only enjoyed freedom, he’s become something of a minor celebrity, essentially crafting his own cottage industry from his notorious reputation. Everything from manga to paintings to macabre re-enactments - in which Sagawa plays himself - have been created in the wake of his crimes. Sagawa is notoriously known as the "Celebrity Cannibal."