Even the most normal people have secrets behind closed doors. But when those seemingly normal people have something terrifying inside their home - tucked away from prying public eyes - it's downright terrifying. After police uncover dead bodies in someone’s basement or live human captives chained to beds, everyone’s so shocked - and not just at the acts but of the identity of the perpetrator. It’s rarely who you suspect. It’s usually the guy on the block with the perfect lawn who gives the best Halloween candy.
Some strange, most disgusting, all of them creepy; this list explores a few of those cases where the secrets creepy people kept locked inside their homes were exposed and continue to stun the masses.
Ariel Castro wasn't necessarily considered normal - his wife and child left him because he had been abusive - but nothing about him alarmed anyone who knew him. No one took much notice of him in the neighborhood, so no one knew his wife leaving him didn’t end his reign of terror on women. Castro kidnapped three women who accepted rides from him. He abducted Michelle Knight on August 23, 2002, when she was 21, Amanda Marie Berry on April 21, 2003, the day before she turned 17, and Georgina "Gina" Lynn DeJesus on April 2, 2004, when she was 14.
All three victims were locked in Castro’s dark basement or tied to his bed. They suffered brutal beatings, emotional abuse, and were raped repeatedly during the 10 years they were held captive. They were only fed once a day, allowed to shower once or twice a week, and given a tiny, dirty toilet. Castro impregnated Michelle Knight at least five times and would cause her to miscarry by starving her and beating her with dumbbells.
Amanda Berry gave birth to a daughter while in captivity, and DNA evidence confirmed Castro was the father. It was Berry who saw the opportunity to escape on May 6, 2013. Castro left an interior door leading to the upper floor unlocked by accident, allowing Berry to go into the living room and yell for help out the window. By getting the attention of neighbors, Berry got out of the house and called Cleveland PD to Castro’s house to free the other two women. Castro pled guilty and was given a life sentence but took his life after a month in jail.
Ed Gein, also known as The Butcher of Plainfield, was the notorious grave robber and killer who inspired some of the creepiest characters of cinema - Leatherface of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Norman Bates of Psycho. Gein was thought to be shy, socially awkward, and a bit strange, but no one could have guessed what horrors were hoarded away in his home. Following his mother's death, Gein dug up graves and mutilated the bodies to craft random household items for years.
It wasn’t until November 16, 1957, when a local hardware store owner named Bernice Worden disappeared that Gein was brought to the attention of police. Gein had been the last person to see Worden and that prompted a search of Gein's property. Not only did they find Worden's decapitated and mutilated body hanging upside down in Gein’s shed, but they also found the body parts of women he’d dug up on at least 30 different visits to the cemetery. Gein also confessed to the murder of Mary Hogan, a local tavern owner.
Gein had a collection of multiple body parts. He’d made bowls and bedposts from human skulls. He used women’s skin to make a chair, lampshades, masks, and a wastebasket. Police also found Mary Hogan’s face in a paper bag - Gein had literally carved it off. Gein was found guilty of first-degree murder but also legally insane, so he was locked up in a mental hospital for the rest of his life. He died on July 26, 1984.
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Thomas Mair Had A Secret Obsession With The Third Reich
Thomas Mair did volunteer work, taught children with disabilities, and wore the face of a kindly neighbor willing to help everyone with their gardening, all while devouring as much Nazi propaganda he could get his hands on in his West Yorkshire home.
Apparently, no one, not even his family knew of his obsession with the Third Reich or of his ties to online networks of white supremacists. It wasn’t until Mair brutally murdered Jo Cox, a Labour Member of Parliament on June 16, 2016, (one week prior to the EU referendum outlining Brexit) that his secret life was revealed. Witnesses heard Mair screaming, "Britain first. This is for Britain. Britain will always come first," as he shot Cox three times and then stabbed her 15 times with a dagger.
Police uncovered hoards of books and pamphlets on the Holocaust and SS Race Theory in addition to his own writings, including letters that were previously published in SA Patriot-in-Exile. Mair wrote that he felt "white liberals and traitors" were the "greatest enemy" of apartheid. His writings also stated, "I still have faith that the White Race will prevail, both in Britain and in South Africa, but I fear that it's going to be a very long and very bloody struggle." Mair was found guilty of murder on November 23, 2016, and sentenced to life in prison.
- Video: YouTube
Josef Fritzl of Amstetten, Austria, had a soundproof dungeon constructed under the home he shared with his wife and daughter, Elisabeth. Apparently Fritzl had been sexually abusing his daughter since she was 11 years old and when she turned 18, he locked her up in his cellar and reported her missing. For 24 years, Fritzl kept his daughter hidden, repeatedly raping her while his wife went about her day without a clue that her daughter was being brutalized beneath her feet.
Elisabeth gave birth to seven of her father’s children. One was sick as a newborn so Fritzl burned him in the furnace. Three of the six surviving children were kept captive down in the basement with Elisabeth, never knowing the outside world existed. The other three children were brought upstairs, Fritzl claimed Elisabeth abandoned her children on the doorstep and ran off with some cult. It wasn’t until one of the children, Kerstin, got sick and needed to be hospitalized that Fritzl’s secrets came out.
In 2008, Elisabeth (42 years old at this point) and her hidden children (Kerstin, 19; Stefan, 18; and Felix, 5) were finally freed. Josef Fritzl pled guilty to kidnapping, rape, incest, false imprisonment, slavery, and murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Jeffrey Dahmer, the Milwaukee Cannibal, raped, murdered, and dismembered 17 men and boys from 1978 to 1991. Dahmer’s later murders evolved into acts of necrophilia, cannibalism, and even preservation of parts of his victim’s remains. Investigators also uncovered Polaroid pictures depicting the dismemberment of Dahmer's victims.
As the chief medical examiner said in reference to Dahmer’s house, "It was more like dismantling someone's museum than an actual crime scene."
Dahmer was sentenced to 15 life terms in 1991 but was beaten to death by a fellow inmate in 1994.
Jerome Brudos Had A Thing For Women's Shoes
For Jerome Brudos of Oregon, it all began at the age of 5. He found his first pair of women’s shoes and hoarded them away until his mother finally found them and destroyed them. This didn’t end his guilty pleasure; he continued to collect women’s shoes and his obsession escalated to stalking women simply based on their shoes. His first known assault occurred when he was just 17. He threatened a teenage girl with a knife, forced her to strip, and beat her. After high school, he became an electrician and got married. Despite his seemingly normal domestic life, he was still stalking and raping women before stealing their clothes and shoes.
Unfortunately, stalking wasn’t enough either. Brudos went on to murder four women who he chose based on their shoes, which he stole from their corpses. Brudos was taken into police custody in 1969. He was found guilty of all four murders and spent the rest of his life in prison.