21 Extremely Dark True Crime Stories That Will Keep You Up At Night

12 min


True crime stories have always been a subject of fascination for many of us. The idea that the sinister and unthinkable could happen right where we live is enough to send shivers down the spine. We recently put out a request asking people to share with us the most shocking, wild, or unsolved crime that happened in their hometowns, and the responses were nothing short of spine-chilling. In this blog post, we have compiled 21 true crime stories that are guaranteed to keep you up at night.

1. I reside just a few minutes away from the location where Austin Harrouff, also known as the ‘Frat Boy Killer,’ committed the gruesome act of biting off a man’s face.

WPTV / Via youtube.com

Based on a CNN report in November 2022, it was revealed that the 25-year-old individual accused of fatally stabbing a Florida couple in 2016 and engaging in the disturbing act of biting the male victim’s face will be placed in a mental hospital rather than being sentenced to prison. Florida Judge Sherwood Bauer from the 19th Judicial Circuit determined that Harrouff was not guilty by reason of insanity. As a result, an agreement was reached between the prosecution and the defense to forgo a trial, leading to the decision to send him to a mental hospital, as stated in the court documents.

2. I used to reside approximately 20 minutes away from the location where Elizabeth Smart was abducted. During that time, my younger sister, who was around 8 years old, experienced a deep fear and refused to sleep in her own room for several weeks. Her bedroom was situated at the front of our house, and she was overwhelmed with the terror that someone might enter through the front window and abduct her.

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Elizabeth Smart, currently an advocate for child safety and a commentator for ABC News, endured a harrowing ordeal when she was 14 years old. On June 5, 2002, she was forcefully taken from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah at gunpoint by a man named Brian David Mitchell. For a period of nine months, Smart was held captive, subjected to bondage, rape, and constant threats of death. Despite being concealed by a veil and a wig, she was eventually rescued on March 12, 2003, in a public area.

3. I attended the same school as some boys who were members of the Boy Scout troop associated with the infamous serial killer known as “BTK.” One of these boys was interviewed on the news subsequent to the killer’s arrest.

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Dennis Rader, the perpetrator, gave himself the moniker “BTK,” representing “bind, torture, kill,” which described the gruesome manner in which he took the lives of his victims. Between 1974 and 1991, Rader carried out a series of murders spanning a significant length of time. Despite his crimes, Rader managed to evade capture for three decades until 2005. Throughout his killing spree, he claimed the lives of 10 individuals and gained notoriety for posing as his victims and capturing photographs in that disturbing manner.

Currently, Rader is serving 10 consecutive life sentences in a high-security prison located in Kansas, where he will spend the remainder of his life.

4. Aurora, Colorado. The movie theater. It’s not difficult to put two and two together. I used to reside in an apartment complex just a short walk away from that very theater. Even today, whenever I drive past it, a chilling sensation runs down my spine. It’s hard to believe that the theater is still open and hasn’t been demolished.

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On July 20, 2012, a horrifying mass shooting took place at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, while a screening of The Dark Knight Rises was underway. The tragic event claimed the lives of 12 individuals and left 70 others injured. Regrettably, it stands as the deadliest shooting carried out by a lone perpetrator in the history of Colorado, trailing only behind the infamous Columbine massacre as the state’s second deadliest mass shooting.

5. I reside in West Yorkshire, England, and at my workplace, I used to park my car on a street where one of the victims of the notorious Yorkshire Ripper was discovered. Late at night, when I finished work, I had to walk past that spot, and the darkness added an eerie atmosphere. At that time, the area was covered in shrubs and bushes, but it has since been transformed into a parking lot. Interestingly, I also used to play sports on the field where the first victim was found, although I only learned this fact many years later.

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According to CNN, Peter Sutcliffe, infamously known as the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ by the British media, was convicted in 1981 for the murder of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven others. His reign of terror terrorized northern England from 1975 to 1980. Sutcliffe passed away at the age of 74 in 2020 while in a hospital, having contracted COVID-19 while serving a life sentence.

6. I reside in Citrus Heights, California, the same area where the notorious “Golden State Killer” operated. It was unsettling to discover the close proximity of our homes, and I sometimes find myself wondering if our paths ever crossed. That guy is truly despicable.

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Joseph James DeAngelo, also known as the “Golden State Killer,” was responsible for committing at least 13 murders, 51 rapes, and 120 burglaries across California from 1974 to 1986. Currently, DeAngelo is serving multiple life sentences at Corcoran State Prison.

Interestingly, Michelle McNamara, the late wife of actor Patton Oswalt, played a significant role in capturing DeAngelo. As reported by USA Today, McNamara had extensively investigated the assailant and documented her relentless pursuit in her book, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” which was published posthumously in 2018. Her book reignited public interest in the case, ultimately leading to DeAngelo’s arrest shortly after its publication.

7. I resided approximately one mile away from Casey Anthony’s location. During the search for her missing daughter, Caylee, I witnessed the dive team scouring the lake near our home. Eventually, Caylee’s remains were discovered in the woods, which happened to be right next to my daughter’s elementary school.

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Following a perplexing and disturbing investigation, Casey Anthony faced charges of murdering her 2-year-old daughter in 2008. Despite intense public scrutiny and a lengthy, highly publicized trial, Anthony gained notoriety when she was acquitted of charges related to murder, manslaughter, and child abuse on July 5, 2011. However, she was found guilty on four counts of providing false information to law enforcement officers, which resulted in a misdemeanor conviction. Anthony served a mere two weeks in prison after receiving a 4-year sentence for the misdemeanors.

8. I reside in Dubuque, Iowa, where a tragic incident unfolded in the 1980s involving the 14-year-old Kenny Joe Johnson. He was strangled, wrapped in an old carpet, and discarded in a park located on the outskirts of the Mississippi River. This unfortunate event took place during a time when Kenny should have been attending school. He managed to make it to his morning classes, but what transpired during the afternoon and how it unfolded remains a complete mystery. The circumstances surrounding his fate on that day leave me pondering as I walk through the secluded park, contemplating the unimaginable ordeal that befell the young boy.

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9. In a location less than 15 minutes away from my residence, the lifeless body of a man named Rickey Herriage was tragically found. His body, riddled with gunshot wounds, had been callously discarded into a creek after being thrown off a bridge in Athens, Texas, back in 1987. Even after the passage of so many years, his sister continues to share posts on social media, fervently hoping that someone, anyone, will finally step forward with vital information. However, despite her unwavering efforts, the case remains shrouded in silence. There are no witnesses, no substantial evidence, and no conclusive accounts of the last person to have seen him alive. It is truly heartbreaking that even after 36 years, a profound sense of closure remains elusive.

CBS19 / Via youtube.com

10. During my time attending school in a small town named Farmville, Virginia, two true crime stories have gained some level of attention, although they have unfortunately become entangled with various speculations. The first incident, known as the ‘Farmville murders,’ occurred while I was enrolled there. It involved a professor named Dr. Debra Kelley, her husband, her daughter, and her daughter’s friend, who were all tragically murdered by an individual the daughter had met online. Initially, the perpetrator almost managed to evade capture, but he eventually made a phone call confessing to the crimes. Law enforcement authorities swiftly located and apprehended him while he was sleeping in the baggage claim area of a local airport.

Joe_potato / Getty Images/iStockphoto

The second story, which appears to have turned into a cold case, involves one of my former college roommates who has been missing since 2011. She had taken up a job to clean someone’s house, but when the homeowner returned, they discovered that the cleaning had not been done and a revolver had gone missing (although she did remember to let the dogs out!). After visiting a friend at a nearby gas station, she vanished without a trace. Unfortunately, there have been no updates or developments in her case for over a decade, leaving her disappearance shrouded in mystery.

11. I reside within a 10-mile radius of the location where one of the victims of the ‘Alphabet murders,’ also known as the ‘Double Initial murders,’ was discovered near Rochester, New York. These crimes are deeply ingrained in my mother’s memory as she experienced them firsthand during her teenage years. In the early 1970s, three young girls fell victim to these horrifying acts. They were subjected to sexual assault and then either strangled by ligature or manual force. Carmen Colon, aged 10, was found in Churchville, while Wanda Walkowicz, aged 11, was discovered in Webster. Additionally, Michelle Maenza, also 11 years old, was found in Macedon.

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Despite the existence of numerous suspects and the possibility of two perpetrators, the cases have remained unsolved even after 50 years.

12. I reside in close proximity to Manheim, and when the Kreider killing occurred, it became the focal point of many conversations. I was still in high school during that time, and the events surrounding the case were shocking. However, the sense of shock continued when the Roseboro murder took place just down the road from my house a year later.

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Regarding the Kreider killing in 2007, Alec Kreider, who was 16 years old at the time, committed a brutal act by murdering his classmate and friend, Kevin Haines, along with Haines’s parents, Thomas and Lisa. It took authorities about a month to apprehend Kreider, who eventually confessed to the killings. However, before a re-sentencing hearing could take place, Kreider tragically died by suicide.

In the Roseboro murder of 2008, Michael Roseboro, a funeral director from Lancaster County, committed an equally horrific act. He violently attacked his wife, Jan, who was also the mother of their four children, using methods such as bludgeoning, punching, kicking, and strangling, before disposing of her body in the family’s backyard swimming pool. According to reports from Lancaster Online, Roseboro’s motive behind the murder was his desire to marry his mistress.

13. During my time in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1968, a tragic incident unfolded with the murder of Christine Rothschild. Her lifeless body was discovered behind Sterling Hall, which later became infamous for a bombing incident. What adds to the gravity of the situation is that it was a close friend of mine, employed as a night watchman, who made the grim discovery. Linda Tomaszewski, Christine’s best friend, claimed to know the identity of the murderer. However, due to conflicts between the campus and city police and the overall inefficiency of the investigation, the perpetrator managed to escape justice.

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14. The Kyron Horman case, originating from Portland, Oregon, has left me astounded, particularly due to the fact that his stepmother has managed to move on and create a new life.

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Kyron, a 7-year-old boy, was last seen when his stepmother, Terri, walked him part of the way to his classroom before school. However, he never arrived at his class, and his whereabouts remain unknown to this day. While many suspect Terri’s involvement in his disappearance, there are various inconsistencies in the case that cast doubt on her potential guilt. Additionally, there is evidence suggesting that she may have even hired a hitman to murder her husband, Kyron’s father, prior to the incident. This aspect of the case is particularly unsettling for me as it hits close to home, considering that I was around Kyron’s age at the time, and I had the opportunity to meet him on a few occasions.

15. Elizabeth Breck, a local high school teacher, disappeared in 2019 in Tucson, Arizona after voluntarily admitting herself to a treatment facility to address her PTSD and mental health concerns. She was last sighted at the treatment center, leaving behind all her personal belongings in her room. Since then, there has been no trace of her, with no substantial leads or any information whatsoever. The lack of any developments in the case is truly astonishing.

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16. Marysville, Washington—In 2014, a tragic incident unfolded at Marysville Pilchuck High School (MPHS) when a freshman student sent a text message to his friends, urging them to gather in the lunchroom. Upon their arrival, he brandished a firearm and proceeded to shoot five of his friends before turning the gun on himself. Regrettably, only one of the victims managed to survive. At the time, I was a junior attending MPHS.

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According to the Seattle Times, the shooter, identified as 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg, had summoned his friends to a table in the cafeteria on October 24, 2014. He then unleashed gunfire upon them using a .40-caliber Beretta handgun before taking his own life. The victims of this senseless act of violence were Gia Soriano, Zoe Galasso, and Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, all aged 14, as well as Andrew Fryberg, 15. Nate Hatch, another 15-year-old student, sustained a gunshot wound to the face but managed to survive. In 2017, the families of the victims reached a settlement with the school district’s insurance company, amounting to $18 million, as part of a lawsuit.

17. I resided in the vicinity of the infamous “Highway of Tears” in Canada. This stretch of Highway 16 in British Columbia spans 450 miles and has become tragically known for the disappearances and murders of numerous First Nations women. While the government and law enforcement acknowledge around 40 cases, the actual number of victims exceeds 120 according to community accounts. This discrepancy highlights the lack of attention and concern given to these devastating crimes.

Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

Disturbingly, the investigations have revealed the presence of three convicted serial killers, and there is a possibility that more perpetrators remain unidentified. Furthermore, there have been allegations of police officers being involved in the sexual assault of some of these women, further compounding the injustice. Additionally, it came to light that the government, 15 years ago, was found to have deliberately destroyed crucial evidence and documents related to these crimes, an act of gross negligence and misconduct.

The prevalence of such abhorrent acts along the “Highway of Tears” is an ongoing source of shame and an atrocious stain on our society. Indigenous communities continue to demand justice and an end to the violence that has plagued their lives for over four decades.

18. My family was acquainted with David Ludwig and his family. Unfortunately, David committed a horrifying act by taking the lives of his girlfriend’s parents following an argument regarding their significant age difference. At the time, David was 18 years old, while his girlfriend, Kara Beth Borden, was 14. It is perplexing to reconcile this violent outcome with the fact that David’s family was known for their kindness and amicability.

Gary Tognoni / Getty Images/iStockphoto

According to CBS News, both Ludwig and Borden were teenagers who received their education through homeschooling in Lititz, a small town situated in Amish country, approximately an hour west of Philadelphia. Police reports indicate that Ludwig shot and killed Michael F. and Cathryn Lee Borden, Borden’s parents, in the early hours of a Sunday following a dispute over Borden’s curfew violation. The tragic incident occurred at the Borden family’s residence near Lititz. Subsequently, David Ludwig was sentenced to serve two consecutive life terms for his actions.

19. I reside merely five minutes away from the site of the Tinley Park crime scene. The fact that no one has been apprehended in connection with the incident continues to evoke fear and unease. A significant challenge in solving the case is the store’s proximity to I-80, which allowed the perpetrator to swiftly escape. Although a different store has now replaced the one involved, I personally refuse to enter it due to lingering apprehension.

ABC7 Chicago / Via youtube.com

Fifteen years ago, a tragic event unfolded at the Lane Bryant store located in a popular strip mall. Five women, consisting of four customers and the store manager, lost their lives in a shooting. Additionally, a part-time employee was also shot but fortunately survived. In response, the entire area, including the surrounding neighborhoods, went into lockdown. Despite extensive efforts, the suspects responsible for the heinous act were never identified. Although the Lane Bryant store no longer occupies that space, the local community still refers to the shopping center as ‘Murder Mall,’ a grim reminder of the tragic incident that occurred there.

20. A disturbing incident that occurred in close proximity to my hometown is the murder of Shanda Sharer in Madison, Indiana in 1992. This tragic event involved the kidnapping of Sharer, a 12-year-old girl, by four teenage girls. They subjected her to brutal beatings and stabbings while ‘country cruising’ with her confined in the trunk of a vehicle. Shockingly, even after discovering that Sharer was still alive, they proceeded to take her to a local proving ground where she was ultimately burned alive.

It is disheartening to note that all four individuals involved in this heinous crime have since been released on parole. I distinctly recall a chilling encounter when my grandmother even recognized one of them while we were dining at a local McDonald’s during our childhood. The tragic murder of Shanda Sharer remains a haunting memory for our community.

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21. Finally, “My grandmother is laid to rest near Carol and Christopher DiMaiti (Stuart). I make sure to visit them as well when I go there. Many of the Stuart family members lived in my hometown; it was an enormous tragedy at that time.

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Our neighbors were the Stuarts — specifically Chuck and Carol. Chuck devised a plan to murder Carol, who was heavily pregnant with their first child, a son they planned to name Christopher. He shot her and himself while driving home from a childbirth class in January 1989 and then blamed the crime on a Black man. This event led to Boston being scrutinized for its highly racist stop and search practices — random Black men were stopped and searched for months. Ultimately, they arrested a man who had a criminal background, but he was certainly not guilty of murder. If Chuck’s brother (who had been tricked into assisting him) hadn’t gone to the police with Carol’s wedding ring to reveal the truth, the falsely accused man would have been executed. Once the truth was exposed, Chuck leaped from the Tobin Bridge, and his body was found a few hours later.

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With over a decade of writing obituaries for the local paper, Jane has a uniquely wry voice that shines through in her newest collection of essays, which explore the importance we place on legacy.


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