Little Known Real Life Murders Worse than Any Horror Film

There is an old cliche that says fact is often stranger than fiction.  However, turning on the television or picking up a newspaper, we quickly realize that this cliche holds much truth.   Horror fans certainly know that many genre classics are based on real life cases.   Serial killer Ed Gein was the inspiration for both Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer was based on the murders of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.  Even The Exorcist was based on a real life case that took place in the late 1940's.

But for every murder or killer that captures the nation's attention, there are many horrific murders that are widely ignored.  Below are ten such cases, each with unique and gruesome details that make them far worse than anything imaginable.

The Murder of Shanda Sharer (Madison, IN 1992)

Shanda Sharer

Teenagers committing terrible crimes has become almost commonplace today.   It seems like on a daily basis we hear about a kid killing someone, shooting up a school, or engaging in some other violent behavior.  However, back in 1992, hearing of such things was not so common and certainly wasn't expected in a small, peaceful Midwestern town.

But on January 10th, 1992, the innocence of small, quiet Madison, Indiana was shattered, along with the lives of five young girls.  On that cold winter's night, twelve year old Shanda Sharer was lured from her house by four girls she had never even met: Laurie Tackett (17), Melinda Loveless (16), Hope Rippey (15) and Toni Lawrence (15).  Melinda was apparently upset that Shanda had recently grown close to her girlfriend, Amanda Heavrin and was extremely jealous of this new relationship.

Shanda's Killers

Once Shanda was in the car, owned and driven by Tackett, Loveless emerged from the back seat and threatened her with a knife.  Tackett drove around for a bit while Loveless continued to threaten Shanda before deciding to drive to a spot the locals called The Witches Castle.  Here, Shanda was forced from the vehicle, humiliated and taunted, and her arms and legs were bound with rope.  After some time, Shanda was led back into the vehicle and driven around some more.   Tackett even stopped at a gas station while Shanda, crying and scared, was covered with a blanket.  After the gas station stop, Tackett drove toward her home, but made a stop at the edge of some remote woods near her house.

Tackett and Loveless, who emerged as the ringleaders, forced Shanda out of the car and stripped her naked.  Loveless beat Shanda severely and then tried to cut her throat.  The knife, however was too dull, so Loveless and Tackett took turns stabbing her in the chest and strangling her with a rope.  Shanda, unconscious, was placed in the trunk of the car.  Tackett then drove to her house where the four girls cleaned up and had some soda while Shanda lie in agony in the trunk.  At some point, Shanda gained consciousness and began screaming.   Tackett went to the car, opened the trunk and stabbed Shanda several more times with a paring knife.  Loveless and Tackett then left Rippey and Lawrence and went for another joyride.  Shanda, who was miraculously still alive, began crying again.   Tackett pulled over and beat her with a tire iron until she stopped making noises.

The two then went back to Tackett's house to retrieve Rippey and Lawrence.  By this time, it was early morning on the 11th; exhausted, the four teenage abductors stopped at a gas station again and filled plastic soda bottle with gasoline.   Tackett then proceeded to drive to an isolated wooded area.  Shanda was dragged from the trunk, doused with the gasoline, and set ablaze.  Shanda was still alive and the group laughed and made fun of her facial expressions and death throes as she burned alive.  The girls then went to McDonalds for breakfast, where the continued to laugh and joke about Shanda's death.

Twelve year old Shanda was tortured for a period of over eight hours by four teenage girls who had never even met her.  The callousness of the girls and the pain they inflicted can only be described as pure evil (notice Rippey and Loveless smiling widely in their mugshots).  Alarmingly, both Rippey and Lawrence have been released from prison and Loveless and Tackett continue to fight for their release; let's seriously pray this never happens.

The Murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom (Knoxville, TN, 2007)

Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom

The old saying goes that your life can change in an instant.  For young couple Channon Christian (21) and Christopher Newsom (23), that fateful instant happened when they were on the way to a friend's party.  Both seemed to have promising futures ahead of them, yet their lives were cut brutally short.

On January 7th, 2007 Channon and Christopher  were carjacked while leaving an apartment complex.  Instead of just taking the vehicle. the carjacker abducted Channon and Christopher.  They were driven to the residence of Lemaricus Davidson (25) where Eric Boyd (34), George Thomas (24), LeTalvis Cobbins (24), and Vanessa Coleman (18) all gathered.

Channon and Christopher's Abductors and Killers

At the house, Christopher was raped repeatedly and sodomized with an unknown object while Channon was forced to watch.  He was then blindfolded and gagged and led out of the house to a set of railroad tracks behind the house.  There, he was shot twice execution style.

Channon faced a much longer, more excruciating death.  At some point, she was forced to call her father and tell him she and Chris were okay.  Then, she was beaten and raped over a course of several days, had bleached poured down her throat and on her genital area before being bound, having her head covered with a plastic bag, then being stuffed into several large trash bags and placed in a large garbage bin where she suffocated to death slowly.

One has to imagine just what kind of monsters would inflict such torture on two other human beings.  Strangely, the mainstream media virtually ignored this case, despite the horrific nature of the crime.

The Murder of Adrianne Reynolds (East Moline, IL 2005)

Adrianne Reynolds
Like most teenage girls uprooted to a new town, Adrianne Reynolds just wanted to fit in and make friends at her new school.  When she was sixteen, she was sent from her small Texas town by her mother to live with her father in the Midwestern city of East Moline, Illinois.

She started Blackhawk Outreach Center, an alternative high school, and became friends with classmates Sarah Kolb and Cory Gregory.  The trio hung out together quite a bit, attending several parties, where apparently Sarah became disturbed at Adrianne's reckless and attention seeking behavior.  When Adrianne reportedly asked Cory out, Sarah became even more angry, and she became outwardly hostile toward Adrianne.

Sarah Kolb

On January 21st, 2005, Sarah asked Adrianne to lunch with her, Cory and another young male acquantance under the guise of wanting to make up and rekindle their friendship.  Once parked in a Taco Bell parking lot, Sarah became confrontational with Adrianne.  This quickly escalated into a physical fight.  The other young man quickly exited the vehicle, not wanting any part of an actual physical altercation.  With him gone, Cory held Adrianne down while Sarah beat her with a wooden handle and then strangled her to death with a belt.

The two teen killers then drove Adrianne's lifeless body to Sarah's grandparents property in rural Illinois, where the tried to unsuccessfully burn the body.  Frustrated, they drove back to East Moline and recruited a mutual friend, Nathan Gaudet (16) to go back to the property to dismember Adrianne's body with a handsaw.  Nathan removed the head and arms and put them in a garbage bag.  The three of them drove back to East Moline and ultimately dumped the back in Black Hawk State Park in neighboring Rock Island, IL.  The three of them then went and had lunch at McDonalds.

 Because Kolb admitted to police early in the investigation of Adrianne's disappearance that she was the last person to see Adrianne alive (she initially told them she dropped Adrianne off at a local fast food restaurant), but changed her story multiple times, law enforcement zeroed in on her, and ultimately Cory Gregory.  Cory Gregory caved to the pressure, and on January 26th, five days after Adrianne's murder, he led police to the bag containing her head and limbs that he and Kolb disposed of in a drain at the state park.

Kolb and Gregory were both convicted of Adrianne's murder: Kolb is serving a 53 year sentence and Gregory is serving a 45 year sentence.  Their accomplice, Nathan Gaudet, only received a 5 year juvenile sentence and was released in 2008.  In what some might call karma, he was burned to death in a automobile accident in 2012.

Adrianne Reynolds just wanted to fit in and have friends.  Unfortunately, she befriended two people who ultimately would end her young life.

The Murder of Joshua Ford and Geney Crutchley (Ocean City, MD 2002)
Geney Crutchley and Joshua Ford

Memorial Day weekend sees millions of Americans roadtripping for a relaxing getaway to kickstart summer.  For Joshua Ford (32) and his girlfriend, Geney Crutchley (51), a vacation in Ocean City, MD was just the type of romantic, relaxing getaway they needed.

Unfortunately, on the evening of May 25th, 2002, Joshua and Geney met another couple, Benjamin and Erika Sifrit, both 24 years old.  The two couples had drinks at a local nightclub, and when the bar closed down, the Sifrits invited Joshua and Geney back to the condo they were renting for the weekend.  They agreed.

Once at the condo, the couples continued to party.  At some point, Erika became alarmed and agitated, declaring that her purse was missing and accused Josh and Geney of stealing it.  The situation escalated quickly, and Benjamin pulled out a gun.  Fearing for their lives, Josh and Geney locked themselves in the condo's bathroom.

Erika and Benjamin Sifrit

Benjamin, a former Navy SEAL, broke through the door and shot Joshua four times.  Geney was then stabbed, which is thought to be her cause of death (it was difficult to determine based on her remains).  The bodies were then dismembered in the bathtub.  According to testimony by Erika, Benjamin was completed nude and fully aroused while cutting the bodies up.  The two of them then placed the parts in various garbage bags and disposed of them in several supermarket dumpsters in the surrounding area. 

Unfazed, the couple continued their partying in the days after the murder and took several pictures of them having a great time.  In several photos, Erika can be seen wearing Joshua Ford's ring around her neck.

What caused a, by all appearances, wholesome American couple to commit such a barbaric murder?  While we may never know the answer (both Erika and Benjamin ultimately pointed the finger at each as being the ringleader), but it does serve as a severe warning to never fully trust anyone.
The Murder of Elizabeth Pena and Jennifer Ertman (Houston, TX  1993)

Elizabeth Pena (16) and Jennifer Ertman (14) were out on the humid Houston evening of June 24th, 1993 enjoying a pool party at the apartment complex of another friend.  The two were close friends, attended the same high school, lived in the same neighborhood, and enjoyed hanging around each other.  They were also responsible, and when the realized they might not make their curfew they took off walking toward home.  Knowing they could cut several minutes from their journey home by taking a shortcut through T.C. Jester Park, the two friends made the fateful decision to take the shortcut; they walked along the bayou and then followed the railroad tracks that ran parallel to the park.

It was approaching 11:30 pm as the girl entered the park.  At the same time, six local gang members were drinking and celebrating an initiation. Peter Cantu, Efrain Perez, Derrick Sean O'Brien, Joe Medellin, and Venancio Medellin had just initiated Raul Villareal into their gang.  As the girls walked along the railroad tracks, they were spotted by the gang members.  Seeing an opportunity, the gang approached the girls and grabbed Elizabeth Pena.   Jennifer actually escaped by running away, but bravely returned to the scene when she heard her friend crying for help.  The gang captured her.   For the next hour, the girls were viciously gang raped vaginally, orally, and anally by all six gang members.  They begged for their lives, but Cantu declared they must be killed so they could not go to the police with descriptions.

The girls were then brutalized; members took turns strangling them with belts and shoelaces and then stomped the girls to ensure they were dead.  After the murders, several of the members bragged about their crime.

Jennifer and Elizabeth's bodies laid at their murder site in the summer Houston heat for four days before being discovered.

Peter Cantu, Efrain Perez, Derrick Sean O'Brien, Raul Villareal, and Joe Medellin received death sentences for their crimes.  Venancio Medillin was only 14 years old at the time of the crime and was spared.  Cantu, O'Brien, and Medellin have been executed.  Perez and Villareal had their sentences commuted to life.

Two young friends trying to get home before curfew met their gruesome deaths at the hands of six monsters and gave parents yet another reason to worry about and watch over their children.

The Lane Bryant Murders (Tinley Park, IL  2008)
Lane Bryant Murder Victims and Sketch of Suspect

Shopping is a very typical activity that millions of American women (and men) partake in on the weekend.  On the morning of February 2nd, 2008, four previously unconnected women from the Chicago suburbs ventured out for some shopping.  The four women, Connie Woolfold (37), Sarah Szafranksi (22), Carrie Hudek Chiusu (33), and Jennifer Bishop (34) all ended up at the Lane Bryant store in Tinley Park, IL.  Since it was still early in the morning, only the store manage, Rhoda McFarland (42), and an assistant manager were working.

At is what is estimated to be approximately 10:40 a.m, a man entered the store, which was located in a busy shopping center.  He announced that he was robbing the store and rounded the customers and assistant manager.  McFarland was able to make a 911 call, which came in at 10:45am.  She desperately whispered for police to come to the store before the call went dead.

At that point, the six women were forced the backroom and told to kneel down.  Each was shot execution style in the back of the head.  The assistant manager, whose identity has been kept protected, survived; the other five women died at the scene.

While shootings happen all the time in this country, what makes this murder so chilling is the fact that it was committed in broad day light at a busy shopping center where the victims were simply doing something each of us do all the time.  Perhaps more chilling is that the killer has never been caught.

The Starved Rock Murders (Utica, IL 1960)

For three suburban housewives, Lillian Oetting (50), Mildred Lindquist (50), and Frances Murphy (47), mid-week mini-getaway to a beautiful state park for hiking, photography, and relaxation was just the break they needed away from their typical daily drudgery.

On March 14th, 1960, the three women arrived at the lodge in Starved Rock State Park, a natural wonder located about 100 miles southwest of Chicago.  They checked into the lodge, took their luggage to their rooms, and then had a quick lunch in the dining room.  After lunch, they were eager to get out among nature and take pictures, so they headed out on the park's main nature path.  About one mile into their hike, they came to St. Louis canyon, a natural wonder with steep jagged rock walls and a waterfall.  They spent some time in awe of the scenery around them, taking photos.    They never made it back to the lodge.

  Oetting's husband had tried reaching her several times by phone before finally having the hotel staff check her room and find that she had not even unpacked her belongings.  Their bodies were discovered two days later.  It had snowed, and the three bodies were side by side.  There clothing had been stripped and their legs were spread open; two of the victims were tied together with white twine.  Each woman had been brutally bludgeoned to death.   A blood stained branch, thought to be the murder weapon, was found a few feet from the bodies.

The investigation that followed led to the arrest and conviction of Chester Weger who worked as a dishwasher at the lodge.  Though he is still in prison serving his life sentence, he has always maintained his innocence, and there are several in law enforcement who believe Weger is innocent and was convicted simply to close the case.  Regardless, the idea that a weekend getaway with friends to take in the beauty of nature can end so violently is disturbing.

The Murder of Cheryl Henry and Andy Atkinson (Houston, TX  1990)

Andy Atkinson
Cheryl Henry

We've all hear the old urban legend about a young couple parked at an isolated Lover's Lane when suddenly they are attacked by a psychopath.  But on August 21st, 1990, this legend became a reality for Andy Atkinson (21) and Cheryl Henry (22).

At some point on the evening of the twenty third, the young, good looking couple parked Andy's vehicle on Enclave Road, a then undeveloped, quiet wooded area in west Houston.  The location was known as Lover's Lane back then (it is now a well developed area in the heart of Houston's Energy Corridor).  At some point while they were parked, the couple was approached by a stranger.

When neither returned home by the next morning, their families reported them missing.  Officers spotted Andy's vehicle on the evening of the twenty second.  There was fresh blood in the vehicle and officers immediately searched the area.  They made a grisly discovery that haunts Houston to this day.  Cheryl's body was discovered several hundred yards away from the car.  Her clothes had been cut from her body and her hands were tied with a rope.  Her throat had been viciously slashed and her killer had tried to cover her body with boards.  She had been raped.

About a hundred yards from Cheryl, Andy was found.  He was seated with his back to a tree trunk.  His hands were also tied and his throat was cut so deep that he was nearly decapitated.  He still had his valuable watch and cash on him.

The killer still has never been caught.  In March, 2001, police received a letter written in block letters that read: IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO KILLED C. HENRY AND A.ATKINSON, IT WILL COST YOU $100,000!   It also instructed law enforcement to respond to the letter in the classifieds  of the Houston Chronicle.  They did, but nothing ever came of the letter and the killer

The Murder of Angie Housman (St. Louis, MO  1993)

Angie Housman

By all accounts, Angie Houseman was an outgoing fourth grader who loved making new friends.   Perhaps her friendliness allowed her to be taken advantage of in the most horrific way imaginable.   
On November 18th, 1993, Angie exited her school bus only a half block away from her house.  She never made it home and seemingly vanished without anyone seeing anything.   Two neighbors who typically watched the children got off the bus just happened to be doing other things that day.

Nine days later, a hunter made a gruesome discovery in the Busch Wildlife Conservation area.  Angie Houseman had been tied to a tree, duct tape had been placed over her eyes and mouth and most of her clothes had been removed.  Ice chips layered her little body.  Worse yet, autopsy reports indicated that she was alive when left at the tree and died slowly of exposure.  Additionally, she had been kept alive for at least a week before her death while her abductor raped and tortured her.

While there was a fingerprint found on the duct tape used to cover her eyes and mouth, there were very few leads or evidence in Angie's murder.   A teacher did claim that Angie told her she was excited to take a trip to the country with an "uncle" the following day.  This person has never been identified and Angie's killer has never been caught.

The Murder of Rashawn Brazell (Brooklyn, NY  2005)

Valentine's Day 2005 should have been a pleasant day for nineteen year old Rashawn Brazell,  He had plans to visit his accountant and then have lunch with his mother.  However, Rashawn, a motivated, likable music lover never made it to either appointment.  His mother became worried when she could not reach him, as it was very out of character for him to not remain in contact with her.

Her fears were fully realized when on February 18th, three days after he went missing, some transit workers discovered bloody trash bags on the subway tracks in the Nostrand Avenue Station tunnel in Brooklyn.  The bags contained Rashawn's legs, shoulder and right arm.  Five days later, a piece his pelvis was found at the Greenpoint Recycling Plant.

The only clue to who possibly murdered Rashawn came from his neighbors, who witnessed an unknown man ringing Rashawn's buzzer at around 7:30 in the morning on that Valentine's Day.  These witnesses claim they saw Rashawn leave with this man and head toward the Norstrand Avenue Station.  Despite these supposed eye witnesses, no detailed description or composite sketch of this unknown man exists and he has never come forward.    Was this Rashawn's killer?  Or did he meet someone else that fateful Valentine's Day?

The brutal nature of the crime suggests that the perpetrator possibly killed before and/or since.  And what the significance of leaving some of Rashawn's body parts on the subway track?   However, law enforcement are no closer to solving this murder or have any more significant leads than when it happened over ten years ago.  Though the crime still haunts the Brooklyn neighborhood, it has received little national attention.

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