Christmas is a time for getting festive, eating delicious food to excess with the promise of hitting the gym in the new year and spending some quality time with friends and family. Christmas should be the happiest time of the year but as you’ll see from these stories, this is not always the case.
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Unfortunately, murder doesn’t stop for the holiday season and Christmas is sometimes even the motivator itself. So grab a mulled wine and munch on a mince pie whilst checking out 10 cases of people killed at Christmas.
1. Murder-Suicide In LA
In December 1959, Los Angeles residents learnt of a grisly scene in their city. The Perelson family lived at 2475 Glendower Place, Los Feliz in a beautiful, sprawling mansion.
During the early hours on 6th December, father of the household cardiologist Harold Perelson took a ball peen hammer and smashed his sleeping wife Lillian in the head before bludgeoning her to death. She died by asphyxiating on her own blood before she could even scream.
Harold then turned his attention to his teenage daughter Judye as he marched to her bedroom. Neighbours heard her screaming “Don’t kill me” as he instructed her to lie still and be quiet. Fortunately for Judye, her father struck her with poor aim and she managed to run to a neighbour’s house for help.
Joel and Debbie the younger siblings once awoken were told “This is only a nightmare” by Harold before he took a concoction of pills and Nembutal. He was dead by the time the emergency services arrived.
The mansion lay empty for decades following the crime with Christmas decorations still up. No one knows exactly why Harold lost the plot and killed his wife but rumours of financial trouble suggest a potential motive.
As history tells us with family annihilators, he would have likely killed his whole family had Judye not managed to escape.
2. A Bitter Abuser
Our next account takes place on Christmas Eve in 2002. Jean Wholaver had rightly got a restraining order against her partner, Ernest Wholaver after he was charged with molesting his own daughters.
Once it was nighttime, his brother acted as a lookout a block away so Ernest could pull off his plan.
First he cut the telephone wires before forcing his way into the home. He first shot his wife Jean before shooting his two daughters, Victoria and Elizabeth. He left Victoria’s infant daughter unharmed.
Ernest was charged with first-degree murder and sits on death row. What is really frustrating is that his dickhead brother only got 15-25 years when he practically enabled Ernest to carry out the slayings. As far as I’m concerned he deserves to rot in jail with Ernest ,but he got into bed with the prosecution and aided as a witness which lowered his sentence.
3. A Gift-Wrapped Surprise
Another Los Angeles case and another bitter ex. Bruce Pardo donned a Santa Claus costume and knocked on the door of his ex-wife’s family home on Christmas Eve in 2008. 25 people were gathered to celebrate the holidays and carnage was about to ensue.
His wife’s 8-year-old niece answered the door and as she went to greet Santa, Pardo shot her in the face. He had come armed with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, three additional handguns and a gift-wrapped present.
He began shooting indiscriminately at everyone inside the house and deliberately executed some. Soon, his ex-wife’s parents, two brothers and their wives, her sister, and her nephew were slain. Fortunately the 8-year-old niece survived the gunshot to the face.
As Pardo’s grand finale, he unwrapped his present to reveal a flamethrower and proceeded to set the house on fire. He then left the property, drove to his brother’s house and shot himself.
It’s hard to imagine what wrong Pardo felt he had suffered that justified the brutal murders of his wife’s relatives.
4. Body Beneath The Presents
We’re off to Jacksonville, Florida now with the story of 67-year-old Michelle O’Dowd. O’Dowd was a giving and loving person who took a friend, 41-year-old Patty White into her home after she had become homeless.
By early December in 2011, the friendship had turned sour and O’Dowd failed to turn up to work or answer her phone. O’Dowd’s twin brother was concerned and so went to her home to check in on her. What he found was a foot sticking out from beneath presents under the Christmas tree. He had found O’Dowd’s dead body.
It turned out White had strangled her and beat her to death before placing her under the tree. She was caught when she attempted to use O’Dowd’s stolen credit cards at an ATM.
Christmas was O’Dowd’s favourite time of year and she took pride in her Christmas tree which she was later left under, amongst presents meant for children and family members.
What a twisted individual White was. She got 45 years in prison for the cruel murder.
5. Home Alone
Going back to the 1800’s now and the Ashland Tragedy of 1881. On 23rd December in Ashland, Kentucky, three teenagers were home alone whilst the father was working in another town and the mother away visiting the eldest daughter.
17-year-old Robert Gibbons, 14-year-old Frannie Gibbons and their friend 15-year-old Erica Carico were fast asleep.
Not long later, the sight of flames caught the attention of neighbours and with that came the discovery of the three teenagers’ dead bodies.
An axe, crowbar and other weapons were found at the scene and it was confirmed their skulls had been smashed to pieces. The two girls had also been brutally raped and after murdering all three teenagers, the fire was set in an attempt to cover the crime.
Eventually George Ellis confessed to the murders and dobbed in his two friends William Neal and Ellis Craft. The apparent motive was that William Neal wanted to rape Frannie Gibbons and it then descended into savage chaos.
For the crime, Neal and Craft were both executed by hanging with Ellis getting a life sentence; not that that saved him from death as he was later killed by a lynch mob.
6. Death Of A Beauty Queen
The case of JonBenét Ramsey shocked the world as news broke about the death of the 6-year-old beauty queen.
JonBenét died on Christmas day in 1996. Her parents found a lengthy handwritten ransom note in the house after they couldn’t find JonBenét.
Not long after, her father found her body in the basement around eight hours after she was reported missing. She had sustained a broken skull and she had been strangled. A garrot was found tied around her neck which is super disturbing.
The parents initially fell under suspicion but the case remains unsolved.
7. Bad Santa
Another psycho in a Santa costume with this next one. On Christmas day, 2011 in Texas, Aziz Yazdanpanah knocked on the door of his estranged wife donned in the merry suit, just as the family were opening their presents.
Yazdanpanah opened fire on his family and killed his wife Fatemeh Rahmati, their 14-year-old son, Ali and their 19-year-old daughter, Nona. He also killed his wife’s sister, her husband and their 22-year-old daughter.
Despite someone managing to call 911 from inside the house, Yazdanpanah had slain the family and killed himself before police could show up that Christmas morning.
What is extra creepy is that the 22-year-old daughter of the wife’s sister after seeing her Uncle in the Santa suit, texted her boyfriend saying, “Now he wants to be all fatherly and win father of the year because he fucked up before.”
8. A Gruesome Christmas Present
Alexis Valdez was an 18-year-old living with his aunt and her boyfriend Silvestre Diaz. Late in December, Valdez and Diaz got into an argument about Valdez being a slacker and Diaz told Valdez he would be kicked out if he continued with his ways.
On Christmas Eve, whilst his aunt was out, Valdez flew into a rage and smashed Diaz in the head with a hammer.
He then shut the blinds and blasted music whilst he used a butcher’s knife to cut off Diaz’s ears, nose, mouth and arms as well as pulling out his eyes with his bare hands.
His pièce de résistance was when he decapitated Diaz and left his severed head on his aunt’s pillow as an ‘early Christmas present’. Shudders.
He eventually called 911 and confessed to the murder. He also added that he would have topped his aunt too if she’d been home. He got 33 years in prison for the grisly murder which seems a little light given the circumstances.
9. Pyscho Son
All American boy, William Aydelott was a 17-year-old star pitcher for Gulf Breeze High School.
On Christmas Eve in 2013, he snapped and murdered his mother Sharon. He swung at her with a baseball bat, hitting her in the head and body. He then used a knife to slash her throat and stabbed her in the eye.
She was later found in a puddle of blood by a friend and William readily confessed to her murder. When confessing, he reportedly did so with an eerie smile and relayed the events in a cold matter-of-fact way.
Apparent motive was that he was angry at his family for placing him in a substance abuse program when he didn’t actually take drugs and his relationship with his mother was also strained due to her divorce with his father.
Amazingly, William was found not guilty by reason of insanity as his defence successfully argued he genuinely felt he was doing the right thing at the time of the killing. A psychiatrist testified he suffered from schizophrenia and that he would be a danger to society if let free. So even though he didn’t go to prison, he’ll likely never leave the state mental hospital.
10. A Haunting Last Photograph
In 1929, a few days before Christmas, 43-year-old Charlie Lawson took his family shopping for new outfits and to get their portrait taken. This was unusual for a working class family such as the Lawson’s and is said that this was a premeditated act on the part of Charlie.
On Christmas day, Charlie waited by his barn for his daughters, 12-year-old Carrier and 7-year-old Maybell, to head out to their aunt and uncle’s. He shot them both with a shotgun before bludgeoning them beyond recognition. He moved their bodies into the barn before seeking out his other family members.
He shot his wife, 37-year-old Fannie whilst she was on the porch before shooting his daughter, 17-year-old Marie and his two sons 4-year-old James and 2-year-old Raymond who had tried to hide from Charlie.
Cruelly, he didn’t spare anyone as he even beat his youngest 4-month-old baby girl Mary Lou to death.
Finally, he walked into the woods and killed himself. The sole survivor of this massacre was his oldest son, 16-year-old Arthur who had been sent to town on an errand. Perhaps Charlie had wanted to spare him?
The motive remains unclear to this day and other than rumours of an incestual relationship with Marie, the reason behind this man’s madness remains a mystery.
Some delightful reading there to get you in the festive mood. Horrible to think that some of these people chose to carry out their crimes specifically because it was Christmas. This would ensure maximum pain and would ruin all future Christmases for the survivors as it will forever be associated with the worst day of their lives.
For something a little lighter, did you see that recently Walmart got in a spot of bother for their Christmas jumper featuring a coke-head Santa Claus?