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Whether we like to admit it or not, there's something morbidly intriguing about stories featuring violent crime. Murderers and killers are real-life boogeymen who send chills down our spine and make us question if humanity is really as good as we claim it to be.
Truth be told, murders happen every single day. Most of them aren't that heavily publicized, and that means that there are some pretty disturbing murders that somehow fly under the radar. This has been true for centuries, making is a grisly status quo no one wants to acknowledge.
Today, we're going to take a look at some of the most disturbing killings that didn't really get much airtime on news stations or otherwise just escaped the public's memory.
Prepare to be scared.
Katarzyna Zowada: Skinned Alive and Turned into a Suit
Katarzyna Zowada was a beautiful student in Poland during the late 1990s. Then, she went missing in 1999—with almost no recognition from the police as being gone at all.
Sometime around January, a sailor who was floating on a tugboat noticed something strange floating on the sea. It was a long, foul-smelling thing that was pale and spotted. He got a closer look, and then saw Zowada's ear.
Unlike every other "discovered body" story you'll hear, the poor sailor who discovered Zowada didn't discover her body. Rather, he just found her skin. In other words, Katarzyna Zowada was skinned alive.
When authorities took a look at the poor girl's remains, they had discovered something even more disturbing. They realized her skin was prepared in a way to be worn as a suit, much like what Leatherface did in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
To date, it's considered one of the most disturbing murders in Polish history. Somehow, the murder's tale never reached America's newspapers, despite how insanely gory it was.
Junko Furuta: The Girl in the Concrete Barrel
They often say, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," but if you ask us, there are quite a few disturbing murder cases that suggest that a man spurned can be even more terrifying. Such is the case of Junko Furuta.
Back in the 1980s, Junko was a young teenage girl who was known for her quiet demeanor, her well-behaved attitude, and being well-liked. Unfortunately, she ended up gaining the attention of a local Yakuza hopeful named Hiroshi Miyano.
Hiroshi was totally enamored by Junko, and asked her out. Unfortunately, Junko wasn't looking for a relationship, so she turned down Hiroshi Miyano.
Hiroshi didn't like that very much. In fact, he snapped in a way that most people would never have imagined possible.
Hiroshi Miyano and three other boys from the school kidnapped Junko and forced her to call her parents to say that she was going to be out for a while and that she'd be okay. Afterward, they raped and tortured her for 44 straight days.
Reports showed that she was raped by over 100 men, was beaten by golf clubs until her bones were broken, was forced to touch herself in front of guests, was given nothing but urine, feces, and cockroaches to eat, and also had fireworks set off inside her anus—just to name a few of the things she dealt with.
Within two weeks, she no longer could ingest food or water without vomiting due to the internal damage she suffered. She tried to call the police, but failed and had her feet burned. Junko repeatedly asked to die. Even more disturbingly, Hiroshi's parents knew he was doing this but refused to do anything out of fear of their own son.
Eventually, Junko fell into shock and died. The boys then stuffed her in a drum, filled it with concrete, and left it to rot. Her body was eventually found, and they were apprehended.
Despite the fact that this is one of the most disturbing murders in Japanese history, the killers were not given life sentences. They are currently out and about in Japan.
The List Family Murders
John List was one of the most normal-looking people you could ever hope to meet in the 1970s. The quiet, bespectacled bank vice president lived with his family in their comfortable Westfield, New Jersey home. He was a Sunday school teacher who was a well-known part of the community.
Mr. List was having financial issues—bad ones. Like many American families, the Lists were facing the possibility of losing their home. Unlike other American families, the solution John List has was a bit different, to say the least.
In 1971, John list killed his entire family. He killed his mother, his wife, and his three kids. All of them were shot from behind, and hidden. He left a confession letter admitting to the murder, fled to Colorado, and was caught after changing his name.
He was charged with five life sentences, which he served until his death. When asked why he killed, he explained that he wanted to save his family from the shame of losing their house and "help them get into heaven."
What makes this one of the more disturbing murders that still somehow flies under the radar is his psychological screening results. According to the psychologist, List exhibited "no sign of remorse" for what he did to his own family.
Westley Allan Dodd, The Child Molester and Killer
As far as disturbing murders go, it's really hard to get more disgusting than the story of Westley Allan Dodd. During the mid-1980s, Dodd had molested around 175 young boys and was arrested four times for acts of child predation.
Though police had noticed that Dodd's attacks continued to get more violent, they never put him away for good. Dodd continued to get out of jail.
Soon, his activities took a turn for the lethal.
Cole and William Neer, two young twin brothers, were enjoying a park in the summer of 1989. Dodd found them, tied them up, raped them, and stabbed them. That same year, he abducted a four-year-old boy and brought him to his home. The boy was never seen alive again.
The police caught him after he tried to lure another boy in a movie theater, and when they searched his home, what they found was horrifying. He had created a torture rack for his victims—and yes, it was child-sized.
Thankfully, he will never hurt another person again. Dodd was hanged for his crimes in 1993, making him one of the last people to have this form of capital punishment in Western history.
Robert Hansen's Alaskan Hunts
Have you ever read The Most Dangerous Game? If so, you'll have a good idea of where this story is headed.
Robert Hansen was a man who spent much of his teenage years being teased for his acne and stutter—and also being shunned by women. Over the years, the constant rejection made him bitter towards women, and eventually, the soft-spoken teen grew up.
Even his early adulthood was troubled, with several arrests for petty theft under his belt. Eventually, he got married, but his wife quickly left him after he burned down a school bus.
Things seemed to get better for Hansen after he moved to Alaska. He married twice, had two kids, and owned a bakery in Alaska. He was well-liked by neighbors, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
What his neighbors didn't know is that he raped around 30 women over the course of a dozen years. Women who sparked his rage in one way or another would get kidnapped and sent into the woods. There, he would hunt them down like wild game.
When police arrested him, he confessed to 17 murders and over 30 rapes. This makes him one of the scariest serial killers you've never heard of.
The Murder of Maddie Clifton
Maddie Clifton was a young girl with a cool tomboy streak, and she loved to play basketball. So, when she had gone out to play b-ball with the local kids, her parents thought nothing of it... until she didn't come home for hours after her typical curfew.
The Clifton family called the police, and a search was started. Nothing came to fruition, but that didn't mean that Maddie was gone for good. Soon after, something would happen that would shock the world.
Missy Phillips, one of Maddie's neighbors, was cleaning her son's room when she felt a wet spot on his waterbed. Thinking that her teenage son's bed had a leak, she pulled the covers off the bed. Laying right there was the body of eight-year-old Maddie.
When Joshua Phillips was interrogated, he confessed and claimed that he hit the girl with a baseball bat, panicked, then killed her. What makes this such a disturbing crime is the age of all the people involved—all under 18.
The Shoe Fetish Slayer
It seems like most serial killers have sexual hangups, doesn't it? While some might be inferred, there's no need to guess about Jerry Brudos, who goes by the name of "The Shoe Fetish Slayer."
Brudos had killed four women by bludgeoning them to death. So far, so "normal"—as far as serial killers go, right? What makes Brudos's murders so disturbing is what he did after he killed them.
You see, Brudos openly admitted that he uses "shoes as a substitute for pornography." He had a massive collection of women's shoes in his home for that reason.
When police searched his home, they found a human foot wearing one of the shoes. They also found dried up, rotting breasts being used as paperweights. Gross.
The Kunz Family Murders
If you thought that the List family murders were disturbing, then the Kunz family deaths might just make your jaw drop. This was a series of not one, but several disturbing murders involving a family that seemed totally normal from the beginning.
The Kunz family lived in the small town of Athens, Wisconsin. They were seen as a normal family, and never really made much drama in town. The family consisted of four elderly siblings, and two adult sons. Nothing seemed unusual about them to neighbors or others in town.
Most of the family lived in a large house on a quiet street—with an exception for Kenneth. Kenneth Kunz lived in the trailer of the Kunz family property.
One day, he decided to go inside to talk to fellow family members when he made a grisly discovery.
Kenneth found his elderly aunts and uncle, Clarence Kunz, Irene Kunz, and Marie Kunz, all dead in their bedrooms. Randy, his brother, died in his bed as well. They were all shot at point-blank range with a .22 caliber bullet. He also noticed that his mother, Helen, was missing.
He called the police, and as the police searched through the home, dirty laundry began to air out. Some of the facts uncovered during the investigation included things like:
- The Kunz family had a hoarding problem. The entire house was filled with rotting garbage.
- The house they lived in had no running water, no heating, and no toilet. This is strange, considering that it was 1987. It's even stranger since the family had about $20,000 stashed in their home.
- Helen bought a .22 caliber rifle weeks earlier. Police believe it was the same rifle that killed the Kunz family members.
- Police also discovered a huge amount of pornography in the house. The pornography ranged from the "vanilla" to the extremely bizarre. It became clear that the entire family was obsessed with adult films.
- The three elderly siblings slept in the same bed, while Randy shared the bed with Kenneth's mother. It was quickly discovered that incest was the norm in the Kunz family.
- None of the killed Kunzes had a work history, but they had a lot of money. The money had no known origin. Kenneth was the only family member to have a job.
- Kenneth's uncle, Clarence, was also his father. This explained why Kenneth had an IQ of 50.
- Helen's body was found later. It was dumped elsewhere, making it clear that whoever did it was not a Kunz.
Police tracked down a local troublemaker who had been associated with the Kunzes via car sales. However, not enough evidence existed to have him arrested. He was acquitted.
Though he had allegedly confessed to the murder, police couldn't re-arrest him for murder. He was booked on kidnapping Helen Kunz. To date, no one has been arrested for the killings.
The Keddie Cabin Murders
While a lot of disturbing murders are unsettling because of the way people were killed, what makes the Keddie Cabin Murders so awful is how corruption could have played a part in it remaining an unsolved mystery.
During the 1980s, the town of Keddie, California was rocked by a horrific triple murder. Cabin #28 was home to a single mom by the name of Sue Sharp and her five kids.
Some time during the night, someone broke into the cabin and killed Sue, along with her son Johnny, his friend Dana Windgate, and her youngest daughter, Tina.
Two of her other children and some friends of theirs had slept through the night. Her eldest daughter was out with friends, and was the one to discover the bodies. So, the people to discover the bodies were all children.
All the victims were stabbed to death, and the killings were done incredibly viciously. The knife used to murder them was wielded so roughly, it was bent at a 25-degree angle. Two of the victims were found tied together and stabbed to death.
Tina, the young girl, was kidnapped. Her head was found three years later, making one wonder what that child had seen before she died.
Though suspects were named in the case, nothing ever came of it. Rumor has it that one of the suspects was the sheriff's friend... so they ended up walking free.
A Premature Kidnapping?
Lisa Montgomery was a woman who had serious problems, and people already were aware of it. She regularly lied about being pregnant and losing the baby she was carrying it. It was clear she was obsessed with having a baby, but how far she would go to get one would make most people recoil in disgust.
Lisa befriended a very pregnant Bobbie Jo Stinson, lured her to a quiet place, then cut the fetus out of the expecting mother. Montgomery then called her husband and claimed she went into labor and had a baby.
When Bobbie Jo's body was discovered with the baby missing, police managed to trace it back to Lisa thanks to Amber alert. The baby was alive and reunited with its father, but sadly, Bobbie Jo didn't make it.
Chillingly, there are a number of disturbing murders like this that happen every year.