Jack the Ripper. Elizabeth Bathory. Charles Manson.
These are all names of some of the most famous serial killers to ever live. Truth be told, the names of high profile murderers always raise a little chill down our collective spines. To a point, people like to talk about murders simply because they're like real, modern-day ghost stories.
That being said, there are only so many times you can actually talk about the strange disappearance of Natalie Wood before you start yawning. Finding a new creepy murder case, though, is relatively easy.
Some of the creepiest murder cases out there, though, aren't the ones in the public eye. They fly under the radar terrifyingly well. The ones below, for example, are obscure enough that few will really hear of them—even if they watch all the best true crime documentaries and read all the best forensic psychology books on the market.
Perhaps one of the creepiest murders to happen—or multi-murders, anyway—had to be done by a woman named Belle Gunness. This lady was a real piece of work.
She would lure men out to her farm and ask them to marry her. Most did. When they did, she'd take out life insurance policies on them, have kids with them, take life insurance policies on the kids, and then have them all die "by accident."
Eventually, insurance agencies caught on and noticed that most of them died from strychnine poisoning. By the time they caught up with what she was doing, around 40 people in total were killed.
The number of ways she managed to lure people to her house was insane. Some were lured by ads, others by offer of a home, and even more showed up for work. You can read up on this not-so-notorious female serial killer in The Mistress of Murder Hill. It's actually a pretty fascinating read.
The Murder of Junko Furuta
There's always something creepy about seeing the eerie way a spurn lover's advances can turn love into a passionate form of hatred. However, that's not the only reason why the murder of Junko Furuta is considered to be one of the creepiest murder cases of recent years.
What made Junko's death so terrifying is the sheer amount of brutality that was incurred when she spurned a guy's advances—especially since it was the 1980s and it was a generally peaceful time.
Junko was a young girl who didn't smoke, drink, or really do anything that bad. She was a popular girl who had a lot of attention but was actually seen as "lame" by the gangstery types at school.
One guy at school, though, couldn't stop thinking about her. The guy in question was a juvenile delinquent named Hiroshi Miyano. Miyano was rumored to be active with the yakuza and was a volatile individual. He pursued her aggressively. She rejected him, and that proved to be fatal.
He and three other guys kidnapped her, beat her, stripped her naked, sexually assaulted her, forced her to call her parents to tell them that she was out with a friend, and raped her hundreds of times. They dropped dumbells on her stomach until she lost control of her bowels, burned her eyelids off, and actually placed a lit lightbulb in her vagina until it popped inside of her.
She had tried repeatedly to call the police but was punished with brutality. By the time she died, she was unrecognizable. They put her body in a concrete barrel. Police found the killers, the oldest of which was 18 years old.
They served time, but due to the fact that no life sentences were given in Japan, are now out on the street. They're in their 30s now, and free. That's what makes this one of the creepiest murder cases you'll read about today.
The Reinert Murders
Perhaps one of the creepiest murder cases to remain (partially) unsolved in recent years deals with the Reinert family of Ardmore, Pennsylvania. This is a case that starts off with one murder and ends with two more.
Susan Reinert was a happy English teacher who was beloved in the local community back in the late 1970s. She had two healthy boys and was freshly divorced from Dr. Jay C. Smith, a principal in the local school system.
However, not all was as it seemed. Reinert was having an affair with a fellow teacher by the name of William Bradfield and had recently taken out a $750,000 life insurance policy payable to her paramour. Not many people knew—but it all came out after her bloodied and beaten body was found stuffed inside her trunk.
Shortly after she disappeared, her two kids vanished as well. Her children were never found, but are presumed to be dead. Police had charged Smith and Bradfield with their murders.
So far, this probably sounds like a pretty typical case, right? You're probably wondering what makes it so creepy.
Principal Jay Smith's past behavior is what makes it creepy. This guy was the stereotypical "creepy teacher" and was even called "Son of Satan" by others in the break room.
Before he was arrested for the killer plot, he had come in contact with police for another incident. Not too far away in Chester County, police had been called after people reported Smith acting suspiciously. They searched his car and found a syringe filled with barbiturates, handguns, rope, a hooded mask, and other robbery tools.
Yes, this was a high school principal. They charged him with burglary. A search of Smith's home found zoo porn and other illicit items. Despite all this, he was not arrested for murder—it was Bradfield who got that penalty.
Two teachers, surrounded by kids, killed a fellow teacher. Could you imagine how the schoolkids' parents must have felt?
The Woodchipper Murder
To a point, hearing about killers putting body parts in a woodchipper has become a trope. It was even joked about in Tucker and Dale VS Evil. However, there is truth in some tropes, and sadly, it's something that's even happened in some of the creepiest murder cases you've never heard about.
Blonde and bubbly airline attendant Helle Crafts had been suspicious of her pilot husband, Richard Crafts, for a long time—and finally, she had caught him in an affair. That was the night she disappeared.
Most believed that she left the home in a huff, but soon, it became clear that something wasn't right. None of Helle's friends could get in touch with her.
A local neighbor noticed something was awry when a neighbor told police that they saw Richard using a woodchipper in the woods at night. After a painstaking investigation, police officers realized that Crafts beat her to death, froze her body, cut her up with a chainsaw, and threw her body parts in the chipper.
It was the first modern murder charge in Connecticut, and it was a trailblazer of a case due to the fact that her body was never found. What's striking is that only one book really covers the full drama of this case. You can read the full details in The Woodchipper Murder by P.O. Doe.
The Murder of Karina Holmer
It's striking how many of the creepiest murder cases remain unsolved, and tend to happen to people who live a transient lifestyle. For the most part, killings seem to happen to sex workers more than anyone else, but that's not always the case.
Karina Holmer, for example, was a 20-year-old au pair from Sweden who had come to the United States for a better future. Most au pairs tend to work through agencies with heavily screened clients, but Holmer, being a little bit of a wild one, came to the states with a fake ID and no papers.
She worked for an artist couple named Frank and Susan Rapp. When she wasn't taking care of their kids, she was out partying as younger adults typically do. Everything seemed like it was going great, until she wrote a very alarming, very cryptic letter to her friend back home.
The letter only said, “Something terrible has happened. I’ll reveal more when I get home.”
Her family assumed she got tired of housework, but clearly, something darker was afoot. No one expected to see what happened next. The last night she was seen alive, she hit up a dance club and got heavily intoxicated—to the point that the bouncers cut her off.
She was last seen talking to a homeless man, and then poof, she vanished. The upper half of her torso was found in a nearby dumpster, cleanly sawed in half with choke marks around her neck. The lower half was never found.
Au pairs started to talk about the Rapps. Apparently, Frank was known as a "sleazy guy," and some speculate that she was sawed in half as a way to avoid letting people know that she was pregnant.
The case has never been solved.
Joseph and Michael Kallinger's Murder Spree
The 70s were a very strange time to be alive compared to today. Back then, door-to-door salesmen were pretty commonplace. That's what allowed shoemaker-turned-killer Joseph Kallinger and his son Michael to go on a killing spree that spanned multiple states.
Some of the creepiest murder cases you'll hear about involve spurned lovers, but not this one. The Kallinger killings are terrifying because they were totally random.
Once a victim would open their door to this father and son "salesmen" duo, they'd invade the home, sexually assault them, rob them, and possibly even kill them. It all started because Joseph Kallinger started to hear voices from God telling him to mutilate men's penises and murder young boys.
When caught, Kallinger explained his actions by saying, "I only was following God's orders."
The Strange Case of the Grimes Sisters
The 1950s were a very peaceful time for most of us. It was right after WWII. America's economy was booming, and there was a wonderful wave of peace to be enjoyed. It was a time when America, as a whole, seemed innocent—and that's what made parents comfortable leaving their kids out to play.
The Grimes sisters were 15 and 13 in 1956, and like many young girls their age, they loved Elvis Presley. When the movie Love Me Tender came out, they decided to walk down there and see it. That was the last time they were seen by their parents.
Their disappearance alone is unsettling, but that's not what makes it one of the creepiest murder cases out there. After they didn't come home, police had gotten notice of a yellow car that was near them.
A massive manhunt was started, and even Elvis himself begged the girls to come back home. Then, strange phone calls tipping police to their whereabouts came in. People claimed to have seen them as far as 20 miles away, at a hotel with a man days after their disappearances.
Here's the super creepy part: when police found their bodies dumped by the side of a road, it became clear that the girls died within hours of going missing. So, who was everyone seeing? Why were there so many sightings of them after they died?
Many people believe this unsolved case may be a bit skewed. Some even believe that the sisters are still alive. The Two Lost Girls by Troy Taylor is currently the most popular book on the subject. You should give it a read!
Betsy Aardsma's Death
Betsy Aardsma is a name that most people wouldn't know, but make no mistake about it, she's the center of one of the creepiest murder cases that has yet to be solved.
When 22-year-old Betsy Aardsma's body was found in Penn State's Pattee Library in 1969, she looked like she was taking a nap. No blood could be seen, and the only thing that really made something appear strange was the fact that she was cold to the touch and unresponsive.
Librarians sent her to the hospital, where doctors quickly noticed that she had been stabbed once in the chest—and that she had died on the scene in less than five minutes. Her death remains unsolved.
The story doesn't seem to end there, though. According to students at Penn State, she haunts the Pattee Library. People claim to see a woman dressed in 1960s clothing appear then vanish in the blink of an eye. Others say that they feel a chill or see a shadow person walk through the area where she died.
Though it's uncertain whether her hauntings are real, it's absolutely certain that she was murdered and that the killer was never brought to justice.
The Atlas Vampire Case
A lot of these murders are pretty chilling because of how brutal they were or how unexplainable they were. This one, though, is one of the creepiest murder cases to hit Sweden because of how paranormal everything about it seems to be.
Police were called to the scene when the body of a sex worker was found with her head bashed in. Investigators noted that the victim appeared to have been raped. A ladle was found near the scene of the crime...and police determined it was used to drink her blood.
The case went cold and is now only known as the Atlas Vampire Case.
Dennis Nilsen's Killings
Serial killer Dennis Nilsen has managed to create one of the creepiest murder cases to evade most mainstream media—at least when it came to American media. In London and Australia, he's known as one of the most famous serial killers out there.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Nilsen would lure young boys to his house, where he would sexually assault them and kill them. Once they were dead, he would carefully bathe the bodies, sit them on the sofa, talk to them, and even have sex with them. This would go on for weeks or even months.
When they began to smell too much, he would burn them to a crisp and flush them down the toilet. When a plumber found human bones in the plumbing, the jig was up and he was arrested.
Amateur movies and documentaries have been made about this case, but honestly, it's a book that brings out the sheer evil that Nilsen had in his heart best. If you want to read direct quotes from his mouth, check out Dennis Nilsen by Russ Coffey.
Just don't, you know, try to sleep afterwards.