‘Tis the season for Christmas carols and cheer, but here’s a list of holiday’s to fear: The 12 Murders of Christmas, or the 12 Christmases that went terribly wrong and were decidedly devoid of good tidings, comfort, and joy.
1. An Anderson Family Christmas
On Christmas Eve, 2007, Michele Anderson grew “tired of everybody stepping on” her and enlisted the help of her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, to massacre her entire family. When Michele and Joseph arrived at the Anderson family home in Carnation, Washington, Michele fatally shot both of her parents. Afterwards, Michele and Joseph dragged their bodies to a backyard shed and mopped up the blood that had splattered all over the living room and kitchen (a task that allegedly took an hour to carry out).
Soon after her parents were killed, Michele’s brother, Scott Anderson, arrived with his wife, Erica, and his two children, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan. The family was gunned down immediately following their unassuming arrival, but not before Erica managed to call 911. Although Erica’s call was quickly disconnected, two deputies did respond to the call. Unfortunately, the deputies were turned away when they came across a locked gate at the Anderson residence.
Two days later, after Judy failed to show up for work at the Carnation post office, a concerned coworker of Judy’s paid a visit to the Anderson home and discovered the horrific scene. Three hours after King County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the crime scene, Michele and Jospeh returned to the house and stated that they had just been on their way to Las Vegas to get married before deciding to turn back home instead. Investigators were quickly suspicious of the duo and took them into police custody.
Michele eventually confessed that she had planned the killings for two weeks, and cited that she was angry with Scott for not paying her back the money he had borrowed from her over the years (a total of $40,000) and that she was angry with her parents for taking her brother’s side. Michele also stated that she was upset that her parents had asked her and Joseph to start paying rent on the mobile home they had been living in on the Anderson’s rural lot (after living rent-free for a year).
Eight years later, in June of 2015, Joseph was convicted of six counts of aggravated first-degree murder and was sentenced to six consecutive life terms in prison. That following April, Michele was also sentenced to six life terms.
2. A Failed Christmas Deed
On Christmas Day, 2016, Tricia McCauley was on her way to a Christmas party at a friend’s house in Washington, D.C., when she stopped to give a stranger a ride. Instead of thanking Tricia for being a good Samaritan, Adrian Johnson got into McCauley’s vehicle, sexually assaulted her, and then beat and strangled her to death with her scarf.
The next night, police reportedly spotted McCauley’s car in a pharmacy parking lot. Inside the pharmacy, police found Johnson with the keys to McCauley’s car and several of her credit cards in his possession. When officers searched McCauley’s vehicle, they found her body was bound and wedged in the back seat.
In September of 2017, Johnson pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. That following November, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison and was given the option of being placed on 30 years of supervised release (in addition to registering as a sex offender) following completion of his prison term.
3. The Father Who Stole Christmas
On Christmas Day, 2014, Dustin Lee Klopp called the police and told them that he had killed his wife. When authorities responded to his call and visited his home in Paradise Township, Pennsylvania, a state trooper discovered the body of Stephanie Kilhefner shoved inside a bag in a shed on the couple’s property. Around 30 minutes later, Klopp turned himself in at the police station in Lancaster.
According to Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, Klopp and his wife of three years had gotten into an argument on Christmas Eve. The disagreement escalated into a physical altercation wherein Klopp became exceedingly violent and ended up knocking Kilhefner unconscious. From there, Klopp “cut her throat with a knife and then took an axe to her head.”
Afterwards, Klopp cleaned up the crime scene and hid Kilhefner’s body. The next morning, Klopp took the couple’s 2-year-old and 5-year-old children to his parents’ house to celebrate Christmas.
Klopp was charged with homicide, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence. In 2015, Klopp unsuccessfully attempted to hang himself in prison and was declared brain dead as a result.
4. A Christmas Without Grandma and Grandpa
On Christmas Eve, 1985, the dead bodies of Wilhelmina “Minnie” Maurin and Edward “Ed” Maurin were found in a wooded area of Washington State. The couple had been shot to death in their car before they were dragged out into the wilderness in Chehalis, Washington.
Minnie, 83, and Ed, 81, were reported missing by family members on December 19, 1985 after they failed to show up for a family Christmas party. On December 20, following witness reports that the Maurins’ car had been found, investigators discovered that there was a “large amount of blood stains and the keys were in the ignition.” Several other witnesses noted that they had also seen the car at the Sterling Savings and Loan bank.
Rick and John Riffe were primary suspects from the beginning of the murder investigation, but there was no evidence to suggest motive or probable cause for several decades. In 1987, the Riffe brothers moved to Alaska, but police continued to investigate their role in the case. On July 10, 2012, Rick Riffe was finally arrested and extradited back to Washington to stand trial for the double murder. Ironically, John had died a week before the police reached King Salmon, Alaska to arrest the brothers.
Rick was found guilty of kidnapping, robbery, and carrying out the murder of Ed and Minnie. He was sentenced to 103 years in prison.
5. An Unsolved Christmas Mystery
Six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey went missing after spending Christmas with her family in 1996. On December 26, her body was found in the basement of her Boulder, Colorado home. According to JonBenet’s mother, Patsy, a ransom note demanding $118,000 for her daughter’s safe return was found in the early morning— however, the little girl was discovered later that afternoon. JonBenet had a fractured skull, had been sexually assaulted, and was strangled. In turn, her death was ruled a homicide.
From the beginning, several errors were made that comprised the integrity of the investigation, including John Ramsey’s allowance to move his daughter’s body from the basement. As years went by and no major leads were made in the case, much of public began to view the Ramsey’s as guilty of their daughter’s murder. For example, when questioned, John and Patsy gave inconsistent stories. Additionally, the ransom note was discovered to have been written on paper found inside of their house, and fibers that were retrieved from the duct tape on JonBenet’s body matched the same fiber on Patsy’s clothes.
Nonetheless, in 1999, the case against the Ramsey’s was dropped after Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge them. At present, no new information has been uncovered pertaining to JonBenet’s death and no one has been convicted of the crime. Therefore, the case remains unsolved and the investigation is still open.
6. A Christmas Killing Spree
On Christmas Eve, 1992, a group of teenagers gathered together to carry out what is now known as “one of the bloodiest killing sprees in Dayton’s [Ohio] history.” Laura Taylor, 16, her boyfriend, Marvallous Keene, 19, and 20-year-old Heather Nicole Matthews kicked off the murder spree with Jospeh Wilkerson. The trio bound Wilkerson to the headboard of his bed, shot him in the head and chest, ransacked his house, and stole his car.
From there, the teens picked up Matthews’ 17-year-old boyfriend, DeMarcus Maurice Smith and cruised downtown Dayton for their next victim. The group shot 18-year-old Danita Gullette five times while she was talking on a pay phone. The self-proclaimed “Downtown Posse” stole Gullette’s coat, shoes, and a backpack that contained only 50 cents.
Next was Matthews’ ex-boyfriend, Jeffery Wright. Smith shot Wright four times in the legs, but Wright was able to escape to a neighbor’s house and survive. On Christmas Day, Taylor met up with her ex-boyfriend, 19-year-old Richmond Maddox. The pair drove together while Keene, Smith and Matthews trailed behind them. When Maddox grew suspicious of the situation, Taylor shot him in the head.
On December 26, the group robbed the Short-Stop Mini Market, a family-owned grocery store, and shot the clerk, Sarah Abraham. A bystander was also shot in the hand and stomach, but he survived. Abraham died of two gunshots to the head five days later. The gang made off with $44 from the store. Lastly, the group picked up Wendy Cottrill, 16, and Marvin Washington, 18 and executed them in a city-owned gravel dump. Police did not find their bodies until December 27.
The rampage finally ended after police spotted a vehicle that had just been stolen on December 26. Upon investigation, police found Smith, Keene, Matthews, and Taylor inside of the car and arrested them. At present, Taylor and Matthews are serving life sentences for murder at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, whereas Smith is serving a life sentence at the Mansfield Correctional Institute. Keene was executed via lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville on July 1, 2009.
7. A Star Wars Christmas
On Christmas Eve, 2014, Sameena Imam excitedly prepared for what she thought was going to be a joyful Christmas with her lover, Roger Cooper. Roger, who was also Sameena’s colleague, had been cheating on his longterm partner with Sameena for two years, but he had promised his mistress that they would become official come the new year. Instead, Roger and his brother, David, murdered Sameena before she could even see Christmas Day.
On December 12, 2014, Roger and David attempted to abduct and murder Sameena from a hotel that she frequented. The brothers attempted to carry out their plan by communicating via Star Wars codes, including phrases like “Death Star Complete,” and “Stay on Target, you are expected Vader.” The plan ultimately failed, thereby prompting the brothers to try again 12 days later.
Around 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Sameena and Roger left work separately before meeting up nearby. Sameena joined Roger in his car and the couple drove toward Leicester, England to David’s home. David attacked Sameena almost immediately upon her arrival, and then the brothers smothered her with chloroform and injected her with a deadly combination of metallic elements. While Roger headed back to Coventry, David wrapped Sameena’s body in clingwrap and a sleeping bag and disposed of her body in a grave off a quiet rode. The brothers also moved Sameena’s car and attempted to wipe it of DNA and fingerprints.
It didn’t take long for police to catch on to what had happened, and the brothers were arrested on January 7, 2015. On October 21, Roger and David were found guilty and are currently serving a 30-year sentence.
8. The Halls That Were Decked With Boughs of Fire
On Christmas Eve, 1945, five of the nine Sodder family children were given permission to stay up late while the rest of the family went off to bed in their Fayetteville, West Virginia home. In the early hours of December 25, the children’s mother, Jennie Sodder, heard the telephone ring and went to answer it. When she did, a woman was on the other end and asked for someone that Jennie did not know. After Jennie told the woman that she must have had the wrong number, the woman laughed and hung up.
At approximately 1:30 a.m. on Christmas Day, Jennie heard what sounded like an object landing on the family’s roof before smoke began to fill her nostrils. Jennie shook her husband, George, awake, and ran out of the room. The hallway was filled with smoke and flames wrapped around the stairway and surrounded the children’s bedrooms.
Everyone but Maurice, 14; Martha, 12; Louis, 10; Jennie, 8; and Betty, 6, made it out of the house. George attempted to get to the top floor of the house to help the children (who he assumed were still inside), but his ladder was missing and both of his trucks wouldn’t start. The fire ravaged the home in less than an hour.
At 8 a.m., the fire truck finally arrived to find nothing by charred wood and rubble. The fire chief determined that the fire was caused by faulty wiring and the coroner determined that the five children undoubtedly died in the fire. However, no human remains were found in the rubble and no scent of burning flesh was detected during the fire’s burning nor afterwards.
George and Jennie began to investigate the case themselves and gathered evidence that suggested the fire was arson rather than electrical, and that the children might have been abducted instead of killed in the blaze. Several tips regarding the alleged whereabouts of the children were given (including from areas outside of Fayetteville), but no direct contact was ever made with the children ever again.
Then, in 1968, Jennie received an envelope in the mail that was postmarked from Kentucky. Inside was a photograph of a young man, and a short message was written on the back: “Louis Sodder, I love brother Frankie, Ilil Boys.” There was no return address.
Jennie and George never tracked down the sender. George died in 1969 and Jennie died twenty years later, but they never stopped believing that their five children did not die in the massive Christmas Day fire.
9. A Sharp Christmas Surprise
On Christmas Eve, 2016, Owen Kerry was stabbed to death while playing pool at Cramlington Working Men’s Club in Northumberland. The 19-year-old was enjoying drinks with his friends when Brian Cahill stabbed Owen in the stomach and pierced his aorta. At the same time, Cahill’s girlfriend, Lyndsey Harper, attempted to attack Owen with a glass.
According to ChronicleLive, Cahill shoved the knife into Owen’s stomach “up to the hilt and beyond the length of the blade,” thereby damaging his spine and causing the teen to bleed out over several hours. Owen died in the early hours of Christmas morning.
Cahill and Harper fled the scene, but they were taken into police custody on December 26. Although both of them denied their culpability in the murder, they were convicted after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court. Cahill is required to serve at least 26 years of a life sentence while Harper must serve a minimum of 18 years in prison.
10. Life Stress Leads to Christmas Unrest
On Christmas Day, 2016, James Hutchinson stabbed his partner, Nicola Woodman, to death in their Bankholme Court home in Bradford. Hutchinson committed the horrific murder based on the alleged suspicion that Woodman had been cheating on him— however, there was no evidence to support his claim.
Woodman, who was pregnant with their child, was stabbed with two knives and struck with the handle of a wooden pick-axe. As a result, she received at least 102 external injuries (including more than 20 stab wounds). Woodman’s body was discovered on December 26 after Hutchinson called the emergency services himself. The next morning, Hutchinson was arrested after he was found to be asleep in Woodman’s car.
Hutchinson is currently serving a prison term of at least 23 years, and will only be considered for early release if the parole board deems him to be safe.
11. A Deadly Kiss Under the Mistletoe
On Christmas Eve, 2015, Katie Locke met up with Carl Langdell for a date at Theobalds Park Hotel, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire. The two had met online via the dating site Plenty of Fish and were enjoying their first date with the festive holiday as their backdrop.
Langdell, 26, told Locke, 23, that he owned his own law firm. In reality, the young man had spent two years suffering from extreme mental illness and visiting psychiatric hospitals on and off. When the two met up, Langdell brutally murdered Locke, had sex with her corpse, and then dumped her body in a bush near the hotel grounds. Langdell had also taken photos of her Locke’s body on his iPhone.
After a two-day sentencing hearing in 2016, Carl was convicted and set to serve at least 26 years in prison for murdering Locke. in 2017, Langdell attacked a prison officer and was awarded an additional three years in prison.
12. The Wrong Kind of Christmas Magic
On Christmas Day, 2010, Kristy Bamu was drowned in a bath in an alleged exorcism by his sister, Magalie Bamu, and her partner, Eric Bikubi. Kristy and his four siblings had been visiting their sister at her apartment in Newham, east London, when Magalie accused Kristy of being a witch. She tortured her brother for days, using knives, sticks, metal bars, ceramic floor tiles, bottles and a hammer and chisel, and even a pair of pliers to twist Kristy’s ear. Bikubi and Bamu then placed Kristy in a bath for a “ritual cleansing.”
Bikubi claimed that some form of brain damage led him to believe that Kristy was a witch and that he did not accept Magalie’s denial of witchcraft. As a result, Magalie said that Bamu forced her to attack Kristy. Nevertheless, the pair were charged with the murder of Kristy and the torture of Kristy’s siblings. Bikubi was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison whereas Magalie must only serve 25 years for her crimes.