From the man who donned a Santa suit and went on a bloody rampage to the 15-year-old tortured for being a "witch," these grisly murders turned the cheeriest time of the year into a nightmare.
For many, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But for some, this holiday has been marked by ferocious family feuds, mysterious disappearances, and murder.
Many of history’s worst Christmas crimes unfolded due to long-held personal grudges, as in the case of Bruce Pardo, who dressed as Santa Claus and murdered his ex-wife and eight members of her family on Christmas Eve in 2008 following his divorce. Then there’s the story of Ronald Gene Simmons and Michele Anderson, who used Christmas gatherings as a way to take out multiple family members at once.
And while some Christmas murders were open-and-shut cases, others remain tragic mysteries. To date, no one knows exactly what happened to the Sodder children, who seemingly vanished from their family home after a fire on Christmas Day in 1945. Likewise, the murder of six-year-old pageant star JonBenét Ramsey, who was found dead the day after Christmas in 1996, remains unsolved.
The Christmas Murder Of Child Pageant Queen JonBenét Ramsey
One of the most infamous Christmas crimes of all time happened in 1996 when six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey was allegedly kidnapped from her family’s Boulder, Colorado home. JonBenét’s lifeless body was soon found in the family’s basement, launching a mystery that endures to this day.
According to JonBenét’s parents, Patsy and John Bennet Ramsey, the family first realized that something was wrong around 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 26. when Patsy reportedly found a ransom note in the family’s home declaring that JonBenét had been kidnapped and was being held for a $118,000 ransom.
Hours after the Ramseys called the police, John found JonBenét’s body in the family basement. The six-year-old had been bound and gagged, bludgeoned over the head, strangled, and possibly sexually assaulted.
Before long, the mystery of this shocking Christmas murder gripped the entire nation. JonBenét had participated in a number of child beauty pageants, and magazines quickly printed photos of the six-year-old in costumes and full makeup. Some critiqued her parents for letting JonBenét participate. And others levied much more serious accusations.
As the case unfolded, suspicion fell on the Ramsey family. Not only did the paper and pen used for the ransom note come from the house, but the alleged kidnapper asked for a specific amount — $118,000 — that happened to be the same amount of money that John Ramsey had received as a bonus that year. Some even suspected that JonBenét’s parents had covered up her murder after her nine-year-old brother, Burke, killed her by accident.
Multiple suspects have been considered in the decades since, from the family’s housekeeper to a local sex offender who told a friend that he’d “hurt a little girl.” But to date, this tragic Christmas murder remains unsolved.