9 Of The Most Horrific Crimes Committed On Christmas

Published December 17, 2022
Updated December 19, 2022

Bruce Pardo Dressed As Santa And Massacred His Ex-Wife’s Family

Destroyed Ortega Home

Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesThe charred remains of the Ortega family home in Covina, California.

On Christmas Eve in 2008, Bruce Pardo donned a Santa Claus suit, got into his rental car, and drove to Covina, California, where his ex-wife Sylvia and her family were having a Christmas party. But Pardo wasn’t there to join the festivities. He was there to kill.

As NBC News reported, Pardo had been prepping for the massacre for months. That July, he bought ammunition and started building a fuel-spraying device. In September, he ordered a Santa Claus suit. And in December, just six days after he and Sylvia finalized their divorce, Pardo drove to his ex-wife’s parents’ house and put his plan into action.

When his wife’s eight-year-old niece, excited to see Santa, flung open the front door, Pardo shot her in the face. According to NBC News, he entered the home and massacred Sylvia’s entire family, including Sylvia, her parents, her two brothers and their wives, her sister, and her 17-year-old nephew.

Covina Christmas Murders

Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesBruce Pardo killed his ex-wife and eight members of her family at their Christmas party before he drove to his brother’s house and took his own life.

“I have a feeling I know who it is,” one of Sylvia’s sisters, who managed to escape Pardo’s rampage, said when she called 911. Identifying Pardo, she told the operator, “They’re going through a divorce right now.”

But Bruce Pardo’s massacre didn’t go entirely to plan. When the fuel from his spraying device unexpectedly ignited, he was burned so severely that his Santa suit fused to his skin. Pardo fled to his brother’s empty home, where he fatally shot himself.

Investigators then chillingly discovered that Pardo had planned more than one Christmas murder. Not only had he massacred his ex-wife’s family, but he left one of his two rental cars booby-trapped near his brother’s home with the other parked outside the home of his ex-wife’s divorce attorney.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.