Halloween II And The Richard Boyer Murders
John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) was made on a shoestring budget yet became the most successful independent film of all time. It introduced a slasher icon for the ages in Michael Myers, a 6-year-old boy who murdered his sister and returned to kill again on Halloween 15 years later.
While its 1981 sequel wasn’t as critically acclaimed, it was the first time the character of Michael Myers inspired a violent crime offscreen. The film featured Myers breaking into the home of an elderly couple to steal a kitchen knife — while someone in reality went a step further.
On Dec. 7, 1982, Richard Delmer Boyer entered the residence of Francis and Eileen Harbitz and stabbed the elderly couple to death. Their bodies were found five days later by their son William. Francis was found propped up against a blood-spattered hallway wall while his wife was lying in a pool of blood — with 43 stab wounds between the two.
Boyer had done yard work for the couple in the past, and their son remembered that he always carried a buck knife on his belt, so suspicion naturally fell on Boyer. A search of the El Monte, California, resident’s home yielded a knife covered in blood residue, leading to his arrest.
Boyer confessed to the killings during his arrest, but a mistrial was declared when it was discovered his admission had been obtained in violation of his Miranda rights. Retried in 1984, he claimed to have no memory of the murders and blamed Halloween II for the crimes he committed.
Boyer said he had driven to the Harbitz home to borrow money, but that he had smoked PCP on the way and suffered a violent flashback to Halloween II upon arriving. He also claimed to have seen it countless times while inebriated.
While a feature film being submitted as evidence at a murder trial was a historic first, the jury ultimately found Boyer’s defense improbable. He was sentenced to death for two counts of first-degree murder.