Top 10 True Crime Cases That Took Place at Christmas

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Crime at any time of the year is bad enough but true crime at Christmas is something else! Here’s the top 10 true crime stories that took place at Christmas that may well cause Santa to give up altogether.

10. Sodder Children Disappearance

After escaping a Christmas Eve house fire, two parents comforted four of their children, but five more were left inside – only for investigators to find no evidence the children had been in the house at all.

On Christmas Eve 1945, five children of the Sodder family went missing in a house fire and were presumed dead. Presumed because their bodies were never found. The cause of the fire has never been solved.

There is a strong chance the fire was caused by arson, and if it was – and the Sodder’s were killed – then someone seems to have gotten away with the murders of five children.

9. Christmas Day Grapevine Massacre

An estranged husband dressed up as Santa Claus and hid two guns in his sack, as he made an unwelcome visit to his family on Christmas morning 2011 – before shooting them dead.

The Christmas Capital of Texas was home to a Christmas massacre when Aziz Yazdanpanah decided to kill his entire family, after splitting up with his estranged wife. Aziz put on a cheap Santa Claus outfit and went to the new apartment at 2500 block of Hall Johnson Road.

Unbeknownst to the family, Aziz had two handguns hidden in his sack – and he was going to use them. He killed six people in the apartment before shooting himself in the head. It is regarded as the deadliest crime in Grapevine’s history.

8. Body in the Pond

The body of Debbie Wolfe was found in a barrel at the bottom of a pond, near to where she lived, but her death was ruled an accident, despite bizarre evidence suggesting she was murdered.

In December 1985, Debbie Wolfe went missing so one of her friends decided to search the pond at the back of her cabin. They found a barrel with Debbie’s body inside. She was found wearing clothes that didn’t belong to her and a cabin that was unusually messy.

Her case has split cold case investigators because her death was listed as accidental but it seemed someone had gotten away with murder. The story of Debbie Wolfe has never been solved.

7. The Great Coram Street Murder

On Christmas afternoon, 1872, the landlady of lodgings in Great Coram Street, became concerned when one of her tenants didn’t return her calls. She had the door to the room broken down by some burly men, who were met with a horrific sight.

Laying in her bed with her face turned to the ceiling, was 27-year-old penniless London prostitute and wannabe actress, Harriet Buswell. Her throat had been cut from ear to ear, and her bedclothes were stained with blood.

Harriet’s death remains one of the oldest unsolved murders in London. Preceding Jack the Ripper by 16 years, the Great Coram Street Murder continues to fascinate both true crime enthusiasts, and those who believe the Ripper may have been around a little earlier.

6. SantaCon Robber

On 17th December 2014, the San Francisco SantaCon was in full swing with thousands of Santa’s in attendance, when one of the Santa’s broke away from the crowd.

He snuck into the Union Square branch of the Wells Fargo Bank and robbed the place – dressed as Santa before walking out with his loot and disappearing into the crowd.

The bank never publicly stated the amount of money that was stolen but it was deemed to be substantial. The police released pictures of the man to the press, despite the graininess of the security images, but his identity remains a mystery to this day.

5. Carnage in Covina

Three years before the Christmas Day Grapevine Massacre, another estranged husband dressed up as Santa and slaughtered his entire family, in what would become known as the Covina Massacre.

On Christmas Eve 2008, in Covina, Los Angeles, 45-year-old Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, dressed up as Santa and drove to his ex-wife’s parent’s house. He opened fire on around 25 partygoers before setting the property alight with a home-made flamethrower, killing nine people.

Due to the intensity of the fire, the bodies were so badly burned the victims were listed as missing before they could be identified through medical records. Bruce drove to his brother’s house and shot himself dead.

4. Bloody Christmas at the Lawson’s

Eight decades before the Grapevine and Covina massacres, in 1929, another family slaughter was carried out by a husband and father. Except this time, the circumstances of the murders and the motives remained a mystery for over sixty years.

On Christmas Day 1929, in Germanton, North Carolina, 43-year-old sharecropper Charles ‘Charlie’ Davis Lawson murdered his wife and six of his seven children in a pre-meditated attack before turning the gun on himself.

Charlie was buried with his family and his name shares the same headstone. The epitaph reads; ‘not now, but in the coming years, it will be a better land, We’ll read the meaning of our tears and then some time we’ll understand.’ To this day, the mystery of why he killed his family remains, but there were rumours he had impregnated his own daughter and others found out!

3. The Murder of JonBenét Patricia Ramsey

One of the most infamous cases in all of true crime history, is the unsolved Christmas murder of American child beauty queen, JonBenét Patricia Ramsey.

On Boxing Day 1996, in Boulder, Colorado, six-year-old JonBenét was reported missing. Seven hours later, her body was discovered in the basement of her family home. She had a fractured skull caused by a heavy blow and had been strangled by a garrotte around her neck.

An autopsy showed she had died of strangulation and cranial trauma. A murder investigation began that generated worldwide interest, the likes of which had rarely been seen before. A quarter-of-a-century later, JonBenét’s untimely death remains in the spotlight and remains unsolved.

2. Time-Travelling Nazi Killer

On Boxing Day 2000, the peace of Wakefield, Massachusetts, was shattered when 42-year-old Michael McDermott walked into his workplace and shot dead seven of his co-workers.

Michael had with him an AK-47 machine gun, 12-gauge shotgun, and a pistol, along with multiple rounds of ammunition. He used 37 bullets to shoot his victims in the back of the head multiple times.

The crime itself was horrific enough, but the reasons behind the killings were as bizarre as they were stupefying. Michael believed he was born without a soul, and upon praying to God, he was told he would earn a soul by travelling back in time to kill Hitler and the last six Nazis.

1. Mystery of the Fort Worth Three

On 23rd December 1974, three girls went missing from a shopping mall and no trace of them has ever been found. Mary Rachel Trlica, 17, Renee Wilson, 14, and Julie Ann Moseley, nine, disappeared from the Seminary South Shopping Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Rachel drove them to the mall for some Christmas shopping and to take part in any celebrations being held there. She parked her 1972 Oldsmobile ’98 in the parking lot of the Sears department store but the three girls failed to return home.

It’s a sad and unusual case, with the suicide of a private investigator, a mystery letter, purchased gifts left in the car, and a lifelong search for the truth. This is one true crime case that confounds and confuses the deeper we go. The hope remains that one day, the truth may finally come out.


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