“I really had to imagine the kind of person that I would have been if I had never left my hometown. I don’t think I would have been a very pleasant person.”—Patton Oswalt.
Homecomings aren’t what they used to be. Where our grandparents might associate the word “hometown” with that enigmatic era called “a simpler time,” it seems like when today people say “hometown,” they mean “setting of a murder mystery crime novel or true crime podcast.” This sentiment certainly echoed as people of the Internet shared their most messed up stories of what’s going on back home. What’s underneath those white picket fences? From headline-making murders to unexplained dessert food rainfalls, here are 42 shocking tales of hometown scandal.
42. Beyond the Burn
A few years back a dude kidnapped his ex-girlfriend, stuffed her in the trunk of her car, and set it on fire. She survived.
She now lives in the same apartment complex as my mother-in-law.
41. School’s Out
The principal went crazy, slit his dog’s throat, threatened his family, and resisted arrest while naked and covered in blood.
40. Who Are You?
Let’s flashback 150ish years—I guess thankfully, as not many gruesome things/deaths/disappearances happen in my hometown. There used to be a theater in the center of town. One night, during a play attended by about 400 people, a gas lantern used as a prop was kicked over and set the place on fire. 177 people, many of them kids, died in the fire, and the town was an absolute wreck for years to come.
There were so many unidentifiable bodies because everything just got burnt to a crisp—people’s jewellery was often fused to the remains, and that is how they were identified by the family. Many makeshift morgues were set up and undertakers worked around the clock for days to try and make heads or tails of the deaths, missing, etc. There’s a tombstone in one of the cemeteries dedicated to the unidentified but presumed dead because they couldn’t be positively identified.
39. Nothing But Bodies
This unsolved quadruple murder of an entire family including a 16-year-old kid from the HS in our sleepy town. It’s super unsettling and people around here say the police suspect a cartel connection/hit but nothing has been proven yet.
38. In Cold Blood
Husband of an older couple disappears from the community. The wife made excuses for his absence like “He’s away for work, He’s found another woman,” etc., then took off overseas. The son, suspicious about the lack of communication from his mother overseas, went to his parent’s house to investigate. He found his father’s body in the wall of the garage. His hands and feet had been bound, and a plastic bag covered his head
Wife returned home for some unfathomable reason and was arrested. While on bail she climbed into the refrigerator and suffocated herself.
My father was in the same year in high school as the son…
37. Playdates of Years Past
My old next-door neighbor had a psychotic break and drowned both her kids to death. I used to play with them a lot.
36. No Words
My younger brother used to go to a small private school in my city. He was acquainted with a girl that was several years younger than him. One day, she stopped showing up to school for a while. I guess the teachers had tried to get ahold of the girl’s parents, but couldn’t reach them, and had just assumed they moved.
Turns out she had been brutally murdered by her dad, who also killed her mother and wrote in her blood on the walls of their home. The teachers had to inform the kids that she died, but I don’t know much about how they did that, but I remember my brother coming home with a wristband with the girl’s name on it with a heart.
35. Betrayed by the Butt
A kid robbed a bank for about $20,000. He then bought a new car in cash and buried the rest of the money in his parent’s backyard. The police were closing in on him and were following him and he was smoking a cigarette and flicked the butt out the window, the police collected it, tested it and match his DNA. He was arrested later that week and is now in jail for 10 years…
34. Dishonorable Discharge
A former (disgraced) military colonel murdered two women—all while he commanded the largest Air Force base in the country. It took a while for our area to recover after that.
33. Two Tragedies for One
A lad who lived near me went missing for three months after a night out, the whole of the town went looking for him, put up posters and created a page on FB in which 23k people joined. He was found last month in the river.
What makes it so disturbing for me is that his body was found while searching for the body of a man who had jumped off a really tall bridge. Feel so bad for his family.
32. Burned Bridges
Me and my sister (10 and 8 at the time I think) lived right down the street from a couple of our really good friends, who were sisters (4 or 5 and 9?). One morning our mom comes and tells us not to go to school, and she has to talk to us about something serious.
Well, it turns out that our friends’ mother burnt the house down the night before, killing both of the sisters because she was fighting with her husband and didn’t want to lose them in a custody battle. My sister named her daughter after the older girl.
31. Stop, Drop, and Kill
This happened down the street from where I live.
A couple of years ago, a guy bought a hunting rifle and drove to the outskirts of town where there was a large empty lot early in the morning. He lay down on his stomach, took aim at a stoplight, and waited to snipe the first person who stopped at the red light. Sure enough, a guy was coming home from the night shift and the sniper shot him in the temple as he sat in his car. The motive was never clear—it just looked like a random killing.
30. Not the Mama
A woman kidnapped a pregnant woman, killed her, and cut the fetus from her womb, then proceeded to claim it was her child, even providing stolen sonograms to her family.
29. Double Feature
The murder of Blake and Mary-Joe Hadley. Their son murdered them with a hammer and then had a party after dragging their bodies into their bedroom.
This happened a few years ago.
In 2001, a patient killed four people by snapping their necks and stomping on spines at a psychiatric hospital I used to work at.
28. It Gets Worse?
A kid selling candy door to door for a school fundraiser was murdered for his money. Not only did it happen in my hometown, but on my street, about 15-20 houses down the road. I wasn’t allowed to ride my bike too far for a while after that.
27. Just Like the Movies
The murder of Laci and Connor Peterson. They lived down the street from me. Scott is still sentenced to death by lethal injection and is currently in San Quentin. I remember my parents watching the news all day long on Christmas Day.
26. Sounds Like a Cowardly Move TBH
Triple homicide. All high school kids. The whole story sounds like a bad ‘80s slasher movie. The guy who lived in the house where it took place had a younger sister who started dating an older guy. The guy was (I think) in college. The brother was a senior in HS. The sister was like…16ish. So, when the brother found out he went and confronted the new boyfriend. Threatened to kick his ass and stuff.
Of course, the boyfriend’s reaction was the only reasonable reaction that existed. He sat outside the brother’s house on a Saturday night and waited until around 4 am. The brother had two friends over. They were, of course, doing teenager things—drinking and smoking while mom and dad were out of town. Boyfriend broke in. He had to have been like a ninja. The house was small, and he climbed in through a tiny window in the kitchen.
The three guys in the house were pretty heavily intoxicated. But how he didn’t wake any of them up is pretty confusing. He went into the living room where the brother was and stood right over his head and put a gun to his forehead and fired. He could have let the other two guys live. But nah.
Once he realized they were there and still asleep—or too drunk/high to defend themselves—he popped them also. One was in a guest room and the other was in the living room floor under a ton of blankets. The theory is that the guy under the blankets actually woke up and scared the killer, and he shot him as he sat up. He checked the house for more people and found the third one who looked like he didn’t move at all because he was passed out from drinking.
25. Mother Doesn’t Know Best
A few years back, a mother stabbed her little boy right in the heart. It was sort of shocking. You always hear about things like that, but you never expect it to happen in your town.
I remember hearing how the cops arrived and there was just a little boy in the driveway, dead. She had gone back inside.
24. Rightful Denial
On Mother’s Day in 1999, a woman was jogging with her dogs along a somewhat secluded walking path that runs through my very small hometown. She was raped and then strangled with a dog leash by a 15-year-old boy.
Thankfully, he was tried as an adult, but because of his age, he received nine years to life. He comes up for parole every two years but is always denied.
23. Hot Chance at a Second Take
A burnt-out body in a suitcase was discovered in a lay near me recently. Turns out it was some Chinese guy from Manchester trying to take on the dead person’s identity to pay off his massive gambling debts.
22. Cloudy with a Chance of Carbs
Not my town but an hour away. In 1994, it rained gelatin. Nobody ever figured out why for sure.
21. Swan Song
I used to sing in a children’s choir in a small town with a girl named Trisha. She was 15. One day, she went missing. She ran away from home, supposedly. Eventually, her body was found a few miles away. Turns out she had been chatting online with a guy much older than her and left home to be with him. He brutally murdered and dismembered her. They found her jawbone in his house which he kept as a trophy. The children’s choir sang “Goin’ Up a Yonder” at her funeral. It was very, very sad.
20. A Note of Hope
I grew up in Utah and played harp with Elizabeth Smart in a few concerts. She and I had the same harp teacher growing up. I also played in a concert for Elizabeth with some other students under that teacher after she was kidnapped.
After she was found, Elizabeth said in an interview that she never saw any of the billboards nor heard about the massive amounts of news stories about her, but she did know about that little concert her fellow harp students played for her in Salt Lake City.
19. Behind Your Own Barn
Neighboring town but about a 15-minute drive. Robert “Willie” Pickton. He is a serial killer convicted of murdering 6 women—for which he was given the longest possible sentence in Canada, 25 years with no chance of parole. He has, however, admitted to murdering 49 women. Lots of awful details, but mostly he is known for feeding his victims to his pigs…he was a pig farmer.
18. From Fiction to Fact
Read a true crime novel about a man that murdered his estranged wife, chopped up her body into pieces, then mixed them into a couple of blocks of concrete, which he then disposed of in nearby lakes. I knew it happened in my hometown before I even read about it, but I had no idea how close the guy lived. It was a 5-minute drive from my place.
17. Wrong Number
I grew up in a suburb in Western Australia where there was a notorious serial killer couple, they abducted, raped, tortured, and killed several young women and were only caught because one of their victims got away. As a kid they were kind of like the bogeyman, we used to freak each other out by saying things like, “Watch out, don’t do that or go there or the Birnies will get you”.
When I was about 22 I was having a drink with my parents one night—we were all a bit drunk—and my dad told me that he had received a phone call in the middle of the night when I was about 18 months old from someone who was very likely David Birnie, telling him that he knew where his daughter was. Dad told him that his daughter was in her bed, hung up and wrote it off as a prank call until he later saw that one of the victims had the same surname and lived on the same street as us. So yeah, the neighborhood serial-killer called my parents because he called the wrong number in the phone book. When my dad told me this he got really emotional about it because he felt bad about not calling the police, and it gave me the heebie-jeebies big time. I’m really glad I never knew about it until I was an adult.
16. Imposter Syndrome
I’m from a small, rural town of about 1,500 people. A six-year-old girl went missing in the ‘80s. It was a huge deal. A lot of people in town scoured the surrounding fields and forests for her, but she never turned up. It was really sad, and people talked about it for years.
In the early 2000s, a young woman of the right age came to town and started claiming to be the missing girl. People got really excited and hopeful. Turned out she was just lying for attention. It really upset a lot of people.
15. Party Bus
A truck full of bricks of drugs was pulled over in my small little town.
14. Chip on Your Shoulder
I can’t think of anything directly in my hometown, but I grew up about 10 miles from Newtown, CT so the obvious answer here is the Sandy Hook shooting. However, (dis)honorable mention would have to go to the guy who cut his wife into pieces and put those pieces through a wood chipper. I believe he disposed of her in Lake Zoar. Just look up “woodchipper murder” on Google.
13. Serving up Suspicion
There was a restaurant a block or two from my parent’s house owned by a couple. They had a little girl and one day she went missing. The dad called the police that evening saying she must have wandered off.
Turns out that morning the mom got mad at her and hit her in the head so hard it killed her. They hid her body in the kitchen and went along the rest of the day as normal, serving customers and everything, with the daughter they recently murdered hidden in the back. Only after closing did they call the police and make up the story about her going missing.
12. Gates of Violence
Growing up I lived in an affluent gated community. We weren’t rich, we just got really lucky on buying a house being sold for the cheap on short notice. Naturally, most of our neighbors were people of successful stature. Doctors, actors, lawyers, trust fund people, expats, but what we had the most living around us were families of politicians—mostly senators and councilmen. When you live in an area like mine, no matter how secure and safe it feels, sooner or later it will attract the wrong type of people. I have two very, very tragic stories.
26 years ago, the whole country and our city was shocked by a gruesome massacre. A whole family minus the father, who was abroad on business, was killed, the victims ages between the ages of six and 47. The daughter, only 19, was sexually assaulted before being murdered. A huge investigation followed hugely covered by the media and one of the suspects identified was a son of a well-respected senator and his friends. The media sensation around this crime was so big that a movie was even made regarding the massacres.
Almost 15 years later, not too far from the massacre, a politician’s head of security who also served as his secretary was ambushed and abducted from his home. The kidnapped victim was said to stand trial as a witness on a corruption case. His body was never found.
11. Frozen Out
This didn’t happen in my hometown, but the college town I lived in. A guy, let’s call him J, that I knew through some mutual friends went missing one night after hanging out with some guys at their apartment.
I know the guy whose apartment he was at, really nice guy. J’s apartment was only a few blocks away and according to my friend, J was not drunk or anything, yet he never made it to his apartment. Records did show his key card was swiped but the door was never opened. A huge search was started, posters with his face up everywhere, volunteers walking fields, police dogs, the whole nine yards.
Unfortunately, the search was hampered by a big snow storm and no trace was found of him. Eventually, the search was called off. Months later his body was found in an abandoned building about two miles away, curled up behind a boiler, with his shoes removed and placed at the top of the stairs going down to the boiler room.
The official police position is that he froze to death after becoming lost and confused while out taking photographs. J was a photographer but according to my friend J didn’t have his camera on him when he was at my friend’s apartment, as mentioned before J never made it back to his own apartment, and the police reports made no mention of a camera. Add to this the fact that you can easily see the area where J’s apartment was from the building he was found in and the idea that he got lost taking photos just makes no sense. My friends and I are convinced he was murdered.
10. Pass it On
Next town over brought the Black Death to my country.
The Pam Smart case/trial. If you’ve seen the Gus Van Sant movie To Die For, it was based off that case. Basically, area woman takes a job as a teacher’s assistant at the high school, starts an affair with a student from one of the lower-income feeder towns. It’s highly manipulative. She eventually gets the student and his friends to kill her husband.
The trial made national news. Happened at my high school, long before I ever went, of course. I took a journalism course and wanted to do a big feature on the trial. My teacher (and others) who were at the school during that time refused to talk about it, even nearly 20 years after the fact. And I had good relationships with all of them, too. I remember finding out about the whole thing when I randomly saw my high school on a true crime show on a national station. It was totally bizarre.
8. Making This Moment Last Forever
This happened back in the 1920s, but the unsolved Hall-Mills murder case took place a few towns over from where I grew up.
Basically, a local minister was having an affair with one of the choir singers at his church, and they were both murdered. Whoever killed them arranged their bodies into a creepy tableau after they were dead, so that they were holding each other lovingly with their torn-up love letters thrown around them.
The whole trial turned into a massive mess, and the case was never solved.
7. Hands-On Experience
We had a Hands on a Hard Body contest in 2005, where you win a truck if you keep your hands on it the longest. A man ended up going crazy after 48 hours and ran across the street to K Mart where he apparently loaded a gun and killed himself.
6. Crime & Politics
I’m sure people will have heard of this but MP Jo Cox being murdered in broad daylight outside a library in a small market town.
I knew Jo personally and found out at work, it was devastating and hearing more details about it in the following weeks made it even harder.
For those who don’t know, Jo Cox was a Labour MP here in the UK, she was very well liked. She also rallied for the UK to stay in the EU. She was on her way to do a surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire when she was shot and stabbed. I’m not going to name the man who did it because he doesn’t deserve to be named.
Jo died of her injuries in hospital, during the attack her assistants tried fighting off the attacker, but she told them to get back and let him hurt her.
It was crazy to think that someone living so locally was a Nazi, he had Nazi memorabilia in his house as well as books etc.
It’s almost a year since this happened and we’re all still shocked by it.
RIP Jo, you were a shining beacon in dark times.
5. The War at Home
Well, this part actually directly ties into my family.
So, my grandfather (mum’s side) is a Vietnam War Vet. He had a lapse in his PTSD treatment, had a horrible nightmare after my grandmother had passed. He woke up from the nightmare but was having a flashback. So, he drove into town and shot two teenagers with a shotgun, thinking they were Vietnamese soldiers.
Neither of the teenagers died or were seriously injured. A lot of damage to the vehicle they were in. Which my family did pay for, and my grandfather was put back on his medication. He just hasn’t been the same since.
4. Post-Secondary Disappearance
A little over 10 years ago, a HS senior in my town went missing, they’ve never found him. Apparently, he was at a party just before graduation, got into a fight with his girlfriend, and left to walk home. They’ve extensively checked all the nearby woods, dredged the rivers and lakes, it even caught the attention of some TV “psychic.” They found his car, abandoned, but no other sign of him.
The creepiest part is how everyone in my hometown still talks about it; My psych teacher in high school used his disappearance as an example when we discussed dissociative fugue states; the town is still plastered in MISSING signs; every year they go out and search again. I always wonder if it was suicide, an accident, foul play, or if he just took off across the country.
3. If These Walls Could Talk
When I was in middle school one of my brothers’ friends that lived down the street went missing. She had an older boyfriend who also lived on the same street. He was allegedly the last person to see her and the story was that she had left his house late at night to walk home, and he never got the usual phone call that she got home safe. After 24 hours of not hearing from her, he and her family filed a missing person. Eventually, the search parties stopped, the missing posters were taken down, and she was deemed as lost.
Fast forward to a couple years later. The boyfriend had been moved out of the house for a while now, a new family moves in. The kids are playing in the woods behind the house, and they find her bones.
The skull was totally bashed in and a disturbing amount of her bones were broken. She was beaten to death. The worst part was the remains were no more than 6 feet from the house. I have no idea why the cops hadn’t found them, but it really sparked a debate in our town about how serious our police force is.
2. Prince Harming
I went to this small church in town that was very charismatic and had a lot of really good people. The youth leader always creeped me out, though…he was an ex-convict, ex-drug addict, ex-everything, and had a lot of stories from his life before he came to the town I was living in.
We stopped going to that church, and I forgot about him for a while, he eventually became the pastor of a new church, and was gaining a lot of popularity in the community… then he was arrested after his house burned down with his wife in it.
The story was, he had been seeing one of the girls in the youth group off and on over the years since she was a teenager. He was caught taking vacations with her when he said he was going on retreats and spending money on her, but since he was a Christian and didn’t believe in divorce, he planned out a way to make it look like there had been a gas leak in the home, and that it was an accident.
He was found outside of the home as it was burning, and his wife died inside. He’s now in prison, and his girlfriend has his child, and it’s soooo weird seeing her around town.
1. Not Twilight
My hometown has a pretty interesting one.
Back in 2006, a 12-year-old girl was dating a 23-year-old guy. They met at a punk rock show and were both pretty heavily into the goth scene. Not sure if most other cities had that kind of culture around that time, but my hometown sure did. Now, this guy was a bit of a nutcase. He literally thought he was a 400-year-old werewolf, and often wore a vial of blood around his neck. This girl was going through a rebellious stage and didn’t seem to care that her boyfriend was so much older than her. Naturally, her parents did not approve of this relationship, and often would ground her or take away her computer/phone privileges in hopes of putting an end to their relationship.
This was before texting or Facebook when other social media websites were a commonly used medium for communication. So, they used websites like Nexopia and VampireFreaks to send messages to each other. They declared their love for each other and basically stated that they would be together, no matter who wanted to pull them apart. Eventually, though, the girl got so tired of her parent’s disapproval of her relationship that she told her boyfriend they should do something about it.
Fast forward a bit, when a small neighborhood child walks over to the girl’s house, in hopes of seeing if her 8-year-old brother could play, and he sees something in the basement window…dead bodies. The cops come and discover the mother and father stabbed and dead in the basement. They go upstairs and discover the boy in his bed, dead, with his throat slit. Absolutely gruesome scene. The girl is nowhere to be found. At first, it is thought that she had been abducted, and an Amber Alert was put out. However, when the police went to the girl’s school, they found drawings in her locker of her killing her parents. Likewise, when they searched her accounts on Nexopia and VampireFreaks, they found messages between the guy and girl that stated they intended to kill her parents, so they could be together.
Basically, the guy got high and drunk, snuck over with a knife, climbed in through a window, killed both her parents in the basement, and then they both figured they should kill her brother too. The testimony of how and why this happened is still debated here to this day. They were both caught the next day in a different city. The guy was sentenced to life in prison and remains there to this day. Because the girl was so young, she served 10 years under a rehabilitation program, and was then deemed to not be a threat to society and is now released. She has a different name and was pursuing a university degree last I heard. I do not believe the two have any contact anymore, but my hometown will never forget that day in April.