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Oct. 17, 2009, Fairfax, Virginia: 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington is getting ready to see her favorite band, Metallica, perform at the John Paul Jones Arena that evening as part of their World Magnetic tour.

Morgan is visiting at her parents’ house in Fairfax, about 45 minutes away from Charlottesville, where she lives with her roommates. Here at her parents’, she gets dressed for the concert: Pantera T-shirt, miniskirt, leggings, and boots, all black.

Later in the afternoon, she heads back into Charlottesville to pick up her roommates and friends to drive them all to the concert.

The friends pile into Morgan’s car and arrive at the arena around 7 p.m. About an hour later, as one of the opening bands is playing, she tells her friends she needs to use the bathroom and leaves. …


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Wiley and Micajah Harpe

Thanks to tons of sloppily researched listicles and YouTube videos, most people think H.H. Holmes was America’s first serial killer. Far from it; by the time Holmes took his first victim, there had already been at least 10 earlier serial killers.

In fact, the first known serial killers in the U.S. were a pair of men known as the Harpe Brothers, and their crimes — some of the most brutal and psychopathic in American history — spanned decades.

Micajah and Wiley Harpe weren’t actually brothers; they were cousins. The older of the two, Micajah, was born around 1748; the younger, named Joshua but who would go by Wiley, was born about two years later. …


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Visual representation of the year 2020

The year 2020 was, well…you were there. It started out with the entire continent of Australia on fire, and it went downhill from there. We had so many hurricanes we literally ran out of letters to name them with. And we were hit with a plague more deadly than anything we’ve seen in a century. Oh, and just to make it interesting, it was also an election year.

But one thing remained the same: people continued committing crimes. And some of those crimes were either so shocking or so influential we couldn’t look away. …


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Bruce J. Pardo

’Twas the night before Christmas, 2008. The Ortegas — Joseph, 80, and Alice, 70 — were hosting their annual Christmas party at their Covena, California, home, about a half hour east of Los Angeles. There were 25 people in attendance, including Joseph and Alice’s five grown children and their spouses and children. One of their daughters, 43-year-old Sylvia, had recently moved back in with them after a bitter divorce.

Sylvia had married Bruce Pardo in January 2006. Bruce was a volunteer usher at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, and everyone who knew him described him as outgoing and friendly, someone who liked to be the center of attention. …


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Ronald Gene Simmons

The holidays are supposed to be a time of peace and family togetherness. But in 1987, nearly every member of the Simmons family — including the children — were slaughtered by Ronald Gene Simmons. He took the lives of 14 of his family members (and two of his former co-workers), making it the worst family massacre in US history.

Unlike the more sensational “civil reputable” type of family annihilator like John List, Simmons was the more common type: the “livid coercive,” a dominating domestic abuser who is threatened by losing control over his family. For Simmons, slaughtering his family was more about his need to possess them than to spare them from humiliation or poverty. …


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Billy Mansfield, Jr. Image courtesy of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

As dawn broke on Oct. 28, 2020, investigators in Hernando County, Florida, began searching a cluttered six-acre property belonging to the Mansfield family. They brought in heavy equipment and a team of forensic anthropologists to sift through the soil. After several hours, they announced they had found human remains.

While the Mansfields’ neighbors were shocked and saddened, many were not surprised. The heavily wooded, junk-strewn property had been the final resting place of at least four other women whose bodies had been discovered in the spring of 1981. They, as well as another woman in California, had been the victims of Billy Mansfield, Jr., who is now in prison serving a life sentence for their murders. …


He wasn’t just slaughtering pigs on his isolated farm

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Robert “Willie” Pickton

March 23, 1997, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia: An elderly couple driving on a rural road outside of Vancouver spot a terrifying sight: a woman, bloody and wounded, desperately flagging them down for help. A handcuff dangles from one bloody wrist.

The couple takes the woman, Wendy Lynn Eistetter, to the nearest hospital. Eistetter has been stabbed numerous times, to the point of being partially disemboweled. But she is, somehow, still conscious. She tells hospital staff, and then police, a harrowing story.

Eistetter had been engaging in sex work on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, in an area called the “Low Track.” The Low Track is the poorest postal code in Canada, home to an untold number of addicts, homeless, and the mentally ill. …


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Richard Chase. Image courtesy of Washoe County, NV, Sheriff’s Dept.

Dec. 29, 1977, East Sacramento, California: Fifty-one year old engineer and father Ambrose Griffin was unloading groceries in his driveway when he suddenly collapsed. His wife rushed to his side, thinking he may have had a heart attack. But it was soon apparent that Griffin had been shot.

At the ER, his wife remembered that just before he collapsed, she heard him yelling at someone, and then heard two loud pops.

Despite their best efforts, the ER staff couldn’t save Griffin’s life.

At autopsy, a .22-caliber slug was found still inside his body; they matched two spent casings found in the street near the Griffin home. …


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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

After a long, grueling campaign season, and a nail-biting election, the news networks called the race for former Vice President Joe Biden Nov. 7. Biden has since given his victory speech, in which he urged those who didn’t vote for him to give him a chance. He has also begun assembling a coronavirus task force, along with other cabinet picks.

In normal times, this would be utterly routine, not even worth mentioning. However, these are not normal times. …


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Issei Sagawa, pictured on the cover of a Japanese gourmet magazine.

June 13, 1981, Paris, France: A couple is enjoying the warm summer evening at the Bois de Boulogne, one of Paris’ largest and oldest parks. They are strolling near the Lac Inférieur, the largest of the park’s many lakes, when they notice something strange.

A taxi pulls over into a side road just ahead of them, and a small Asian man gets out. The driver helps him retrieve two large, heavy bags from the trunk. The man then begins dragging the bags into the park. The couple watches in fascination as he changes course, apparently headed towards the lake.

Then the man finally seems to realize that he is being watched. He looks at the couple, then slides the bags under some bushes before walking away. Intrigued, the couple approaches the bags to see what’s inside. Once they open the first bag, they are in for a shock: inside is the bloody, mutilated torso of a woman. …

About

DeLani R. Bartlette

I write true crime and twisted fiction. I also host a true-crime YouTube channel at www.thedeadlydigest.com.

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