Halloween is the one night of the year where being scared is supposed to be good fun. However, amid all the harmless activities like trick-or-treating, sometimes genuinely frightening and disturbing things can happen. October 31 has been the date of some horrific murders and unexplained disappearances which are far more terrifying than any ghouls, goblins, or witches. Because they happened to take place on Halloween, the following mysteries have an extra aura of creepiness to them, and they remain unsolved to this day.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Brutal Unsolved Halloween Murders
10 The Murders Of Ronald Sisman And Elizabeth Platzman
Sometime during the early morning Halloween hours of 1981, a Manhattan couple named Ronald Sisman and Elizabeth Platzman were murdered in their apartment, which was located near Greenwich Village. The couple was severely beaten before being shot in the head, execution-style, and the apartment was completely ransacked. Sisman was rumored to be involved in drugs, so authorities initially believed that to be the motive for the killings. However, the case took a bizarre turn when a prison informant claimed that one of his fellow inmates had somehow predicted the crime weeks before it actually happened. That inmate turned out to be none other than the notorious “Son of Sam” killer, David Berkowitz.
In 1977, Berkowitz was convicted of a series of shootings which took the lives of six victims and left seven others wounded. There has always been speculation that Berkowitz was involved with a satanic cult and did not commit all the “Son of Sam” murders on his own. According to the informant, Berkowitz had told him that his cult was planning to enter a residence near Greenwich Village on Halloween. They would perform a ritual murder by shooting a couple in the head before ransacking the place to remove incriminating evidence. When questioned about this, Berkowitz claimed that Sisman possessed snuff footage of one of the “Son of Sam” shootings and was planning to hand it over to the authorities to avoid some drug charges. While no evidence was found to support Berkowitz’s claims, he did provide an eerily accurate description of Sisman’s apartment. No one knows if the murders of Sisman and Platzman had anything to do with the “Son of Sam” case, but they are still unsolved.
9 The Disappearance Of Hyun Jong ‘Cindy’ Song
Hyun Jong “Cindy” Song was a 21-year-old South Korean student attending Pennsylvania State University. In 2001, she dressed up in a bunny costume and attended a Halloween party at a nightclub in State College. After leaving the club, Cindy spent the next few hours hanging out with her friends before she was dropped off at her apartment at 4:00 AM. This was the last anyone ever saw of her. After Cindy was reported missing, a search was conducted of her apartment. There was no sign of any struggle, but many of her belongings, including the false eyelashes from her costume, were there, indicating that she had gone inside after being dropped off. But what happened to her afterward?
Shortly thereafter, a witness reported seeing a woman resembling Cindy in the Chinatown district of Philadelphia. This woman was inside a vehicle with an unidentified male and crying out for help. A bizarre lead came about in 2003 when a Luzerne County man named Hugo Marcus Selenski was arrested after the remains of five people were found buried in his backyard.
Even though none of these remains belonged to Cindy, an informant told police that Selenski and an accomplice named Michael Jason Kerkowski Jr. had abducted her. After Cindy was raped and murdered, the two men allegedly buried her body at another location. Kerkowski’s remains were found in Selenski’s backyard, and the informant claimed Kerkowski was murdered for keeping Cindy’s bunny ears as a souvenir. Thus far, no evidence was found to tie Selenski to Cindy’s disappearance, but in January 2014, the burned remains of a dozen more people were found buried on his property. It remains to be seen if any of them will be identified as Cindy Song.
8 The Murder Of Nima Louise Carter
On Halloween night in 1977, the parents of 19-month-old Nima Louise Carter placed their child inside her crib at their Lawton, Oklahoma home. The next morning, Nima’s parents were shocked to discover that she was missing. Since the windows in Nima’s bedroom were locked, it’s theorized that her abductor had been hiding in the closet and sneaked the child out of the house while her parents were sleeping in the living room. A month later, a group of kids were playing in an abandoned house four blocks away from the Carter home. When they opened up the house’s refrigerator, they received a horrifying shock when the decomposed body of an infant came tumbling out. The child was identified as Nima Louise Carter, who died of suffocation.
A similar crime had occurred in Lawton in April 1976 when a pair of three-year-old twin sisters, Mary and Tina Carpitcher, were lured out of their home by a young woman and forcibly confined inside a refrigerator at another abandoned house. When the sisters were found two days later, Mary had suffocated, but Tina managed to survive. Tina identified her abductor as a local teenage babysitter named Jacqueline Roubideaux. However, the child’s age made her testimony unreliable and there wasn’t enough corroborating evidence to file charges at that time. Jacqueline Roubideaux eventually became a babysitter for Nima Louise Carter. She was an obvious suspect after Nima’s murder, but once again, there was no evidence to implicate her. Years later, Roubideaux was finally charged with Mary Carpitcher’s murder and given a life sentence. She died in prison of liver cancer in 2005 but never admitted to the still-unsolved murder of Nima Louise Carter.
7 The Murder Of Chaim Weiss
Chaim Weiss was a 15-year-old Orthodox Jewish boy attending the Mesivta of Long Beach, a yeshiva high school in New York. The morning after Halloween in 1986, the entire school was horrified when Chaim was found murdered on his dorm room floor. He had been bludgeoned to death after a sharp blow to the skull and was repeatedly stabbed in the head, but no murder weapon could be found anywhere. Since there was no evidence of a struggle, it seemed likely that Chaim was killed in his bed while he slept before his body was moved to the floor. By all accounts, Chaim was a very well-liked boy, so no one could figure out a possible motive for the crime.
There were signs that the killer was familiar with the religious customs of Orthodox Judaism. Even though it had been a chilly night, the window in Chaim’s room was open, a custom which is often done to let the deceased person’s spirit out. After the murder, one of the school’s rabbis left a memorial candle to burn in Chaim’s room. Two days later, a second candle appeared, but no one ever admitted to putting it there. There were no signs of forced entry anywhere, indicating the killer may have been familiar with the dormitory. During the night, another student on Chaim’s floor remembered being momentarily awakened when the door to his room was opened before it was immediately shut again. Could the killer have initially entered the wrong room by mistake? After 28 years, authorities have never been able to find a suspect or any answers about why Chaim Weiss was murdered in such a brutal fashion.
6 The Identity Of ‘Orange Socks’
On Halloween in 1979, the unidentified body of a young woman was found in a concrete culvert near Interstate 35, just outside of Georgetown, Texas. The victim appeared to be in her twenties and had been sexually assaulted before she was strangled to death. It seemed likely she was murdered that very same day and the only unique clue to her identity was a silver, oval-shaped ring on her hand. The victim was nude and the only garment of clothing she had on was a pair of orange socks. Since the young woman was never identified, “Orange Socks” became her nickname.
Years later, serial killer Henry Lee Lucas confessed to the murder of “Orange Socks.” He even stated that he had sex with her corpse after she was dead. However, Lucas did not know the woman’s identity. He claimed he picked her up while hitchhiking and only remembered that her name was “Joanie” or “Judy.” After being sentenced to death for the woman’s murder in 1984, Lucas recanted his confession in order to have his sentence commuted. Indeed, further investigation showed that Lucas was likely working in Florida on the day of the murder. Lucas was notorious for frequently confessing to murders he never committed, and no one is sure how many people he actually killed. Henry Lee Lucas died in prison in 2001, but “Orange Socks” is not the only unidentified murder victim that he has been connected to.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Halloween Pranks That Went Awry
5 The Walker County Jane Doe
On the morning of November 1, 1980, a truck driver discovered the nude body of a teenage girl next to Interstate 45 just outside of Huntsville in Walker County, Texas. The victim had been sexually assaulted before she was beaten and strangled to death. Since the young girl was never identified, she was simply to become known as the “Walker County Jane Doe.” It’s estimated that she had been murdered several hours before her discovery and a potentially interesting back story began to emerge for this girl when witnesses came forward to report their interactions with her on Halloween night.
After being let out of a vehicle by an unidentified male at a nearby South End Gulf station, Jane Doe had reportedly asked numerous people for directions to the Ellis Unit Prison, claiming she had plans to visit a friend there. However, when her photograph was circulated among the inmates at Ellis Unit, no one would admit to knowing her. Later that night, a truck stop waitress had a similar conversation with Jane Doe. The girl claimed she was 19 years old, hailed from the Aransas Pass area, and seemed to imply that her parents did not care about her. Since this girl was killed exactly one year after the “Orange Socks” murder and there were numerous similarities between the two crimes, Henry Lee Lucas was considered a possible suspect. However, there was never any evidence to connect Lucas to the murder, and the Walker County Jane Doe remains unidentified.
4 The Murder Of Marvin Brandland
In 1982, 69-year-old Marvin Brandland lived with his wife, Ethel, in Fort Dodge, Iowa. On Halloween that year, the Brandlands were handing out candy to trick-or-treaters who came to their house. At one point, they answered the door and were surprised to see a man wearing a mask. He said, “Trick-or-treat. Give me your money or I’ll shoot.” The Brandlands thought someone was playing a Halloween prank and tried to remove the man’s mask, but he wouldn’t let them. Instead, the masked man entered the house and pulled out a gun. He demanded that the couple bring him down to the basement and give him all the money they had stashed in their safe.
The Brandlands became suspicious since very few people knew they even had a safe in their basement. For this reason, Marvin was still convinced that a friend or family member was simply playing a Halloween trick on them. When the masked man led the Brandlands through the kitchen toward the basement, Marvin made a grab for the gun. The intruder wound up shooting Marvin in the throat before fleeing the house and inexplicably leaving his mask behind. Ethel was so traumatized by her husband’s death that she died only a few months later. Over the years, an acquaintance of the Brandland family had allegedly bragged about committing the murder, so DNA testing was performed on the mask. However, there wasn’t enough usable material for an adequate test, so there is still no evidence to charge this suspect and Marvin Brandland’s murder officially remains unsolved.
3 The Death Of the Key West Newborn
On the morning of October 31, 2004, a housekeeper at the Hilton Resort and Marina in Key West, Florida found something in the garbage bin of the ladies’ room in the lobby. She may have initially assumed it was a Halloween prank, but the situation became truly horrific once she realized she had found the body of a newborn infant girl. The child still had the umbilical cord and placenta attached to her body, indicating that someone recently gave birth to this girl and decided to just toss her into the trash. It did not take authorities long to figure out who was responsible.
Hours earlier, a young pregnant woman and three male companions were seen walking through the hotel lobby. She entered the ladies’ room while the men waited outside. At one point, a female witness went into the washroom and heard the pregnant woman moaning inside a stall. When the witness asked the three men if they knew the woman, one of them claimed to be her boyfriend. He even called out her name at one point, which sounded like “Samantha” or “Sonia.”
The pregnant woman was in the bathroom for approximately 40 minutes and a security guard saw her clutching her stomach when she exited. When the guard asked if she was alright, he was told she had gotten sick by partying too much at nearby Fantasy Fest. The four individuals were escorted out of the hotel, but the child was not discovered until morning. Fingerprints, blood samples, and DNA evidence were taken from the washroom and compared to several suspects, including Casey Anthony. However, the mother and the three men have yet to be identified, and no one has been prosecuted for the newborn’s death.
2 The Mysterious Death Of Chris Jenkins
Chris Jenkins was a 21-year-old student from the University of Minnesota who visited a downtown Minneapolis bar on Halloween night in 2002. After leaving the bar around midnight, Chris vanished without a trace. He remained a missing person for four months until his body was discovered in the Mississippi River. Since Chris was still wearing his Halloween costume, all indications were that he died shortly after he disappeared. Chris was heavily intoxicated that night and since his cause of death was determined to be drowning, authorities initially believed it was an accident or suicide. His parents refused to believe this and pressed for a more thorough investigation. Finally, in 2006, the death was reclassified as a homicide.
While the authorities have withheld specific details, they claimed that an incarcerated suspect told them he was present when Chris was murdered and thrown off a bridge into the river. Even though police believe this man’s story to be credible, no charges have ever been filed. However, one possible theory is that Chris Jenkins could have been a victim in the mysterious “Smiley Face Murders.” During this time period, approximately 40 male college students in the United States were victims in a bizarre series of drowning deaths. In some of these cases, unexplained “smiley face” graffiti was found near the body of water where the victim drowned. This had led some to theorize these deaths are connected and that the victims were drugged before being thrown into a body of water to make their murder look like an accidental drowning. While no “smiley face” graffiti was ever found in connection to Chris Jenkins’ death, investigators cannot overlook its similarities to many other unsolved cases.
1 The Disappearance Of Steven Damman
On Halloween in 1955, Marilyn Damman took her two-year-old son, Steven, and seven-month-old daughter, Pamela, to a supermarket in East Meadow, New York. While she went shopping, Marilyn let Steven wait outside the store with his sister, who was inside a carriage. Ten minutes later, Marilyn exited the store and was shocked to discover that both Steven and the carriage were gone. Shortly thereafter, the carriage was discovered about a block and a half away. However, even though Pamela had been left behind inside the carriage, Steven was nowhere to be found. He has not been seen since.
In many cases where infants are abducted, it’s theorized that the perpetrator wanted a child of their own and decided to raise the missing infant under a new name. Over the years, DNA testing has been utilized in an attempt to determine if Steven Damman was ever given a new identity. At one point, investigators noticed that Steven bore a resemblance to the infamous “Boy in the Box,” an unidentified child who was found murdered inside a cardboard box in Philadelphia in 1957. However, DNA testing would eventually confirm that Steven and the “Boy in the Box” were not the same person. In 2009, a Michigan man named John Barnes came forward believing he might be Steven, but DNA testing also ruled this out. It’s possible that an adult Steven Damman might be living another life somewhere under a different identity, unaware that he was once taken from his real family. However, his whereabouts continue to remain unknown.
Robin Warder is a budding Canadian screenwriter who has used his encyclopedic movie knowledge to publish numerous articles at Cracked.com. He is also the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row and recently worked on a sci-fi short film called Jet Ranger of Another Tomorrow. Feel free to contact him here.