Valentine's Day. What does it mean to you? Is it 24 hours to devote to the celebration of the pure, unconditional and unbearably soul-shattering love that you feel for your soulmate? A wondrous day of passion and hugs and kisses, to be enjoyed on a rose petal-covered bed with flutes of Champagne and heart-shaped chocolates...
It is? Oh, how lovely for you!
For the rest of us, here’s something much more interesting - a rundown of some of the most infamous and shocking Valentine’s Day murders ever...
The infamous St. Valentine's Day massacre
True crime buffs don’t think of candlelit dinners when they hear the words ‘Valentine’s Day’. They think of seven chicago mobsters being riddled with hundreds of bullets.
It's never been officially confirmed, but there's very little doubt that history's most famous gangster was behind this audacious slaughter. Al Capone had finally had it with competing for the bootlegging racket of The Windy City and decided to eliminate his main rival, the Irish gang boss George 'Bugs' Moran.
Capone’s gang lured seven of Moran’s North Side Mob to a warehouse on the morning of the 14th, 1929. Dressed as police officers, the South Side Italians made the men line up against the wall and unloaded two Thompson machine guns and two shotguns into them. Nasty.
The Columbine Subway shooting
The two high school sweethearts were shot to death by an unknown assailant who police have since failed to track down. Theories behind the tragic killing range from Nick interfering in a drug deal at the sandwich shop to the idea that the shooting could somehow have been related to the school massacre the previous year. All that’s known for certain is that both kids in love were cut down before they got a chance to really begin living their lives.
Oscar Pistorius shoots his girlfriend through a door
It was one of the most genuinely jaw-dropping and gob-smacking news stories ever. Arguably sport’s most inspirational character, South African runner Oscar Pistorius won over the world with his athletic exploits, despite being a double amputee since he was a toddler. ‘Blade Runner’ was a hero - literally - to millions. And then, on Valentine's Day 2013, he became a killer.
It was the early morning of the 14th when Pistorius woke at his home in Pretoria, to find that his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was no longer in bed with him. She was, instead, in the couple's en-suite bathroom. The sprinter heard noise coming from the bathroom and - for whatever reason - didn't assume it was Reeva. He, apparently, thought it was an intruder. He shot through the door four times, killing her.
A lengthy and public trial ensued, with Pistorius receiving a five-year sentence for culpable homicide in 2014. Two years later the state appealed and the verdict was overturned. He was resentenced to 13 years in prison for Ms Steenkamp’s murder.
Wife hires hitman called ‘Mr Results’ to kill unlucky husband
Snellville, Georgia. Richard Schoeck was looking forward to Valentine's Day, 2010. He was due to meet his wife Stacey at a local park so that they could 'exchange cards and gifts'. It was The Schoecks’ third wedding anniversary and Richard was excited. He loved his wife dearly, gladly adopting her three children after becoming her fifth husband. But she never showed up to the park.
Who says romance is dead?!
Richard was instead met by one Reginald Coleman, a personal trainer and part-time hitman who went by the rather immodest moniker of 'Mr Results'. Coleman gunned Richard down, killing him. Stacey waited for her $500,000 life insurance payout. She never received it. Instead, she rightly received jail time.
To make matters worse, Stacey was not only cheating on Richard, she even posthumously accused him of molesting one of her sons. The child spoke out in Richard's defence at the trial and the notion was quashed. Stacey Schoeck is now serving life in prison.
Who says romance is dead?!
Christian missionary gives wife bullet as Valentine’s gift
When 39-year-old Baptist minister Nathan Leuthold called 911 on February 14th 2013, he told police that his family had been the victims of a home invasion. When officers arrived at the scene, they found Denise Leuthold - Nathan's wife - dead. She'd received a single but deadly gunshot wound to the head.
It didn't take investigators long to realise that the 'burglary' was seriously (and really rather woefully) staged. The gun used to kill Denise? Nathan's Glock. There were rumours that Nathan was cheating on his wife with a girl half his age too. Rumours which were further fuelled when a rather telling entry in the kitchen calendar saying, 'I know you want me dead. Why do you want to humiliate me by running around with a 20-year-old,’ was spotted.
Things didn't look good for Nathan's defence. And that was before Illinois Police found Google searches on Nathan's computer like 'how to hit someone over the head to knock them out' and 'how to muffle a gun'.
He got 80 years in jail for the murder. That’s a lot of Valentine’s Days that Nathan Leuthold’ll be missing.
Young couple in love tied to a tree, tortured and killed
Students Jesse McBane, 19, and Patricia Mann, 20, were a young couple out for a walk on Valentine's Day back in 1971. It was to be the final walk either of them would ever take. Thirteen days after they entered the wooded area in Durham, Orange County, North Carolina, their lifeless bodies were found.
Fully clothed but covered crudely by leaves, the couple were tied up and had both been strangled to death. Evidence pointed to their killer or killers repeatedly tightening and loosening the ropes around their necks as a form of torture and way of prolonging the killings.
No one was ever caught for the heinous, heinous crime.
So, er, yeah… Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!