Christmas may be one of the happiest times of the year, but for some, the pressures of the holiday can be overwhelming. From money-related offences to massacres, these are some of the worst crimes to have occurred over the festive season.
On Christmas Eve in 1881 in Kentucky, teenagers Robert Gibbons, his sister Fannie and their friend Emma Carico were asleep in the Gibbons family home when an intruder broke in, bludgeoning all three to death with a crowbar and an axe before setting the house on fire. Three men were ultimately found guilty of the crime. Two were hanged but the third recanted his statement, only to be killed by a lynch mob.
In 1929, a tobacco farmer named Charlie Lawson took his wife and seven children into town to shop for new clothes and have their portrait taken—unusual for a family that was not well off. On Christmas day, Lawson then proceeded to systematically murder his entire family, killing and bludgeoning six of his seven children and his wife, before finally retreating into the woods where he committed suicide. Lawson’s oldest son was the lone survivor, as Lawson had sent him on an errand before he began the massacre.
In December 2011, a 67-year-old woman named Michele O’Dowd was found dead in her home in Florida, her body buried under a pile of Christmas presents. O’Dowd had been beaten and strangled by a family friend, Patty White, who was said to have been having financial difficulties. White robbed O’Dowd and fled the scene with O’Dowd’s debit card. Luckily for the police, she stopped by a number of ATMs. Friends were able to identify her from the images caught on CCTV as a result.
‘Crimes’ at the office Christmas party tend to mean drunken karaoke and embarrassing moments in front of the boss. But one man in New York committed a very real crime when he made off with $14,000 in staff bonuses and money from the office safe during the Christmas party. Around $6,500 was later returned.
On Christmas morning in a suburb in Dallas known as the ‘Christmas Capital of Texas’, a man, who had recently separated from his wife, dressed up in a Santa Claus suit and broke into his family’s home. He shot the seven relatives gathered whilst they were opening their presents, before turning the gun on himself.