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8 crimes that happened at Easter

Mugshots of the Hatton Garden criminals
Image: Top row (from left): John Collins, Daniel Jones and Terry Perkins. Bottom row (from left): Carl Wood, William Lincoln and Hugh Doyle | Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo

A holy day for Christians, Easter is supposed to be a time for church, chocolate and easter egg hunts. But bank holidays also tend to see a rise in crime and the Easter holiday is no exception. These are just some of the crimes that happened at Easter.

1. The Hatton Garden Heist

The four-day bank holiday weekend provided the perfect cover to well rob a bank for the men who took part in the Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary in 2015. A collection of career criminals, the men were nicknamed ‘Dad’s Army’, as the youngest person involved was 48 and most were in their 60s or 70s.

Deteriorating health didn’t stop them from carrying out what has been described as the largest burglary in English legal history, though. Taking advantage of the fact that most of the surrounding businesses were also closed for the Easter weekend, they climbed down a lift shaft before drilling through thick concrete walls in order to steal £14 million worth of gold, cash and jewels.

2. The ‘Mad Sculptor’

Dubbed the ‘Mad Sculptor’ by the press for his time spent in institutions, Robert George Irwin was an artist and sculptor who, on Easter weekend 1937, murdered three people. While living at a rooming house, Irwin had fallen for his landlady’s daughter, Ethel Gedeon, but his feelings weren’t reciprocated. Two years later, in 1936, Ethel married someone else.

The following year, Irwin enrolled in theological school but 10 days before Easter, he was expelled for ‘instability'. He considered suicide but instead, on Easter Sunday, he went back to his old rooming house in search of Ethel. When he didn’t find her there, he stabbed and strangled her mother and sister. He then also stabbed their tenant Frank Byrnes, with an ice pick while he slept, in case he had overheard the attack.

Irwin was arrested in June 1937, after arranging with a newspaper to surrender because he gave an exclusive interview to them for $5,000. He was incarcerated and spent the rest of his life in institutions, dying in 1975 of cancer.

3. The Creme Egg theft

In one of the more bizarre crimes, West Mercia police helped save Easter after they caught a man making off with 200,000 Creme Eggs. Nicknamed by police as the ‘Easter Bunny’, Joby Pool broke into an industrial unit in February 2023 and stole a lorry filled with around £40,000 worth of chocolate. He was stopped on the M42 and surrendered to police. He was sentenced to 18 months.

4. The murder of Margaret Ann Pahl

A particularly shocking crime happened on Holy Saturday in Ohio and involved a nun and a priest. In April 1980, Sister Margaret Ann Pahl was found in the chapel of Toledo Mercy Hospital. She had been stabbed over 30 times, including nine wounds in the form of an inverted cross, and covered with an alter cloth. The scene was made to look like a Satanic ritual had taken place.

It took two decades for the murder to be solved, in which time, the case went cold and was only reopened after a woman accused a priest of ritual sexual abuse. That priest was Father Gerald Robinson, the same priest who had conducted Margaret’s funeral service. He was finally arrested in 2006 and sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2014.

5. Hot cross bun poisoning

For the people of Inverness in 1882, Good Friday was marred when over 140 people were taken ill after eating a batch of hot cross buns. Both adults and children were suddenly struck down with giddiness and severe vomiting, showing signs of poisoning. The cause was determined to be a batch of hot cross buns that appeared to contain contaminated spices. Luckily, there were no fatalities recorded, but the crime was never solved.

6. The Ewell Family murders

Dana Ewell used the cover of the Easter holiday weekend in 1992 as an alibi for the murder of his mother, father and sister in order to access the family’s money. Ewell was the son of wealthy parents, Dale and Glee Ewell, who were respectively a veteran turned multi-millionaire businessman and a philanthropist with a seat on the State Bar of California.

At the time of their deaths, Dana was a university student, claiming to be a self-made millionaire. In reality, he was being supported by his family. When his parents found out about this lie, they made plans to cut off his financial support after he graduated. In response, Dana arranged for his friend, Joel Radanovich, to shoot all three members of his family while Dana was away for the weekend with his girlfriend. He was later turned in to the police by members of his family.

7. Chicago shootings

In 2014, Easter weekend in Chicago was so violent, it required a federal unit to come to the city. 45 people were shot and at least nine people killed, although the death toll wasn’t down to a single crime so much as it was its issues with gangs and gun culture.

Among those who died were police officer Javier Acevedo who shot and killed his wife Veronica Acevedo as part of a murder-suicide; teenagers Jordan Means and Anthony Bankhead who were both shot after an argument that happened over Facebook; and five children between the ages of 11 and 15, who were playing in a park when a car pulled up and opened fire.

8. Easter egg shoplifter

In April 2011, 39-year-old Christopher Michael Way was jailed for crimes that included prolific shoplifting, with a focus on chocolate eggs. Receiving a nine-month sentence, Way was charged for (among other things) stealing 111 Easter eggs from a Tesco in Worthing.