* (Halloween countdown post #7)
Coeur d’Alene Press: ‘Authorities in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho said some teenagers out for a Halloween scare got a lot more fright than they bargained for. According to Kootenai County sheriff’s detectives, the group had been at a Halloween party Friday night when they noticed a house under construction. According to the group’s sole survivor, Kevin Bester, 16, they thought it would be scary to explore the unfinished building, so they went in.
‘Bester told investigators that when they saw what looked like one or more bags hanging from the rafters of the basement, they shot some B-B guns and threw hunks of wood at it. Then they left and came back with a flashlight to discover it was the body of a man who had hanged himself.
‘Bester told authorities that when they went back to the party, nobody believed them, so they got someone to go back to the house with them. When they arrived the owner, 65-year-old Norman Giddings, met them with a machete and told them to get down on the ground while he summoned authorities. When after a few minutes, the man had made no motion to phone the police, Bester said he and the other youths began taunting him and started to get to their feet. This enraged Giddings who suddenly began hacking off their legs with the machete.
‘Bester managed to get away, but he said the others seemed too paralyzed with fear and shock to move. As he ran off, Bester said he heard Giddings yelling and cursing that all he had wanted to do was get them to leave but now he had ‘f**kd’ himself’ and he shouldn’t have ‘gotten so drunk’.
‘When the authorities arrived, they found Giddings asleep and snoring beside the severely wounded teenagers. Curt Baxter, 16, and Robert Pennington, 17, were pronounced dead at the scene due to blood loss. 15 year old Malcom Bridge survived, but an operation to reattach his legs was unsuccessful. Giddings is currently awaiting trial on second degree murder charges. The body found in the basement of the construction site remains unidentified.’
Mandy’s Morgue of Horror: ‘Over 40 years ago, a crime rocked Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, forever changing how Halloween would be celebrated there for years to come. On Halloween night in 1973, nine year-old Lisa French chose to go to the wrong house while trick-or-treating. She wasn’t rewarded with handfuls of candy when she rang her neighbor Gerald Turner’s doorbell, but instead she was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered. Her naked body was discovered wrapped in plastic, discarded on a nearby farm.
‘Nine months later, Gerald Turner was convicted of second-degree murder and was eventually released from prison. However, he violated his parole and is now behind bars. To this day, the town of Fond Du Lac has a strict trick-or-treating curfew. Children are only allowed to make their rounds between 3:30 and 5:30pm.’
Yorkshire Post: ‘An arachnophobia victim is calling for a ban on rubber spiders being displayed in shops for Halloween – claiming even toy versions could give him heart failure. John Stafford, 54, of Scarborough, says doctors have warned him that even joke store spiders could trigger a fatal collapse – and he has already had one brush with death this month.
‘After seeing some plastic spiders in a shop window in the town he collapsed and had to be supported by his wife, who thought that he had died in her arms.
‘Mr Stafford, who is so scared of spying a spider that he spends October 31 cowering in a sleeping sack in a closet of his basement, said: “When I tell shop owners about it they think it’s funny, but it’s not a laughing matter. I stop breathing and pass out, it’s just terrifying. My doctor said that my heart is so badly bruised now that a bad attack could be fatal.”
‘Mr Stafford wants shopkeepers to be banned from putting spider displays in their windows. “It’s just thoughtless – they don’t realise the effect they can have on people,” he said. His wife Maria, 44, added: “The other day we saw a window in Eastborough that had some spiders and I thought I’d nearly lost him. He just slumped and fell against me – I had to hit him with my keys to bring him round.”‘
Theme Parks Central: ‘On May 11, 1984, eight teenage visitors were trapped and killed when the Haunted Castle at Six Flags Great Adventure attraction in Jackson Township, New Jersey was destroyed by fire.
‘The purpose of the Haunted Castle walk-through dark ride was to entertain its customers by frightening them. Exterior decorations included plastic monsters, skulls and other features meant to create a frightening atmosphere. A facade of false turrets and towers lent the illusion of height to the one-story structure, completing the look of a forbidding medieval castle. After crossing a drawbridge over the surrounding moat, visitors entered the castle and felt their way along a 450-foot (140 m)-long convoluted path of dim corridors, occasionally being startled when employee actors dressed as Dracula, Frankenstein and other creatures jumped from hiding. Various theatrical props and exhibits were in view, including coffins, ghoulish mannequins, hanging spider webs and skeletons. Strobe lights and eerie sounds completed the scene.
‘The fire started at 6:35 p.m. on a Friday evening. Fanned by outside air conditioners that continued to push air up through the floor vents, it spread rapidly due to the use of flammable building materials. One witness, whose group entered the attraction three to five minutes behind the victim group, later testified that when she reached a display called the Hunchback, she saw flames coming from around a bend beyond the display. She thought it was part of the show, but then smelled smoke and realized the flames were real. Her group started yelling “fire!” and ran back to the entrance, bumping into walls.
‘Firefighters from 11 surrounding communities responded, and the fire was declared under control at 7:45 p.m. The park remained open during the fire, and closed at 8 p.m., two hours early. No one realized that lives had been lost until later that night, when firefighters searching one of the burnt-out trailers discovered the bodies, thought at first to be mannequins. At one point a seasonal supervisor was instructed to take a van to the costume warehouse (on the other side of the park) and retrieve as many bolts of white fabric as he could find. These were needed by responders as darkness fell (worklights were brought in to the scene) in order to have a bright background on which to lay out both the remains of the victims as well as damaged mannequins to differentiate the two.’
Michigan Daily News: ‘Caleb Rebh, 14, of Sparta Township in Kent County died Saturday night at a Halloween-themed hayrides. Kathy Rebh, a teacher and counselor at Englishville High School in the Sparta school system, said she took her son over to the hayride attraction in Alpine Ridge on Saturday and spoke with the manager about a possible job. The manager told her that he had all the workers he needed that night and to check back on Sunday, she said.
‘”I went back and told Caleb that, and he said, “Well, can I just stay and hang around?” He said, “I’ll work for free. I don”t have to be paid,” his mother said. “I mean, he wanted to do this.” Caleb stayed and later telephoned her twice: to say he had been allowed to take part and to tell her that he wanted to be scarier to passers-by. “When the wagon went by, he didn”t know what to do, so he just turned and looked at it and said boo,” she said.
‘He started the evening by working at a post featuring a coffin, then switched with another worker who had been at a station with a skeleton hanging from a noose tied to a small tree, she said. Caleb spoke with another teen about replacing the skeleton with himself, Kathy Rebh said. During the hayride, about 40 people are driven past a number of Halloween fright exhibits.
‘The tractor driver pulling the hayride wagon said he became concerned when Caleb failed to give a speech he normally made as the wagon passed. Still, he thought Caleb might be improvising or bored, and it wasn’t until after the seventeenth wagon of the evening had passed the dead hanging youth that he thought to stop the ride long enough to check. Hayride employees and participants tried to resuscitate, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.’
Foreign Policy: ‘Russia is opening a new front in its battle with the West over last month’s fighting in neighboring Georgia: a move to ban the Western holiday of Halloween as a bad influence on the nation’s youth. The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, will consider a measure this month to guard students from what the government considers destructive Western influences.
‘The proposal also sets its sights on teenage subcultures such as emo, a style of hardcore punk, and goth, which lawmakers accuse of “cultivating bisexuality.” Both styles, the legislation implies, are social scourges on a par with the skinhead movement, and must be eliminated from the social landscape. In addition to banning Halloween, the measure would ban tattoos, body piercings, the public broadcast of music that could be defined as punk, goth, or emo. It would also ban the sale in Russia of clothing and make-up associated with any of these subcultures.
‘Maxim Mishchenko, a Duma member, says he is pushing the bill to guard the “moral and spiritual upbringing” of the nation’s youth and to promote traditional Russian culture and values rather than those imported from the West. “If the state won’t interfere, they (Russia’s youth) will behave like little monkeys, copying what doesn’t fit with the soul of our culture,” Mishchenko says.
‘A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, which is believed to be asserting tremendous pressure on the government to band the holiday, said Halloween was “more than strange. When people turn to evil forces by way of a joke, when they praise them and flirt with them, it reflects on the fate of the person, because it teaches him that evil is acceptable,” Vsevolod Chaplin told the Interfax news agency.’
The Melbourne Report: ‘An Australian boy who liked to watch what the the police describe as ‘films which portrayed live executions, killings, autopsies, and suicides’ shot a 15-year-old boy nine times and killed him on Halloween night 2006.
‘Matthew O’Grady, 16, told a court that a voice in his head told him to kill Christopher Brown. He said he convinced Brown to go with him to Halloween party with the younger boy dressed as a blood smeared girl cheerleader and O’Grady wearing a Freddie Kruger costume.
‘After the party, O’Grady persuaded Brown to go into the bushes, claiming the two could steal marijuana plants there. On the way, he stopped at his house to collect a hunting knife, a rifle and silencer and to load the weapon. The two then went into the bush, leaving a 14-year-old girl who was in their company wait for them. After O’Grady hit Brown on the head with the butt of the gun, he removed the panties of the cheerleader costume, carved an impromptu vagina into the boy’s perineum and raped him before shooting him in the head. Having abandoned the weapon, he returned to the girl and had sex with her in the bushes.
‘O’Grady confessed the next morning. In court, the defence called doctors who claimed that O’Grady was in a state akin to sleep-walking during the murder. Another doctor said the teenager was having an epileptic fit at the time.’
Telegraph: ‘Kid’s Halloween costumes can be really cute—and sometimes too lifelike. When a nine year-old girl dressed as a skunk was enjoying a Halloween family bon fire, she made the mistake of playing on a hill in the family’s yard. Because it was dark and hard to see the little girl was mistaken for an actual skunk and shot by a family member with a shot gun. The girl was seriously hurt and had to undergo surgery to repair organ and spinal damage from the gun blast.
‘The shooter, her uncle Thomas Grant, had no alcohol or drugs in his system and didn’t face any jail time for the accident.’
Campus Times: ‘On the night of Monday, Oct. 18, the life of Brandon Ketsdever, a 17-year-old boy, was taken when he was shot in the head after he and two friends stole Halloween decorations from the Buena Park home of Peter Solomona.
‘According to Ketsdever’s friend, Frank Nelson, Solomona came up to the car in which the boys were sitting and fired his .357 Magnum at Ketsdever’s head from point-blank range, before being restrained by his wife and daughter.
‘Solomona was not protecting himself or his family. He was not even attempting to prevent the theft of his car. He shot and killed a boy because the boy and his friends stole an orange trash bag with a jack-o’-lantern face on it.
‘According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Solomona was informed by neighbors that the boys had stolen the decoration and he drove around the neighborhood searching for them. Neighbors describe Solomona as gentle and religious. He is not the type, they say, who would intentionally gun down someone over something so trivial.’
Minnesota Public Radio: ‘Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan has publicly apologized to the parents of a University of Minnesota student whose Halloween 2002 death was first determined to be either an accident or suicide but is now considered a homicide. Police say a witness has provided some details about the death of Chris Jenkins. Officials believe Jenkins was thrown from a bridge into the Mississippi River but say little information can be disclosed while the investigation is pending.
‘Chris Jenkins was last seen leaving a downtown Minneapolis bar on Halloween night four years ago wearing An American Indian Halloween costume. The bar, The Lone Tree, is owned and frequented by members of the city’s Native American population. Jenkins’ body was discovered four months later along the Mississippi River, still clad in his Halloween costume. A police lieutenant says the cause of death was listed as drowning. The manner of death was listed as unknown but was thought to be an accident or suicide and the case was closed.
‘”Chris was a fool,” is how Jenkins’ former girlfriend Kathy Misser sees it. “He dresses in a culturally insensitive manner, then gets loaded and kicked out of a bar, then walks around a city where people of the culture he chose to mock live. I have little doubt he was murdered, but my guess it was by some pissed off Natives, who can hardly be blamed.”‘
Houston Chronicle: ‘Timothy O’Bryan’s name may have faded from popular memory, but 30 years ago this Sunday his death shocked the country and earned the culprit the nickname “The Man Who Killed Halloween.” The 8-year-old Deer Park boy died Oct. 31, 1974, after eating trick-or-treat candy laced with cyanide. Within days, his father, Ronald Clark O’Bryan, stood accused of staging the crime as part of a life insurance scheme.
‘The O’Bryan family had spent Halloween 1974 at a friend’s home in Pasadena, where Ronald O’Bryan volunteered to escort the children on their candy-collecting rounds. He later told police that someone at a darkened home, who only opened the door a crack, had handed him five Pixy Stix — oversized plastic tubes filled with candy powder — for the children in his group.
‘It was crucial to O’Bryan’s plan, detectives said, that only his son eat the tainted treats. Back at the friend’s house, investigators said, O’Bryan leaped over a coffee table to prevent his friend’s 8-year-old son from eating one of the candies. After returning to their home in Deer Park, O’Bryan told Timothy he could choose a single piece of candy before bedtime. Prosecutors said he urged his son to try the Pixy Stix. The boy gulped down a mouthful of the powder, then went to bed after complaining that it tasted bitter. Minutes later, Timothy ran to the bathroom and began vomiting, police said. By the time he got to the hospital, he was dead.
‘With his wife testifying for the prosecution, O’Bryan was convicted and sentenced to death. Dubbed the “Candy Man” by fellow prisoners, he was executed by lethal injection in 1984.’
Los Angeles Times: ‘A 75-year-old dead man sat decomposing on his Marina del Rey balcony for days because neighbors thought the body was part of a Halloween display and didn’t call police.
‘Mostafa Mahmoud Zayed had apparently been dead since Monday with a single gunshot wound to one eye. He was slumped over a chair on the third-floor balcony of his apartment on Bora Bora Way, said cameraman Austin Raishbrook, who owns RMG News and was on scene Thursday when authorities found the body.
‘Neighbors on the 13900 block of Bora Bora Way told Raishbrook that they noticed the body Monday “but didn’t bother calling authorities because it looked like a Halloween dummy,” he said.
‘”The body was in plain view of the entire apartment complex [and] they all didn’t do anything,” Raishbrook said. “It’s very strange. It did look unreal, to be honest.”’
Insider: ‘When Peter and Betty Fabiano went to sleep Halloween night in 1957, they thought they were finished with trick-or-treaters. But in the middle of the night, the doorbell of their Los Angeles home rang. Peter got out of bed and brought candy to the door. On the doorstep was a woman wearing a mask. She raised her hand, which was in a paper bag, and shot him in the chest. He died instantly.
‘According to The Los Angeles Times, police eventually arrested a woman named Joan Rabel who reportedly had a sexual relationship with Peter’s wife, Betty. It’s believed Rabel talked another woman, Goldyne Pizer, into murdering Peter. Rabel was convicted of second-degree murder, along with Pizer, for five years to life in prison. Betty was never tried for any connection in her husband’s death.’
p.s. Hey. Today a kind reader of this blog named Ghoster, gender and pronouns unknown, hopes to get you in the Halloween mood via an unlucky 13 true stories. Go along, won’t you? And thank you a ton, Ghoster! ** JM, Hi, man. Glad you liked the posts. Very excellent news about the space you found and, of course, especially about the new work of yours that’s exciting you. Fine stuff. I haven’t read Houellbecq in quite a long time. I think he’s an interesting writer, but, living here in France where he’s as much a big Islamophobia-baiting and Far Right-baiting celebrity who happens to write novels as he is an author, it’s a bit difficult to drag myself into his books. So, no, I haven’t. Hope you got the need sleep. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Godard was never supposed to participate in that event. I think he did come check it out before it opened. RIP Robert Forster indeed. There’s a shit ton of Jake Bass porn out there on the internet if you’re interested. Great about the revelation/breakthrough re: ‘RBH’! It sounds amazing! Alan Midgette is on Facebook? Whoa! ** Sypha, Hi. Wow, you have a modem? I didn’t know people used modems anymore. Huh. Oh, I can’t think of a movie you would have me more millions of dollars to see than ‘Judy’, trust me. ** Keatles/WereKeaton, Hey. At the moment I’m vegan so what I snack on is usually a slice of smoked tofu, sometimes wrapped in some kind of bready thing. Florida is way too warm for me. I just can’t take a lot of warm. Probably why I don’t go back home to LA all that much. Thanks: autograph. I like fake corpses. Real ones, way no. Not even pigeon or mosquito corpses. Photos of Roma’s corpse, would be, you know, difficult since he was standing around and smoking a cigarette offset when he blew up. Happy mid-week and onwards! ** Bill, I’m happy you liked the Halloween show. I’m just hoping LA will have some horror movies in the theater when I get there, and, well, yeah, it will. ** h, Hi, h! Very nice to see you! Thank you about my novel. Everything’s good. Busy with stuff, film and other. About to go Halloween myself in LA for a bit. You good? I hope so! xo ** Scunnard, Oh, hi, Jared! A pleasure! I would indeed be interested in a post about Zak Ferguson’s books if you want to do that, yes, very much! Thank you for wanting to! Hope all is spectacular. ** Misanthrope, Welcome home a little belatedly. I don’t think I know Paul Knowles unless I’m blanking again, which is entirely possible. Cool. Yeah, ‘Crowd’ seems to be Gisele’s (and Peter’s and my, to a degree) most liked all time piece maybe. Seems like it. Weird, cool. Interesting and oops about that near miss with the cute guy. That semi-exact same thing happened to me a number of times. Alcohol, man, you can’t trust what it turns people into. ** KK, Hi, Kyle. Happy you liked the galerie show. Okay, intrigued enough about ‘The Mountain’. I will do what it takes to imbibe it. And I think I’ll see ‘Parasite’ in LA. People in Oslo were raving about the new Andersson. Me too: I like his films a lot. I’m good, thanks. Bit of a head cold, but not too bad. Big meeting with our film producer today about our new movie, excited, nervous. And you? ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. I saw your email, thank you! I’ll get to it and back to you today! ** Barkley, Hi. Welcome! Thank you for coming in. Ha, I think I would most want one of those big bags full of mini-Milky Way bars for some reason. I haven’t dressed in costume in a billion years. I think the last time I did was in the 1970s. I’d had a short spate in my teens where I was rabidly obsessed with this band called Procol Harum, and I dressed as myself at the age of, whatever 15, with a hippie wig, and I made a ‘Procol Harum is God’ t-shirt and only talked fanatically about Procol Harum all night no matter what anybody said to me. That was pretty annoying and, so, probably pretty good. What about you: candy and costume? ** Dominik, Hi, Dominik! The trip was really good, super quick but great. The screening went extremely well, and I got to hang with Kier (friend, artist, d.l., maker of ‘Roman’s’ drawings in PGL, and other cool folks). We wandered around Oslo a little, but we had just a tiny amount of time, so we didn’t see too much. I like Oslo a lot. Cool city. The first Sade I read was ‘120 Days of Sodom’, his biggie, his greatest. Wow, that’ wild and so cool that ‘The Sluts’ worked that way for you. Wow, that’s a huge honor to that book. Thanks, yeah, about the producer meeting today. I’m nervous, but assuming it goes well, it will be the beginning of finally starting towards the making of the film, which I’m so anxious to do. Have a blast! Love, me. ** Corey Heiferman, Ha ha, good one. Hi, Corey! Two weeks! Scary/exciting. No, I’m going to see ‘Parasite’ when I’m in LA. I missed its run here for no good reason. I have not done a Jørgen Leth post, no. Huh. I’ll look into doing it. Oslo was a real quickie, but it was excellent. The screening went really well. Thanks! ** Steve Erickson, Thanks! There’s no time change between here and Oslo, so sleeping was smooth. Ha ha, I do wish I could hear his mixtape/stuff too. I did do a search when I found his profile, but nope. ** Okay. Be with the scary stories. See you tomorrow.