Strange things go bump in the night on Halloween.
At least that’s probably what most of us were led to believe as children.
Truthfully, a murder happens every 35 minutes in the U.S., according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Clock Statistics, and criminals don’t just stop committing crimes to join in the fun of Halloween block parties and parking lot trunk-or-treating.
Travelers, the third-largest personal insurer in the U.S., reports that on average, 17 percent more crime-related claims happen on Halloween than any other night of the year, with property crimes — in particular, theft — being the most common crime committed on Halloween.
With all of the hype surrounding the spookiest night of the year, it should come as no shock to anyone that surprising things often occur, even before the sun goes down. Though you’re probably far more likely to be involved in a car accident or to eat a drug-laced candy bar on Halloween night than be the focus of a crime, this country’s history is still riddled with the frightening crime scenes of Halloween’s past.
In honor of this momentous occasion, here are some surprising (and, yes, silly) facts about Halloween courtesy of cities around the country, a brief run-down of some of the most heinous crimes that happen on Halloween night and a few of our trick-or-treating safety tips.
Surprising Facts About Four Cities on Halloween
Suffice it to say that some areas of our country take safety on Halloween night to the next level. Here are four cities that can claim Halloween-related oddities:
To Mask or Not to Mask in Orlando, Florida. On Halloween in Orlando, Florida, every year, police officers report an uptick in crimes committed by criminals wearing Halloween masks, likely due to the increase in fall shipments of scary merchandise retailers receive for the season. However, in the state of Florida, wearing a mask while committing a crime could mean tougher penalties, as a little-known law prohibits anyone older than 16 from wearing masks or hoods in public places, except during Halloween and masquerades. The measure has been used 203 times since it became law in 1951!
Halloween-Flocked in Lompoc Valley. In Lompoc Valley in Southern California, people can request Halloween-flocked flamingo lawn ornaments to be-deck their yards. The fundraising event actually supports the Lompoc Valley Police Activities League, which provides programming for area youth with the idea of helping them stay out of trouble.
Seeing Signs in Orange County, California. A city in Orange County passed an ordinance saying that all registered sex offenders must post 12-by-24-inch signs on their doors on Halloween to warn trick-or-treaters from knocking. Failure to do so resulted in a $1,000 fine or one year in jail. The ordinance was revoked in 2013 for violating sex offenders’ First Amendment rights and “putting them and their families at risk.”
Completely Eggs-tra in New York City. Egg-throwing on Halloween has long been a tradition, but one that sometimes has been known to end in violence (for good reason). In New York City, for example, people died as a result of the prank in 1984, 1987, 1989, 1994, 1995 and 1998, while the years 1993 and 1996 saw non-fatal shootings of children after an egg-tossing.
Frightening Crimes That Happen on Halloween
Ghosts, ghouls, witches and Michael Meyers costumes might be the most frightening visions you encounter on your Halloween, but the fact remains that some of the country’s most memorable murders in history have also occurred on October 31. Three of those included the last murder ever committed by “the Toolbox Killers;” the “Candy Man” murder; and the last trick-or-treater scandal.
The Toolbox Killers Halloween Murder
Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris were known as the Toolbox Killers, a deadly duo who picked up female hitchhikers in the 1970s and then tortured them with toolbox tools. Their last victim before they were arrested and convicted was Shirley Ledford, who was picked up in their dingy van as she was leaving a Halloween party in 1979. Her body was later found on a stranger’s lawn.
The Candyman Murder
On Halloween in 1974, 8-year-old Timothy O’Bryan returned to his Houston home after a night of trick-or-treating, where his father, Ronald, gave him a piece of candy, a Pixy Stix. Within moments of ingesting the candy, the boy vomited and died on the way to the hospital. Police would later learn that Ronald had poisoned the candy with cyanide to collect a life insurance policy to pay off his debts. This horrendous murder is one of the reasons that parents still to this day check their children’s Halloween candy before eating to see if it has been tampered with.
The Last Trick-or-Treater Scandal
Peter and wife Betty Fabiano had gone to bed on Halloween night in 1957 believing that they were finished with trick-or-treaters. However, in the middle of the night, the doorbell rang again, and Peter got out of bed and brought candy to the door. On his doorstep stood a woman wearing a mask who raised a gun and shot him in the chest, killing him instantly. Police would later learn that the murderer was hired to kill Peter by a woman named Joan Rabel, who had allegedly been having an affair with Peter’s wife.
Our Halloween Safety Tips
Maybe shadows, masked villains, full moons and glowing orange lights don’t leave you with the heebie-jeebies, but if you or your family are partaking of the usual Halloween festivities that accompany October 31, it’s still wise to take various safety precautions. Here are just a few to keep in mind related to both your loved ones and your property on Halloween night.
- If you have to go out, leave the lights and the TV on, and never put a spare key under your doormat.
- Make sure your home’s walkway is well-lit to prevent trips and falls, and likewise, make sure you can see who’s at the door before you open it.
- Keep pets indoors to prevent them from getting spooked — and biting friends or children.
- Accompany all young children on neighborhood rounds and teach children to never enter a stranger’s home or car.
- If children are allowed out after dark, fasten reflective tape to their costumes and bags, or give them glow sticks.
- Inspect any treats brought home before eating.
- Report any suspicious or criminal activity to the police or sheriff’s office.
Happy Halloween from Alabama Bio-Clean, Inc.!
As a family-owned and operated crime scene and biohazard cleaning company, the Alabama Bio-Clean, Inc., team, by nature of the job, knows a thing or two about the things that can, and sometimes do, go bump in the night. In our experience thus far working with the people and businesses of Alabama, we have never experienced a spike in the need for our services associated with Halloween.
But that doesn’t mean that a crisis cannot still occur, and in said crisis — whether it be a crime scene cleanup, vehicular accident cleanup or something other — our first consideration is always our clients. For you on Halloween night, rest assured, we’ll leave the front porch light on.