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17 Creepy Real Events That Actually Happened on Halloween

For some of us, October 31st is the most fun day of the year. For others, it’s the spookiest. And here’s why…

Tree and house in fogMark Zhyhman/Shutterstock

Wrong place at the wrong time

In 1992, a 16-year-old Japanese foreign exchange student in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, paid the ultimate price after accidentally ringing the wrong doorbell on his way to a Halloween party, reports Japan Today. Yoshihiro Hattori had been unfamiliar with the neighborhood when he and a friend arrived at the home of Rodney Peairs, a nearby neighbor who opened the door armed with a .44 Magnum revolver. Although Hattori allegedly said, "we're here for the party," Peairs claimed he feared for his life and ordered the student to "Freeze!" When Hattori misunderstood the command and kept approaching, Peairs shot him. After being questioned, the perpetrator was arrested but later acquitted of manslaughter. It's unknown what kind of Halloween costume Hattori wore to warrant such a reaction.

houdini Courtesy Everett Collection/Shutterstock

Harry Houdini died after being punched by a college student

Famed magician Harry Houdini claimed he could take a blow to the abdomen without being taken down, and on October 22, 1926, a student at McGill University asked if he could prove it. Houdini, who'd been sitting in his dressing room during an engagement at the Montreal university, obliged. Although he had allegedly braced himself, the student's four punches left the performer in great pain. After suffering for two days, Houdini decided to seek medical help, but by this time he was suffering from a severe fever and acute appendicitis. Defying doctor's orders, he performed instead of undergoing the recommended emergency surgery. When the curtains closed, the magician collapsed. Despite having his appendix removed afterward, Houdini passed away on Halloween, surrounded by family.

Old ice skate on the floor. Off center. John Arehart/Shutterstock

A deadly finale

On Halloween day in 1963, the Indiana State Fair held a "Holidays on Ice" skating exhibition for a crowd of hundreds. The grand finale was not what anyone had expected: Unbeknownst to organizers at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum, propane gas had been leaking from a nearby tank into the poorly ventilated room. During a final act called "Mardis Gras," the propane gas caught fire, leading to a horrific explosion that propelled onlookers from their chairs. The death toll was 74, and 400 additional people were injured.

Cars in north forestVitaly Alyabyev/Shutterstock

A prank gone wrong

The tradition of throwing eggs at people on Halloween is, at best, a harmless prank—at worst, it can turn deadly. That was the case for Karl Jackson, a 21-year-old data entry clerk at Morgan Stanley, who usually never left the house on Halloween, as he thought it was dangerous; on October 31, 1995, his worst fear became a reality, reports the New York Times. Jackson had decided to venture out to pick up his girlfriend's son from a party. Along the way, a group of teens pelted his car with eggs, so Jackson got out to confront them. But as he was getting back into the car, one of the pranksters pulled a gun and fatally shot him in the head.

Person walking alone into the fog, young men disappearing in the cloudsWilliam.Vaccaro/Shutterstock

Vanished without a trace

To this day, no one knows what happened to Hyun Jong "Cindy" Song, a 39-year-old grad student at Penn State Univesity who disappeared without a trace after leaving a Halloween party after midnight in 2001. Song had stopped by a friend's home in the early morning hours, still decked out in her bunny costume, and accepted a lift home at about 4:00 a.m. Slightly intoxicated, she managed to get inside her home and drop off her belongings, including her backpack and cell phone. She'd even removed her false eyelashes. But Song herself was never seen again. Investigators found no evidence of foul play and no activity on her credit cards or cell phone. The case eventually went cold. Find out the origins behind ghosts and these other spooky Halloween creatures.


open jail cellInked Pixels/Shutterstock

A murder predicted by a serial killer

David Berkowitz became infamous in the 1970s as the "Son of Sam" serial killer. But not many people know that he could also predict the future—well, sort of. Berkowitz was incarcerated when 39-year-old Ronald Sisman and 20-year-old Elizabeth Platzman were beaten and shot to death in their Manhattan home in the early morning hours of Halloween in 1981, reports the New York Times. A fellow prisoner claimed that the Son of Sam had previously told him that a cult was planning to carry out just such a massacre. Berkowitz was allegedly even able to describe the victims' apartment to a tee—but police didn't have enough evidence to charge him with involvement in the murders, which remain unsolved. Check out the chilling history of 15 Halloween traditions.


Redwood trees in Muir Woods, CA.Shishka4/Shutterstock

This freakish decoration was REAL

If there were a prize for most morbid Halloween decoration in Frederica, Delaware, in 2005, it would have gone to the body hanging from a tree. It would have beaten out the fake witches, skeletons, and jack-o-lanterns dotting the neighborhood. For hours, people passed by admiring it. Of course, it had an edge over the other decorations. This was a real body. Police believe it was that of a woman who had committed suicide the night before. Don't miss these other real-life ghost stories that will chill you to the bone.

US Marine UniformAfrica Rising/Shutterstock

Men in tutus shouldn’t criticize

Note to self: Not everyone’s wearing a costume on Halloween. In 2012, in the early hours of the morning after Halloween, a tutu-clad Marine spotted a uniform-clad man in a wheelchair and thought the man’s costume was a weak attempt at mocking the military. So he attacked him. As the Marine learned upon his arrest, the man’s wardrobe was not a comment on our servicemen and women. He was, in fact, a disabled veteran.

bright sweets and candy on Halloween with bats and pumpkin on the black stoneAnn Yuni/Shutterstock

There really are monsters

It’s every parent’s nightmare: Your child comes home from a night of trick-or-treating with spiked candy. One of the Halloween stories that helped propel this fear was the murder of Timothy O’Bryan in 1974. The eight-year-old from Deer Park, Texas, died Halloween night after ingesting poisoned candy. Making this crime more horrific is the fact that the perpetrator was not a neighbor, but the boy’s own father, who sought to cash in on his son’s life insurance. Every parent should read these trick-or-treating safety tips.

student writing in the notebook with black pen on wooden surfaceAlex_dobrii/Shutterstock

The note

The most frightening thing about the graveyard kit an Oregon woman bought at Kmart in 2012 was the note she found inside. It was written by a Chinese factory worker who claimed he and others were tortured and enslaved in a forced labor camp making toys 15 hours a day with no pay or days off. He went on to plead for the letter to be forwarded to the World Human Rights Organization. The woman did just that, and the Chinese worker was freed when the camp was exposed months later.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest