18 Disturbing True Crime Stories That "Rocked" Hometowns Around The World

Recently Reddit user 7deadlycinderella asked, "What was the crime that rocked the community you grew up in?"

Crime scene tape with forensic experts examining the area behind it
Ashley Cooper / Getty Images

Unfortunately folks had many stories to tell, which seemed to scar them for life.

Man with handcuffs on
Yakobchukolena / Getty Images/iStockphoto

So, here are some disturbing true crime stories that actually happened in communities around the world:

Note: This post contains subjects of violence, domestic abuse, gun violence, grooming, and drugs. Please proceed with caution.

1."A kid murdered his own brother in my town years ago. Police found the knife buried in the backyard. But his parents, to this day, do not believe he did it (despite him admitting it and going to prison). They still pay to put up billboards around the town looking for 'help' finding their son’s killer. The brother who did the killing is now out of prison (it's depressing)."


2."I grew up a little all over the place, but I still remember being a kid in the Chicagoland area in the '70s. I was really stoked because it was Friday, December 22, 1978, the last day of school before Christmas break. I walked home from Cooper Junior High thinking about how awesome a mug of hot chocolate was gonna taste as I stretched out in front of the TV in my basement. I made a cup of hot chocolate and turned the TV on...no cartoons on Channel 32, and you know what? Every local channel was showing pretty much the same thing. Something that looked like an extremely well-guarded construction site."

"There were a lot of uniformed cops at this house. Chicago PD, Cook County Sheriffs Office, Des Plaines PD, and about a dozen troopers from the Illinois State Police.

This was the afternoon when the search and methodical deconstruction of John Wayne Gacy's house began. Over the course of the next eight days, investigators would recover the remains of 29 bodies."


Mugshot of John Wayne Gacy from 1978
Donaldson Collection / Getty Images

3."When I was in high school, a 16-year-old in another school murdered two younger kids who were 7 and 9. He killed them in a city park next to his house and covered the bodies in leaves. He acted like he was helping the police when they started looking for the kids. The thing is the murders were brutal (and I mean incredibly brutal). Apparently, he just 'flipped out' and attacked these kids with incredible ferocity."


4."My mom’s murder in Ohio back in the '70s — nothing like that ever happened in our town. A 15-year-old boy in our neighborhood stabbed her to death (his sister was one of my best friends — she came over for sleepovers, was like my second family). The paramedics stood over her naked body as she bled out. The cops knew he did it, but they didn’t get around to arresting him until the next day (they didn’t read him his rights, and they botched the investigation). The sightseers started driving by that day and didn’t stop for a long time. He only had to serve time until he was 18 — he tried to escape a few days before his release. He got extra time, and served until he was 21."

"The boy's family wasted no time putting the blame on my mom — they claimed the two of them were having an affair, and that it was demonic fueled. Gratefully there was very little news reported (even though there were plenty of news people there). I was able to keep the news reporting to a minimum (I was 18 at the time, and I threatened to sue).

A few years ago, my daughter ended up in a psychiatric ward, and she met the uncle of the kid who murdered my mom. He was actually younger than the kid (his older sister had him later). Now mind you, this uncle was around 3 years old when this happened — he told my daughter everything that happened, the whole 'demonic truth,' and she chose to believe him."


5."A man kept the corpses of his deceased parents buried in the basement of his farmhouse so he could collect SSI and his father’s pension. He was able to collect for over five years before a repairman discovered the bodies."


Dimly lit staircase in a basement
Spxchrome / Getty Images

6."The Harvey Family murders on New Year's Day, 2006. I've lived in Richmond most of my life, and I spent my entire childhood and adolescence here. That brutal murder rocked the city to its core — stuff like that just didn't happen here. Were we the murder capital of the US in the '90s? Sure, but that was mostly gang and drug-related violence (not random families being tortured and murdered in their basement). They owned and operated a well-known toy store in a cute shopping district in the city, and it's there to this day. Every New Year's Day, people still leave flowers on the sidewalk in front of the store (and by the end of the day, the pile of flowers still reaches a pretty large size). Those murders scared the shit out of the entire city, and I'm so happy the killers were caught and put to justice."


7."A crime so heinous that Pizza Hut blacklisted my town for nearly 12 years. Someone came in to rob the Pizza Hut and ended up killing a high school junior and a mother working the closing shift. The murders remained unsolved until one of the friends of the victims grew up to become the police chief and ordered the investigation to be reopened. The four people originally arrested back in 2006 were convicted of the double murder in 2022."


8."A cardiologist in our town beat his wife with a baseball bat in their second-floor bedroom. He dropped her head-first from the window to the ground so their kids wouldn't see it. He put her in a car and drove to another street, crashed into a utility pole, and staged it like an accident. She was found behind the wheel in her nightgown (things like murders don't happen in our little upscale suburb). He had a good lawyer — he was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years. That was in the mid-'80s, so he's been out of prison for a long time."


Night sky with clouds partially covering the moon above a house with lit windows
Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

9."A girl was stabbed to death in a stairwell at school by her ex-boyfriend because she refused to go to prom with him (she was dating someone else at this point). The part that kills me the most is the killer admitted to his school psychologist that he was having schizophrenic thoughts, and the counselor only brought it to his parents' attention after the fact. This was huge for us since we were the next town over, and something of that caliber was unheard of until the Sandy Hook school shooting in my community."


10."I live in a small town that's never really had any big controversies or crimes happen. But six years ago, it came out that the fifth-grade teacher at my local Christian school had been sexually abusing, sexually exploiting, and grooming his male students over a five-year period (if not longer). He was also the coach of the seventh-grade basketball team and had a camera hidden in the bathroom where kids would shower and change after practice. He saved all the videos and photos on his laptop at his home (he was married and had a 2-year-old son). He's now serving a 60-year prison sentence — there were 146 counts of sexual abuse. He was also my teacher and coach (I was lucky enough to not have been a victim)."


Hand holding a rosary
Boonchai Wedmakawand / Getty Images

11."In the late' 80s when I was growing up, a man named Lawrence DeLisle drove his car into the Detroit river with his wife and four children inside. The two adults escaped while all four children drowned — he was convicted of murder. There was a Netflix documentary about it. This happened very close to where I lived, and was on the local news every day for a long time."


12."A friend and co-captain of the soccer team brutally murdered his parents. He stabbed his dad over 20 times and chased his mom around the neighborhood. When he caught her, he bludgeoned her to death with a splitting maul. His mom was a teacher at our high school — I had her for English."


13."I knew the youngest victim of the Hillside Strangler crime. She was missing for a week before her body was found (along with her friend's). They were found on the day that we were supposed to appear in a ballet recital together. A mutual friend was originally supposed to go with her to the mall the day she disappeared, but was grounded and canceled at the last minute."


Angelo Buono in 1979
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

14."In the '80s, a husband was away doing something for his job and left his wife and three daughters back at home. The mother and older two kids were murdered, and the killer left the toddler alive. She was left alone for days. They arrested the guy that they think was responsible, let him go, and he went on with his life for around 15–25 years. They redo a DNA test and find he's guilty, and is now rotting in a military prison. I could be wrong about some details, but there was definitely a family murdered while out in the field, and the baby was spared."


15."My community is primarily an elderly population (over 60% of residents are considered senior citizens). My father was a doctor in this area, and was the only one who dealt with 'pain patients' (pain patients are people who have chronic pain issues). They are known to constantly ask for more pain medication — no other local doctors would touch them (this was back in the '90s before an overall awareness of the opioid epidemic). One of my dad's patients was trading his pain meds for harder drugs. This guy tried to cheat the person he was selling to, and they ended up executing him in the woods. Somehow the local paper decided that my dad was the head of a state-wide drug ring and had this guy killed."

"They wrote a multi-page story on it, and to show how contentious it was, the author didn't sign their name to the story. This (along with other things) caused an investigation into my dad's practice. The investigation took two years, and during that time he didn't practice. This left a majority of our community without a doctor to treat them.

He was cleared of all wrongdoing, but going forward he could not write a script for pain meds without a secondary doctor's approval. He decided to stop treating them."


A row of individuals in wheelchairs facing a window in a room, conversing and enjoying the view
Patrick Landmann / Getty Images

16."I grew up in a New York City housing project where we had an older Latino man heading what was kind of a community watch. Great guy, super friendly, always had a smile on his face (he also worked with the local PD to keep an eye out for any 'questionable' people coming in and out). He was assaulted in the neighborhood, and during the assault suffered a major heart attack and died on the scene. The perpetrator was charged with involuntary manslaughter — the community has gone to shit since then."


17."I worked at a farmer’s market — I came in one morning to a very somber mood. Some people were crying — one vendor’s stall was just gone. Turns out one of the most beloved farmers we had was murdered. Never found out if there were drugs or alcohol involved, but apparently his dad shot him, called 911, and was dead himself by the time anyone got there. This guy was young — he had a wife and two kids under 10 years old."

"But there is a small bright side to this: The community RALLIED around this family. The GoFundMe for his funeral got five times the asked-for amount on the first day it opened.

Other market workers volunteered at his farm to care for the animals and provide maintenance, and so many people signed up to bring meals that there was a waitlist of MONTHS.

Everyone made damn sure that his family would be taken care of."


18.And: "There was a young guy (I believe 19 or 20 years old) who worked the overnight shift at a local grocery store in my hometown. He ended up coming in with a gun and shooting most of his coworkers one night. Turns out he was pretty disturbed, he had an obsession with a certain cartoon and made online videos with some pretty violent details, had a whole online persona, and had been planning the shooting for a while. I worked an overnight front desk shift at a hotel just down the road from the store and watched the news coverage the last couple hours of my shift."

"I remember driving past the store going home at around 7 a.m. and the place was packed with police cars. It was just a very eery and sad feeling, and I didn't even know any of the victims personally — just that general sense of dread and heartbreak for their families.

It's a fairly small town, not much crime ever happens (let alone something of that nature). It definitely caused a lot of pain and shook the whole community."


Empty shopping cart in a deserted parking lot at night
Brillianteye / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Note: Some stories have been edited for length and/or clarity.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger as a result of domestic violence, call 911. For anonymous, confidential help, you can call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat with an advocate via the website.