Some crimes are so terrible, so grisly, that they sound more like scenes from horror movies than news headlines. With films like Saw and The Human Centipede, that’s a pretty high bar. While not all of the crimes on this list surpass the horror of sewing people together end-to-end, they are nonetheless terrifying enough to make us reconsider exactly how cruel, depraved, and irrational human minds can be.
After all, those plotlines have to come from somewhere, right? Be warned: This list is not for the faint of heart; turn away if you’re squeamish. That being said, here are ten gruesome crimes that wouldn’t have been out of place in the bloodiest of horror films.
10 ‘My Daddy Ate My Eyes’
Unbelievably, this is exactly what it sounds like.
In May 2009, 34-year-old Angelo Mendoza Sr. went on what may have been a PCP-induced spree of nightmarish acts, the worst of which included biting his four-year-old son’s left eye out of his face and maiming the other. But that wasn’t the end of it for Mendoza Sr. After mangling his son’s face, he made his way to the backyard of an empty house, chained himself to a tree, and asked a neighbor to “look into the Sun and pray with him.” He then began hacking at his own legs with an ax and a ceramic plate. He later tried to tell police that he and his son had been victims of the Mexican Mafia.
Frightened by his father’s crazed state, four-year-old Angelo Mendoza Jr. attempted to hide behind a large dresser, where neighbors later found him naked and unconscious. He shook violently when he awoke as police arrived, and after being taken to a hospital in Fresno, California, he told a volunteer, “My daddy ate my eyes.”
Angelo Mendoza Sr. was charged with mayhem, torture, and child cruelty. In February 2011, however, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Thankfully, Mendoza Jr.’s right eye recovered.
9 ‘Destroying Her Face’
Speaking of eyes . . .
After getting into a dispute with the mother of his child in September 2017, Michael Roberson attacked the woman in front of their child and a 16-year-old neighbor. At some point during the attack, he allegedly ripped out her eyes. Chattanooga police officers found the woman facedown beside the detached eyeballs. She had also been stabbed in the stomach and chest.
The 16-year-old neighbor, who tried to intervene when he saw Roberson “destroying her face,” was reportedly traumatized by the incident. As for Roberson, he claims to have no memory of the attack.
8 Sickening Abuse
In July 2011, ten-year-old Ame Deal died after she was stuffed in a padlocked 78- by 30- by 36-centimeter (31 x 12 x 14 in) footlocker by her family and left outside overnight in sweltering desert temperatures. Why did they do this? Because she took a Popsicle without permission.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was not an isolated incident. Ame lived with her parents and other relatives, including 11 other children, in a filthy house in Phoenix, Arizona. She seemed to function as the family scapegoat, as she was the only child in the family to suffer such abuse. The other children even intentionally got her in trouble. The range of “punishments” Ame suffered included things like being beaten with a wooden paddle, also known to the family as “the butt buster,” crushing cans with her bare feet, eating dog feces if she missed any while cleaning up the yard, walking along pavement in 46-degree-Celsius (114 °F) temperatures, and being forced to do backbends for hours at a time.
Being locked inside the relatively tiny footlocker (Ame was 122 centimeters [4′] tall and weighed under 27 kilograms [60 lb]) was not an unusual occurrence for Ame, either. Sometimes, her relatives would kick or flip the box, throw it in the pool, or sit on it after forcing her into the cramped space. Witnesses say they could hear her inside, crying.
On the night of her death, one of her relatives forced her into a backbend for over two hours, physically putting her back into the position if she fell. He then told her to run around their yard in the 39-degree-Celsius (103 °F) heat before locking her inside the airtight container, in which she suffocated to death.
The adults in the house were sentenced to prison time ranging from ten to 76 years. John Allen, the man who locked Ame in the box, and his wife Samantha Allen, Ame’s cousin and one of her key abusers, were sentenced to death.
7 Forced Abortion
This story goes from bad to absolute nightmare.
A 14-year-old girl in Dallas, Texas, became pregnant after a relative sexually assaulted her. Upset by her pregnancy, her family members then beat her until she forcibly aborted the baby.
Between January and March 2013, the victim’s cousins first tried to give the poor girl multiple doses of birth control pills, emergency contraceptive pills, and cinnamon tablets in an effort to terminate the pregnancy. These attempts were, in part, because one of the victim’s relatives, Cecila McDonald (center above), was afraid that Child Protective Services would find out about the underage pregnancy and take her children away. She was overheard yelling at the victim, “[Expletive], you ain’t about to get my kids taken away from me.”
When their first attempts didn’t work, the victim’s cousins then pinned her down in the living room. One of them, Lonnell McDonald (left above), sat on her stomach and began bouncing up and down. Perhaps fearing this wasn’t enough, Lonnell called over assistance in the form of another relative, Cedric Jones Jr. (right above). Upon arriving, Lonnell reportedly told Jones Jr. “he had already been kicking the sh—t out of the b—ch.” The suspects then punched and kicked the victim in the stomach until she began vomiting and cramping, eventually delivering what “she believed was a stillborn baby.”
The suspects then threw the baby into a plastic mop bucket and later attempted to burn it on their charcoal grill.
Four of the girl’s relatives were charged with criminal activity, and a fifth was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. Four of the five received prison time.
6 100 Rodent Bites
Two parents in Magnolia, Arkansas, were arrested in May 2017 after their 15-day-old baby was found seriously injured. The baby reportedly had between 75 and 100 rat bites all over its body, including a forehead wound so deep that the baby’s skull was visible.
The baby’s parents, 19-year-old Erica Shyrock and 18-year-old Charles Elliot, claimed to have put the baby to bed at around 5:30 AM but awoke to it screaming around two hours later. Contrary to their claims—and a large part of what makes this so absolutely macabre—was that, according to one of the baby’s doctors, the “severe skin destruction” present on the child would have taken hours to occur.
Rats were feeding on this helpless infant. For hours.
And not only were both parents aware of the rat problem in their home, but the baby slept in a bassinet next to their bed—meaning that they either ignored the child’s cries for help, or they weren’t there in the first place. They also did not immediately take the baby to the hospital despite the fact that it was covered in blood, for fear that it would be taken away from them.
Both parents were charged with endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree. They were sentenced to five years in prison.
5 Cooked Alive
In October 2012, an employee at a Bumble Bee Foods facility in Santa Fe Springs, California, suffered a horrific death. Jose Melena, 62, was performing maintenance on an 11-meter-long (35 ft) industrial oven. Believing Melena was in the bathroom, his coworker then filled the oven with 5,400 kilograms (12,000 lb) of tuna and turned it on.
A search ensued when a manager realized Melena was missing, but by then, it was too late. They found his body two hours later. The oven had reached a temperature of 132 degrees Celsius (270 °F), and Melena had been cooked inside with the fish.
Bumble Bee and two managers were charged with violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules. The company paid $6 million in a settlement over Melena’s unfortunate death.
4 Headless Female Torso
In a case that received international attention, Danish inventor Peter Madsen was accused of murdering Swedish journalist Kim Wall. Wall had planned to interview Madsen and joined him on his homemade submarine on August 10, 2017. She was reported missing the next day.
Madsen was rescued from his sunken vessel and gave varying accounts as to what happened. Initially, he claimed that he dropped Wall off at a Copenhagen port on the evening of August 10. He later changed his story and said that Wall died after he lost his grip on the 70-kilogram (155 lb) submarine hatch and accidentally shut it on her head. Kim then supposedly fell, suffered irrecoverable injuries, and died. Madsen claimed to have buried her body at sea and to have decided to commit suicide by sinking his submarine.
But a few things didn’t add up about Madsen’s story. In the first place, he’s still alive after abandoning his sunken submarine and swimming for help. Secondly, Kim Wall’s headless, limbless torso was discovered on August 21. A pipe had been tied to it, and markings indicated that someone had attempted to press air out of it so that it would sink. An autopsy later revealed that Wall had sustained multiple stab wounds, including 14 to her genitals, and that a saw had been used to remove her limbs—not exactly the traditional sea burial Madsen described.
Madsen’s lawyer tried to give his “she fell” story credibility by pointing to a mark on the partial body that may have resulted from a fall. And then police found Madsen’s hard drive, which contained videos of women being tortured and killed. Madsen tried to claim that an intern previously used his office and that the videos were “not necessarily” his.
On October 6, Wall’s remaining body parts were found in plastic bags. The bags had been weighed down with metal. Within them, investigators also found her clothes and a knife. There were no fractures to her skull to support Madsen’s claims.
In April 2018, Madsen was convicted of Wall’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.
3 Possessed By The Devil
In August 2016, Francisco Merlos went to his girlfriend’s house to try and patch things up after an argument two days prior. His girlfriend, Geneva Gomez, 33, lived with her mother Juanita Gomez, 49, in Oklahoma City. He apologized to Juanita for the altercation and asked where his girlfriend was.
After Juanita pointed him to a room in the house, however, Merlos found his girlfriend lying on her back, a cross placed on her chest, her face unrecognizable.
Merlos frantically tried to leave the house as Juanita Gomez incoherently spoke of “money” and “the Devil.” She attempted to put him in a headlock and lock him inside the house. Thankfully, Merlos escaped and called 911, but Geneva Gomez was already dead. She’d been killed by her mother, who believed Geneva was possessed by the Devil.
Juanita told a first responder that her daughter had spoken in tongues in a demonic voice and threatened her and that her eyes had rolled back into her head. She also claimed that the channels on her TV began to change themselves after she tuned to a Christian channel. Supposedly, a demonic voice also spoke to her from the TV. According to Juanita, the bruises on her daughter’s body were caused by Geneva’s attempts to expel the Devil within her.
But it’s more likely that the bruises were from Juanita repeatedly punching her. Juanita reportedly beat her daughter and forced religious objects, including a crucifix, down Geneva’s throat until she bled from her mouth. Court documents stated that she suffered “severe trauma around her head and face.”
After watching her daughter die, Juanita then arranged her daughter’s body in the shape of a cross, cleaned it, and then placed a large cross atop her chest.
In July 2017, Juanita pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility for parole in February 2018.
2 ‘I Ate . . . Humans’
In August 2016, something provoked 19-year-old Austin Harrouff into committing two vicious murders.
Harrouff was eating dinner with his parents at a local pub when he became angry, stormed out of the restaurant, and made his way to the home of Michelle and John Stevens in Tequesta, Florida. He had no history with the couple. Nonetheless, he proceeded to brutally murder them. He stabbed them multiple times with a switchblade and used various “weapons of opportunity” from their garage in the slaying. He also stabbed a neighbor who attempted to intervene.
Police found Harrouff crouched over John’s bloodied body, growling and making “animal noises” as he bit off chunks of Stevens’s face. According to court documents, officers witnessed Harrouff biting the victim multiple times, spitting out chunks of his flesh, and “chewing on the side of Stevens’s face.” One detective similarly saw that Harrouff had human hair in his mouth.
The officers tried to subdue Harrouff with stun guns and a police dog. When that didn’t bring him down, three to four police officers were finally able to wrench him away from the deceased victim. “Help me, I ate something bad,” deputies later heard him say. When asked what it was, he replied, “Humans.” Harrouff was taken to a Palm Beach County hospital and sedated.
He faces two counts of first-degree murder. His lawyers intend to use the insanity defense.
Harrouff isn’t the first Florida man to bite off someone’s face in a zombie-like fashion. Rudy Eugene infamously bit off the face of a homeless man in 2012.
1 Animal Abuse, Murder, And Dismemberment
It sounds like the setup for a horror movie, doesn’t it?
In this tragic, unfathomably disturbing case, wannabe Internet superstar Luka Magnotta videotaped himself committing horrendous acts. It (sort of) began when Magnotta posted a video of himself killing kittens with a plastic bag and a vacuum cleaner on YouTube. The video was entitled “1 boy, 2 kittens.” Horrified Internet sleuths attempted to reveal his identity in order to have him punished. In 2012, another video was posted under a different alias, this one entitled “1 Lunatic, 1 Ice Pick.” Some of those same Internet detectives managed to identify the man in the video as the same man who had killed the kittens: Luka Magnotta.
“1 Lunatic, 1 Ice Pick” shows the brutal homicide of 33-year-old Lin Jun, a computer science student at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. In it, Magnotta stabs Jun 100 times, dismembers his body, sodomizes it, and eats part of the corpse to the tune of “True Faith” by New Order.
Magnotta had an utterly out-of-control ego and a history of attempting Internet fame. He created dozens of fake accounts on Facebook, devoted videos and at least 20 websites to himself, and had hundreds of (often photoshopped) photos of himself scattered around the Internet. He also tried and failed to become a reality television star.
The grisly details of Jun’s murder and the unfathomable depth of Magnotta’s narcissism are difficult to describe in a few paragraphs. For those who never heeded warnings about curiosity, or for those who simply want to ruin their own day, there are plenty of online resources about the case.
Serena Johe is an avid reader and writer with a particular interest in speculative fiction. In her spare time, she enjoys reading about weird things on the Internet. Her short stories are published or forthcoming in places like Typehouse, The Forge, Waccamaw, Five on the Fifth, The Colored Lens, Chantwood Magazine, and FLAPPERHOUSE, among others.