Halloween is celebrated every year on October 31 by dedicating the day to remembering the dead. Different cultures have different traditions for the day. Generally, people organise costume parties, go trick-or-treating, carve pumpkin lanterns, arrange bonfires and create a spooky atmosphere all around.
Overall, the Halloween month is perfect for indulging in a little paranormal craze. Be it playing pranks on your friends, sharing horror stories or researching on the local 'haunted' places to visit, October sets the mood for all things supernatural.
While it may be all fun and games to dress up as scary characters and have themed parties, there have been several recorded incidents of real horror around this time of the year. Sometimes it becomes tough to recognise the real from the fictional, leading to situation bordering between real and fictional.
Here are five such real incidents of horror that happened on the day of Halloween.
The weird killer Ward
What looked like a typical Halloween prank turned out to be a gruesome murder that shook the residents of Long Island. A man was observed dragging a decapitated body out of an apartment into the street in plain sight of onlookers. He laid the body in the road and kicked its head to the opposite pavement.
People thought it to be a tasteless practical joke until a nearby resident tried to remove the body from the road. Turned out that it was a real corpse, of a woman named Patricia Ward, who was a professor at Farmingdale State College, New York. She was living with her son Derek, who had a history of mental illness. That day, Derek snapped, beheaded his mother, dragged her body out, and committed suicide by leaping in front of a train.
It is still not known why he did it. Psycho-like vibes, anyone?
A trick-or-treating tragedy
Trick-or-treating is a very popular Halloween tradition where kids go to neighbouring houses, dressed up in Halloween costumes, and ask for candies. But what if they get something other than candy? In 1974, Timothy O'Bryan died on Halloween night in Texas after eating the Halloween candy he had lovingly received from his very own father, Ronald. It was discovered that his father had made a very expensive life insurance plan on Timothy's name, which he planned to cash by killing his eight-year-old son. Ronald had also given the poison to his daughter and four other kids, none of whom had eaten it yet. After Timothy's death, his father was convicted and sentenced to execution.
And you thought monsters came from far-off lands!
The hanging decoration
When you catch sight of a body hanging from a tree on Halloween, the first instinct is to think that it is a practical joke or freakish decoration. That was exactly what passers-by in Frederica, Delaware, thought when they saw a woman's body hanging from a tree branch.
They even stared at it for hours, admiring the body which looked so real. To their horror, they finally realised that that it was indeed the real body of a woman who had hung herself to death the night before.
So the next time you spot a skeleton hanging at a Halloween party, make sure to ask the host where it came from.
An enactment gone terribly wrong
An over-enthusiastic teenager from North Carolina, William Anthony Odem, was staging an intense hanging scene at a Halloween party in his aunt's basement in 1990 when his noose tightened accidentally, choking him to death.
Six days before this incident, a 17-year-old boy named Bryan Jewell was acting as a hanging victim at the Haunted Hayride attraction in Lakewood. While standing at the gallows for the Hangman's scene, he was supposed to recite a scary speech. However, the noose around his neck tightened during the night and killed him. His dead body was discovered by visitors the next morning, still standing on the gallows' deck.
The next time you decide to participate in a Halloween play, be very careful with your props.
A fatal costume decision
In 2016, a nine-year-old girl from Pennsylvania happily dressed up as a skunk for Halloween. She was standing outside her house in her pretty black costume, with a black hat and a white tassel.
Soon, one of her relatives looked outside and mistook her for a real skunk. He fired a shotgun, hitting the 'skunk' on her shoulder, arm, neck, and back. After the family realised the blunder, they rushed her to the hospital. Thankfully, she survived or this would have been very difficult to explain to the judge at the murder trial.
Well, as it turns out, it is dangerous for your Halloween costumes to look too realistic!