23 Wild, Shocking, And Scandalous True Crimes People Shared From Their Hometowns

23 Wild, Shocking, And Scandalous True Crimes People Shared From Their Hometowns

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community if they had a wild, shocking, or scandalous true crime story from their hometown they wanted to share. Unsurprisingly, people did NOT hold back and had plenty to tell us. Here's what they said:

Warning: Graphic and disturbing content ahead including stories of murder.

1.Jefferson, Wisconsin — "A teacher's asst. at my local high school hired her students to kill her husband. The woman's name is Diane Borchardt. Unfortunately, the students (all boys) went through with the murder. She was making accusations that her husband was abusive and made promises to the boys involving money and, allegedly, sex. It's quite the story. Lifetime even made a movie about it called Seduced by Madness."

A brick school building with a central tower, grass lawn in front, and trees to the side
Steve Kagan / Getty Images

2.Monaca, Pennsylvania — "In 2003, my hometown became famous for a massive outbreak of Hepatitis A due to green onions at Chi-Chi’s Mexican Restaurant. The incident ultimately ruined the company, and the whole chain went bankrupt the next year. There is only one restaurant left in the world, in Vienna, Austria."

"Chi-Chi's Mexican Restaurant entrance with a 'Sorry Temporarily Closed' sign on the door."

3.Herington, Kansas — "It's not my hometown, but I lived in Herington (a teeny tiny town in the middle of giant corn fields) briefly with my mom and stepfather. They lived there for several years. I found out after the fact that Terry Nichols used to live there, and that’s where he and Timothy McVeigh prepped and built everything for the Oklahoma City Bombing. I went down a Wikipedia wormhole recently, and the article on the bombing mentions streets that I remember from when I lived there as a teenager. Crazy."

Terry Nichols's mug shot
Terry Nichols's mug shot
Wreckage from the Oklahoma City Bombing
Wreckage from the Oklahoma City Bombing

Donaldson Collection / Getty Images, Gregory Smith / Corbis via Getty Images


4.Tampa, Florida — "I don't think it's been widely reported that in 2017, Tampa, Florida experienced a situation that was in many ways like NYC in 1977 when Son of Sam was on the loose. Four people were shot and killed sniper-style and at random in the Seminole Heights neighborhood, a small historic/artsy/gentrified enclave. All of the murders occurred within a three-block radius and the city, especially the neighborhood, was paralyzed for weeks."

McDonald's storefront at night with "BREAKING NEWS" overlay and caption "CO-WORKER DESCRIBES SUSPECTED KILLER."

5.Brampton, Ontario — "My friend Eric was murdered by a classmate named Justin Morton. This happened in my hometown of Brampton in 2003. This was such a shocking murder that for years, no one could really speak about it. Justin strangled Eric in the backwoods of our school, while everyone was in class. No one truly knows why Justin did this to Eric, and I don’t think we ever will."

A city skyline in the distance with a foreground of dense autumn foliage


Ron Bouwhuis / Getty Images

6.Sacramento, California — "I grew up in Sacramento, where the story of Dorothea Puente is well known and retold. She was an elderly woman who ran a boarding house for other elderly and people with mental disabilities in the '80s. She ended up murdering a few of her tenants in order to collect their social security checks for herself. Dorothea also drugged and robbed some tenants, as well as some others who didn't stay in her home. She had a lengthy criminal record but had somehow convinced the community that she was a harmless, sweet old lady. Nope. She was convicted in '93, and her notoriety is still well known to this day."

Closeup of Dorothea Puente in court
Sacramento Bee / Tribune News Service via Getty Images

7.West Yorkshire, England — "The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe (a serial killer convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder seven others) lived about 20 minutes or so from where I grew up. My mam and a few others around this age that I know were all under curfew when it was going on."

Closeup of Peter Sutcliffe
Universal History Archive / Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

8.Sugar Land, Texas — "Shaq has (had?) a house in my hometown, Sugar Land. Back in 2004, their housekeeper was stabbed to death by her son in the kitchen. The police found the son wandering around the neighborhood covered in blood. Shaq and his daughter were not home when it happened."

Shaquille O'Neal wearing a suit with a tie, smiling at an event
Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic

9.Midland, Ontario — "In Midland on October 31, 1998, a boy I went to school with, Jake Just, disappeared. There were hundreds of volunteers, police officers, and their dogs searching for him for several days, but no one ever found him or even a body. There were so many rumors and theories about what happened, but nothing was ever verified. To this very day, no one knows what happened to Jake. The scary part is that the woods where he disappeared is beside my house."

Aerial view of a serene lake with surrounding forest and mountains in the distance
Posnov / Getty Images

10.Saugerties, New York — "Back in 1994, I went to school in Saugerties with Wendy Gardner and her then-boyfriend James Evans. She convinced him to strangle her grandmother to death. They then rode around with her body in the trunk for a few days while they spent her money and even bragged about it at the local bowling alley. They also held her little sister hostage and had her tied up while they did drugs and had sex. After a few days of doing so, they eventually passed out. Her sister was able to free herself and ran to the neighbors who called 911, but they wouldn't help her. They then called Saugerties police who checked things out. They found Wendy and James passed out in the basement and the grandmother's body in the trunk. Wendy got seven years to life, and he got nine years to life. As far as I know, they're both out now."

News anchor reporting on a story titled "GRANDPARENTS KILLED" with inset image of a house displaying two American flags

11.Hewitt, Texas — "I grew up in the small town of Hewitt, which is a suburb of Waco, and in 2006, a preacher named Matt Baker murdered his wife Kari Baker. Our house was two doors down from theirs, and they seemed like a normal family. After some investigating, the police arrested him for the murder, but that’s not the shocking part. Charges were almost never filed against him, however, Kari’s parents filed a wrongful death suit against Matt, and in the suit, there was evidence uncovered that changed the course of the investigation. In 2010, Matt was convicted of murder. He is currently serving 65 years in the Texas Department of Corrections."

Closeup of Matt Baker

12.Fort Collins, Colorado — "The murder case of Peggy Hettrick. They put the wrong person, Timothy Masters, in prison for 10 years and then buried the whole thing. Her body was surgically mutilated, and an eye doctor got arrested eight years later for secretly filming his own female family members' genitalia, as well as their friend's. His bedroom overlooked where Hettrick's body was found. The eye doctor died by suicide, the lead investigator destroyed all the tapes, and then prosecutors withheld that information during the later trial of the wrongly convicted Masters."

A group of people watching a presentation in a dark room with a screen displaying a slide

13.Colville, Washington — "Marlene Emerson and her 12-year-old daughter Cassie were murdered in Stevens County Washington in 1997. One possible explanation was that it was a drug debt collection gone bad, but Marlene's body was found in her burned-out trailer. Cassie's remains were found in the woods, scattered about, months later."

Dense forest with tall evergreen trees and sunlight filtering through


Design Pics / Getty Images/Design Pics RF

14.Holden, Alberta — "I grew up on a family farm near Holden. A few years after I left home, one of the neighboring farmers had disappeared without a trace. His wife, Helen Naslund, especially was distraught and was calling the local RCMP nonstop pushing them to do more to try and find her husband. Years went by, and it was suspected that he drove up north onto the bush somewhere and killed himself. Then, one day, one of his sons told someone that he couldn't take the guilt any longer and that his dad was murdered by Helen and one of his sons. It turns out that he was an abusive bastard and was emotionally and physically abusing his wife and his three boys for years."

Exterior view of a building with "LAW COURTS" sign in the foreground

15.South Salem, New York — "I'm from South Salem where Robert Durst lived with his first wife. She disappeared and was almost certainly murdered by him. This happened several years before I was born, but people talked about it whenever he appeared in the news. His house was a short walk from mine. I remember one time seeing police divers in Truesdale Lake. My mom asked them what they were looking for, and they said something about looking for stolen goods stashed in the lake. The news later reported the divers were actually looking for the missing wife’s remains."

Closeup of Robert Durst in court

16.Gloucester, England — "In the '90s, I was still at school, and a friend told me that the police had started digging up their garden. Obviously, we didn’t believe them at first until another friend had their patio dug up, and another friend had their extension looked at. Well, it turns out that they all had a man called Fred West work there. Fred West, as the investigation revealed, had tortured and murdered several women, including his own daughter, and the police had suspected him of stashing bodies in my friends' houses!!!"

Fred West's mug shot
Fred West's mug shot
Rosemary West's mug shot
Rosemary West's mug shot

Universal History Archive / Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

"What was even scarier for me is we lived just 'round the corner from them when they committed their last murder! They've destroyed his house now as it was attracting the wrong attention, but Cromwell Street still has a sad look about it."


Fred and Rosemary West were serial killers in England who murdered, sexually assaulted, and tortured at least nine young women (possibly more) from 1973 to 1987. The Wests' victims were found buried in either the cellar or the garden of their home. Fred died by suicide in prison in 1995, while Rosemary remains in a prison in Yorkshire serving a life sentence.

17.Ketchikan, Alaska — "Ketchikan is a busy port for cruise ships. One summer in the '80s, a man bludgeoned a woman to death in their cruise ship suite. It was newsworthy at the time because the ship’s departure port was in Canada, the cruise was in the US, and the murder presumably happened in international waters. So, there were a lot of questions about which area had jurisdiction to prosecute the crime. But the reason it remains in my memory is because I worked in a jewelry/tourist store at the time, and the couple had been customers. I waited on the man while a friend of mine assisted his companion, who was a much older woman."

Three large cruise ships docked in a harbor with a forest-covered hill in the background

18.Milwaukee, Wisconsin — "In 2005, a woman purchased a house where she found two slabs of concrete that did not resemble a driveway. Her boyfriend broke apart the concrete, which revealed two dead bodies. The former owner of the house, Michael Lock, was a drug kingpin and pimp who ran a crime ring called the Body Snatchers. Mr. Lock also ran a real estate fraud ring, in which applicants' incomes were falsified for loans and applicants' credit was ruined. The kicker here is that Lock preached the word of God while running a crime ring. The story on Lock, his activity, and associates were featured in the Milwaukee Journal in a series titled 'The Preacher’s Mob' and an episode of American Greed."

Closeup of Michael Lock

19.Hampstead, Maryland — "My town was home to the Sharon Lopatka murder in 1996, which was the first case where someone was arrested because of their emails. It made national news and marked when people first started learning to be wary of who they met online. What creeps me out is that I worked at the ISP that serviced our area, and had communicated with the killer several times, helping him with his account and teaching him the basics of web design."

Newspaper clipping featuring a headline about a suspect with a photo of a woman and accompanying text


Serial Killers Documentaries / Via youtube.com

20.Rockland County, New York — "Keith Raniere, the leader of the NXIVM cult, was a student in my 10th-grade Biology class in Rockland. On day one, he announced to everyone that he had the world's highest IQ. He was so obnoxious I don't think he ever had a friend. He was an OK student but no genius. I think I gave him a B."

Keith Raniere being interviewed

21.Colebrook, New Hampshire — "I grew up in Colebrook. Two significant things happened in our town. In 1984, a serial killer, Christopher Wilder, (aka the 'Beauty Queen Killer') stopped in our town to ask for directions. Police noticed him, and a shootout ensued, and he was killed. This man was on the FBI top 10 most wanted list. In 1997, a man (Carl Drega) killed four people in a shooting spree. He killed two state troopers, the newspaper editor, and our local judge. He then set his home on fire, and as the police chased him, he shot more people before he was gunned down."

Wanted poster on a TV screen showing photographs and information for Christopher Bernard Wilder


Real Crime / Via youtube.com

22.Aurora, Colorado — I'm from Aurora, and everyone knows about The Dark Knight theater shooting (which was a devastating travesty to the community). But, not as many people know that we had a Chuck E. Cheese massacre from 1993. When I was 9, a former employee returned to Chuck E. Cheese at closing and murdered four of his colleagues. Our school resource officer in high school was the first responder on site and told us that all the game lights and audio were still on and the creepy animatronic band was still playing. The mental image of finding dead teenagers amidst the artificial lights and noises freaked me out. I was 9 when it happened and never went to any Chuck E. Cheese again."

News alert on TV screen about Nathan Dunlap's pending execution date for a crime at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant


Denver7 / Via youtube.com

23.Finally, Port Salerno, Florida — "I was friends with the mother of the Salerno Strangler. I actually stayed the night at their house a few times with my ex-boyfriend while I was homeless."

Several people in a courtroom with one person, labeled as the "Salerno Strangler," sentenced to three life terms

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