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10 Bizarre Ways Murderers Screwed Up

by Dustin Koski
fact checked by Jamie Frater

A notion many people find unsettling is that murderers are usually just people like us. They’re petty and mostly kind of boring aside from their willingness to commit murder at least once. And like the rest of us, they make a lot of mistakes—mistakes that, in hindsight, are probably just as baffling to them as they are to us.

10Melvin Colon

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The effect that online communication is having on traditional friendships has been harped on by social critics since it began. Here’s one of the better unforeseen advantages of it: People are proving surprisingly free with secrets that would otherwise allow them to remain a danger to the public. One of the more memorable examples was Melvin Colon of New York City. In 2012, he was freely posting about how he was so tough and violent on his public Facebook profile. But in private, he was also talking about how tough and violent he was in an infinitely worse manner. This included confessing to second-degree murder.

One of Colon’s Facebook friends turned out to not be the sort of friend that withheld a friend’s murder confession from the police. Apparently, there was some debate at the time as to whether statements made in confidence on Facebook should be admissible in court or if doing so was a violation of privacy, but ultimately the evidence was allowed and Colon was convicted on December 6, 2012.

9Jean-Pierre Trias

On January 11, 2013, Katherine Porter was stabbed to death in her home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was found with almost 70 stab wounds, along with plenty of bite marks. The prime suspect was her husband Jean-Pierre Trias, despite him not having a history of violence. Trias admitted that he had blacked out before calling his brother and the police, but he was clearly of sufficiently sound mind that he also contacted multiple law firms to organize a defense. Not that there was much that could be done in light of a particularly damning piece of evidence that Trias had left at the crime scene. On his computer was a very creepy and bewildering text document. It was a to-do list on which he had typed “Kill Kathie!” over and over again in between perfectly mundane daily activities, as if he had developed an elaborate tic while he was typing.

How could he have the presence of mind to create a legal defense but not delete that list? Trias’s mother claimed that she’d been receiving emotional phone calls from him for the five days leading up to the murder, and the information on the text document showed that it had last been updated five days before the murder. In June of that year, Trias was found guilty and sentenced to 36 years of imprisonment.

8ISIS Suicide Bomb Trainer

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Photo credit: NBC News

While Listverse certainly appreciates how dangerous ISIS is, some of the tales of their doings are just bewildering. Undoubtedly the largest example of this occurred on February 10, 2014. A huge explosion drew police to the site of an ISIS training camp, where a teacher had bungled his demonstration and in the process killed 22 would-be bombers. Dozens more were wounded and arrested.

The class had certainly not been part of any sort of threadbare operation. It was surrounded by explosives, as well as vehicles heavily loaded with more of the same. It’s bewildering to think that live explosives would have been used for such a demonstration or that people would stand so close to a teacher under such circumstances, especially in light of Abdel Ghani Jawar’s similar fate in 2012.

Experts on terrorism were quick to point out that this did little to harm ISIS’s ability to commit terrorist acts. The night that accident happened, ISIS performed a suicide bombing. In the following months, suicide bombers were also used to take a major military airbase.

7Michael Alig

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Photo credit: Bowery Boogie

It was a March night in 1996 when Michael Alig and Robert Riggs murdered the rather unusual drug dealer Andre “Angel” Melendez, a person known for walking around New York City wearing angel wings. The murder was brutal—Alig strangled him while Riggs bludgeoned him. Alig then took the additional grisly steps of pouring Drano down Melendez’s throat and then chopping off all his appendages before dumping his body in the Hudson River. Then he did just about the last thing you would have expected: He went around bragging about it on television.

Alig was a somewhat famous exhibitionist club promoter (he’d been featured on the Phil Donahue Show with a group called The Club Kids) who was spiraling into drug addiction. It was all assumed to be just really dark bragging for nine months, until a review of morgue records revealed that there actually was a person who matched the described fate of Melendez. Alig spent 17 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder. In 2003, he was portrayed by Macaulay Culkin in the film Party Monster.

6David Ray Harris

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On the night of November 27, 1976, David Ray Harris murdered Officer Robert Wood after Wood pulled him over for driving with his lights off. Wood didn’t know that Harris was in a stolen car, but Harris thought that was the reason he was being stopped. Harris sped away under fire, and after he escaped, Harris began to brag to his friends that he had killed a police officer. He even showed off the gun that he’d used for the murder. Naturally, he was eventually arrested and then changed his story, accusing a man named Randall Adams of the murder.

The most bewildering thing about David Harris’s bragging was that the police didn’t respond to Harris’s constant confessions by convicting him. Because David Harris was 16 years old, he was too young to execute, and some people involved in the case believed that the police department wanted someone’s head to roll for the crime. So the police more or less colluded in framing Randall Dale Adams for the murder, as detailed in the timeless 1988 documentary The Thin Blue Line. If that movie hadn’t been made (and if Harris hadn’t murdered another person in the meantime) one of the stupidest murderers in American history would have been allowed to get away with it.

5Dosai Kumar

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Dosai Kumar was arrested in late August for taking part in a bar brawl in Chennai, India. He quickly confessed to having committed two murders because he was under the mistaken impression that he’d just been arrested for them instead of the drunken brawl. Only five days earlier, police had retrieved the body of one of his victims from Sembarambakkam Lake. It was a person named D. Mani, and Kumar claimed that he’d also strangled his father, Devarjan Mani.

Further investigations revealed that the Mani family was claiming that the elder Mani had died of a heart attack, which raised suspicions that Kumar had been hired by the family to commit this double homicide. Kumar claimed that he killed them to preserve the family’s honor—they were alleged to be embarrassing drunks—but the authorities suspected that the actual motive was a real estate grab.

4Ed Gein

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Ed Gein, the notorious grave robber and taxidermist of humans from Plainfield, Wisconsin, was never considered to be any sort of criminal genius. But he left behind a bewildering string of evidence during his crimes that ultimately led to his arrest. On November 17, 1957, Gein murdered storekeeper Bernice Worden in her store. He had spent a week hanging out there, ingratiating himself with her son Frank Worden so that he would know when Frank planned to be out hunting. When the time came, Gein bought antifreeze and a rifle, let Bernice fill out a receipt, then shot her with the rifle and closed up the store when he left. Despite taking the body with him, he left the receipt in his name and didn’t clean up the crime scene.

When he was immediately questioned, since he’d gone out of his way to be a person of interest (and he was questioned by none other than Frank Worden, who was a sheriff’s deputy) he feigned his innocence so badly that he was immediately taken into custody before the sheriff even found the human remains that he had infamously left around his home. If any of the numerous movies made based on Ed Gein ended with him making a string of such stupid mistakes, surely there would be lots of whining from critics about the faulty screenwriting.

3Larry Barnett

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In by far the least horrible of the stories included in this list, there’s the case of Larry Barnett, the owner of a Lincoln car lot in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Barnett had problems with an ex-employee named James Macom, who claimed that Barnett owed him unpaid salary. Barnett decided to deal with the situation by hiring a hit man. During the hiring process, though, Barnett screwed up rather spectacularly.

While on the phone with the hit man, Barnett pulled out his second phone to give the killer Macom’s contact information. But as he did that, he accidentally dialed Macom’s number—right before putting the phone back in his pocket. Macom listened in on the whole conversation while his former boss told the professional killer things like “I don’t care if you have to burn his house down.” Fortunately, Barnett was arrested and whatever arrangement he might have had was disrupted before Macom suffered any personal harm, but not before Macom’s home had been broken into and his stove tampered with.

2Dennis Rader

With the infamous alias BTK Killer ( rather redundantly, “Bind Torture Kill” Killer) Dennis Rader, a dog catcher, church council president, cub scout leader, and home security system installer in Wichita, Kansas, killed 10 people over two decades. He not only killed people in a particularly horrendous fashion, he also wrote letters to law enforcement taunting them for their inability to catch him. Many of these letters included clues and other trademarks reminiscent of the Zodiac Killer. This practice would ultimately prove to be his downfall.

After a prolonged period of inactivity, Rader apparently wanted to begin sending the police messages in the form of floppy disks. To determine whether it would be safe for him to do so, he sent an inquiry to his local TV station that was to be forwarded to the police, asking if they would be able to track him through floppy disks. They were supposed to give their answer through a local newspaper. Naturally, the police deliberately misinformed him, and Rader sent in the clue that would allow them to track him down through his use of his church’s computer.

1Kwang Chol Joy

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On May 3, 2013, an Iraq War veteran named Maribel Ramos was reported missing. One of her family members posted a thread on Yelp on the subject. Maribel’s roommate, Kwang “KC” Joy, came to the thread and said how much he missed her and how she had been his close friend. When it was pointed out to him that it was sort of suspicious how he’d referred to his friend in the past tense, Joy excused his error and then said something infinitely more suspicious: He told a bunch of strangers that he had an insurance policy in her name and stood to make hundreds of thousands of dollars if she was dead.

Within days, after several searches of his apartment, Joy was arrested. Among the evidence in the case against him was his Web history, which included searches for how long a body would last before biodegrading and a map search of where he’d left her body. Police also turned up a phone call from Ramos saying that Joy had just blown up at her over a rent dispute. Even his defense attorney didn’t deny that Joy was guilty, but claimed that he was only guilty of hiding the body, not of committing the murder. It didn’t work, and Joy was found guilty of second-degree murder on July 29, 2014.

Dustin Koski might confess something stupid on Facebook. Might as well check out his profile and see.

fact checked by Jamie Frater