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10 Terrifying Unsolved Home Invasions

by Robert Grimminck
fact checked by Jamie Frater

A home invasion can be one of the most terrifying crimes a person can fall victim to, as home is a place where you are supposed to be safe. Having someone enter your sanctuary is a horrifying thought and, once they are inside, there are many horrible things that could happen. It’s such a terrifying crime that entire industries, like home security companies, are built off that fear. It’s also one of the reasons laws like the Castle Doctrine are in place. It’s so terrifying that this doctrine can sometimes allow you to kill someone if they enter your house without your permission. However, the good news is that the crime is pretty rare.

10The Kennedy Sister Home Invasion

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On March 5, 1984, the father of Yleen and Lillie Kennedy went to their house to see why they hadn’t picked him up to take him to a doctor’s appointment. Upon entering their Houston home, he found both of his daughters dead. The younger of the two sisters, Lillie, was the “lucky” one out of the pair—she was only shot in the head. Yleen died a brutal death; she was raped, beaten, and stabbed to death.

A neighbor saw a suspicious man leaving their house around the time of the murder, and he was carrying a duffel bag. The neighbor, who was unaware of the murder at the time, confronted the man. He claimed that his wife had just kicked him out of his house, and his stuff was in the duffel bag, so the neighbor let him go on his way. Police believe that this man was the killer, but his identity remains unknown.

9Wine And McClellan Home Invasions

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On November 21, 2008, police were called to a house fire in Franklin Township, Pennsylvania. Inside the house, they found the body of 82-year-old Noble Wine. At first, it was thought he died from smoke inhalation until they discovered a gunshot wound. His death was ruled a homicide, and the fire was probably started to cover up the murder.

Sadly, this wasn’t the only rural Pennsylvania home to be invaded with deadly consequences. Another incident happened in Greene County four months later on March 22, 2009. At about 9:50 PM, a man in his mid-forties with short brown hair, a thin mustache, and between 170–175 centimeters (5’6”–5’9”) tall approached the mobile home owned by Jacob and Betty Jane McClellan, saying he needed help.

When Jacob opened the door, the man pulled out a gun and demanded guns and money. Sixty-seven-year-old Jacob tried to fight off the home invader and was shot twice—once in the neck and once in the face. The gunman then entered the house and found 65-year-old Betty Jane, whom he shot in the head. The intruder then fled, jumping into a 1980s Econoline van that was being driven by another man.

Jacob survived the attack but, sadly, Betty Jane died on scene. Police believe the two home invasions are connected, but there have not been any arrests in either murder.

8The Paul Family Massacre

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The Pauls lived in South Vancouver, British Columbia, and on the night of June 10, 1958, someone entered their suburban home. Once the person was inside, David Paul was beaten and shot in the basement of his house, and his 11-year-old daughter, Dorothy, was beaten to death in her bed. The killer then waited until David’s wife, Helen, got home from work, which would have been just after midnight, and then the intruder shot her in the face before beating her body.

It was the first triple homicide in Vancouver, and it remains unsolved. While a bloody handprint was found on the wall of Dorothy’s bedroom, it couldn’t be linked to anyone. Also, friends and family of the Pauls couldn’t think of anyone who would have broken into the house and sat around waiting for Helen to come home to ensure that the whole family was wiped out.

Since the killer waited to kill Helen, it’s believed that robbery was not the motive. Also, none of the bodies had signs of sexual assault, so authorities do not believe that was the motive either. What is interesting is that in the same area, just three months prior a woman named Evelyn Roche was murdered, and no suspect was ever identified in that murder. Also, there were a number of sexual assaults in the area that remain unsolved. Authorities believe that the Pauls’ home invader may have committed these unsolved crimes as well.

7Setagaya Family Massacre

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The Setagaya Ward is the second largest of Tokyo’s 23 special wards, and it is the home of one of the most infamous crimes in recent Japanese history. On the night of December 30, 2000, a person or persons unknown broke into the home of the Miyazawas. Once inside, they stabbed to death 41-year-old mother Yasuko and her eight-year-old daughter, Niina, and strangled her six-year-old son, Rei. Then, he (or they) waited for 44-year-old Mikio Miyazawa to return home and stabbed him to death.

This happened sometime around 11:30 PM that night, but the killer(s) didn’t leave after the massacre. In fact, authorities believe that the murderer(s) stayed for another 11 hours where he, she, or they accessed the Internet twice and ate ice cream.

The bodies were discovered the next morning, and police found plenty of evidence. This included a bloody sweatshirt probably worn by a killer. It was too big for any of the Miyazawas, but was covered in blood and didn’t have any knife holes in it. They also found blood from the attacker(s), and they believe at least one attacker was injured in the murders. Finally, the next morning, a taxi driver picked up three young men in the area, and one of them left blood in his cab. Despite the evidence, and an amazing amount of police effort, no arrests have ever been made.

6The Cleveland Hooded Arsonist

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On December 10, 2013, Iona Davis was babysitting her two nieces, seven-year-old Glacia Ramsey and two-year-old Peaches Christburg, in Cleveland, Ohio, in a house that was converted into four apartment suites. Sometime around 9:35 PM, a man wearing a hood forced his way into the apartment and locked Davis in the bathroom.

A short time later, she started to smell smoke, so she broke out and ran to a neighbor who called emergency services. The police were the first to arrive on the scene and, sadly, they discovered the bodies of the two little girls in the bedroom of their upstairs apartment. They had died from smoke inhalation.

The police are unsure why the home invader started the fire on the first floor after locking Davis in the washroom. The house and the residents didn’t appear to be the source of the trouble. The police had only been called to the house once since 2008, and the reason they were called was because the girls’ mother, Sashana Fray, had been robbed at gunpoint in front of the apartment.

At this point, there have been no arrests and the arsonist remains on the loose.

5The Spring Break Serial Rapist

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Between 2000 and 2008, two universities in Kansas were terrorized by a serial rapist who attacked at least 13 students in their off-campus homes. Eight of the sexual assaults happened in Manhattan, where Kansas State University is located, and another five happened in Lawrence, which is the home of the University of Kansas.

The rapist assaulted at least one victim every year during the fall and winter breaks. It was believed that he scoped out the houses and the individuals first in order to find a way into the house, such as an unlocked door or window. The rapes would usually happen between 2:00 AM and 4:30 AM and were committed by a masked man who was armed.

The rapist has been described as a white man in his 20s between 175–185 centimeters (5’9”–6’0”) tall with a slender build. No one has been arrested and the spree of home invasions apparently came to an end in 2008.

4The Sun Family Murder

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The last time anyone saw 50-year-old Maoye Sun was when he was leaving work at 7:37 PM on January 24, 2014. After he left work, it’s presumed he just went to his home, which was in a suburb of Houston called Cypress. Two hours later, at 9:18 PM, his wife, 49-year-old Mei Xie, made a phone call. After that, no one saw or heard from them.

A week later, on January 30, the police entered the house through the back door that was unlocked. There they discovered Maoye, Mei, and their two sons, nine-year-old Timothy Xie Sun and seven-year-old Titus Xiao Sun, all dead in their beds. They had all been shot in the head.

The FBI was even called in, but no one is sure why the Suns were killed or who may have committed the home invasion. There is currently a $70,000 reward for information on the case.

3The Orchard Park Apartment Killer

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Alys Elaine Rankin was a 33-year-old secretary living in the Orchard Park apartment building in the southwest area of Houston. On July 27, 1979, a co-worker arrived at her apartment to pick her up for work. When he walked up to her apartment he found her door ajar, so he let himself in, and that’s when he made a gruesome discovery in the bedroom.

Rankin had her legs bound, she had been sexually assaulted, and decapitated. When the police arrived, they found a clear blood trail that showed that the head was placed on the floor and then was carried out to the parking lot, where it presumably was taken with the killer as he drove away. Her head was never recovered.

If that wasn’t creepy enough, exactly two weeks later, on August 10, two floors above Rankin’s apartment, there was another home invasion. Twenty-seven-year-old Mary Michael Calcutta was attacked in her apartment, where she put up a tremendous fight, but was still sexually assaulted and stabbed dozens of times.

Sadly, these aren’t the only murders that are linked to this killer. On the same day that Calcutta’s body was found, another woman was found dead in her townhouse in southwest Houston. An exterminator found 26-year-old Doris Lynn Threadgill dead with her throat cut so deeply that she was almost decapitated.

Finally, on October 3, 1979, a short distance from Threadgill’s home, 16-year-old Joann Huffman was seen on her porch being dragged by her hair by a man wearing a hat. She screamed, “Help! Please don’t do this to me!”

Then the neighbor heard gunshots. The neighbor called the police and, when the police searched the porch, they said they didn’t find any signs of a disturbance. However, the next day, Huffman’s body was found in a park 6.5 kilometers (4 mi) from her home—she had been shot to death. Her boyfriend, 18-year-old Robert Spangenberger, was found in the trunk of a car in a used car lot and his head was missing. It too has never been recovered.

2The Bennett Home Invasion

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Sometime in the early hours of January 16, 1984, between 12:00 AM and 6:00 AM, an unknown intruder entered the Bennett household in Aurora, Colorado. At some point, 27-year-old Bruce Bennett knew the man was in his house and they fought several times, on different floors, and on the stairway.

Bennett lost the fight, and he was beaten with a blunt weapon (thought to be a hammer), slashed with a knife, and his throat was slit. The killer then moved on to Bennett’s wife, 26-year-old Debra, and the couple’s seven-year-old daughter, Melissa. They were both sexually assaulted and died from blunt force trauma. Finally, three-year-old Vanessa was also beaten about the face. Amazingly, she survived despite horrible injuries inflicted upon her.

It was an awful crime, and the police put a lot of effort into solving it. They even had discovered fingerprints and DNA evidence. Unfortunately, the evidence didn’t match any known criminals.

Terrifyingly enough, the Bennetts weren’t the only victims of the home invader. On January 4, someone broke into James and Kimberly Haubenschild’s house and beat them with a hammer; they luckily survived. Six days later, two women were attacked in their homes with a hammer. Fifty-year-old Patricia Louise was killed and Donna Dixon was put into a coma but survived.

There is a John Doe warrant for the suspect of the Bennett murders, which means the authorities know the person committed the crimes and have his DNA, but his identity isn’t known. The police have concluded that the same person committed all of the crimes.

1Southern Pacific Railroad Axeman

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The first home invasion happened in Rayne, Louisiana in January 1911, where a mother and her three children were hacked to death with an axe in their beds. Two weeks later, another home invasion occurred. This time, a family of five was murdered with an axe in Lafayette, a short distance from Rayne.

The next murder was in San Antonio, Texas, where another family of five was murdered, before the killer moved back to Louisiana to continue his murderous home invasion spree. In total, six homes were broken into and each member of the families was dispatched with an axe. The unknown serial killer claimed 49 victims between January 1911 and April 1912.

Besides the murder weapon and breaking into the families’ homes in the middle of night, there were other elements that all the home invasions had in common. Specifically, all the families that were targeted were of mixed race. Also, all the murder sites were along the Southern Pacific Railroad, which explains why the murders could have happened 650 kilometers (400 mi) apart.

At the time, police and leaders of the African-American communities thought that it was someone from the African-American community who was on some deranged quest to kill people with “tainted” blood. A note left at one of the murder scenes bolstered this idea because it said, “When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: He forgetteth not the cry of the humble—human five.” The note is a quote of Psalms 9:12, except for the “human five” part. That part referred to the amount of victims killed in that home invasion.

People were arrested for the crimes, but when they were in custody, the murders continued. For a while, the police thought the murders may have been committed by members of a church with voodoo connections called “Sacrifice Church.” However, no members of the church were ever charged.

In fact, no one was ever charged and no one knows for sure if one person or a group of people committed the home invasion massacres. However, on August 6, 1912 in San Antonio, someone wielding an axe broke into the Dashiell home, which was a family where the father and husband was of mixed race. The matriarch of the family woke up when she was hit in the arm with an axe; she screamed and the attacker, who was alone, ran off into the night.

Robert Grimminck is a Canadian crime-fiction writer. You can follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @RobertGrimminck, or visit his website.

fact checked by Jamie Frater