10 Disturbing Stories Involving Babysitting
One of the spookiest urban legends out there is “The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs.” The scenario is quite frightening: A young girl is babysitting one night when she starts getting threatening phone calls from an anonymous figure. When she notifies the police, they inform her that the threatening calls are coming from inside the house.
Even though the above situation is fictional, as are the many cases of teenage babysitters being stalked and murdered in movies, urban legends often do have some basis in fact. Babysitting can sometimes be a frightening experience in which it’s easy to feel vulnerable, especially since plenty of real-life cases involving babysitters have ended in terrifying things happening.
10The Murder Of Janett Christman
Many people believe that the urban legend “The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs” was inspired by a real-life murder case from Columbia, Missouri, in 1950. On the evening of March 18, 12-year-old Janett Christman was babysitting a three-year-old boy named Greg Romack. At 10:35 PM, a police officer received a disturbing phone call from a hysterical female caller. He could hear the woman screaming and yelling the words “come quick” before the call was abruptly cut off. Unfortunately, during this time period, the police did not have the proper resources to do an immediate trace.
Three hours later, Greg Romack’s parents returned home. The boy was sleeping in his bed, but Janett Christman’s body was on the living room floor. Janett had been hit on the head with a blunt object and raped before she was strangled to death with an ironing cord.
Even though the front window of the Romack home had been broken with a garden hose, nothing else in the house appeared to be disturbed. Since both doors were unlocked, police theorized that Janett willingly opened the door for her killer, who shattered the window to make her murder look like a break-in. The prime suspect in the crime was Robert Mueller, a friend of the Romacks who had reportedly made inappropriate lewd comments toward Janett in the past.
Police believed Janett’s head was punctured with a mechanical pencil, an item Mueller often carried. Mueller was questioned by police, but since they detained him under questionable circumstances, a grand jury ultimately decided not to hand down a murder indictment. Mueller subsequently moved to California, and the murder of Janett Christman was never solved.
9The Disappearance Of Lori Jean Lloyd
On the evening of February 11, 1976, 14-year-old Lori Jean Lloyd was scheduled to spend the night babysitting at a residence in Kettering, Ohio, and was accompanied by one of her friends. At approximately midnight, Lori’s mother went to the residence and saw that both Lori’s friend and the child they were babysitting had fallen asleep, but Lori was not there. When Lori’s friend woke up, she claimed that Lori had stepped out to walk to a nearby 7-Eleven, but she apparently never returned. No one from the 7-Eleven remembered seeing Lori that night, and she could not be found anywhere.
According to another one of her friends, Lori had planned on meeting an unidentified boy that same night, and the couple were thinking of running away to California together. This story has never been verified, but it seemed unlikely that Lori ran away voluntarily since she left all her personal possessions behind.
The case took a bizarre turn in 1980 when Lori’s family watched a California-produced documentary about drugs and thought they saw a girl resembling her in the background of a scene. Even though it is standard practice for documentaries to get their subjects to sign release forms, the production company could find no paperwork for Lori or any other young woman who might have appeared in that particular scene. After nearly 40 years, Lori Jean Lloyd remains a missing person.
8The Murder Of Jaidyn Leskie
In 1997, Australia experienced one of its most sensational and bizarre missing persons cases. On the evening of June 14, Bilynda Leskie was invited to a party and entrusted her boyfriend, Greg Domaszewicz, to babysit her 14-month-old son, Jaidyn. At 2:30 AM, Greg left his home in Newborough to pick up Bilynda from a pub, but Jaidyn was not in the vehicle. Greg told Bilynda that Jaidyn was in the hospital following a minor accident, but since she was intoxicated, Greg convinced her it would not be a good idea to visit her son until morning. However, when the couple returned home, they were surprised to discover that the windows had been smashed and a pig’s head was now on the front lawn.
When Bilynda woke up in the morning, Greg make a shocking confession: He had lied about taking Jaidyn to the hospital and actually left the child alone when he went to pick her up. Jaidyn was now missing, and Greg believed the same people who vandalized his house had abducted him. Tissues containing Jaidyn’s blood were later found in an outside trash can.
In January 1998, Jaidyn’s body was discovered inside a sleeping bag in Blue Rock Dam. The child was believed to have died from head injuries, and his body was weighed down with a crowbar. Naturally, many people were suspicious of Greg’s story. It turned out that relatives of Greg’s ex-girlfriend had smashed his windows and left the pig’s head on his lawn as a prank, but they denied any involvement in Jaidyn’s death. Greg Domaszewicz was eventually charged with Jaidyn’s murder but was acquitted at trial due to lack of evidence. Officially, the murder of Jaidyn Leskie remains unsolved.
7The Suspicious Babysitting Activities Of Susan Baker
In November 2009, a bizarre babysitting story unfolded in Chipley, Florida, when seven-month-old Shannon Dedrick disappeared from her home. At the time, Shannon’s babysitter was Susan Baker, the half-sister of Shannon’s father. Five days later, Shannon was found alive inside a wooden box in Susan’s home. Susan claimed that she’d kidnapped the child to protect her from her drug user parents. Nevertheless, Susan was convicted on numerous felony charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison. This would not be the only suspicious disappearance to occur while Susan Baker was looking after a child.
Over 20 years earlier, Susan was employed as a babysitter by James and Lynda Baker, but the couple’s marriage dissolved when James was discovered to be having an affair with Susan. James was subsequently awarded custody of his children: six-year-old Nina and three-year-old Paul. By 1987, James was married to Susan, and they lived with the two children in Beaufort, South Carolina.
On March 5, Susan was babysitting Paul and claimed to have fallen asleep after putting Paul down for a nap. When she woke up, Paul was gone from the house. Around the same time, a family services office received a phone call from an unidentified woman who claimed to have taken Paul. However, suspicion turned toward Susan once it was discovered that both Baker children suffered constant abuse at her hands.
Though they were was never enough evidence to indict Susan for Paul’s disappearance, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for abusing Nina, but her sentence was suspended after only serving 80 days. Even though Susan Baker is now back in prison for another crime, she continues to remain silent about what happened to her former stepson.
6The Murder Of Pamela Mason
In 1964, 14-year-old Pamela Mason posted a flier at a laundromat in Manchester, New Hampshire, advertising her services. It wasn’t long until an unidentified man answered Pamela’s ad and phoned her to say he needed a babysitter. On January 13, Pamela left her home to go meet this man. Eight days later, she was found dead in a snowbank. She had been sexually assaulted, stabbed, and shot to death.
Authorities noticed similarities between Pamela’s death and the murder of an 18-year-old Manchester woman named Sandra Valade, which had occurred four years earlier. Weeks after Pamela’s murder, a laundromat employee named Rena Paquette told authorities she had seen a man named Edward Coolidge taking an interest in Pamela’s babysitting flier and believed him to be her killer. The following morning, Paquette was found burned to death inside a barn on her property.
After incriminating evidence was discovered in Coolidge’s vehicle and his home, he was arrested and charged with Pamela Mason’s murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, the conviction became the subject of controversy, as the searches to obtain evidence against Coolidge were believed to be unconstitutional. The case made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 1971.
Since the Attorney General of New Hampshire had personally signed the warrants to search Coolidge’s vehicle and property, the Supreme Court ruled that the warrants were invalid since they were not issued by a “neutral and detached magistrate.” As a result, Coolidge’s first-degree murder conviction was overturned. He agreed to plea to the lesser charge of second-degree murder and was released from prison in 1991. While most people are convinced that Coolidge was Pamela Mason’s killer, the deaths of Sandra Valade and Rena Paquette were never solved.
5The Disappearance Of Heather Kullorn
On the evening of July 14, 1999, 12-year-old Heather Kullorn went to an apartment in Richmond Heights, Missouri, to babysit the two-month-old daughter of some family friends, Dana Madden and Christopher Herbert. At 4:00 AM the following morning, Herbert claimed he returned home to discover that Heather was gone and that his infant daughter was left unattended.
Two hours earlier, a neighbor had seen an unidentified man exit the apartment. This man was carrying what appeared to be a child wrapped in a blanket. A comforter blanket just happened to be missing from the apartment, and small traces of blood were found on the couch. DNA testing confirmed that the blood belonged to Heather.
The case took a further disturbing turn once investigators found drug paraphernalia in the apartment and began to suspect that Dana Madden and Christopher Herbert had ties to a methamphetamine ring. Herbert allegedly stole some drug-manufacturing equipment from a couple the day before Heather went missing, and it’s been theorized that her disappearance is somehow connected to drug activity.
Nine months later, Heather’s mother showed up at the convenience store where Dana Madden worked and got into a violent altercation with her, accusing the couple of withholding information about what happened to her daughter. Even though Madden was at work and had an alibi on the night Heather disappeared, Herbert has frequently changed his story about his whereabouts. While authorities do have a person of interest, they lack the evidence to make an arrest, so Heather Kullorn remains a missing person.
4The Murder Of Kelly Ann Tinyes
On March 3, 1989, 13-year-old Kelly Ann Tinyes was put in charge of babysitting her eight-year-old brother, Richie, at their home in Valley Steam, New York. When the phone rang that afternoon, Richie picked it up, and a man calling himself “John” asked to speak with his sister. After Kelly took the call, she told Richie that she needed to step out to go see someone. She did not return, so Richie went searching through the neighborhood for her and learned that Kelly was seen entering the home of a family named the Golubs. When Richie tried knocking on the Golubs’ door, no one answered. The next day, police conducted a search of the Golub residence. They found Kelly’s body wrapped in a sleeping bag inside a closet. She had been raped and strangled to death before her body was mutilated.
At the time Kelly was seen entering the Golub residence, there were four people in the house: 14-year-old John Golub Jr., two of John’s friends, and John’s 21-year-old bodybuilder brother, Robert. Even though Kelly received a call from someone named “John,” all the physical evidence at the murder scene pointed to Robert. While there was suspicion that John Golub Jr. might have been involved in the crime, Robert was the only one charged. He was convicted of second-degree murder and received a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Robert spent the next two decades maintaining that he was framed but finally came clean during a parole hearing in 2013. He claimed that he accidentally knocked Kelly down some stairs before attacking her in a fit of rage brought on by anabolic steroids. In spite of this confession, Robert Golub’s attempt at parole was rejected.
3The Trial Of Olivia Riner
In November 1991, 20-year-old Swiss immigrant Olivia Riner was hired as a nanny by William and Denise Fischer, a couple from Mount Pleasant, New York. She was entrusted with babysitting their three-month-old infant daughter, Kristie.
On December 2, only weeks after Riner was hired, the Fischers’ home caught fire in three separate places. At the time, Kristie was napping in the nursery, and the child lost her life when flames engulfed the room. Police soon discovered evidence of arson and came to the horrifying conclusion that Kristie had been doused with paint thinner and deliberately set on fire. Even though no physical evidence implicated Riner, there were also no signs of anyone else being in the house at the time the fires started. Authorities concluded that Riner had to be responsible, so she was charged with murder and arson.
However, the prosecution could not come up with a possible motive for Riner, and her defense team turned suspicion in another direction. Almost immediately after the fires started, William Fischer’s daughter arrived at the scene alongside her boyfriend, John Gallagher. Gallagher claimed that he ran into the nursery with a fire extinguisher and tried to put out the flames to save the child’s life. However, an arson expert poked holes in Gallagher’s story by stating that he found no trace of fire extinguisher foam at the scene. The defense tried to paint Gallagher as the possible culprit, and the strategy worked, as this created enough reasonable doubt for the jury to find Olivia Riner not guilty of all charges. To this day, debate still rages on about who really murdered Kristie Fischer.
2The Disappearance Katelyn Rivera-Helton
On August 10, 1999, Sheila Clendening was babysitting 20-month-old Katelyn Rivera-Helton in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. All of a sudden, a man broke into her home and attacked her. The man grabbed Katelyn, but as he was leaving, Clendening thought she heard something hit the door before the man yelled out: “Oh, her head!” The abductor was Katelyn’s biological father, Robert Rivera.
The previous month, Robert and Katelyn’s mother, Jennifer Helton, had ended a turbulent relationship filled with violence and abuse. Jennifer decided to take her daughter and get away from Robert before filing assault charges against him. After Jennifer and her aunt attended Robert’s preliminary court hearing on August 10, he attacked both women in a convenience store parking lot. He then drove to Sheila Clendening’s house to abduct his daughter.
Throughout the course of the day, Robert repeatedly phoned Jennifer, telling her he wanted to meet, but he would always take off before the meeting could take place. During their final call together, Robert told Jennifer: “Katelyn is going to heaven and I’m going to hell.”
When Robert was arrested, Katelyn was nowhere to be found, and he claimed to have given the child away to an unidentified woman. A gas station employee reported seeing Katelyn inside Robert’s vehicle when he stopped for fuel, but when Robert returned to the same station two hours later, his daughter was no longer with him. After Katelyn’s clothing was recovered, Robert was charged with Katelyn’s abduction and presumed murder. While Robert was incarcerated, an inmate allegedly heard him admit to suffocating his daughter. Even though he never formally confessed to the crime, Robert was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Katelyn’s remains have never been found.
1Christine Falling, The Babysitter Killer
One of the world’s youngest known serial killers was Christine Falling, who earned the nickname “The Babysitter Killer.” Born in Perry, Florida, Falling experienced a very abusive childhood. Her mental instability was apparent from an early age when she started strangling cats and dropping them from high places to see if they actually had nine lives.
On February 25, 1980, 16-year-old Falling was babysitting a two-year-old girl named Cassidy Johnson when the child was suddenly taken to the doctor’s office with a brain inflammation. Three days later, Cassidy was dead. An autopsy determined that the child had suffered blunt trauma to the skull, and Falling claimed that she accidentally fell out of her crib while sleeping. There were suspicions about Falling’s story, but unfortunately, they were not properly investigated.
Months later, four-year-old Jeffrey Davis died while Falling was babysitting him, and the cause of death was believed to be a heart inflammation. While Jeffrey’s family attended his funeral, Falling babysat his two-year-old cousin, Joseph Spring. Joseph wound up dying in his crib that day of an apparent viral infection.
Falling soon got a job as a housekeeper for 77-year-old William Swindle. Incredibly, Swindle suffered a fatal heart attack during Falling’s first day on the job. Shortly thereafter, Falling was watching over her 18-month-old niece, Jennifer Daniels, inside a car while her mother was shopping. The child suddenly stopped breathing and died.
Falling’s final victim was 10-week old Travis Coleman, who also stopped breathing while she was babysitting him in July 1982. This time, an autopsy determined that Travis had died of suffocation. Falling was questioned and subsequently confessed to smothering Travis and all the other children who died in her care. She received a life sentence for the murders.
Robin Warder is a budding Canadian screenwriter who has used his encyclopedic movie knowledge to publish numerous articles at Cracked.com. He is also the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row and recently worked on a sci-fi short film called Jet Ranger of Another Tomorrow . Feel free to contact him here.