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10 Seemingly Innocent People Who Were Secretly Monsters
We rarely know everything about another person. While they may seem perfectly normal on the surface, there could be something more sinister lingering inside. One of the more frightening aspects of life is the fact that anyone around us could be a monster who commits horrible acts against others completely unnoticed. No matter how much you think you know someone, there’s always the chance that they could be pure evil just waiting for an opportunity to strike.
10 Arthur Schirmer
Arthur Schirmer, a former Methodist clergyman, should have been a man who could be trusted. Instead, he brutally murdered not one of his wives, but two. He also managed to have the foresight to stage the scenes so he could get away with the murders. In 2013, the 64-year-old Schirmer was found guilty of tampering with evidence and murdering his second wife, Betty, in 2008. It was found that the manner in which Betty was killed was quite similar to the death of Arthur’s first wife, Jewel, in 1999.
According to Schirmer, Jewel, his wife of 31 years, had fallen down the stairs while vacuuming. He claimed that he found her in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs with the vacuum cord around her leg, suggesting that she had tripped over the cord. With further investigation, it became clear that the 1999 “accident” was staged much like Betty’s “accident” in 2008. Schirmer bludgeoned Betty with a crowbar and then put her into their PT Cruiser so he could “crash” the car. It probably didn’t help Schirmer’s case that his attorney admitted that Schirmer had been having an affair before Betty’s death.
Investigators uncovered enough evidence to prove that the former minister was in fact a cold-blooded killer, and in 2014, he was convicted of the murder of his first wife and given an additional 20–40 years on top of his life sentence for his previous conviction.
9 John Feit
John Feit was another former clergyman, in this case, a Catholic priest. He managed to evade prosecution for his crimes for 56 years. In 1960, a Texas beauty pageant winner and second grade teacher named Irene Garza was found dead in an irrigation canal in McAllen, Texas. She had been missing for five days, and the last person who saw her was the priest with whom she had performed confession—John Feit. Feit’s case only went downhill from there: In the irrigation canal where Garza’s body was found, a candelabra from the church and a Kodak slide photograph viewer belonging to Feit were also discovered.
Even more shocking was an attack on another woman a month earlier at another Catholic church nearby. Maria Guerra claimed that while kneeling on a communion rail to pray, a man grabbed her and tried to stuff a rag into her mouth. She got free after biting her attacker’s fingers and fled. Her description of her attacker was very similar to John Feit. After being picked out of a lineup by an eyewitness, failing a polygraph test, and having injuries that matched those that would have been made by Guerra, Feit went to court for assaulting her. Against all the odds, the jury deadlocked, and rather than face a second trial, Feit pleaded no contest and paid a fine. He was then transferred to Arizona by the church.
The case went cold in 1960, and Feit wasn’t charged with Garza’s murder. He went on with his life, eventually quitting the cloth. In 2002, two clergymen from the same church where Feit had once taught claimed that he had confessed to sexually assaulting and murdering Garza. A grand jury refused to indict Feit after neither he nor the other clergymen were subpoenaed. After a new district attorney was appointed in Hidalgo County in 2014, Feit was finally indicted in 2016 for the murder of Irene Garza.
8 Salvatore Perrone
To most of Salvatore Perrone’s neighbors, he was nothing more than an eccentric living in an enormous, decrepit house. In 1985, Perrone bought a three-story home in Staten Island that he planned to share with his wife, Maria Salerno. Perrone was ambitious; he wanted to design his own fashion line, but he knew that he needed to work to attain his dreams. For many years, Perrone worked as a door-to-door salesman selling clothing, but as his career began to fall apart, so did his mental state.
It is unknown when Perrone divorced his wife, but according to his legal record, he’d begun to indulge in reckless behavior by 2001, racking up charges for public drunkenness, harassment, stalking, and theft. Despite the warning signs, no one thought that Perrone was dangerous. He continued with many schemes, and at one time, he had hundreds of thousands of dollars in his bank account.
By 2007, Perrone had trademarked his own name because he wanted to become a fashion mogul. These plans never went anywhere, and that set him off. Neighbors said that Perrone had severe mood swings, ranging from extremely kind to incredibly hostile. While he once had a sizable fortune, Perrone had just $1.84 in his account when he was placed under arrest. Apparently, he was dating a Brooklyn woman and sleeping in his home’s basement when he started his killing spree. In rapid succession, Perrone murdered three store owners in a short period, Mohamed Gebeli, Isaac Kadare, and Rahmatollah Vahidipour, without any provocation by his victims. Perrone faces life in prison if convicted.
7 Donald Harvey
In 1987, Donald Harvey, a 35-year-old nurse, shocked the media by confessing to dozens of murders, many of which involved elderly patients in his care. No one suspected him because he seemed to be a perfectly reasonable man and a good employee, but as more evidence came to light, it became clear that Harvey was pure evil. The vast majority of his killings took place at the Daniel Drake Memorial Hospital; it is estimated that 21 of his victims were killed there. The media began to speculate about why Harvey would do such a thing, with theories ranging from mercy killings to insanity, but the real explanation was far more terrifying.
Much of Harvey’s early life was hard, as was apparent from a report written by researchers from Radford University. He suffered sexual abuse from both relatives and neighbors, although he claimed he didn’t mind it from one of the neighbors because the neighbor paid him. Most of his relationships were homosexual, of which one would be very significant—an affair with a married undertaker who taught him how the body reacted to various situations. This knowledge would greatly benefit Harvey when he started killing on a larger scale, even though he had already started to kill his patients before this.
From 1970 to 1987, Harvey killed an inestimable number of people. By the time he was caught, investigators connected him to 24 killings, although there were certainly more. His motive for the killings? He wanted to kill. During the court proceedings, Harvey would often laugh to himself when his murders would be recounted. While prosecutors wanted the death penalty, Harvey made a plea bargain for life in prison after pleading guilty to all charges.
6 Mark Berndt
For over 30 years, Mark Berndt was a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, which works mostly with low-income Latino children. That sounds very noble, right? That’s what many would assume for a teacher who’d dedicated half his life to teaching poor students, but the reality is far more terrifying. In 2012, it was discovered that Berndt had been horrifically abusing and exploiting his students, many of whom were aged 6–10.
A film processor had evidence of the horrific claims that were made against Berndt. Over 40 explicit photographs were revealed, showing children in Berndt’s classroom blindfolded with their mouths taped shut. If that wasn’t cruel enough, some of the pictures even showed cockroaches on the children’s faces. The police searched Berndt’s house, where 100 more graphic photographs of children were found, along with a DVD of adult bondage which closely mirrored the acts that Berndt put the kids through.
Berndt’s crimes were all committed in his classroom, mostly from 2008 to 2010. The reason that the victims of Berndt’s cruelty didn’t speak sooner was they had no idea anything wrong was being done. According to the sheriff of the special victim’s unit, the children thought that it was all a game. Despite the school having knowledge of Berndt’s activities after the police investigation, they didn’t inform the children’s parents, many of whom only learned about the abuse on the news. In 2013, Berndt was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading no contest to charges of lewd behavior with minors.
5 Laszlo Csatary
Do you really know who your neighbors are? In this day and age, many people hardly know who the person living the next door could be. Such was the case with Laszlo Csatary, a 98-year-old man who died in Budapest in 2013. A former art dealer, Csatary lived comfortably in an apartment in one of the more cosmopolitan districts of Budapest. What was wrong with him? He was an unrepentant Nazi war criminal.
It is believed that Csatary was responsible for the deaths of 15,700 Jews at the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp. In 1941, Csatary deported 300 Jewish prisoners to Ukraine, where they were killed. He was a particularly sadistic senior police officer over the Slovakian city of Kassa (renamed Kosice) and was known to whip Jews in the ghetto and force them to dig holes with their bare hands.
After the war, Csatary escaped Europe and fled to Canada. In 1949, he was sentenced to death in absentia by a Czech court, but he couldn’t be found. For years, he worked as an art dealer in Montreal and Toronto until he was stripped of his Canadian citizenship in 1997 and disappeared. During this time, Csatary was one of the world’s most wanted war criminals, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center found Csatary in Budapest. Nothing ever came of this discovery, as Csatary died after a long battle with pneumonia, never having paid his due.
4 George Doodnaught
If you’re put to sleep by an anesthesiologist, you expect to be treated with perfect care. In the case of Canadian anesthesiologist Dr. George Doodnaught, patients were treated like garbage. Doodnaught, who had been a well-regarded doctor for decades, had worked as as an anesthesiologist since 1982 and had been at North York General Hospital in Toronto for 28 years. With such a record, it came as a complete shock that he drugged female patients for surgery and then sexually assaulted them. Over the years, Doodnaught assaulted a staggering number of women.
Doodnaught violated 21 known victims. Their ages ranged from 25 to 75. Such a wide spectrum is almost inconceivable, but the victims’ stories were all similar: After being drugged, they would be fondled and kissed by Doodnaught. Once that was over with, he would place his penis in their mouths or hands. The victims were conscious but had been so sedated that they couldn’t move.
The charges against Doodnaught were steep, but many couldn’t believe that a doctor who’d been practicing almost 30 years was capable of what he was accused of. He only abused his patients over a span of three and a half years (as far as anyone knows), with most of the victims being assaulted in a six-month period. It was an extremely hard case for prosecutors. In numerous cases, Doodnaught told his patients that they were responsible for being assaulted, and many of them believed him, only adding to their pain. Finally, 21 victims came forward against the seemingly innocent doctor. In 2014, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
3 Tamara Samsonova
Tamara Samsonova was very old when she was moved into the home of a St. Petersburg war veteran by social services. This act of kindness for an older widow might seem chivalrous, but rather than receving something good in return for his kindness, the veteran was murdered. This wasn’t an isolated case with Samsonova; several other people close to her, including her husband, all met gruesome ends.
Because of Samsonova’s age (68 when her crimes came to light), many couldn’t believe that she was capable of being so monstrous. Apparently, she would murder her victims and then cannibalize their bodies without a second thought. This had been going on for some time. Her husband, who disappeared 10 years before Samsonova was caught, was believed to be one of her early victims.
She was only caught after she was filmed by a closed-circuit TV camera dumping several bags of body parts in the garbage. As the investigation by Russian authorities began to dig into her life, they uncovered even more evidence of her evil ways: In her diary, she wrote extensively about cannibalism, even saying that she had a proclivity for “gouging out and eating lungs.”
The media quickly picked the story up, and Samsonova was dubbed the “Granny Ripper.” At first, she denied the charges, but once it became clear that she was guilty of several grisly murders, she revealed her motive. “I did it to be known as a serial killer,” she said in court. Samsonova hasn’t been convicted as of this writing, since the investigation into her murders is still ongoing.
2 Peter Caruso
On the outside, Peter and Rosa Caruso seemed to have the perfect marriage. After 50 years together, they still seemed to be very much in love and were prominent members in the Italian community in Brunswick, Australia. Peter was a successful businessman who always acted genial and friendly toward everyone who knew him, but appearances were deceiving. In 2008, Rosa Caruso was killed, struck with a hatchet 36 times, and the truth about her murder shook many in Brunswick to the core.
Peter and Rosa had met after they both immigrated to Australia from Italy. They married in 1958 and had two children. They had an ordinary life, but after Rosa was brutally killed, the dark secrets about their domestic life came to light. Peter originally claimed that Rosa was killed in a botched robbery and that he wasn’t home at the time. That alibi soon fell apart, and he became the prime suspect.
When he was with his family and no one else, Peter was cruel, abusive, and narcissistic. He emotionally abused one of his children, which became a source of disagreement between himself and Rosa. During their arguments, Peter could become physically violent. Despite the horrible treatment, Rosa never told anyone, as she was from the older generation of Italian wives who traditionally kept their domestic problems to themselves, no matter how demeaning or cruel.
It isn’t known why Peter snapped and murdered his wife, but he obviously had the forethought to arrange his home to appear as if it had been robbed. After going to several shops in the city, he called the police, thinking he had a solid alibi. While talking with the authorities, he immediately presented receipts to prove that he wasn’t there when the murders occurred. Unsurprisingly, this set off alarm bells for investigators. It didn’t take long for law enforcement to build a case against Peter, and he was convicted of murder. He never showed any real remorse for what he did and died in prison at the age of 81 in 2015.
1 Louis Lamonica Jr.
In the 1980s, Hosanna Church in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, was one of the most thriving congregations in the region, with 1,000 members. Its pastor, Louis Lamonica Sr., was widely loved in the community. After his death, the church passed to his son, Louis Lamonica Jr. The ensuing years weren’t kind to the church, and by 2003, there were no more than 10–15 people. Still, no one would have ever guessed what Lamonica was capable of making his followers do or what he did himself.
In 2005, Lamonica went to the nearby sheriff’s office and began to confess to horrific crimes. He told the sheriff about child molestation at his church and troubling satanic rituals which he presided over. It came as a complete shock to law enforcement, as Lamonica was well-regarded by most of the townsfolk. He claimed to have raped his own sons, along with other children and even animals. By 2000, when Hosanna Church was nearing its end, Lamonica began to turn the church into a truly terrifying cult. He started performing occult rituals with infants and engaging in perverted behavior with his followers. He claimed that they stopped worshiping God and started worshiping Satan.
When investigators went to the church, they found a faint pentagram on the wall that someone had apparently tried to scrub away. Others who were part of Hosanna Church during this time were also involved: One former member had child pornography in his home, while others were guilty of sex crimes, but it was Lamonica who got most of the attention. In 2008, he was convicted of multiple crimes and sentenced to life in prison.
Gordon Gora is a struggling author who is desperately trying to make it. He is working on several projects, but until he finishes one, he will write for Listverse for his bread and butter. You can write him at [email protected].