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It's 3 a.m., and we're having one of those nights. The settling of the house translates to the creeping boots of an ax murderer in our ears, pareidolia turns every shadow into a monster, and OH GOD DID SOMETHING TOUCH OUR FOOT?! Sleep won't be an option tonight; even the trusty Knockout Whiskey Method (drink the whiskey and smash yourself in the head with the bottle) isn't working.

So come, friends, let's do what we always do in these situations: punish our stupid brains by attempting to solve terrifying, unsolved murders that out-creep anything our imagination can throw at us. Fuck you, bogeymen, you're trapped in here with us. And no one is going anywhere until we get to the bottom of these cold, cold cases ...

The Brabant Killers Of Belgium

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In 1982, the Belgian province of Brabant suddenly found itself the target of a mysterious, ruthless group. I'm going to go ahead and assume they were murder ghosts, because there's no way mere mortals could have gotten away with the antics of the Brabant Killers -- also known as the Nivelles Gang, because when you reach a certain level of brutality, you accumulate unnerving nicknames like a WWE heel.

At first, the Brabant-Nivelles Killers-Gang may seem like a pretty normal rural bandit outfit; they stole weapons and supplies and aimed their attacks at supermarkets. They seemed to care little about material things: If they took cash at all, the sums were in the lower-five-figure ballpark at best -- not nearly enough to justify the excessive planning and violence they used. In fact, their main interest was a very different one: mayhem. They made a point of torturing and killing victims whenever they could, claiming 28 lives and wounding dozens during their spree. One of their very first heists targeted a tavern, the owner of which they ruthlessly tortured and killed. Their loot: coffee and wine. Yep, these were the sort of people who would happily shoot a child in the face, which they of course also did, because sometimes the world is a strap-on in the devil's asshole.

Sushaaa/iStock/Getty Images
I didn't expect to use this image this early in the game, but here you go.

From what investigators have been able to piece together, the Brabant Killers consisted of three permanent members and a bunch of assorted henchmen. In a pretty transparent effort to lure Batman into taking the case, the authorities dubbed the main members the Giant, the Killer, and the Old Man.

Via Reddit
It almost worked until Batman saw the sketch of the Neckbeard and spent the rest of the day retching.

For two years, the gang roamed the area like every psychopath Michael Madsen ever played. The police were powerless. The public was terrified. Finally, the attacks stopped in 1984 ... only to emerge again when we least expected them. In true horror-movie-sequel style, the Brabant Killers returned and upped the ante in late 1985. After another "normal" supermarket murder-attack, they culminated their reign of terror in a massive raid and shootout that killed eight people. Then, they disappeared.

Pauli's Favorite Theory:

Wait, a mysterious group that consisted of easily distinguishable yet strange and monstrous figures? One that managed to fiercely protect their privacy while roaming a very particular rural territory, killing at the slightest whim but caring little about material goods? Shit, I've seen that movie.

Cannon Films Inc.
Sure, the Brabant killers used shotguns instead of chainsaws, but that's Europe for you;
even in their craziest brutal murder sprees they're just too damn polite to go full-steam.

Of course, Belgium was going through a turbulent political period in which communist terrorists were lobbing bombs at people and Cold War-fueled stay-behind networks of NATO-trained operatives and like-minded civilians were bracing themselves to thwart a potential Red uprising. I guess the Brabant Killers might have been special operatives of whichever side wanted to bake the turds of chaos into the discord cake and were able to get away with their antics because the Belgian police force was laughably disorganized at the time. But I think we all know which one is the more plausible theory here.

The Stoneman Murders Of India

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Being homeless in India is not exactly the sweetest of gigs. The only way things could be worse than scraping the solidified bottom of the bullshit barrel is if there was a brutal serial killer hunting you and your fellow downtrodden as you lie down for the night, seeking the sweet reprieve of sleep to carry you away from your daily toil ...

Oh, hi, stranger! Can you spare a rupee or two? Hey, why are you lugging that giant-ass stone around? AAAARRGHHH OH SHI-

PeskyMonkey/E+/Getty Images

Enter the Stoneman, an improbably ruthless serial killer who stalked the nights of Calcutta throughout 1989, claiming at least 13 victims and dancing around the police like it was nothing. His name came from his favorite weapons: heavy stones and concrete slabs that he hauled over to the victims and Gallaghered their skulls to oblivion. And if that wasn't bad enough, investigators soon figured out the killer may already have been well onto his second round of cranial destruction; a few years earlier, the city of Mumbai had seen a similar crime spree among the unfortunate pavement dwellers of the city, with 12 victims piling up over two years.

Soon, the panic and fear caused by the mysterious killer reached Jack the Ripper proportions, especially as the police pretty much admitted they had nothing to work with, beside the fact that the murderer was almost certainly big and strong as shit. So, The Incredible Hulk? Maybe a robot? Presumably, this did little to put the public at ease.

leolintang/iStock/Getty Images
"We also suspect he's 12 feet tall and breathes fire -- wait, why are you all running?"

And then the killings stopped again. In both cities, the killer -- same guy or not -- murdered a similar number of victims, and then ... poof. To this day, the case remains one of the most enduring crime mysteries of modern India, and people of the affected areas are still known to flip their absolute shit whenever someone's killed in a similar manner. Which is both understandable and completely fucking crazy, seeing as how similar murders are a thing at all.

Pauli's Favorite Theory:

According to the obligatory movie about the case, the killings in Mumbai were the work of a beat cop/tribal cultist type, tasked by his mysterious master (heavily hinted to be a top police executive) to kill a number of people in a magical ritual to cure his impotency. Yes, really. The Calcutta killer is later revealed to be another guy on a similar mission.

Kaleidoscope Entertainment
You know a story is creepy when freaking Bollywood drops the dance numbers
and goes all Se7en-with-dysfunctional-dongs on you.

It's an interesting idea, but I'm not really buying that one because, you know, a movie. Also, I refuse to believe that every single strange story from India can immediately be filed in the "Mola Ram did it" folder. Then again, regular serial killerin' doesn't really cut it, either. The idea of one guy who routinely brained folks with huge stones in sprawling mega-cities with nary a witness doesn't really seem to hold water, no matter how you Occam's Razor it.

But what's the alternative? Many killers? A sort of horrifying trend that swept over a nation and went away, like zoot suits, parachute pants, and Scott Stapp? Surely that's not possible. It's not like there's any precedent of unrelated-yet-awful people going around killing poor, homeless folks in an extremely specific and ruthless manner just for the hell of it ...

Manfredi Caracausi/Moment/Getty
Oh, right.

Continue Reading Below

Il Mostro, The Monster Of Florence

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The Monster of Florence, Il Mostro in Italian, was (is?) the kind of character that has featured in the various Hannibal Lecter franchises no less than two separate times, one of them being an insinuated alias for Lecter himself. That's the sort of maniac we're talking about: The writers of fucking Hannibal just up and turn him into the man himself, because otherwise the Monster would surely have loomed over everyone else in the series.

Not that Il Mostro doesn't deserve his due terror credit. From 1968 to 1985 he stalked the province of Florence, Italy, killing 16 people -- almost always couples in cars on summer Saturday nights -- with the same gun that had a faulty firing pin that unmistakably marked every bullet fired. He was an artist in his brutality; researchers have noted that the crime scenes were unnaturally pristine and composed almost like museum exhibitions. Oh, and he often mutilated his female victims in terrifying ways such as cutting away their genitals or stabbing them almost 100 times. A monster, remember.

Mike Watson Images/moodboard/Getty
"Right, like you've never gotten carried away with your work."

Over the years, around 100,000 people have been investigated and around a dozen arrested, but to no avail. Although several journalists and authors claim to have identified likely suspects (a Sardinian man called Antonio Vinci, whose two older relatives were among the strongest suspects, seems to be a firm favorite among modern theorists), the case is unlikely to ever be solved unless the murder weapon emerges (it won't) or the murderer gets a pang of guilt and confesses (hahahahaha!).

Pauli's Favorite Theory:

Here's what I've been thinking: The Monster was more than one guy.

Via Reddit
Juuuust leaving this here real quick.

There are many strange details to the crimes. Several of the suspects could have been responsible for a few of the killings but had solid alibis for the others. When one guy was in custody, the murderer committed an off-season double kill (on a Tuesday in autumn, instead of his usual summer Saturdays) as if to make extremely sure that they knew they had the wrong guy. When another was imprisoned, the Monster helpfully provided the police with a newspaper clipping of the crime he had been convicted of, complete with a taunting "Why don't you take a closer look at this case" note that essentially claimed the responsibility for the killing. When the Vincis were caught, same thing.

See what I'm getting at? Every time someone is caught, another pair of bodies turns up, conveniently both letting the suspect away scot-free, and keeping a brutal killer that could attack any time out there. There were strange variations to Il Mostro's methods and their degree of brutality, and the fact that he was in the habit of hauling his female victims out of the car and into the open would have required him to be extremely strong. So, barring an actual Hannibal-level superhuman running about town, the only logical reason was that the Monster was never a he, but they -- a group of criminals who for whatever reason conspired to create a terrifying serial killer, with an easily identifiable modus operandi and an extremely distinct murder weapon that would "prove" without a doubt that the killer was always the same.

Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images
"We can keep this up forever."
"Yeah, or at least until it's Chad who gets caught."
"Right, or that. Because fuck Chad."

As for the motive, shit, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe a jointly made-up serial killer was a handy way to off people they didn't like. Perhaps they were smugglers or whatever and found the fact that people avoided going out late at night in summers handy. Or maybe the gun is cursed, traveling from hand to hand and making whoever wields it perform unspeakable things to honor the demon gods of the Tar Dimension.

Actually, you know what? Let's go with that last one. It's probably the least-terrifying scenario, anyway.

The Murder Of Kyllikki Saari Of Finland

Robert Clay/Hemera/Getty Images

If homicides are horror movies, the 1953 murder of Kyllikki Saari in Isojoki, Finland, was the It Follows to your average ax murder's Gorefest With Boobs 3D. The actual deed wasn't particularly gruesome, in that no one sewed her into a skin suit or anything. However, the mysterious nature of the crime and its extreme social impact managed to traumatize a whole nation. Everything about the murder seemed to be designed to haunt people on a country-wide scale. Saari was the perfect victim: a pretty 17-year-old bicycling her way home from a prayer meeting on an ordinary Sunday evening, after dark. Of course she never reached her destination, and of course her parents initially thought she was staying the night with a friend, which maximized her time missing and the ensuing town-wide panic. And, yes, of course she had seemed oddly nervous before she headed home alone, as if she'd known something. I don't know why you even bother asking.

So, anyway, five months later her body was found in a swamp near the road she disappeared from.

Apologies for the relative lack of English-language links in this entry, by the way. In case you want
to flirt with Google Translate and madness, here's a link dump of some Finnish source material.

Saari was in the kind of state corpses wind up in when they hang around swamps for months, so the police weren't able learn much from her body, apart from the fact that there were no verifiable traces of sexual abuse and the cause of death was from massive blunt-force trauma to the face. The bicycle was nearby, but it was in fairly good shape -- almost as if someone had brought it to the site much later. Other objects nearby: a mysterious sock with bite marks that had been used to gag Saari or someone else, a recently added dry pine stick that someone had used to mark the grave and impale the corpse, and Saari's coat, draped around her head and shoulders. A number of Saari's personal effects remained missing.

All of Finland had already been sort of fanatic about the case for the months after the disappearance, and proceeded to go full apeshit upon the finding of the body. Saari's funeral drew 25,000 mourners and was precisely one suspicious dude short of turning into the largest lynch mob in history. Luckily for them, the case was hardly lacking extremely shady suspects, essentially turning the proceedings into a nationwide game of Clue. There was the vicar who had a history of harassing younger women and had received a strange letter from Saari just days before her death. There was a shady ex-cop whose car had allegedly been seen in the area. There was a meek yet disturbed local worker with a history of alcohol and voyeurism; a black-bearded, chemically castrated necrophile; and well over 300 more. Which just goes to show that this girl had the most fucked-up existence ever, even before her death. It's like everyone in the fucking country was stalking her at the same time.

Image Source Pink/Image Source/Getty Images
"Please form an orderly queue, or we'll get Simo Hayha to shoot you all in the dick."

Unfortunately, investigations could pin blame on precisely none of the suspects. All walked away with their liberty, provided you want to count "being more or less openly hated by millions of angry Finns" as freedom. Even the shady German dude called (tee hee!) Hans Assmann, who in 1997 allegedly made a deathbed confession about an old hit-and-run incident and his subsequent covering of his trail that sounded an awful lot like a certain famous blunt trauma death, managed to die before anything could be made of it.

Hey, hold on just a goddamn second. Hans Assmann?

Pauli's Favorite Theory:

Goddammit, Assmann. You again?

Were you not the most likely suspect when I last wrote about a creepy Finnish murder mystery, Assmann? Remember the Lake Bodom murders, Assmann? Yes, you do. Did I not find out that you were somehow accused of being a creepy ex-KGB agent and a psycho Nazi at the same time, Assmann? Yes, I did. You're ... really not doing yourself any favors here, butt-name guy.

If I have to remind myself of this face, I'll drag you all down with me.

Are you really going to go for an alibi, Assmann? No, you're not. I'm going to exercise my right as the writer of this column to stop pretending that this is a dialogue, because you've been dead for decades and I'm really only doing it because I like to type "Assmann." You're not getting another spin on the benefit-of-the-doubt carousel. When your first two strikes are being a suspect in two of the most famous murder cases in the same, small country, you're not going to get a third one in my book. Especially because, as it turns out, you were also a suspect in the third-most famous one, a 1959 double murder that was basically 50 percent Lake Bodom, 50 percent Kyllikki Saari. Not a primary suspect, though. Never a primary suspect. Not Assmann.

Shit, guys, now I'm kind of pissed that the man is long dead. I have a feeling he'd have made a mighty fine supervillain nemesis.

Hehehe. Assmann.

Continue Reading Below

The Family Murders Of South Australia

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Disclaimer: Here's the point where you should probably stop reading if you have a graphic imagination and a weak stomach. You can play with the puppy I, uh, borrowed from the zoo.

JohnDPorter/iStock/Getty Images
See how it's smiling? It likes you!

Here's what we know about the people behind Adelaide, South Australia's Family Murders: There were a lot of them, and they killed at least five people. Here's what we've managed to prove: One almighty dickbag killed one kid.

On the off chance that someone reading this is still on the queasy side, I won't go into details re: precisely how the victims were killed. I'm specifically avoiding phrases like "drugging and brutal abduction," "up to five weeks of torture," and "death by massive butt trauma." That last one is not meant in a "Sir Mix-a-Lot finally found his match" way, incidentally. Someone stuffed large blunt instruments up the victims until they died of blood loss. That's, like, the fifth-least-dignified non-Nickelback-related death in existence, and it wasn't a one-off, either; this was the actual method these people used to kill.

AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images
Feel free to cringe. I know I did.

It's estimated that the "Family" behind the murders was/is about a dozen-strong clique of influential area men, and the killings were just one small part of their operations: They're suspected of having kidnapped, mauled, and abused young men on a regular basis throughout the 1970s and well into the 1980s.

Well, that's what they say, anyway. Despite a $5 million reward, all the authorities have managed to get so far is a whole bunch of hunches and a local creep called Bevan Spencer von Einem (which, strangely, would make an excellent rap name), who was nabbed for the 1983 murder of the son of a local news anchor but couldn't be conclusively connected to the several other nearly identical butticides.

In other words, today's Adelaide may very well have a whole bunch of elderly horror movie monsters running around, presumably busying themselves by training a new generation of ass murderers to protect their place in Australia's very competitive terror pantheon.

hdmddphoto/iStock/Getty Images
And upgrading their weapons.

Pauli's Favorite Theory:

This is where I'd normally weave some grand, jokey theory about this whole thing being a front for the Illuminati or lizard people or some shit, but you know what? I really, really want this all to be the work of one guy, and I want that guy to be the one they already caught.

Let's talk about Bevan Spencer von Einem. There's very little doubt that he drugged and at least played a large part in killing the news anchor's son, likely dumping the body as well. However, that's just one little hillock in the eternal horrorscape that is this guy's mind. Von Einem has been linked to several other brutal murders, including a few non-Family ones. Oh, and he was also a prime suspect in yet another of Australia's most famous unsolved crimes: the abduction of the three Beaumont children, who disappeared in Adelaide in 1966 and were never found. There are theories that link von Einem and his skills of sedating victims to the case, and a witness has allegedly stated that he admitted abducting the kids in order to perform experiments on them. Not the kind of "experiments" you assume, either -- he supposedly performed surgery on them to "join them up."

Sushaaa/iStock/Getty Images
Let's ... let's just reuse that kitten picture at this point, shall we?

Just fucking let that sink in for a moment, will you? What we have here is a notorious and pretty unrepentant sexual sadist who may or may not have pulled a real-life Human Centipede on a bunch of kids. Here are our options: Either he was a one-of-a-kind case, safely tucked away -- or there are a dozen more of these fuckers still running free. Which one would you prefer?

(And no, Tom Six, your opinion does not fucking count.)

Pauli forgot to mail you the complimentary brain bleach, so this would probably be a good time to watch a cat video or something. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.

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