The Halifax Slasher, The Blood-Thirsty Public Menace ... Who Didn't Exist
In 1938, Halifax, England endured two weeks of terror at the apparent hands of a knife-wielding maniac. First, two young women reported being attacked with an object like a mallet or a hatchet before they managed to escape to a nearby home, and five days later, another woman was slashed across the wrist by a man who seemed to fit the description of the perpetrator of the first attack. Within a week, five more people claimed to have been randomly jumped and jabbed, plunging the whole town into chaos. Businesses closed, Scotland freaking Yard was called in, and gangs of vigilantes roamed the streets looking for blood -- and the 10 pound reward that was offered for information leading to the arrest of the "Halifax Slasher."
Plot twist: There never was a Halifax Slasher. A few people did get attacked, but they appeared at second glance to be isolated incidents without as much in common as previously thought, and unfortunately, that's not uncommon over a two-week period in a relatively big city. The rest faked their attacks, going so far as to inflict their own injuries. Why? Sputtering noises! One woman was apparently trying to get sympathy and attention from her boyfriend, but one man confessed "I don't know what came over me, but I took out a safety razor blade from my pocket and cut my left hand across the back," and a woman completely failed to explain "I have always suffered with my nerves, and last week I read a lot in the papers about people being slashed with razors. This seemed to get on top of me, and I thought I would cut myself."
Ironically, the faked attacks resulted in real attacks -- by the vigilante gangs. After that weird lady's faked slashing, a mob of 100 people descended upon the scene and apparently just picked a dude at random to play "Kill the Beast" ...
... though he was swiftly rescued by the police. A 15-year-old boy who was just trying to walk his bike home wasn't so lucky after a drunk neighbor standing outside a bar accused him of being the Slasher and attacked him, inciting everyone on the block to storm out of their homes, armed with pokers. The boy escaped, the man denied inciting the mob and even claimed he'd rescued the boy, and when he later visited the boy's home, his father kicked his ass. The drunk was fined, many of the fakers did jail time, and everyone just kind of tried to pretend the whole thing never happened.
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