Very few things are more terrifying than being on the receiving end of random crime. Although random violent crime is incredibly rare (actual statistics are fuzzy, despite the claim in the above quote), the idea that any of the seven billion people in the world could turn against you with no warning is enough to make anyone feel a bit vulnerable. It is no wonder random crime has become one of the most successful premises of the horror film genre.
A sequel to the 2008 horror hit The Strangers has been developed and reportedly budgeted, even though the film itself seems tied up in Relativity Media's own financial troubles. Still, horror sequels sell, so the movie is certain to arrive eventually. Here are five real-life episodes of random crime that could inspire another sequel after The Strangers 2.
1. The Cheshire Home Invasion
In 2007, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky planned a home invasion and robbery. They followed 48 year old Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her 11 year old daughter home from the grocery store. Hayes and Komisarjevsky staked out the home until the wee hours of the next morning. Entering the house, they found husband and father Dr. William Petit asleep on the couch. He was hit in the head, then taken to the basement where he was bound. Jennifer and her daughters were tied up and locked in their rooms.
According to Hayes and Komisarjevsky, this was the point at which the planned escapade was meant to end. Unsatisfied with their score, they learned of the Petit's bank balance and came up with an alternate plan to fatten their purses. With her husband and daughters imprisoned in her home, Jennifer Petit was forced to go to the bank to withdraw $15,000.
Jennifer alerted the teller at the bank of the situation, and the bank called the cops. Police response was slow. During the time it took for the cops to get their wits, Jennifer and one of her daughters were raped, Jennifer was murdered, and her daughters were doused in gasoline and left tied to their beds. Hayes and Komisarjevsky then set the house on fire; the girls died due to smoke inhalation.
Dr. Petit escaped through the basement to his neighbor's house. Hayes and Komisarjevsky took off in the Petit's family vehicle, only to be arrested by police less than a block away.
The story was featured in an episode of Dateline NBC, and was the subject of a 2013 HBO documentary called The Cheshire Murders.
2. The Chowchilla School Bus Hijacking
Ed Ray was driving a school bus full of kids home on a summer afternoon in 1976 when he found the road blocked by armed men. Ray and the 26 children were ordered from the school bus and loaded up into two different vans.
After driving the children and Ed Ray around in the vans for eleven hours, the kidnappers threw them in the back of a moving van and buried it in a quarry. Sixteen hours after being buried alive, Ed Ray and the kids managed to dig their way out of the van to freedom.
The kidnappers, who were quickly connected to the quarry where the moving truck was buried, had been inspired by "The Day The Children Vanished," a story published in Alfred Hitchcock's Daring Detectives (1969). Planning a kidnapping based on a story that ended with the perpetrators being caught set the tone for the entire episode.
The hijackers were unable to make a ransom demand for the children because the police department was flooded with calls from 26 sets of parents attempting to track down their missing children. The kidnappers faced justice, and the kids all ended up with PTSD, dealing with fallout from the trauma to this day.
In 1993, a made-for-TV movie was made about the incident: They've Taken Our Children: The Chowchilla Kidnapping aired on ABC. The story was also on an episode of the Investigation Discovery network's show, House of Horrors: Kidnapped, and similar plots were featured on episodes of Millennium and Walker, Texas Ranger.
3. The Levi King Rampage
In 2005, 23-year old Levi King took his AK-47 on a 24-hour rampage that left six dead, including a pregnant woman and even a dog.
King started out in Missouri, killing an elderly man and his daughter, then took their truck and headed to Texas. In the town of Pampa, King broke into the home of 31-year old Brian Conrad, and shot him. He killed the family dog, Molly, then shot Brian's pregnant wife, 35-year old Michelle, five times.
Down the hall, Michelle's 10 year old daughter covered her head with her blanket. When King shot into her room, she groaned and rolled to the floor. Next, King shot Robin's 14 year old brother in his room.
King rooted around in the kitchen for a snack, then went on his way. He went to Mexico through El Paso, only to turn around and come back to the States hours later. He was stopped by boarder patrol and detained when officers found guns in his car. After they found out he was wanted for questioning in the killings, it didn't take King long to confess to everything.
One of the most horrifying things about this incident is that Levi King didn't actually hit ten year old Robin Doan when he shot at her. She survived the rampage by playing dead, and has been forced to live with the terror of that night ever since.
Levi King was featured on A&E's The Killer Speaks in 2013, and also on CBS's 48 Hours.
4. The Vicksburg Fugitive
Vicksburg, Mississippi, is home to Kuhn Memorial Hospital, one of the most haunted hospitals in the South. In 2015, a group of ghost hunters came across a woman's badly-beaten body, along with a trail of blood coming from the hospital. Rafael McCloud was arrested and charged with her murder.
While awaiting trial, McCloud overpowered an employee of the Warren County Jail and escaped wearing the employee's clothes. After a few days on the run, McCloud came across a man and his five year old son at their home in Vicksburg. McCloud went after the man with a knife, and was able to get him inside the house, where he trapped him with his wife and the five-year old in the bathroom.
Although McCloud tied the family up, the father was able to wrangle free from the restraints, but was again subdued after McCloud stabbed him. At some point, McCloud allowed the mother to leave the bathroom, and she wasted no time in retrieving the family gun, returning to the bathroom, and shooting at McCloud.
The woman freed her husband, who then took the gun and finished McCloud off with five more shots. The man left the house to flag down assistance from a passing motorist, who called police. The man survived his wounds, as did his wife and child.
5. The Utah Nightmare Before Christmas
Just before Christmas in 1990, two parolees left a halfway house and made their way to a cabin in Oakley, Utah, with the intent of burglarizing it. Von Taylor, 25, and Edward Deli, 21, took their time at the cabin, filming each other unwrapping the presents their victims had waiting under the Christmas tree.
That afternoon, Beth Potts, her 51 year old daughter, Kaye Tiede, Kaye's husband, Rolf, and their 20- and 17-year old daughters returned to the cabin. They were horrified to find the burglary in progress.
Taylor and Deli shot Beth Potts, and Kaye and Rolf Tiede, doused them in gasoline, and took the young women. A neighbor heard the gun shots, and called police after she saw two men leave the cabin with the two women.
After a ten mile car chase, police ran Taylor and Deli off the road. The men surrendered fairly quickly afterward.
Despite being shot in the face and set on fire, Rolf Tiede survived the attack. Beth and Kaye both died, but Rolf and his daughters were able to see both of their attackers prosecuted and convicted.
The ordeal was featured on an episode of CBS's 48 Hours: Live to Tell, and on an episode of Surviving Evil with Charisma Carpenter.