You know the scary tale: There’s an isolated cabin in the woods … where people go to die. But this is no horror flick. This is real. The following victims entered the woods for fun or family time, and none came out alive. Sometimes, man is nature’s most terrifying beast. Grab a flashlight and revisit these eight real-life cabin in the woods murders …
1. The Murder of “Stringbean” and His Wife, 1973
Hee-Haw fans may remember the banjo-plucking skills of country star Dave “Stringbean” Akeman. They may also remember the way he met his end. After one of his Grand Ole Opry performances, he and his wife returned to their rural Ridgetop, Tennessee, cabin. There, they found Akeman’s cousins, John and Doug Marvin Brown, in the middle of robbing them. When Akeman wouldn’t turn over the cash his cousins were after, Doug shot him. Then he shot Akeman’s wife. Doug died in jail. John was just released on parole.
2. The Henry Cowell State Park Murders, 1973
Dubbed Murderville, USA by the town’s then-residents, the seaside town of Santa Cruz, California, was once a playground for serial killers. The deadliest of the batch was Herbert Mullin, the schizophrenic who opened fire on four teenage boys on a camping trip. Their bullet-riddled bodies were found a week later. Mullin, who confessed to every deed on what would come to be a 13-victim crime spree, said the voices in his head ordered him to kill, so as to stop an earthquake from devastating California.
3. The Girl Scout Murders, 1977
This next one reads like something out a horror novel. Sadly, the events are all-too-real. It was June, and eager troops of Girl Scouts had just made their way to Camp Scott in Mayes County, Oklahoma. The trio assigned to Tent 8, however, wouldn’t live to see morning. The bodies of Lori Farmer (8), Doris Milner (10), and Michele Guse (9) were found by a camp counselor the following morning raped, strangled, and left for dead. In a chilling twist, a few weeks prior, another camp counselor had found a note in her cabin stating that three girls would be murdered. The only suspect was a man named Gene Hart, who died of a heart attack. The case remains cold, and the camp forever closed.
4. The Keddie Murders, 1981
In a Sierra Nevada slaughter that got the feature treatment from the likes of People Magazine, a 14-year-old girl named Sheila entered her family’s Cabin 28 at Keddie Resort to find her mother Sue Sharp, her teenage brother John, and John’s friend Dana all bound with electrical and medical tape, beaten and battered with knives and hammers, and lying in pools of their own blood. Her 12-year-old sister Tina was missing. Horrifically, Tina’s head was found three years later about 30 miles away from the scene. The case is still cold. Though things may be warming up.
5. The McDowell Murders, 1989
There’s a quaint cabin set back in a wooded area just outside Stamford, New York, that harbors a dark history: It’s the site where 23-year-old Eban McDowell committed a quadruple murder. He shot and killed his parents, grandfather, and brother before holing up in Scholharie County Farm, where he met his end after a six-hour standoff with state police. Later, authorities found a note written in the third person by Eban, attempting to pin the murders on his father. Eban had a history of mental illness—and even attacked his father earlier that year with an axe.
6. The Robison Family Mass Murders, 1968
Richard Robison and his clan were spending the summer at their log cabin situated on the shore of Lake Michigan, when a shooter with a semiautomatic rifle took aim through the dense pine trees, taking out five of the six family members. Soon after, he headed inside the cabin with a handgun and a hammer to finish what he’d started. All six were killed. Their bodies were discovered weeks later by a neighboring bridge party, who noticed the rotting smell. The case went unsolved for years, until an employee of Richard Robison’s committed suicide. It turned out that the suicide weapon was the same one used to kill the Robison family.
7. The Blue Mountain Shootings, 2013
The location was a remote hunting cabin near Granite, in northeastern Grant County, Oregon. The culprit was a 14-year-old named Dillan Dakota Easley. Easley shot his foster father and his foster father’s uncle, then took off into the woods. In the process, he accidentally shot himself in the leg. The injury caused Dillan to return to the cabin, where the two remaining inhabitants strapped him to a chair and called the cops. Easley got 20 years in prison, though because of a cap that limits juvenile custody to age 25, he received only a 10-year sentence for the double murder.
8. The Stone County Slayings, 2013
Two teens, Christopher Allen and Anthony Zarro, ducked out of the Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch correctional facility in Missouri, and happened upon a couple named Margaret and Paul Brian Brooks. They were vacationing in their getaway cabin. The delinquent pair descended upon the couple, beating them with blunt force objects and then stabbing them to death. They then tried to make off with the Brooks’ goods, but were held up by the cabin’s neighbors. Both are serving life sentences.