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‘Tis the Season for . . . Murder: 9 Winter True Crime Books That Will Give You the Chills

Nothing says "Happy Holidays!" like these tales of greed, betrayal, and stone cold murder.

For most, winter is a time of joy and family gatherings. But for some, these pleasant times instead bring out the most murderous of tendencies.

While you were unwrapping presents on Christmas morning, a frozen corpse was discovered in a snowdrift. While you were prepping for your holiday party, a serial murderer was confessing to his heinous acts. While you were counting down to the 12 days of Christmas, some of the most notorious murderers were being led to trial for their horrifying crimes.

Check out these winter true crime books of double lives, murder schemes, and cruel acts of violence that all took place during the holiday season. Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like these truly demented tales.

Buy Winter of Frozen Dreams at Amazon

Winter of Frozen Dreams

By Karl Harter

This chilling true story begins on Christmas Day 1977, when Jerry Davies led Madison, Wisconsin police to a snowbank concealing the corpse of Harry Berge. Following the Berge’s trail before he disappeared, police discovered he had recently signed over his insurance policy to his ex, Barbara Hoffman. Even more twisted, Jerry Davies, the man who notified the police of the crime, had also signed over his insurance policy to Hoffman, and would later wind up dead too. Follow this wildly crazy and true story of greed, murder, and suspicion. You may never be able to look at a snowdrift quite the same way again.

Chill Factor: The hair on the back of your neck will stand on end anytime a chance of snow is in the forecast; you just never know what may be buried under that first snowfall …

Related: Holiday Horror: Frozen and Buried in Wisconsin 

Winter of Frozen Dreams

By Karl Harter

Buy Buried Dreams at Amazon

Buried Dreams

By Tim Cahill

This unsettling story of a monster and his victims begins in December 1978, just days before Christmas, when John Wayne Gacy finally confessed to the murders of the 27 bodies found in the crawlspace under his house. Adding to the chill factor, in January, severe winter snowfall paused the ongoing excavation of the Gacy home. Hailed as one of the most notorious serial killers of our time, Gacy was found guilty of the heinous murders of 33 people. Read this poignant profile of the man behind the clown mask.

Chill Factor: Even horror master Stephen King would be covered in goosebumps after reading this true tale.

Buried Dreams

By Tim Cahill

Buy The Von Bülow Affair at Amazon

The Von Bülow Affair

By William Wright

On December 21, 1980, just days before Christmas, Sunny Von Bülow was found unconscious; the result of an attempted murder that uncovered one of the most infamous family feuds of all time. Family drama is inevitable during the holiday season—but when that family has money, a complicated history, and a greedy second husband, it’s the perfect recipe for murder.

Chill Factor: Get under the covers and get comfortable, you’re not going to want to join the real world for quite a while when you can’t even trust your own relatives.

Related: The Claus Von Bülow Affair: Dead at Christmas 

The Von Bülow Affair

By William Wright

Buy A Thirst for Blood at Amazon

A Thirst for Blood

By Lt. Ray Biondi and Walt Hecox

In late December 1977, Richard Chase killed his first victim in a drive by shooting: 51-year-old Ambrose Griffin. Sadly, it was just the beginning of his rampage. Weeks later, Sacramento police discovered the brutalized body of soon-to-be mother Teresa Wallin. Her body was disfigured in unholy ways, and evidence suggested the culprit cannibalized the remains and collected large volumes of blood. In less than a month, more victims were discovered, their bodies contorted and drained just like Teresa Wallin's. Written by Lt. Ray Biondi, the lead homicide detective assigned to the case, this blood-chilling account traces the serial murder spree of the man known as “the Vampire of Sacramento.”

Chill factor: You'll want to  skip the holiday party and double-lock your doors after reading this nightmarish home invasion tale.

A Thirst for Blood

By Lt. Ray Biondi and Walt Hecox

Buy Murder & Mayhem on Staten Island at Amazon

Murder & Mayhem on Staten Island

By Patricia M. Salmon

Does the name Polly Bodine ring a bell? You'd be forgiven if it does not. Yet it was a far different case for New York City residents in December 1843. On Christmas night of that year, Polly Bodine was accused of brutally murdering her sister-in-law and her infant niece on Staten Island. The crime scene was so horrific that P.T. Barnum proclaimed the suspect “the Witch of Staten Island.” Even Edgar Allan Poe weighed in on the matter. Bodine was tried three times for the slaying—only to be acquitted. Her story is just one of a dozen gruesome cases unearthed by historian Patricia M. Salmon in her book about Staten Island true crime. 

Chill factor: Forget the charming trip on the ferry. The Big Apple's southernmost borough has a serious dark side. 

Murder & Mayhem on Staten Island

By Patricia M. Salmon

Buy Murder in Little Egypt at Amazon

Murder in Little Egypt

By Darcy O'Brien

On a bleak December day in 1984, Dr. John Dale Cavaness was charged with the murder of his second son, and suspected of the murder of his first son. Once again we see how a family’s troubled past can be the perfect recipe for murder. Upheld as a hero of a small town in Illinois, Dr. John Dale Cavaness’s life behind closed doors proved him to be an abusive husband and father, and eventually a cold-blooded killer. Read this chilling profile of a man who inspired so much hero-worship that, even as he was convicted of murder, his loyal followers refused to believe it.

Chill Factor: Likely to cause suspicions of all family members, doctors, and empty fields. Are you safe anywhere?

Related: 10 Demented Doctors That Will Make You Sick 

Murder in Little Egypt

By Darcy O'Brien

Buy Masquerade at Amazon

Masquerade

By Lowell Cauffiel

On a cold, and bitter winter day in December 1985, the trials of pimp John “Lucky” Fry took place, where he was charged with murdering and dismembering Dr. Alan Canty, and hiding the body parts throughout Detroit. Dr. Canty was a respectful psychologist in the wealthy parts of Detroit. However, when temptation leads him to get tangled up with a young prostitute and her pimp in the seedy part of town, the doctor becomes the victim in a gruesome murder. Follow this disturbing tale of a well-to-do doctor leading a double life of seduction and greed.

Chill Factor: After this gruesome story, a night-light may be in order.

Masquerade

By Lowell Cauffiel

Buy Murder at the Roosevelt Hotel in Cedar Rapids at Amazon

Murder at the Roosevelt Hotel in Cedar Rapids

By Diane Fannon-Langton

On December 13, 1948, Byron C. Hattman checked into the Roosevelt Hotel in Cedar Rapids, Iowa—and never checked out. Two days later, a maid found Hattman's body in a blood-spattered room. Investigators linked the murder victim to the wife of a pediatrician in St. Louis; the doctor admitted to the attack after trying to poison himself. While scandalous, the case seemed open and shut for prosecutors. That is, until new evidence entirely changed the narrative. Reporter Diane Fannon-Langton uncovers the truth in this comprehensive account of the Hattman slaying.

Chill factor: Traveling to see family members this holiday season? Check your hotel room thoroughly—you never know what went down inside before your stay. 

Murder at the Roosevelt Hotel in Cedar Rapids

By Diane Fannon-Langton

Buy Closing Time at Amazon

Closing Time

By Lacey Fosburgh

On New Year’s Day 1973, schoolteacher Roseann Quinn was stabbed to death by John Wayne Wilson—a man she picked up at a bar across the street from her apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The crime went on to inspire the novel Looking for Mr. Goodbar, and its film adaptation starring Diane Keaton and Richard Gere. Lacey Fosburgh’s true crime account uses dramatization techniques, and changes Quinn’s name to Katherine Cleary, in order to paint a picture of a woman who was vastly different from the person others believed her to be.

Chill Factor: You’ll be weary of talking to strangers in bars anytime soon after reading this horrifying true story.

Closing Time

By Lacey Fosburgh

This post is sponsored by Open Road Media. Thank you for supporting our partners, who make it possible for The Lineup to continue publishing the true crime and creepy stories you love.

Featured photo: Matthias Ripp / Flickr (CC)

Created on 18 Dec 2018

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