Killer Legends (2014) Movie Script

( Silent )
( Mellow music )
Joshua zeman:
Every town has its legends.
Every neighborhood
has its boogeymen...
A killer with a hook
for a hand...
A drifter
who snatches children...
The witch who lives
in the woods.
Ours growing up in
staten island was cropsey,
about an escaped mental patient
who lived in these buildings
who would snatch children
off the street.
This urban legend turned real
when five neighborhood children
went missing.
It was these disappearances
that led us to examine
the real crimes behind
the cropsey urban legend.
of an arm and a leg sticking
out from a shallow grave.
Joshua: And what we
discovered was a connection
to an institution
with a shocking history.
This is what it looked like,
but how can I tell you
about the way it smelled.
It smelled of filth,
it smelled of disease,
and it smelled of death.
Joshua: Understanding
the real story behind cropsey
inspired us to investigate
other urban legends
and the true crimes
that may have influenced them,
was a truth more horrific
than any fiction.
This is where
we thought that cropsey lived,
in these buildings here.
It's very easy
for an urban legend
to come out of
something like this.
Yeah, and we didn't
think anything of it
until kids started going missing
on staten island,
and then we were like,
cropsey is real.
But do you think
every urban legend
Yes, I think you have to have
some form of like truth
to gonna go off of.
There's a lot of
other urban legends
in a lot of other communities
that have some form of truth
behind them.
And what's interesting
is all these communities
have all these places.
Rachel mills:
Well, every kid is lured to
or fascinated by the old house
at the end of the block.
These are the stories
that fuel your nightmares,
and these are the places
that fuel your nightmares.
So why are you here tonight?
People who died here
are supposed to be the ghosts.
in the woods here?
- Oh yeah, I do, I do.
Somebody said they were doing
freaky experiments
and crap like that.
Joshua: Why do we believe
these urban legends?
Maybe we need to believe
because the reality is too much
for some of us to bear.
An old legend that actually
happened this time...
- Many more cases
of contaminated treats...
Female voice:
I know she suffered, a lot.
Voice on tape:
He pulled a knife
and tied me up
with electrical tape.
Joshua: And so instead,
we created our own monsters.
News reporter 1: The
36-year-old building contractor
who reportedly dressed
like a clown...
News reporter 2:
At least three young boys
buried under his house.
the truth is more terrifying
than we could ever imagine.
- I got seven down
and ( Indistinct ).
Seven down!
I've got a child victim...
I need rescue.
Joshua: For Rachel and me,
this is an attempt
to uncover the source
of our nightmares
as we pull back the curtains
on what it is we all fear...
because urban legends,
as scary as they may be,
are really just warnings for
something much more dangerous...
the reality that may have
started it all.
The hook is one of the oldest
and also one of the scariest
urban legends.
A teenage couple
are making out in their car
while parked at a lover's Lane.
As the two are
about to go all the way,
the radio interrupts them.
has escaped
from the local insane asylum.
The frightened girl
demands to go home
as the frustrated boy
guns the engine.
Later, as the boyfriend
goes to open his date's door,
he sees dangling
from the door handle,
the maniac's bloody hook,
ripped from the socket.
The hook urban legend
probably came to be
in the mid-1950s.
One of the interesting
appearances of the hook
was in November 1960
when it actually appeared
in the dear Abby column,
and it's something that a
lot of people would have read.
Joshua: But dear Abby
wasn't warning teenagers
about escaped madmen
with hooks for hands.
Urban legends
are more mysterious than that
and never quite so literal.
Despite its name,
the hook is a cautionary tale
warning teenagers everywhere
about the dangers of sex.
Stephen winick: The hook
urban legend captured something
in the era that people
were interested in.
It captured a certain amount
of danger being involved
in teenage sexual behavior
and in teenage car culture.
Joshua: For the teenagers
in texarkana, Texas,
this wasn't just
some cautionary tale.
In the early spring of 1946,
a masked man
known as the phantom
attacked four couples,
most of whom were parked
on lover's lanes.
The attacks, which killed five,
were said to coincide with
the full moon,
hence the nickname
the moonlight murders.
And although there were
numerous suspects,
the phantom was never caught,
allowing his enduring legacy
to haunt this town
for more than six decades.
So this is South robeson
and this old highway 67.
The murder site
is somewhere around here,
but that's what we've got to
kind of figure out.
Joshua: It was a rainy
Sunday morning on march 24
when a passing motorist noticed
Richard Griffin's oldsmobile
parked on a lover's Lane
off highway 67.
Inside he found Griffin, age 29,
and Polly Ann Moore, 17,
lying in the backseat.
Both had been shot
in the back of the head.
Joshua: Hey, guys,
how are you doing?
we're investigating
the phantom killer.
They had a lot of speculations
on who did it,
but it was never...
no one was ever
brought to justice.
Did you hear stories growing up?
All I ever heard was
don't go to spring lake park.
Why? It's kind of creepy out there,
so we were always afraid
to go there.
But did you still go?
Well, I can take you
out there to the road
and point to almost the spot.
Right about there.
On that side?
On that side.
Joshua: Like the couple
in the urban legend,
Griffin and Moore
had been attacked
while parked on lover's Lane,
highlighting the warning
behind this campfire tale,
but what the residents
in texarkana didn't know...
because it wasn't reported
in the papers...
were the horrific details
behind this real-life crime.
They had found evidence
of blood and a blanket...
And they believe
that she was raped
out in front of the car
and then put back in the car.
James Presley:
The first double murder
didn't cause
a lot of excitement.
All kinds of crimes
were going on in texarkana,
but they didn't recognize
until sometime later
that this is a different
kind of crime.
The term "serial killer"
wasn't in vogue then...
And no one recognized
this as a serial killing.
The main suspect
was youell swinney
who was an ex-convict.
Joshua: Youell swinney
and his newlywed bride,
a former prostitute named Peggy,
had been arrested
for stealing cars.
Under questioning,
the wife confessed
that her husband
was the phantom,
but refused to sign a statement.
Although the case
quickly fell apart,
the judge still sent swinney
away for life
as a habitual car thief.
No evidence directly
No physical evidence.
They had his wife's statement,
but they could not use that
without her permission.
There had been a lot of
other suspects, hundreds.
People had theories
and all kinds of rumors
had been bouncing around,
but it's normal in any event,
especially when there's mystery
as there was always mystery
in this one.
Texarkana is nothing
like other towns.
It seems to be wallowing
in the notoriety.
Documentary team in town
to shoot a part
of texarkana history.
This week,
some texarkana residents
will have the chance
to appear onscreen
in a documentary film
of the phantom killer.
So what should we make
of all this?
The conclusion is simple...
texarkana will never
escape its past.
We should give up trying.
Joshua: It was a half moon
on February 22
when Jimmy Hollis, age 24,
and Mary Jeanne larey, 19,
were attacked on a
secluded lover's Lane.
Both survived after a car
scared the assailant away.
Around midnight,
Mary Jeanne larey
and Jimmy Hollis
were making out
in the front seat of their car.
All of a sudden,
a guy appears with a gun,
wearing a mask over his head,
two holes cut out
for eyes and mouth.
He tells her to run.
He chases her down
and then starts to attack her,
basically sexually assaults her
with the barrel of his gun.
She said she'd much rather
have been killed like the others
than to have been left
the way she was.
Joshua: While the attacks
on lover's lanes in texarkana
didn't specifically
involve a hook,
the phantom's sickening crimes
created an equally horrifying
Stephen: One of the victims
was actually sexually assaulted
with the barrel of a gun,
and so we have the idea
of a foreign metal object
being used in this way
which seems to be
behind the idea of the hook.
In the hook story,
we have the hook
about to penetrate the car
when the boy drives away
and the hook is then ripped
from the hand of the murderer.
So we have the idea
of penetration
with a foreign metal object
as already part of that story,
and that in fact happened
in the texarkana cases.
Joshua: But the sexual assault
was only part
of the phantom's
trademark signature.
These two people
are the only ones
who ever saw the phantom.
Both... wearing masks.
Joshua: Right, they both said
the guy was wearing a mask.
where the whole white
mask thing came from.
The phantom's disguise
was another chilling detail
as it also helped to popularize
the most widely known
retelling of the murders
in the 1976 cult classic,
"the town that dreaded sundown. "
The movie was thought to be
one of the first slasher films,
having predated Halloween
by two years,
and its take on the phantom
would influence generations
of cinematic boogeymen.
The director,
Charles b. Pierce,
blurred the lines
between fact and fiction
by telling the film
in full documentary style.
Charles b. Pierce:
It was Sunday, march 3, 1946...
the beginning of
a reign of terror
for the people of texarkana,
a terror so indelibly imprinted
that today, people
still speak of it fearfully...
only the names
have been changed.
Casey Roberts: Now I think
everybody in texarkana
knows about the story
of the phantom killer,
but there's a lot of
of facts and legend
between the movie
and the actual
phantom killer case.
This is Casey Roberts,
media manager
at Texas a&m, texarkana.
He's done extensive research
on the crimes
and brought us
to one of the locations where
"the town that dreaded sundown"
was filmed.
A lot the... kind of landmarks
from both the original case
of the phantom killer
and the movie
the town that dreaded sundown
have gone away over the years,
and this particular house here
was used in one of
the big scenes.
when Virgil and Katie starks
were attacked in their farmhouse
just outside of town.
Virgil was shot
and killed in his armchair...
( Gunshot )
( Scream )
While Katie, shot in the face,
ran out of the house.
Everybody seems convinced
that youell swinney is the guy,
but you're saying...
Youell swinney would have
been easy to pin it on,
and they needed to
pin it on somebody.
The one person that...
I haven't been satisfied
he was cleared...
was a young man
that committed suicide
and left a note saying
that he was the phantom killer.
It's just part of the legend...
the son of a prominent family,
and it had the connections to,
you know,
cover up his dirty deed.
Joshua: Hoping to dig up
more information,
we went searching
through the microfiche
of the texarkana gazette.
Promising lead proves dud.
So this is the mention
of that, youell swinney.
The officer had been
trying to validate
the story of a woman.
The woman's statement
followed so closely
that they are almost positive
that she was telling the truth,
and at one point,
they were almost to the point
of announcing a break
in the case.
Subsequently, however,
the woman said
that neither she nor her husband
had anything to do
with the slayings.
So they don't call him
the phantom at all in this,
but we just saw, literally,
the advertisement
in the newspaper
for the movie that is showing,
the phantom speaks.
This is the movie
that they theoretically
pulled the name from,
and right here at the newspaper,
we need to call him something,
let's call him the phantom.
We had just witnessed
an important step
in the creation
of any urban legend...
the naming of the boogeyman.
Bill Ellis: One of the roles
that urban legends play...
and this is
an ancient function...
is that they will put
a name on something
that gives people
fears or anxieties.
That gives the person
some feeling of control.
So give the murderer a name...
he's the phantom murderer.
Joshua: The mask,
the movie, the phantom.
These were the crucial elements
that would help create
texarkana's very own
urban legend...
a legend that would only
continue to grow
with screenings of
"the town that dreaded sundown"
held every year in
texarkana's spring lake park.
All of this area was part
of spring lake park...
At the time and this is where...
a couple of the places
where the murders happened.
That was where lover's Lane was.
You basically
set up the screening
that you have of
the town that dreaded sundown
at spring lake park.
Yes, we do it every October,
and because of the history,
we like the idea of having this
out at spring lake park
since that's where some of
the murders take place at.
We started getting
some phone calls saying
that they didn't think
it was right,
that there were
still families in town...
That, you know,
that were affected by this.
that it was going to
cause somebody else
to have the idea
to start doing it again.
A film crew was in town
last month...
And there's a new movie
being made?
What we've heard is
that it was actually a remake
it's you know, just probably
a more modern version of it.
I've heard that the storyline
of the movie
is about a copycat
that comes out
from the screenings
that happened at spring lake.
Are you serious?
That's the first
I've heard about that.
Well, you know,
imitation of life, I guess.
Joshua: While it may seem
shocking to some,
the screenings
at spring lake park
were especially appropriate
because it was here on April 14
where the phantom
turned larger than life.
from the entrance
to spring lake park...
they found
Paul Martin's car empty.
not only had the phantom
murdered two teenagers
in the center of town,
but their deaths
would incite a panic
that would grip texarkana
and never let go.
Betty Jo booker, age 15,
was a saxophonist
for a high school band
called the rhythmaires
that played weekend shows
at the local vfw.
At 1:30 A.M.
that Saturday night,
she left with a childhood
friend named Paul Martin, age 16,
who was supposed to drop
her off at a slumber party.
Rachel: Paul's body was found
lying on its left side.
on the other side of the road
by a fence.
Right over here,
Paul Martin's body was found.
and then he crawled
across the street, over to here,
and then whoever did it
shot him again twice.
They said he put up a struggle.
He had a bullet
through his hand...
probably begged
not to be killed, and then...
They found him
at 6:30 in the morning.
Betty Jo booker
was nowhere around.
Although supposedly
in the town
that dreaded sundown,
one of the most egregious
had Betty Jo booker
playing the trombone
instead of the saxophone,
the reason being to show
a more terrifying demise.
some people in town actually
think that's how she died.
( Grunts and groans )
The actual site
of where Betty Jo booker's
body was found,
along the edge
of a forgotten road,
had eluded many.
Lost in time
when a section of the park
was turned into housing,
this was one mystery
we were determined to solve.
She was found two Miles away
from Martin's body.
The road's closed.
Here's where we think
this road continues on.
See that line
between those two trees?
That's the road
that's been overgrown.
( Whispers )
Keep that flashlight down.
Just turn it down.
Look at that.
This looked exactly like
the older road.
It is the old road basically
that we just went through
somebody's backyard to get to.
( Shrieks )
What is it?
It's a big spider web...
It's halfway between
the two ends.
This is Betty Jo booker,
15 years old.
Rachel: Shot twice,
once to the left rib
and once in the face,
to the left cheek.
Joshua: Well, she's fully
Fully clothed, yeah.
Joshua: Her overcoat
has been buttoned up,
and her hand
was put in her pocket.
See that picture for a second?
Doesn't it look like it?
It must.
Joshua: Like if you're
looking at it like that,
add 60 years.
Joshua: It could be.
I feel bad, though.
You know, we're never going to
really know who killed her.
Joshua: What happened to
Paul Martin and Betty Jo booker
out on these roads
over 60 years ago
was horrific enough.
Their deaths
didn't need to be rewritten
for more blood or Gore.
Coming out here, you realize
that real life is just as scary
as any horror film...
and sometimes even more.
This is Marc bledsoe,
a former probation officer
who was obsessed with the case
and conducted his own
I developed a passion,
I guess in the '90s.
I saw the film, of course,
when I was a seventh grader,
and I was pretty scared
because of the way
the film ends.
and said he could still
be walking the town.
I wanted to know
what the truth was.
Joshua: Bledsoe was one of
the only people
to interview youell swinney
in recent years.
Swinney, who was out of jail
and living in
a Texas nursing home,
had suffered a stroke
the year before,
making his speech
difficult to decipher.
Fifty... sixty years?
But she said you and her
were together
at spring lake park.
Hear that?
They drove out there together
at spring lake. What did he say?
No, I wasn't.
Mark: Who do you think
was the main...
I don't know.
You wish they'd catch him.
Hm, interesting.
Hi. I just wanted
to check one thing.
They told me
you all were videotaping?
Have you all signed the thing?
( Background talk )
I feel like
there was more there.
( Groans )
( Background talk )
Despite being so close,
we still didn't have
an answer as to who
the phantom really was...
and we probably never will.
TV narrator: What happened
to the phantom killer
no one really knows.
Some believe he was convicted
of another crime,
and today he is still serving
his term in a Kansas prison.
It's these lack of answers
that allows a legend to endure
for the teenagers in texarkana.
So, what do you think
the next chapter is
in that legend?
Probably more ghost stories,
maybe more kids
trying to scare other kids.
Do you think it will ever end?
I think eventually
it will fade out,
but I wouldn't be able to say
for how long.
I mean, legends
last for a long time.
So this is the tree where,
because of the movies,
some people think
Betty Jo booker was actually
killed with the trombone.
I think why this is so
kind of important
is because so many people
believed the fiction,
and the fiction became reality,
and in this town...
I really think
what's interesting is...
they can't separate the two.
Well, I think it's more
romantic, though,
than to have the facts
in front of you.
Joshua: You have the
whole town coming out
and watching a fictionalized
version of that,
and that's just like little kids
telling a fictionalized version
of what really happened.
That's what an urban legend is.
Where does the truth end
and the fiction begin?
At this point,
no one quite knows.
Narrator: Texarkana today still
looks pretty much the same,
and if you should ask people
here on the streets
what they believe happened
to the phantom killer,
most would say
that he is still living here
and is walking free.
So right now,
we're driving into Houston.
We're going to investigate
the urban legend
of the candy man.
The name candy man
has a lot of
urban legend references.
Obviously, one of the most
well-known is the film Candyman
based on the clive barker
short story
about an urban legend expert
investigating the boogeyman
who haunts the cabrini-green
housing projects in Chicago.
With my hook for a hand,
I'll split you from your groin
to your gullet.
( Screams and grunts )
Joshua: Here the Candyman
uses a hook,
just like the well-known
hook urban legend
where it was probably
appropriated from,
but the film's villain
wasn't the first candy man.
a very real monster behind
one of the most horrific crimes
anyone could ever imagine.
Rachel: We've all heard the
same story about Halloween.
Little Johnny had been warned
never to go trick-or-treating
at any house he didn't know,
but he didn't listen.
Instead, he convinces
his friends
to go get candy
from this one weird house.
Later that night,
as they're all digging
through their loot,
there's this scream.
All the kids
are rushed to the hospital,
but it's too late.
Johnny's dead from eating
candy laced with poison,
and all the other kids
had their mouths ripped open
from swallowing
razor blades and glass.
They never did catch
the person who did it.
Turns out, Halloween
really comes from
the ancient custom of druids
collecting kids for sacrifices,
and apparently these murders
were committed by those
who still carry on
that evil tradition.
Joshua: So does our modern-day
custom of trick-or-treating
really stem from evil druids
and child sacrifices?
It's highly unlikely,
but there's no denying
that something very sinister
is out there
instilling panic and inciting
fear every Halloween.
Female narrator:
There's one magical,
haunted evening each year
when all the scary creatures
come out to prowl through
every neighborhood.
Most people enjoy having
come to their doors,
but there are a few people who
will do things to hurt kids.
Joshua: The first documented
case of tainted candy
happened on long island in 1964
when a housewife
named Helen pfeil,
upset with older kids
for trick-or-treating,
handed out dog biscuits,
steel wool,
and poison ant buttons.
Although pfeil testified
that it was just a joke,
she was still found guilty
of endangering children.
This fear really took root
in the 1970s
when outlets like newsweek
were reporting
that several children had died
from poison or tainted candy.
Some schools stopped
celebrating Halloween.
They stopped using the word
and they start talking
about having a fall festival.
New Jersey passed a law of
specifying penalties for people
who were caught contaminating
Halloween treats.
In the 1980s, hospitals
began offering X-ray treats.
Announcer: All nextcare urgent
care locations
are offering free candy x-rays
through tomorrow.
where we found
any tampered candy,
and you see all of these
crazy pictures online,
and so, you know,
if I were a parent,
I would be a little bit
concerned as well.
Joel: We don't worry about
ghosts and goblins anymore,
but we fear this maniac,
this anonymous person
who is so crazy
that he presumably poisons
little children at random.
I think about how much fun
Halloween is.
I also worry a little bit
about the things
that can spoil
the fun of Halloween.
Those kinds of things scare me,
too, but in a different way.
The one case of tainted candy
that seemed to bring
this nightmare to life
happened on a rainy Halloween
night in Pasadena, Texas.
The perpetrator
of this evil crime
is known to some
as the man who killed Halloween
and to others as simply
the candy man.
On October 31, 1974,
after trick-or-treating with
their friends, the bateses,
Ronald o'Bryan let his son
Timothy, age 8,
and his sister Elizabeth, 5,
each pick out a piece of candy
before bed.
Timothy, still wearing his
planet of the apes costume,
chose a giant pixy styx,
one of five
that his father had gotten
from a neighborhood house
that night.
Ronald had divvyed up
the other styx to his daughter,
one of the bates' kids,
and a local boy
named Whitney Parker.
The sugar inside
had clumped together,
so Ronald rolled the styx
in his hands
before pouring the powder
down his son's throat.
Minutes later,
Timothy was violently vomiting,
and after being rushed
to the hospital,
he was pronounced dead.
The cause...
cyanide poisoning.
I was off duty at the time
on Halloween night
when I received a call
from one of my detectives.
I drove to southmore hospital,
and what I saw
was very, very disturbing...
not only because there was
a child there that was dead
that had cyanide foam
coming out of his mouth,
but it was a small,
blond-headed young boy,
and I looked at this child...
and I had at the time
a small, blond-headed,
eight-year-old son
lying in a bed in my home...
and it absolutely
just almost destroyed you
to see something like that.
Joshua: Had you ever heard
of the idea of
candy tampering before that?
I had heard about it...
I had never seen it personally,
but you know, you're always
concerned on Halloween,
and the next night
we had a grieving father,
a grieving mother,
and a grieving little sister.
I put my arm around
Mr. o'Bryan's shoulder
and I promised him,
"I promise you we will catch
this individual
that did this to your son. "
Joshua: Timothy's death
was a terrible blow,
not just for the family,
but for many in Pasadena.
As crowds of o'Bryan's
fellow churchgoers
flooded the cemetery,
Timothy's father quickly
reduced the mourners to tears
as he sang a hymn for the boy
who was now in heaven.
I introduced myself
to Mr. o'Bryan
and said I'm a reporter
for the Houston chronicle.
Is Mrs. o'Bryan
available to talk?
He said, you know,
she's really, as we all are,
just torn up about this,
but if you want to talk,
come on in,
and I'll try to talk to you.
And he said, you know,
I held my son in my arms
while he died, and I cried.
I thought
that they had been victimized
by a random crazy man, lunatic.
The original suspects
were people in Pasadena
who were living inhabitants
of the homes
where they did
the trick-or-treat.
4108, 4106,
Right here.
So right here
is the bates' house
from where o'Bryan
and the bateses
both went trick-or-treating.
After the funeral,
the police took o'Bryan around
the bates' neighborhood,
but he couldn't
remember the house
where he had gotten
the pixy styk.
Finally, he ID'd a neighbor
named Courtney Melvin.
Ten, right here
where this blue car is.
This is Courtney Melvin's place,
so basically Courtney
was out on his lawn.
O'Bryan was driving by,
fingered this guy
as being the person
where he got the pixy styx.
The only problem being
Courtney Melvin
had an airtight alibi.
As the killer continued
to elude police,
only seemed to confirm
everyone's worst fears...
a fear that still
resonates today.
Do you know about the crime
that happened?
Oh, yes, you're talking about
the candy man.
It was the first time
that I heard of people
doing that...
And then I heard of them
putting more cyanide
and razor blades.
I've heard fish hooks.
The way society is getting
right now, I mean,
I'm like, nope, no candy until
I look, you know, through it.
What are you looking for?
You know, an open wrapper,
just seeing if anything
has a hole in it.
You don't trust nobody.
- Joshua: Yeah.
- Can't.
I actually heard
about some guy doing it
in this neighborhood one time,
I think he actually lived
over there by the ditch.
And they do all sacrifice crap
over there during Halloween.
Do you think there are
satanists around?
There probably is.
I mean, knowing this
there are sickos around here.
and children will be out
to trick-or-treat.
We hope that the treats
will be many
and the tricks ingenious.
But sometimes
people give children
bad things on Halloween.
an old legend that actually
happened this time.
and there is a spreading fear
that this year,
will be many more cases
of contaminated treats.
Joel: The term that gets used
is "Halloween sadist".
People assume
that the Halloween sadist
was some crazy person who,
for some reason...
presumably you know,
some psychological problem...
gets pleasure or satisfaction
from hurting little kids.
Many people believe
the Halloween sadist
was behind Timothy's death,
but the real culprit
was more horrific
than anyone had ever imagined.
It's down here,
I think, on the left.
All right, so gray,
how do you want to do this?
I'll just, I'll hang back here.
Joshua: Okay.
So we're going to go up.
I'm not totally into this.
I can understand
why you'd want to do this...
It just makes me feel
a little uncomfortable.
and telling them
what tragedy happened here.
Joshua: Well, you wouldn't
want to know?
Oh, hey, how are you?
Hey, sorry to bother you.
We wanted to talk to you.
We're doing a documentary
and wanted to talk to you
about the family
that lived here before.
Do you know him?
Do you know
Ronald Clark o'Bryan?
No, you have no idea about him?
Nah, don't worry about it.
You want to know?
Do you really want to know?
Do you really want to know?
So the guy who lived in here
was a guy named
Ronald Clark o'Bryan.
He gave his son
a poison pixy styk.
He killed...
That's right.
News reader on t. V:
On Halloween night,
eight-year-old Timothy o'Bryan
of Pasadena, Texas,
died after eating a piece of
trick-or-treat candy
that contained cyanide.
Today Pasadena police arrested
the boy's father,
30-year-old Ronald o'Bryan,
on murder charges.
Police refused to
discuss the case
other than to say
the district attorney believes
he has sufficient evidence
to file charges.
Joshua: After receiving a call
from an insurance agent,
police discovered o'Bryan
had taken out a large policy
on his kids but not himself
nor his wife.
he had talked to numerous
people about death by cyanide
and had even tried
to buy the chemical
from local companies.
All evidence pointed
to Timothy's father
as the killer which,
as horrific as it sounds,
makes some sense,
and that's because
the Halloween sadist is a myth,
and the notion
of candy tampering
is really an urban legend.
The idea that this is
a big social problem is a myth.
I can't tell you
nobody has ever contaminated
a piece of candy,
but I can't find any evidence
that anybody has ever been hurt,
seriously hurt or killed,
from a contaminated treat
picked up in the course of
If there's no such thing
as the Halloween sadist,
who is, in fact, doing that?
( Chuckles ) Probably the kids.
If you think about it,
this is a terrific
kind of prank.
It's easy enough
to come by a pin,
easy enough to stick it
in the candy bar,
and then run in and say,
look mom,
there's a pin in my candy bar...
and you become the object
of the concerned attention
of your parents
and possibly even the press
and the police.
Joshua: While the fear of
tainted candy may be hysteria,
Timothy's death was real...
but was it really conceivable
that a father could kill
his own child...
and if so, what kind of monster
was Ronald Clark o'Bryan?
Look at that lying
son of a bitch.
I thought just like Mr. o'Bryan
wanted us to think...
that there was some maniac
out there
randomly giving these poison
pixy styx to little kids.
That's exactly what
he wanted us to think,
and that's what we thought.
It's hard to accept
that a human being
was willing to do that,
and it's still difficult
for all of us.
The people in this case were
forever affected by what he did
and by that,
I mean the bates kids...
he was going to kill
his friends own two kids...
and little Whitney Parker,
if the ambulance and police
hadn't gotten there so fast.
No good prosecutor wants to go
to trial at all on anything
unless they believe
in their own heart
that the defendant is guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt,
and seeking the death penalty
is just an extra dimension
of care and consideration
that should be given.
You wanted to keep the case.
I sure did.
I wanted to hopefully
have a hand
in seeing that justice was done
and that he would die
for what he did.
It took a jury only 45 minutes
to find o'Bryan guilty
and another 75
to sentence him to death.
he was scheduled to die on
October 31, 1976, Halloween.
Voice of o'Bryan: I have stated
from the very beginning
that I had absolutely
nothing at all to do with this.
I maintain that now,
and I'll willing
to take a polygraph now,
just like I was
from the very first time
that they arrested me.
I'm not worried about what
happens to my physical body.
When I die,
I know where I'm going.
Mike: You're going straight
to hell, buddy.
Interviewer: All these appeals
have been turned down
appeal after appeal,
and everybody is saying
you will be executed
this Saturday.
This could be
your last news conference.
What are your final thoughts?
Voice of o'Bryan:
As long as I have
verifiable options open to me,
I will pursue them.
Are you ever going to change
your proclamation of innocence
Voice of o'Bryan: No,
why should I? It's the truth.
When you consider victims,
the victim of this crime
actually turns out to be me.
O'Bryan had been sent
to Texas's infamous
huntsville prison
houses the most active
death chamber in the us,
but this was 1982,
and after a lengthy debate
in the supreme court
and numerous stays of execution,
o'Bryan was to be one
of the very first inmates
to be executed with
the reinstituted death penalty.
Yet, despite his crime,
o'Bryan still managed
to find his supporters.
who were in favor
of saving Ronald Clark o'Bryan
in spite of
the overwhelming evidence
and the horror of the crime.
Their position was
we are categorically
opposed to the death penalty.
There also were
who were in favor
of the death penalty.
They included a lot of students
from the university located here
including many who complained
about what had happened
to Halloween.
This is Ronald Clark o'Bryan.
Mr. o'Bryan is 39 years old.
It looks like you are
going to be executed.
Would you agree with that?
It's a possibility.
I've been aware
of that possibility
since the sentence
was handed down.
It doesn't make it right.
that nobody gets any joy
out of executing anybody,
but it is also clear
that most Americans
want to get on with this.
They are upset
that you're alive.
I-I can see that point, sure,
but here again,
I don't think
that revenge is right.
I don't think society
is entitled to revenge.
You are accused of ruining
Halloween for everybody.
that's a matter of opinion.
( Chuckles )
March 31, 1984,
the day of o'Bryan's execution
had finally arrived.
He was to be executed
just after midnight.
As the hour approached,
the frenzy outside
reached a fever pitch.
News reporter: Demonstrators
were outside the prison
waiting for the announcement
they wanted to hear.
Parents of other murdered
children joined the vigil.
You know, how could anyone do
something to their own child?
News reporter:
Dying together.
What all of us would give
to have the chance
to have ours back.
Joshua: Do you think Halloween
will ever be the same again?
Oh, I don't think Halloween
has changed a great deal,
except maybe gotten
a little safer.
At exactly 12:40 A.M.
O'Bryan was injected with
a lethal cocktail of drugs,
twice the normal amount,
to account for
his 250-pound weight.
After o'Bryan's eyes fluttered,
his chest heaved,
and it was over.
News reader on t. V:
Ronald o'Bryan,
the man fellow inmates
called the candy man,
was killed by lethal injection
this morning
at a huntsville, Texas, prison.
On t. V: Ronald o'Bryan
went to his deathbed
never admitting
that he killed his own son.
the condemned man
did ask to be forgiven.
Also to anyone
I have offended in any way
during my 39 years.
I pray and ask your forgiveness,
just as I forgive anyone
who offended me in any way.
Ronald o'Bryan is dead.
His ex-wife sees the execution
as the end of a nightmare,
and a chance
for a brand new beginning.
Joshua: For many the idea
that we were killing the man
who killed Halloween
seemed justified.
O'Bryan had to die
so we could have our fun back.
People were celebrating it,
there's no question about it,
but it was
kind of a catharsis, really,
and people welcomed the event.
He really had not just
desecrated the family tie,
but he had actually
in some fundamental way
desecrated the idea of Halloween
by taking a scary story
and literally making it true.
he used the urban legend
as a smokescreen.
He used it as an alibi.
I couldn't have done it
because this is
the sort of thing
that an anonymous
creepy killer would do,
and we all know that
because of urban legends.
In the ultimate irony,
o'Bryan's decision to enact
the tainted candy myth
turned fiction into reality,
allowing the candy man
to continue haunting Halloween
for generations to come.
Look, it's right there.
Mr. o'Bryan, your case
has probably created terror
in the hearts of parents.
In fact, I'm told
that the inmates
occasionally refer to you
as the candy man, is that so?
A babysitter is watching TV
after putting the kids to bed
when she gets a call
from a mysterious stranger.
( Phone rings )
Have you checked the children?
Joshua: Thinking it's a prank,
she hangs up.
the same mysterious man
calls again.
Have you checked the children?
Only now the question ends
with a devilish laugh.
The babysitter reports the call.
Hello, could you
get me the police.
I've been getting
weird phone calls.
Joshua: After a few minutes,
a hurried voice calls back.
( Phone rings )
Sgt. Sachar: Jill,
this is sergeant sachar.
Listen to me.
We've traced the call.
The caller is in the house.
The calls are coming
from the house.
It's coming from
inside the house.
Joshua: Just at that moment,
the babysitter looks over
as a man is coming
down the stairs.
( Scream )
Well, that really happened
to a girl in my hometown.
( Chuckles )
Oh, yes. I'm sure it did.
I'm sure most of you grew up
thinking that this happened
to girls in all your hometowns,
but it didn't.
Joshua: Yes, the babysitter
and the man upstairs
is a popular urban legend,
but is there any truth
behind it?
One would think so
considering all these examples,
but when dealing
with urban legends,
the truth is never
quite what it seems.
When I think babysitter,
I think about me babysitting
as a teenager
and how fearful I was.
You know,
being in a strange house,
hearing strange sounds,
not being familiar,
but what was interesting
is that I started researching
thinking that I wouldn't
have a hard time
finding a case of a babysitter
by following some kind of
death or kidnapping,
the children upstairs
being killed or whatever.
It's very difficult to find
any true crimes
to connect
this urban legend line.
about babysitting is that it
doesn't increase your danger
of being attacked at all.
It would be
a completely random event
for a babysitter to be attacked
during a house burglary,
but it induces anxiety
because suddenly
they're responsible for
these other people's kids,
and it has nothing to do
with your potential
for becoming a crime victim...
but it may be getting it
expressed in stories
in which the babysitter
becomes the crime victim.
Joshua: You would think
with the amount of babysitters
getting killed
in popular culture now,
like, we would have just like
gotten a case immediately.
Oh, it took me
to going back to the '50s
to actually find one.
We found this case
of janett christman
here in Columbia, Missouri,
which is why we're here.
My name is Carol Haley holt,
and I was a very good friend
of janett christman
from first grade
through the time of her death.
It was march 18, 1950.
Janett was babysitting
for the romack family
out kind of in the west edge
of Columbia...
it really wasn't
in the city limits.
It was kind of an eerie night.
I also was babysitting,
and I just felt uneasy,
and that was unusual for me
because I did
quite a bit of babysitting...
but I just felt that something
was going on about 12 o'clock,
and I even got up
to check the door
and make sure it was locked,
went in to check
the little boy...
he was fine.
And then the next morning,
the phone rang.
My mother went in to answer
and told me that janett
had been killed
while she was babysitting.
I had heard that
there had been a phone call
to the police.
Well, Mrs. romack tried to call
to check on janett
with the thunder,
and she was afraid
the little boy might wake up...
and she tried to call
and received a busy signal.
( Busy tone on phone )
Joshua: What the romack
family didn't know
is that janett
had called the police
while she was being attacked,
but the only thing they heard
were desperate screams.
Unable to trace the call,
the police were helpless
to stop her murder.
Janett had skin
under her fingernails.
She had many abrasions
on her body,
but the final thing was
that she was strangled
with an ironing cord.
I know she suffered a lot
before she finally succumbed.
Janett christman's death
shocked the small town
of Columbia, Missouri,
but despite being one of
the most publicized crimes
in the past 60 years,
her murder
has never been solved.
So right now, we're looking
for ed romack's house
where janett christman
was murdered
while she was babysitting.
1015 should be
somewhere along here.
So then it must be that one.
That house right there?
Right there, right there.
Quick question for you,
is this where ed romack
used to live?
Is that this house?
Joshua: But you don't know
anything about it.
About two years ago,
this car pulled up
and they were out there talking
and pointing here at this house,
and they said
we're trying to figure out
which house where a girl
was babysitting a little baby,
and she got murdered and raped.
And I said, no,
it's not this house,
it's that one.
It was a man talking to me.
He said, "I was the baby. "
And a different woman that
lived across west boulevard,
and she had been
raped and murdered
sometime within close
to that time.
Joshua: Jenkins is it?
Jenkins, right.
We went to...
I went to the trial. Yeah.
Joshua: Marylou Jenkins
was the other reason
we were in Columbia.
On February 6, 1946,
marylou, age 20,
was home alone
while her mother was out
caring for an elderly neighbor.
The next morning she came home
to find marylou dead.
Much like janett christman's
murder four years later,
marylou had been raped
and strangled
with an electrical cord.
A mentally-challenged man
named Floyd Cochran
who had been arrested
for killing his wife
was charged with the murder
and quickly executed.
Do you think Floyd was innocent?
Mary Beth brown: I think
he was likely innocent
of killing marylou Jenkins, yes.
He did kill his wife
in likely a domestic dispute,
but just from reading
the trial transcripts,
it just didn't seem like
he had the wherewithal
to kill and rape a young woman.
Joshua: Mary Beth brown
is a researcher
who helped shed new light
on these old cold cases.
She believes
the eerie similarities
between the Jenkins murder
and the christman murder
four years later only
proves Cochran's innocence.
They were both young woman,
they were home by themselves,
they were both found
with electrical cords
but cords that weren't attached
or torn from the appliance...
The whole location thing
is the one that really gets me.
Like how close was it?
Mary Beth brown:
Within two blocks.
Joshua: Do you think
that the same person
who killed marylou Jenkins
also killed janett christman?
That's my personal opinion,
but yeah.
And who do you think did it?
I've been told several people,
but more than any other name
was Robert Mueller.
was a high school friend
of ed romack's,
and it was the romack's house
where janett was babysitting
that night.
The romacks told police
that Mueller
had often commented
on janett being a virgin
and had eluded to knowing
intimate details of the crime.
Although Mueller had been
taken in for questioning
and passed a polygraph,
the police still felt
there was enough evidence
to arrest him.
However, a grand jury
refused to indict,
and Mueller was never tried
for janett's murder.
Rachel: I am working
on a documentary,
and I'm interested
in a cold case
I wanted to see
if there was any information
that you could give me.
did you just like
do something on your system
and you see
there's nothing there?
Despite numerous efforts
to reach out to police,
they were less than responsive.
Christman's case was too old
to warrant attention.
However, we were able to
track down some old case files.
This deputy testified
that romack told him
Mueller had known janett
and admired
her well-developed form.
( Aghast ) Oh my God!
There's her leg.
There's the phone.
That's the cord
around her neck, right there.
It's one of those irons
back then with the thick cords.
that supposedly whoever
did this went in and out of,
if someone were going
through there...
they'd be totally ripped up.
The piano, look.
That's the window...
oh, look.
because look at the area
around it.
So, inside job.
Mueller's wife,
according to the deputy,
had called the girl to baby sit
at the Mueller home that night
and found she had already
been asked by Mrs. romack.
So, Mueller tried to get her
to baby sit that night.
Must have been.
And she was already
babysitting the romacks...
which was how he would know
she would be alone.
I agree that it sounds
like he did it,
but maybe, maybe he didn't.
There's no solid proof,
no hard evidence.
Joshua: Joan sorrels is another
researcher studying the cases.
happening in Columbia
at the time
might be connected
to these murders.
There were rapes
that had occurred
within that period
between the Jenkins murder
and the christman murder.
Tell me about those.
Yeah. Well, there was a rape
that was within two blocks
of the christman murder.
The girl was raped by a man
that wore a mask...
the reports
of the christman murder...
when they're talking
about Robert Mueller,
it turns out that he was
interested in the theater
and that he made masks.
There was a black man named
Jake Bradford that they charged,
and he had already been in jail,
and he was charged on the rapes.
You assume he was innocent.
Of that.
They took the wrong man,
they really did.
Would you say that Columbia
has like a history of this?
Well, you remember
that I was graduating
from high school in '51.
You would go
to the mu football games
and you would stand up
for Dixie.
What does that mean?
The song dixies...
Uh-hm, okay.
That's a confederate song.
Columbia was really primarily
a confederate town.
Basically this is the story
of a young girl...
We came here to investigate
but what we found
was truly shocking...
the unsolved murders
of two young girls,
a series of brutal rapes,
and the possibility
that men were being falsely
accused and even executed.
In all honesty, the truth
was more unflinchingly real
than we could ever
have imagined.
So right now, we are headed
to hinkson creek.
Rachel: This is where
a lot of people went to park
back in the '50s, and '40s,
'50s, '60s and still do now.
We just wanted to see
about all the other rapes
that were happening
other than the two houses.
This is the creek
where they're saying
there were a ton of rapes
happening around here.
This is where
the college students go in,
and there's like a car
right out over there
and they just flashed
their lights
because they didn't want us
to walk in on them.
What's down here?
Uh, where they dragged the girl.
Rachel: Dragged?
Dragged from the car.
There was a couple making out.
Some guy came out of nowhere
and then at gunpoint
pulled one of the girls off
into the woods... and it was
right near Halloween...
and basically this guy
put a mask over his head
and then he put a mask
over the girl's face,
I think the more scary thing
was being a woman,
being a girl between
1940 and 1950, in this area,
knowing the amount of things
going on.
I wouldn't have wanted to be
a babysitter back then.
I wouldn't have wanted
to be by myself
Most teenagers in the us
go through a period
when they baby sit
at least once or twice,
and it feels very terrifying
to the person who is doing it,
( eerie music )
But it's not actually dangerous
almost at all.
I mean, there's no reason
to imagine
that any killer would even know
that a babysitter was on duty
in the house,
and it makes the most sense
if you think about the fact
that maybe he knew she was
going to be there babysitting
and maybe
he did this specifically
to torment the babysitter,
and that is
exactly what happened,
they think,
in the Columbia case.
Joshua: Was somebody tormenting
the babysitters in Columbia...
and was the same person
responsible for the sex crimes
that had terrorized this town...
and finally was this same
person Robert Mueller?
Hoping for some
additional insight,
we turned to a profiler
in Kansas City,
a former German national
named Peter brendt
who was willing to review
our case.
So in your opinion,
the same killer for both girls.
This is too specific
if you add
all of the details together.
Do you think
that marylou Jenkins knew him?
Well, there was no sign
of forced entry on the door,
so at least from the sight,
she must have known him,
and he was non threatening
to her.
Now let's talk about christman.
Peter: Oh, well,
this is a lot more specifics.
If you see
there comes an offender,
he breaks a window.
The victim runs to the kitchen
where the phone is,
and he walks in
through the front door.
Now, why would he do that?
He would do that
only if he knew one detail...
ed romack had shown her
how to use the shortcut.
Joshua: Peter had brought up
an interesting clue...
one that many had overlooked.
Romack testified
that he had shown janett
a loaded shotgun
by the front door.
Mueller would distract her
away from the gun
so he could safely
get inside the house.
He knew how long he would need
around the house,
through the front door
into the kitchen.
So he knew every feet
of the route.
Do you think it was Mueller?
He fits the bill,
but a lot of other males
of the town
would fit that bill, too.
And the problem is
he passed his lie detector.
Now, if you have even 20%
to 40% cycle passes it makes...
a lie detector,
especially an old model
from the '50s,
um, well, it's worthless.
is that the rapes and murders
stopped when he left town.
Well, that looks not good
on the other side.
What was it, half a million
young males went to Korea?
So he wasn't the only one
who left the area.
I mean he would
so nicely fit the bill,
but that's the risky part
with profiles, yeah?
A profile states
not who the killer is
but what the killer is.
I think it's interesting
that he thinks whoever this is,
he knew her...
he knew both.
Joshua: Although we'll
never be able to prove
who committed all these crimes,
the evidence strongly suggests
that janett christman
knew her killer.
There really is not
a strong tradition in America
of strangers coming in
and killing babysitters.
Babysitters killing
small children, yes,
but the stranger
on babysitter story
just doesn't connect up with
a widespread real social fear.
( Thumping )
Stephen: What the babysitter
and the man upstairs
seems to be about
is this warning
about this kind of
If you're taking
this responsibility,
you have to take it seriously.
So, you have this voice
that calls her up on the phone
and almost like a conscience,
asks have you checked
the children,
and she hasn't
checked the children,
and that's one of the reasons
why she doesn't know
that they've been murdered.
Bill Ellis:
I think it makes more sense
to look at it in a simple way
and say the babysitter is
dealing with her own anxieties
of being potentially the cause
of the children's death...
and the killer upstairs
is the killer upstairs for her.
Joshua: The tragic case
of janett christman
only goes to prove
bill Ellis's point
that our portrayal of the man
upstairs is incorrect...
and that's because the truth
is more terrifying
than we can ever imagine.
Janett christman
knew her killer,
and if it's true
that her killer was Mueller
as so many in Columbia
have suggested,
then the man tormenting her
that fateful night
wasn't any stranger.
( Phone rings )
So now we go from
Columbia, Missouri,
to Chicago in the 1980s...
from the small town
to the big city.
For some,
it is a loss of innocence,
and nothing speaks to that loss
more than clowns.
( Circus music )
We used to think of clowns
as fairly happy characters.
Yes, sometimes
they were sad or hapless,
but ultimately they were
harmless caricatures.
Of course, clown faces
were exaggerated and garish,
but that's because of
the far distances
between the audience
and the ring.
It wasn't the clown's fault,
or was it?
Before modern times,
the clown...
or more appropriately
the Jester...
was considered
a mischievous trickster
whose special role
allowed them to mock nobility.
Jesters served to entertain,
but it wasn't all smiles.
These clowns had a mean streak,
and they played it to the hilt.
But what was it
about the clowns of today
that turned them
into something evil?
( Rooster cawing )
I'm hungry.
Joshua: Some believe
it was when we brought clowns
out of the big top
and into our homes
via birthday parties and TV,
that things
really began to change.
We see you here as bozo.
Who are you really?
Joshua: Had that
suspicious gleam in the eye
been there all along?
Did we finally just put
two and two together to realize
that clowns were creepy
or even worse...
The news at 5.
News reader:
Chicago police warned parents
about a man dressed as a clown
who is approaching children.
Police say a clown
tried to lure boys
into his pickup truck
last Tuesday evening.
Police have issued
two community alerts
regarding the clown sighting
near some southside schools
as well as
some westside schools.
No one can say for sure
where in Chicago
it happened first or even when,
but they were out there,
snatching kids off the streets.
They trolled playgrounds
and schoolyards.
Sometimes they used
balloons or candy
to lure the gullible ones.
But ask anyone
who has seen them,
and they'll all tell you
the same thing...
it was the white van
they saw first
and then that face
behind the wheel
painted white
with a maniacal smile.
We call them the killer clowns,
and they only wanted
one thing...
to kidnap kids just like us.
On t. V: Police are saying
that the suspect
wears clown make-up, a wig,
and sometimes
he carried balloons.
occurred near playgrounds
at 83rd and mackinaw...
They were running out
of the playground area.
To prey on children
at this time, you know,
right around the time
that they want to go out
and do trick-or-treating
is unfortunate.
We should emphasize
that nothing has happened...
but certainly these incidents
that have been near children
is making it very uneasy.
( Sirens wailing )
Joshua: In 2008, this was
one of the reported sightings...
South mackinaw...
one of the theoretical
clown abductions
where apparently he was hiding
in the playground
with some balloons...
Or he was in a van
or he was in a truck.
I mean, no adult
said they saw this.
Something was going on
with these children
to feel the need
to alert adults.
You doing a documentary?
Joshua: Do you believe
that really happened?
Yeah, oh sure.
Joshua: Why do you believe
that happened?
Well, people told me, you know,
that they actually seen that.
Was it just one incident
or was it...
No, it was like a couple weeks
or you know,
a month or something like
that it was going on.
Did they ever catch the guy?
I think they did
because it stopped.
it was a true incident.
Joshua: Uh-hm.
Rachel: Uh-hm.
He believes it.
It was-it was real.
I think there could possibly
have been a clown here.
It's hard to discern.
A white van
and the guy had a mask...
... Of a clown.
One of our friends' daughters...
yeah, and she was holding on
like for dear life to the fence.
Joshua: Really?
Joshua: Do you believe
it really happened?
We have tons and tons
of pedophiles
in this community.
I always log on to it.
Joshua: Really?
Oh yes.
Dressing as a clown?
That's a little extreme,
don't you think?
No, but we saw people
that acted like that person...
I saw him right in the store
and I warned the store owner.
I'd like for people
to hear the truth
( indistinct ) Not a lie.
( Background sirens )
Now I don't know what to think.
Joshua: Walking away,
it was hard not to believe
that there must be
some truth to this.
Could all these people
really be wrong?
Maybe our fear of clowns
isn't just in our heads.
Joe durwin: Coulrophobia
is the fear of clowns.
It is so widespread now
that, you know,
everybody knows that people
are afraid of clowns.
Everybody knows that something
is up with clowns,
and the last couple of decades
have just been confirmation
of everything they ever feared.
is that these phantom clowns
didn't just appear in 2008.
There was a similar sighting
17 years previously,
in the fall of 1991.
From the number of
alleged sightings
coming from practically
all over Chicago,
police are theorizing
there may be more
than one phony clown
out roaming the streets.
This is a comment.
"I've seen the same van
with the clown driving
when we was on the westside
and I can recall the van
stopping in the alley
and the clown trying to
lure me to the van.
than living in cabrini-green
projects. "
Joe durwin: The mention of
cabrini-green was telling.
It had been one of Chicago's
most notorious slums
where kids faced rampant poverty
and violence on a daily basis.
But how does a kid process
these overwhelming
societal issues
that are just too big to fix?
Have you ever like
heard of any talk
about any scary place
on your block,
a place nobody went to?
Every block is a scary block...
( Giggles )
So much shooting
and killing out here.
You guys think clowns are scary?
Killer clowns.
Killer clowns.
We've got a real shot here,
An entire community
starts attributing
the daily horrors of their lives
to a mythical figure.
Sometimes we create monsters.
Sometimes we just need
to put a face on our fear.
Aren't you going to say hello?
This is where there was
another series of
clown sightings back in '91.
They called this clown sighting
the homey the clown sighting.
Back in the early '90s,
there was a popular show on,
in living colors.
Huge character on there,
homey the clown.
Now let's show them
how homey gets back at
Mr. establishment.
( Laughter )
( Laughter )
I mean, this is only one
of many, many places
all over Chicago.
There was a real citywide scare.
The Chicago police
were being called.
There were reports in the news.
Joshua: Isaiah Thompson
was a local reporter
who grew up in Chicago
and wrote about the clowns
that seemed to be lurking
on every corner.
Somehow-you know,
I don't know that anyone
knows how, you know,
this whole city,
especially like this whole
public school network of
thousands and thousands of kids
all believe the same thing,
so it seems like
this larger force of nature
that sort of visited itself
upon the kids of Chicago.
Joshua: What the kids in 1991
didn't know
was that Chicago had
an even earlier clown scare.
There was another clown scare
phenomenon previously in 1981.
It's been said that that one
started in Boston.
Uh-hm. You think '81,
you think '80s,
you think Steven king,
you think poltergeist.
No, that started in '82,
poltergeist, '86 for it.
This was all before any of that.
Joshua: It's easy to see
how poltergeist
could have helped
spread a clown scare.
And of course,
Steven king's it...
Ah-ha, I'll drive you crazy
and I'll kill you all.
I'm every nightmare
you ever had.
I am your worst dream come true!
Joshua: But the fact
that the 1981 scare
preceded these cinematic
killer clowns was telling.
This wasn't just kids
watching some movie,
not when this fear
was everywhere.
Joe durwin: Clowns appear
in California in 1967;
in Newark 1980;
Boston; Providence;
Omaha; Phoenix,
Arizona in 1985;
Chicago; Galveston,
Texas, 1992;
Washington; Maryland;
Scotland, 1991;
throughout a large portion
of Latin America
from Mexico to South America
in the mid-90s.
The question of
how it's being spread
is a very interesting one
because you have an age group
which doesn't have
an enormous amount of contacts
and especially
in a pre-Internet time.
Elementary schools
communicating with students
in other elementary schools
on the other side of town
How it's transmitted is really
one of the most intriguing,
perhaps unsolved mysteries
about it.
All over the world,
kids were seeing killer clowns,
but it could have been
any monster...
zombies, vampires, witches,
why clowns?
Maybe our fear points
to an even larger issue.
Maybe it was the clown's
loss of innocence
that made them
that much more scary
because it spoke
to our own loss.
For those born into a
generation of stranger danger,
where missing kids appeared
on every milk carton,
clowns represented a world
that had turned
almost evil overnight,
and that's because
it's here in Chicago
where the notion
of killer clowns
became a reality.
News reporter: Police found
the decomposed remains
of three bodies.
They suspect there are several
more bodies buried here.
Joshua: And the most
evil of them all was pogo,
the alter ego of one of the
most prolific serial killers
in all of history,
John Wayne gacy.
Gacy was a sadistic
serial killer
who brutally slayed 33 young men
between 1972 and 1978
in the Chicago suburbs.
Though many have portrayed
gacy as an actual killer clown,
the truth behind
his demented persona
is not so simple.
How many bodies
did you find here?
Bob egan: Twenty-nine,
twenty-seven under the house...
In the crawlspace,
one under the driveway...
And one under an extension
that he put on the garage.
a former prosecutor
on the gacy case,
and cook county detective
Jason moran.
Bob egan: When we first saw
the pogo the clown pictures,
is this guy acting as a clown
to get victims...
that's what we thought,
but it wasn't that at all.
He was doing that because
he was the center of attention,
was to make himself
the center of attention.
I still don't like clowns.
( Chuckles ) And I'm an adult
with a gun and a badge.
And it might be
from being a child
during that time because
if you look at pogo the clown,
he was a very creepy clown.
If you look at the pictures,
the make-up around his eyes
when he was portraying pogo,
was triangular,
and the make-up around his mouth
came up to points.
Clown experts said
clowns do not have
any sharp points on their faces.
Because it scares kids
and it connotes evil.
And so do you think
gacy did this on purpose
to connote evil?
It was subconscious?
No, I don't think at all.
I think it was
purely coincidental.
I'm telling you, that's exactly
what we believed at the time.
Pogo the clown issue
was the subject
of a lot of conversation
during the trial prep.
Joshua: Although gacy never did
kill anyone dressed as a clown,
he did tell police clowns
could get away with murder,
leading many to believe
his signature clown look
was in fact a true reflection
of his inner evil self.
Ken melvoin-berg
is a noted historian
who understands
the dark side of a clown.
It doesn't matter the type
of mask that you're putting on...
whether it's a clown face...
it's to hide who you are
a little bit
and to be somebody
a little bit different.
It's oftentimes the opposite
of what we portray ourselves
So somebody who is
a truly evil person like gacy
puts it on
to sort of offset that.
Bill Ellis: What happens
when people costume
is that they're playing with
these internal personalities...
they're repressing
the normal ego...
and they are allowing
some internal personality
to become dominant.
And so you put on
the clown make-up
and you are no longer yourself.
You then become someone
that is unpredictable,
possibly dangerous,
possibly violent.
Game on, my friend.
( Chuckles )
( Horn blows )
( Chuckles )
a huge thing for us
here in Chicago
unlike any other American city
where we have clowns
and clown stories
and clown mythology
and clown history
that no other city
in the us has.
It started off a long time ago
in the 1890s
when the columbian exposition
brought clowns around
just to entertain folks.
Going forward in time
a little bit,
up into the 1950s, like Bob bell
who was the original
bozo the clown.
The bozo set is still at wgn
in the building,
and it's allegedly haunted.
In the late '70s is when
you had John Wayne gacy.
Shortly after is when
So for people like me
who are a little bit sadistic,
to me it's made it
that much more interesting
because people
are that much more scared
of clowns these days.
The thing is
that all of the people
that were children
in the 1980s and 1990s
and are telling these
terrifying tales of clowns
to their children.
Speaking of the connection
to clowns in Chicago,
the one site that you guys
have got to see
if you haven't been there before
is showmen's rest
which is a monument
to the circus and clowns
in a cemetery.
Buried in Chicago
were the clowns
and other circus performers
who died in one of the worst
train wrecks
in American history.
On June 22, 1918,
after its conductor fell asleep,
a train plowed
into the idle sleeper cars
of the hagenbeck-Wallace circus.
Those who weren't killed
in the initial impact
burned to death after
the wooden cars caught on fire.
In all, 86 performers
were killed.
With so many burned
beyond recognition,
they were buried in a mass grave
in a section
of the Chicago cemetery
called showmen's rest.
One of those who survived
was Joe coyle,
a famously jovial clown
whose act became
perpetually sad and morose
as he took to dressing in rags.
Coyle would play a sad clown
for the rest of his life.
Joe coyle spoke bitterly
as he lay on a stretcher
and told how his wife
and two babies
had joined him only recently
and how all three
had been crushed to death
at his very side.
"The kiddies had been so glad
to see their daddy," he said,
"I wish I could have died
with them. "
Joshua: Here, look. See that?
Baldy, 1918, June 22.
Rachel: They said they
only could name him baldy
because that was the only name
they knew him by
was his stage name.
4 horse driver, 1918.
Rachel: Unknown male,
unknown male.
Joshua: Unknown male,
unknown male, unknown male.
All these graves are unknown.
Rachel: All these graves
are unknown.
Joshua: Maybe it all started
in Chicago
with the deaths of these clowns.
Maybe all it takes
is a little tragedy
to unlock the even
darker places in our mind.
One thing is for certain...
there's no going back
to the innocent clown.
The scales have been tipped
and the evidence proves it.
Clowns can do scary things.
They can even become killers.
( Sirens wailing )
Voice on radio:...314,
shooting at century theaters.
14300, east Alameda Avenue.
They're saying somebody
is shooting in the auditorium.
We got seven down
and ( Indistinct ).
I've got a child victim...
I need rescue.
( Simultaneous talking )
News reporter: Breaking news
coming out of aurora, Colorado.
A scene
of a shooting this morning.
A movie theater
where "the dark knight rises"
was being shown.
On July 20, 2012,
James Holmes commits
one of the worse mass shootings
But if the massacre itself
weren't horrific enough,
James's costuming
was an ominous testament
to the allure
of a very specific clown.
Clown in movie:
Introduce a little anarchy,
upset the established order.
Then everything becomes chaos.
I'm an agent of chaos.
Joshua: Holmes's embodiment
of the joker,
a villain
who has come to represent
the ultimate destruction
of our civilized world
is no coincidence.
( Explosions )
In our never-ending attempts
to sanitize society,
we sometimes reap what we sow.
Joe durwin: In a sense,
you can really look at it s as
a possible backlash.
He felt this compulsion
to water the clown down
into this cartoonish,
harmless being,
and maybe underlying traits
of the archetype
just came back with a vengeance.
Joshua: Holmes's joker-fueled
rampage not only signified
that the clown's transformation
from innocent to evil
was finally complete,
but it also revealed
what was truly lurking
inside of us all.
We think of ourselves as one,
and in fact we're really
kind of a parliament
of personalities.
The killer clown
is one of our personalities,
it's part of us.
And so therefore,
we have to be very careful
not to let the killer clown out
except, in a safe way...
except in a playful way.
( Evil laugh )
See, madness as you know,
is like gravity.
All it takes is a little push.
( Evil laugh )
The babysitter killer,
the hook man,
the Halloween sadist,
the killer clown...
what can we learn
from these urban legends
and from the true crimes
that may have inspired them?
Maybe these monsters,
despite our overwhelming desire
to believe otherwise,
just aren't real.
By presenting false boogeymen,
our urban legends are helping us
to make sense of crimes
too wicked to comprehend.
Bill Ellis: An urban legend,
even though it can be scary,
it's not nearly as scary
as the actual murderers
that live in the world with us.
Joshua: But peel back the
layers of any campfire tale,
and you'll understand
the inherent truth
that despite our need
to believe in an evil,
in a darker force,
it just isn't true.
In the end,
the only real boogeyman
is the one that lurks
inside of us all,
waiting for just
the right moment to emerge.
So what's the lesson
behind this cautionary tale?
The warning here is simple...
be afraid, not of the story,
but of the storyteller.
( Music playing )