Despite all of the ghosts and ghouls, murderers and lunatics, and vengeful spirits in horror films, time and time again, the most horrifying things in these movies is a little kid. From The Exorcist, to The Shining, to newer movies like Orphan, sometimes the most horrifying things come in the smallest packages. But even some of these onscreen terrors pale in comparison to the horrific crimes committed by the following real-life children.
One – Mary Bell
In May of 1968, the day before Mary Bell turned 11, she strangled a 4 year old boy named Martin Brown in an abandoned house. A short time later, she and a 13 year old friend broke into an orphanage, smashed the place up, and left notes that claimed responsibility for Brown’s murder, but the police just assumed that it was a prank.
That July, the pair kidnapped and murdered 3 year old Brian Howe and left his body on a nearby wasteland, but not before Mary mutilated him and carved an “M” into his stomach.
She was only convicted with two counts of manslaughter, both because of her young age and her psychiatric evaluation, where she showed all the common signs of psychopathy. She was held until the age of 23 and then set free, which she remains to this day.
Two – Barry Dale Loukaitis
He had planned to take one of the students hostage and to use them to get out of the school, but a gym teacher heard the gunshots and offered to be the hostage when he stumbled upon the scene. He then wrestled the gun from Loukaitis’s hands and subdued him until police arrived.
Loukaitis is currently serving two life sentences with an additional 205 years on top of that.
Three – Jesse Pomero
Pomeroy was born in 1860, and between the winter and fall of 1871 (when he was eleven) he had captured and tortured 4 younger boys. When he was caught, they sent him to a reform school, where he was supposed to stay until he was 21. He was let out early on good behavior after a year and a half.
Unfortunately, that was when he began to kill. When he was 14, he kidnapped and killed a little girl, and shortly thereafter murdered a four year old boy in such a gruesome way that he almost decapitated him.
When police found the boy and came to think of him as a suspect, they asked him if he killed the boy. His response was a cold, unfeeling “I suppose I did.”
Most people that heard about the case wanted the death penalty, and he was actually sentenced to hang, but the governor refused to sign the death warrant, and his sentence was altered to life in prison and solitary confinement.
Four – Robert Thompson and Jon Venables
These two ten year old boys did the unthinkable. When they saw three year old James Bulger walking with his mother in the mall, they grabbed him and led him away. They did all sorts of terrifying things to him: beat him, threw bricks at him, piled stones on his head, sexually violated him with batteries, and when they finally killed him, they left his body on a set of train tracks to be cut in half. The poor boy had so many injuries that it could not be determined which was the cause of his death.
It’’s hard to imagine adults committing such a terrible crime, and yet these boys were only ten. They each, of course, blamed one another for the crimes and were eventually convicted. The were held for eight years until their trial was deemed unfair and they were freed and granted lifetime anonymity so that they could not be tracked down for revenge purposes.
Five – William York
In 1748, at ten years old, William York was imprisoned for the murder of five year old Susan Mayhew. A newspaper at the time actually published the grisly details, along with an illustration of the murder.
He was convicted under a code of law that required the death penalty and it was warned that a failing to convict him could make other ten year old boys think that they could murder girls that they “did not like” and found “sulky”.
But still, judges were not prepared to kill a small child, so they delayed the execution time after time until 1757, when he was pardoned and admitted into the Royal Navy. Which beats Great Britain’s old method of criminal disposal: dumping them in Australia.
Six – Eric Smith
At thirteen years old, Eric Smith brutally murdered four year old Derrick Robie. The boy was walking from his house to a recreation program a block away when Smith grabbed and drug him to a nearby wooded area. He beat him with rocks, poured Kool-Aid from his lunch box all over him, sodomized him with a stick, and kept mutilating and abusing his body once he was dead. It was one of the most heinous acts committed, let alone by a child, that the United States had ever seen.
He is currently serving a sentence of nine to life in prison, but comes up for parole from time to time. The scariest part is that everyone who has talked to him can’t believe that they’re speaking with a murderer. He just seems so normal and sincere.
Seven – Lionel Tate
Lionel Tate, at twelve years old, is the youngest person to ever be sentenced to life without parole for the murder of a six year old girl. It is unknown what exactly happened, but his mother was babysitting the girl and was upstairs. Lionel was downstairs with her and ran upstairs to tell his mother that the girl was not breathing.
He claimed that he had just been trying wrestling moves he’d seen on TV and that her death was an accident, but details of his story directly contradicted physical evidence, and he was convicted of first degree murder.
In 2004, the conviction was overturned on the grounds that he did not receive a fair trial due to not really understanding his charges, and he was released with 10 years of probation and a guilty plea to second degree murder, rather than first.
Unfortunately, he was sent back to prison with a 30 year sentence for an armed robbery against a pizza delivery man, begging the question of why he was released in the first place.
Eight – Jasmine Richardson
Jasmine Richardson at age twelve was tried and convicted of murdering her mother, father, and eight year old brother. The motive was her twenty-three year old boyfriend who her parents had recently forbidden her from seeing. So the two hatched a plan. He came over to her house, and the two of them murdered her family together. The parents were downstairs, and the boyfriend killed them, then he called Jasmine up to her brother’s room and made her stab him in the chest.
They fled to a town 100 miles away, but were quickly caught and put on trial. They sent letters back and forth while incarcerated that only focused on their own relationship and showed no remorse for their actions.
The boyfriend is now serving three concurrent life sentences while Jasmine is finishing up her sentence in a mental institution and is reportedly sorry for her crimes.
Nine – Alyssa Bustamonte
Fifteen year old Alyssa Bustamonte used her little sister as bait to lure a nine year old girl away from her home and into a secluded, wooded area. The girl had come over to play with her sister and Bustamonte “ran into her” while she was walking home. She lured her into the woods and proceeded to brutally stab the girl to death for no reason other than wanting to know what killing someone felt like, which seems like the motivation of roughly half of the killers in movies.
Police only found the grave after Bustamonte’s teacher led them to it. Bustamonte later confessed to having dug two graves, which suggested that her twin brothers may have been the initial target.
She is currently serving a life sentence.
Ten – Graham Young
He convinced his supervisors that he was “cured,” and they released him at the age of twenty-three, and he proceeded to go on a poisoning rampage. Deaths were attributed to pneumonia, suicide, and many other causes, but never linked back to him until the lack of appreciation for his handiwork grew too much for him to bear and he asked why thallium poisoning had not been looked into (since many people at his work were becoming sick, and there was a great deal of thallium around).
It was then that his prior crimes came out and he was convicted of two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, and two counts of administering poison, though many more people had displayed symptoms. He received four life sentences and died in prison at age 42, and it is rumored that he grew tired of prison life and poisoned himself.
Eleven – Josh Phillips
Quote (Josh’s mother, Melissa): “As I pondered where to begin, I noticed a wet spot on the floor at the corner of Josh’s softside waterbed and groaned, “Don’t tell me that bed is leaking!” I touched the corner of the mattress and it was soaked. I decided to investigate the cause of the leak rather than tackle the cleaning. I needed to find out how bad the leak was; whether I’d need to drain the bed or not.”
Fourteen year old Josh Phillips was playing baseball when he accidentally hit eight year old Maddie Clifton in the eye with the bat. She screamed, and out of panic, he drug her into his house and strangled her with a phone cord. When that didn’t kill her, he stabbed her eleven times and beat her to death with the baseball bat.
The body was only discovered and Phillips named a suspect when his mother noticed that his water bed appeared to be leaking, and when she moved the mattress to the side, she found the little girl’s body inside.
He was convicted of the murder and is now serving a life sentence with no possibility for parole.
Twelve – The Aniyah Batchelor Murder
Because he was charged as a juvenile, the murderer’s identity in this case is being protected due to his age, but that doesn’t change the graphic nature of the crime. Earlier this year, a thirteen year old boy in Maryland beat to death a two year old foster child, Ainyah Batchelor, living with his family.
The boy admitted to having hit her six times, but the autopsy report showed over 50 external and internal injuries. Prosecuters say that he was likely jealous of Ainyah’s presence, and that was the motivation for his horrible crime. But the judge was convinced that the boy didn’t fully understand the gravity of what he’d done, so he sentenced him to therapeutic foster care.
Thirteen – Carl Newton Mahan
In May of 1929, Carl Newton Mahan, age six, and Cecil Van Hoose, age eight, had a fight over a scrap of iron. Cecil took the scrap from Carl and slapped him in the face. Carl retaliated by going home and grabbing his father’s 12 gauge shotgun from above the door. He ran back to Cecil, pointed the gun at him, and yelled “I’m going to shoot you!” And that’s just what he did, fatally wounding the boy. They actually tried the six year old for murder, but after 30 minutes of deliberation, the jury decided that manslaughter was more appropriate. He was sentenced to 15 years of reform school and released to his parents on $500 bail.
Then a Circuit Court judge issued a writ that prevented him from being sent to reform school because he was a six year old that was tried in front of a jury, which went against standard procedure, and the jury had no authority to convict. So he just went home.