No matter how you slice it, the revenge impulse is deep in the fabric of the human heart. When we are scorned, trampled upon, or disrespected, all of us probably feel a twinge of righteous anger. Sometimes, rational thinking triumphs. Other times, red-hot rage wins out. In the worst cases, the desire to right perceived wrongs goes nuclear and proves to be fatal.
10 A Spree Killer Attacks Morgantown
Shayne Riggleman (who was this author‚Äôs classmate in high school) was a quiet kid who mostly kept to himself. He did not have a reputation for getting into trouble, but somewhere along the line, things started going south. Prior to committing murder, Riggleman served 14 months in jail for armed robbery.
After his release, he began to develop a split personality. On the one hand, Riggleman enjoyed visiting nursing homes to cheer up those inside. On the other hand, his close friends claimed that he was consumed with jealousy over a romantic breakup during the months leading up to his rampage.
Riggleman‚Äôs Facebook page also displayed an angry loner who frequently complained about his life, including his inability to join the armed forces due to his criminal record. More chillingly, near the end of his life, he began posting cryptic comments about revenge, oppression, and anger.
On Monday, September 5, 2011, Riggleman, who was 22 years old at the time, used a high-powered rifle to attack an isolated house on Sugar Grove Road in Morgantown, West Virginia.
There, Riggleman shot and killed 49-year-old Charles Richardson III, 50-year-old Karin Richardson, and their children, 22-year-old Katrina Hudson and 17-year-old Kevin Hudson. Also killed were Katrina‚Äôs fiance, 30-year-old Robert Raber Jr., and the couple‚Äôs unborn child.
After leaving Sugar Grove Road, Riggleman drove to the border town of Fairchance, Pennsylvania, where he tried to persuade an ex-girlfriend to flee with him. She refused and alerted the police, but Riggleman continued on.
He drove to Roane County, West Virginia, where he shot a 57-year-old gas station attendant named Donnie Nichols in the neck during an attempted carjacking. Fortunately, Nichols survived.
As for Riggleman, he ultimately killed himself after sheriff‚Äôs deputies in Kentucky pulled him over for erratic driving. Despite the ferocious nature of his crimes, his only link to the victims was Katrina Hudson, who was a relative of one of Riggleman‚Äôs ex-girlfriends.
9 A Spree Killer Attacks Morgantown
Like Riggleman, Jody Lee Hunt was angry and depressed. He was also particularly aggravated by an ex-lover. In Hunt‚Äôs case, the lover in question, 39-year-old Sharon Kay Berkshire, had once filed a domestic violence complaint against him.
Filled with anger toward both personal and business rivals, the ex-convict Hunt, who owned a towing company in Morgantown, decided to get his revenge on December 1, 2014.
On that Monday morning, Hunt first drove to Doug‚Äôs Towing, a rival company that Hunt had previously accused of ‚Äúpoaching‚ÄĚ jobs from his own company. At Doug‚Äôs Towing, Hunt shot owner Doug Brady twice in the head.
Next, Hunt drove to Berkshire‚Äôs home, where she lived with her 28-year-old boyfriend, Michael David Frum. Inside, Hunt shot and killed Frum, who had occasionally taunted Hunt via text. Then Hunt shot Berkshire twice as she tried to escape.
The final victim, Jody Taylor, was Hunt‚Äôs cousin, business partner, and possibly one of the men who had slept with Berkshire while she and Hunt were dating.
These four murders set off a 12-hour manhunt that had police looking everywhere for Hunt‚Äôs black 2011 Ford F-150. Finally, at 7:00 PM, the ordeal came to a close when Hunt parked his truck in a wooded area in Monongalia County and killed himself.
8 A Deadly Grudge
Charles Severance was known locally as a kook and a history buff by the residents of Alexandria, Virginia. What the people of that affluent DC suburb did not know was how deeply Severance, who had run for mayor twice, loathed the better-off members of his community.
Blaming Alexandria‚Äôs wealth for his failure to win the full custody of his son, Severance, who may be schizophrenic, decided to vent his anger by randomly killing three people.
His first victim was real estate agent Nancy Dunning, who was murdered in December 2003. Next, Severance killed a transportation planner named Roland Kirby in November 2013. The final victim was Ruthanne Lodato, a music teacher, who died in February 2014.
None of the victims personally knew Severance, who killed all three during daring daylight attacks on their homes. Severance, the son of a retired navy admiral, was finally brought to justice thanks to an eyewitness who was shot during the attack that killed Lodato.
In November 2015, after a wild trial that was punctuated by frequent outbursts from the defendant, Severance was convicted of 10 counts of capital murder, malicious wounding, first-degree murder, possession of a firearm by a felon, and more. As a result, he received three life sentences.
7 The Intruder
In 1987, the residents of the small town of Townsend, Massachusetts, learned that there was a killer in their midst. On December 1, a young lawyer named Andrew Gustafson came home to a nightmare. Inside his dark, quiet house, Andrew found the lifeless bodies of his 33-year-old wife, Priscilla, and his children, seven-year-old Abigail and five-year-old William.
Priscilla was found facedown on her bed with two bullet holes in the pillow above her head. Her killer had placed the pillow over her head when he pumped two fatal rounds into her brain. Priscilla had also been raped. As for the children, the killer had drowned them in separate bathtubs.
Outside the Gustafson house, police found a footprint and a T-shirt wrapped around the family‚Äôs house sign. This evidence pointed to a local weirdo named Danny LaPlante, an 18-year-old kid who had earlier gained infamy for committing a truly bizarre crime.
A year earlier, in December 1986, LaPlante had been charged with armed assault and kidnapping in the town of Pepperell, Massachusetts. There, he had held members of the Andrews family hostage inside their home.
LaPlante, armed with a hatchet and wearing ghastly face paint, had surprised the family members after leaping out from a closet. After forcing the Andrews family to flee through a bedroom window, LaPlante retreated to a hidden crawl space in the house. When police found him two days later, they discovered that he had been living in the house for some time.
As presented on the television show Your Worst Nightmare, LaPlante‚Äôs sinister occupation of the Andrews home was his way of getting back at the older Andrews sister, who had refused to go on a second date with him. According to the Andrews family, LaPlante‚Äôs ability to move around in their house‚Äôs walls had led them to think that their house was haunted.
Now serving a life sentence behind bars, LaPlante made the news again in 2013 when he claimed that his religious rights were being violated. Specifically, LaPlante, a practicing Wiccan, claimed that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and MCI-Norfolk had not provided him with ritual oils, herbs, and other items.
6 46 Hours
Denis Czajkowski was convinced that there was a conspiracy against him. It was one of those paranoid fantasies that people like Czajkowski, a recreational drug user with a history of erratic behavior, tend to develop. The fact that he worked as a nurse at Norristown State Hospital, a psychiatric institution, probably helped his persecution complex to grow.
As it turned out, there really was a plot against Czajkowski but a perfectly reasonable one. Due to his chronic poor performance as well as accusations that he had been using drugs on the job, Czajkowski‚Äôs superiors had started the process of terminating his employment. In late spring 1999, he was fired.
The mentally disturbed former nurse did not take this news well. On June 16, 1999, armed with a replica 1851 Colt .44-caliber cap-and-ball revolver, Czajkowksi took two hostages‚ÄĒMaria Jordan and Carol Kepner.
He shot Jordan four times at close range, but she survived. Czajkowski then forced the severely wounded Jordan to clean up her own blood while he taunted her. When he decided to get some sleep, Czajkowski handcuffed Jordan, who had been shot once in the wrist, to Kepner.
Amazingly, this situation lasted for 46 hours as Czajkowski engaged in a standoff with the police. For almost two days, he kept a close watch on the women, even forcing them to go to the bathroom in plastic bags under his supervision. Finally, after police decided to storm the hospital, Czajkowski shot Kepner in the head. She died instantly.
Three years after the standoff, he was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping, and other crimes. A Pennsylvania judge gave him a life sentence.
5 Sins Of The Father
The issue of rape in India has garnered worldwide attention due to several high-profile cases. Believing that Indian women can no longer rely on the police, the Indian Ordnance Factory, a gun manufacturer, created a lightweight .32-caliber revolver specifically designed for women to use in self-defense. Called the Nirbheek, the gun was named after Nirbhaya, the victim of a well-publicized gang rape and murder in December 2012.
Despite the best efforts of the manufacturer, not every Indian woman carries or can carry the Nirbheek. Of course, this doesn‚Äôt mean that they are incapable of harming their attackers.
In October 2015, a 13-year-old rape victim sought to punish her rapist, Rinku, by going after something he truly cherished. She lured Amit, Rinku‚Äôs five-year-old son, into a quiet area. Then the young girl killed Amit and tried to burn his body.
Police discovered the partially burned remains in a plastic bag after local dogs had dragged them into the street. Following the discovery of the body, authorities in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh charged the young woman with murder and sent her to live in a juvenile home.
4 Baby Booby Trap
The current war in Iraq has created a culture of tit-for-tat revenge. ISIS, which is particularly adept at violence, has led the pack in meting out atrocities. Besides their genocidal strikes against the Kurdish Yezidi, ISIS has butchered countless Iraqi Christians, Shiite Muslims, and those Sunnis unwilling to subscribe to the ISIS brand of barbarism.
From 2014 until early 2015, when ISIS ruled the battlefield, only the most courageous Iraqi citizens took the law into their own hands and fought the black-flagged bandits.
In July 2015, a civilian in the northern province of Salahuddin did the unthinkable: He killed several ISIS fighters. At least, that‚Äôs what ISIS authorities said.
Their vengeance was swift and hellish. After abducting the accused man‚Äôs baby, ISIS strapped a booby trap to the child‚Äôs body near one of their training grounds and blew it up. According to reports, this sick demonstration was done in front of a sizable crowd of ISIS fighters.
3 Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned
‚ÄúScorned‚ÄĚ is an appropriate word for Janepsy Carballo, the former wife of an alleged drug dealer in Miami. In April 2008, Orlando Mesa, Carballo‚Äôs husband, was gunned down in front of the family‚Äôs home. One of the bullets grazed the couple‚Äôs 20-month-old son.
Surveillance footage from the shooting showed that the killers were two black males with dreadlocks. Despite the evidence, Mesa‚Äôs murder remains unsolved.
Although the cops were clueless about the crime, Carballo was certain that she knew who had ordered the hit: Ilan Nisim. Mesa and Nisim had been partners until they had a falling-out over $180,000 that was missing from a real estate deal.
The consensus was that the money had been stolen, which is a death sentence in the underworld. To avenge her husband, Carballo enticed Nisim to her house and then shot the crook six times in the back.
At her trial, Carballo claimed that she had shot Nisim in self-defense after he lunged at her. The Florida jury did not buy it and convicted Carballo of first-degree murder.
2 Old Country Way
For over 10 years, El Salvador was engulfed in a spectacularly brutal civil war. Characterized by assassinations, terrorism, and the use of child soldiers, the civil war deeply scarred the landscape with everyday acts of violence.
Even though peace was declared, El Salvador has remained a battlefield controlled by vicious gangs that bequeath to the nation one of the world‚Äôs highest murder rates. To grow up in El Salvador is to be born old and grizzled.
Saul Castillo was one such youth. In the 1980s, Castillo‚Äôs father was murdered. Carrying this with him to the US, Castillo waited for years to avenge his father. On Father‚Äôs Day 2013, Castillo confronted Silverio Acosta in front of his family in Tadmore Park in Gainesville, Georgia.
At the time, Acosta, who was also from El Salvador, was watching a soccer match between a Salvadoran team and a Mexican team. Castillo accused Acosta of murdering his father in El Salvador. He had come for his revenge, he told Acosta.
Then Castillo fired five rounds at Acosta, hitting him in the chest, head, and hand. The 46-year-old Acosta died at the scene. The 41-year-old Castillo tried to run but was quickly apprehended by two Hall County police officers.
He was charged with murder and had his immigration status placed on hold. At the time of the crime, Castillo had residency status in the US. Ultimately, Castillo was convicted of the slaying and received life in prison.
1 Murder City
Detroit is a byword for urban rot. Once a proud city with plenty of blue-collar jobs in the automotive industry, Detroit is now a shell of its former self. Throughout the US, Detroit is known for its high rate of gun violence and murder.
Things have become so bad that the city‚Äôs police department has essentially called the city a war zone. Furthermore, they have admitted that they cannot guarantee the safety of visitors.
The story of Kenneth French, his two-year-old daughter, KaMiya Gross, and his 12-year-old cousin, Chelsea Lancaster, is tragic but all too common in Detroit. On July 1, 2014, French, KaMiya, and Chelsea were hanging out on the front porch of a family residence on Carlyle Street.
All seemed quiet and normal until a car pulled up. Inside the vehicle were Raymone Jackson, Raphael Hearn, and Marcus Brown. Agitated, Jackson and Hearn left the car and began firing at the trio on the porch. Chelsea was hit in the chest, legs, and arms. KaMiya died immediately when a bullet struck her in the eye.
Before being sentenced to life in prison, both Jackson and Hearn admitted that the shooting was an act of revenge for an earlier shooting. Apparently, Jackson and Hearn were angry that French had not retaliated against the person who shot Hearn during the previous shooting. As a result, Jackson and Hearn‚Äôs plan was to target the baby to punish French before they finished him off.
Benjamin Welton is a freelance writer based in Boston. His work has appeared in The Weekly Standard, The Atlantic, Listverse, and other publications. He currently blogs at literarytrebuchet.blogspot.com.