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11 Chilling True Crime Stories That'll Give You Sleepless Nights

Murder most horrid.

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Photo courtesy of Lisa Daugherty, Raffe Lazarian for BuzzFeed News

"I read this when it was first published almost two years ago and still think about it pretty regularly, so that’s an indication of how enthralling it is. It’s about a girl from a tiny town in Mississippi who was brutally burned alive in her car in 2014.

"At the time the article was written, police still didn't know who had killed her (someone was charged for it in February 2017), but there was a huge community of amateur investigators online who spent years, and all their available resources, trying to solve the mystery.

"The article is less about the crime itself than it is about the weird but fascinating world of internet detectives."

Ellie Bate

2. "A Loaded Gun" – New Yorker

KPA/Zuma/REX/Shutterstock, WHNT

"This story is weird, creepy, and gripping from beginning to end. Amy Bishop Anderson was a high-achieving, middle-class, middle-aged white woman with a PhD from Harvard. Then one day she gunned down her colleagues.

"On the surface the case was bizarre – she didn’t fit the profile of a mass shooter. Except for one detail that took everyone by surprise: In 1986 she’d shot and killed her younger brother with a pump-action shotgun. At the time, the incident was recorded as an accident, but this fascinating article poses the question: Was Amy a murderer all along?"

Becky Barnicoat

3. "The Unimaginable, Infamous Case of Pam Hupp" – St. Louis Magazine

O'Fallon, Mo PD

"This story blew my mind. It has all the gripping elements of a powerful crime tale – three mysterious deaths, a man apparently framed, a cold-blooded possible culprit, and police and legal ineptitude.

"Through a detailed look at several crimes, the writer Jeannette Cooperman makes all the details thud into place, pointing to the disturbing conclusion that a woman may have been getting away with murder. And like so many of these stories, the evidence may have been there in plain sight."

Louise Ridley

4. "Murder by Craigslist" – The Atlantic

The Atlantic

"The backdrop to this dark and tragic story is the global financial crisis of the '00s. Several unemployed men, desperate for work, were lured to the farm of serial killer Richard Beasley by an attractive job ad he posted on Craigslist.

"The writer, Hanna Rosin, paints a detailed portrait of the victims, which makes the story all the more harrowing. She portrays men with hopes, dreams, and families, who had fallen on hard times and then fell prey to a psychopath when they were at their most vulnerable."

Becky Barnicoat

5. "Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter to Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom to Be Murdered" – BuzzFeed

ABC

"I loved this article so much – it's definitely one of the most gripping I've ever read. Dee Dee was an apparently devoted mother to her daughter Gypsy, who had a severe, debilitating illness...except it turned out that things weren't quite what they seemed.

"It’s such an insane story, you end up fully sympathising with the murderer. And it goes into so much depth. The only question you’re left with at the end is why any mother would do that do their child."

Flo Perry

6. "Trial by Twitter" – Elle

Twitter: @_sheliiaa, Twitter: @_sheliiaa

"This is a fascinating yet horrific story of a teenage girl who was murdered by two high school friends. I think the title does the piece a disservice. The perpetrators' tweets are harrowing and cold but there's a lot more going on here. This article exposes how the stories we tell digitally aren't always the stories that are true."

Maggy Van Eijk

7. "Rebecca Coriam: Lost at Sea" – The Guardian

en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

"This is an unsolved mystery in a surreal setting. Rebecca Coriam was 24 and working aboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship when one day she simply disappeared. She was caught on security camera having an early-morning phone conversation, and one of her slippers was found on deck, but other than that she seemed to have vanished without a trace.

"The writer Jon Ronson delves into the question of whether Rebecca was murdered, killed herself, or is perhaps still out there alive somewhere. Ronson notes all the weird details that other people might miss, like how the ship’s horn plays 'When You Wish Upon a Star' as it sets sail. He conveys brilliantly a happy-clappy floating wonderland with a horrible, dark secret."

Becky Barnicoat

8. "Framed: She Was the PTA Mom Everyone Knew. Who Would Want to Frame Her?" – LA Times

Irvine Police Department

"This is a seriously long read – it took me almost an hour to get through, and is separated into several chapters – but I promise you it’s well worth it. You wouldn’t think reading about what is essentially a petty feud between PTA parents in a small town in California would be this captivating, but it seriously is.

"It involves framing, corrupt lawyers, and infidelity, and the article itself includes evidence photos and audio clips of 911 calls. It’s super in-depth and so interesting – you’ll find yourself googling everyone involved as soon as you’re done reading because, to put it simply, it’s BATSHIT CRAZY."

Ellie Bate

9. "Murder on the Appalachian Trail" – Outside

Outside / Photo: Courtesy of Bob Howell

"This is such a sad and moving story – a true crime article that is also a piece of adventure writing. The author was walking the Appalachian Trail back in September 1990 when a young couple he'd met en route were brutally murdered in one of the trail shelters.

"The writer captures the blissful freedom of hiking the trail, and the safety the hikers felt there – which makes the murder all the more devastating and poignant. You can't help feeling that something this terrible just shouldn't happen in a beautiful natural setting.

"The story also drives home how incredibly random some crimes can be; that to become a victim can simply be a matter of bad timing."

Becky Barnicoat

10. "Blame: Was the Death of Jill Wells an Accident or Murder?" – 9 News

9 News

"This piece is well worth taking your time over. Jill Wells was shot in the head on her remote ranch in Colorado. Her husband claimed her death was an accident – that their 6-year-old son had accidentally pulled the trigger. But could that really be true?

"This article comes with a podcast, and a lot of evidence for you to unpack. It reveals a lot about small-town America, gun laws, and the many mistakes local law enforcement made in this situation. It's far from an easy read, but it's an incredible feat of journalism."

Maggy Van Eijk

11. "The Truckstop Killer" – GQ

commons.wikimedia.org, Via GQ.com

"The writer, Vanessa Vazelka, revisits her experiences as a troubled teenage hitchhiker in the '80s. On one ride, a trucker pulled a hunting knife on her, and ordered her into the back of his cab.

"She survived, but there were plenty of stories of women that didn't. Prostitutes, homeless women, teenage runaways – bodies showed up brutalised in dumpsters, shackled in the back of trucks, abandoned by the side of the road.

"As Vazelka tries to figure out if the man who threatened her was infamous serial killer Robert Rhoades, she discovers something else that is just as disturbing."

Becky Barnicoat

What stories have we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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