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Killers Dressed As Santa, Thanksgiving Meal Ending In Murder: 5 More Shocking ‘Homicide For The Holidays’ Cases

Instead of comfort and joy, holidays can be filled with murder and mayhem, as seen on "Homicide For The Holidays."

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Homicide for the Holidays 206: Kristine Larson Never Came Home
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Homicide for the Holidays 206: Kristine Larson Never Came Home

A car is found engulfed in flames near a house in Minneapolis.

Special days like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve are supposed to be times for celebrating joy, gratitude, and fresh starts. But sometimes, these events can get horrifically turned upside down. 

“Homicide for the Holidays,” which has new episodes airing Friday, October 7 and October 14 at 9/8c on Oxygen, offers chilling reminders of this fact. In advance of the upcoming new episodes, we look back at the show’s most shocking cases.

1. Christmas tree farmers cut down in cold blood 

Ed Minnie Maurin Hfth 403

In Ethel, Washington, Ed and Minnie Maurin were a beloved couple synonymous with the holidays thanks to their 120-acre Christmas tree farm. But on December 19, 1985, the couple, each in their 80s, vanished. The Maurins’ bodies were discovered in a ditch on Christmas Eve. 

Tips from witnesses who saw the couple with two men in a car emerged over the years. But it took almost three decades to have enough evidence to bring charges against two brothers, Rick and John Riffe. In 2012, police arrested Rick; by then John was dead. In 2013, Rick Riffe was convicted of murder and sentenced to 103 years. 

2. Couple dissolved in chemicals after Thanksgiving meal

Joel Guy Jr Hfth 401

Four days after they’d gathered with loved ones for a Thanksgiving feast at their Tennessee home, Joel and Lisa Guy were found dead by officials making a welfare check. The scene was unthinkably gruesome. The spouses had been stuffed into enormous tubs filled with chemicals to speed the decomposition of their bodies. Severed hands, posed prayer-like, were also found.

Walmart receipts dated November 26 led investigators to check surveillance footage that revealed 28-year-old Joel Guy Jr. buying Band-Aids for cuts on his hands. Guy Jr., who, detectives discovered, was being cut off financially by his parents, had written a murder manifesto found at the scene.

Joel Guy Jr., was convicted of two counts of premeditated murder and abuse of a corpse and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

3. Christmas Day double homicide actually a mistaken identity slay 

In Locust Valley, Oklahoma, Jack and Elaine Denney, 60something spouses, were happily retired and known as “grandparents of the community.” Horrifically, they were gunned down on Christmas 2007. There were no signs of a robbery, but Jack’s wallet was empty.

A year later, Justin Walker, who was behind bars for assault and battery, confessed to the slayings. Because his prints didn’t match ones at the scene he wasn’t charged. But a decade later a tipster told authorities that Walker admitted he committed the Denney murders because he thought his victims had abused his girlfriend. Walker said he’d gone to the wrong house and killed the wrong people. In court, Walker simply said he was on drugs.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder.

4. Man in Santa Claus costume kills, incinerates family

On December 24, 2008, Joseph and Alice Ortega invited their five adult children and their families to celebrate Christmas Eve at their home in Covina, California. Joy turned to terror when Bruce Pardo, dressed as Santa Claus, entered the home. 

His contentious divorce from Sylvia Ortega had just been finalized. He started shooting with two handguns and sent the house on fire with a flamethrower. One first responder called the scene “apocalyptic.”

Nine people were killed and others were shot and injured before Pardo turned a gun on himself. 

5. Christmas Eve family slaughtered by own blood

On Christmas Eve 2007 in Carnation, California, the festive atmosphere was upended by gunfire. Michele Anderson and her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, carried out plans to kill her parents because of money issues. 

The pair also waited for Michele’s brother, Scott, his wife, Erica, and their 6-year-old daughter, Olivia, and 3-year-old son, Nathan, to arrive. When they did, they shot the adults first. In her dying breath, Erica pleaded, “You don’t have to do this.” McEnroe told her: “Yes, we do,” and shot her in the head, according to the affidavit.

Michele and McEnroe pleaded guilty and received life sentences.

To learn more about similar cases, watch “Homicide for the Holidays,” airing Friday, October 7 and October 14 at 9/8c on Oxygen or stream new episodes here.

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