Sometimes, a victim of a murder attempt gets away. In a gripping turn of events, a captive finds their moment, fights back, and lives to tell the harrowing tale. Still, being in the grips of a murderer is a life-altering experience, and not in the best way, as many of the escapees below faced unspeakable horrors before they became survivors. These murder survival stories are some of the most shocking around, with victims who have managed to escape the clutches of brutal, merciless killers.
Oxygen's critically-acclaimed true-crime franchise, “Snapped,” launches its 20th season of mystery, murder and misconduct with “Snapped Notorious: Scott Peterson,” a two-part special premiering Sunday, May 7th at 6PM ET/PT.
1. Whitney Bennett
At just 16 years old, Whitney Bennett was saved by Jesus from a would-be murder. Kind of. In 1985, Bennett was attacked by Richard Ramirez, otherwise known as “The Night Stalker”. Ramirez ended up convinced of 13 murders, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries. Richard Ramirez, a satanist, broke into Bennett’s home and beat her with a tire iron, before strangling her with a telephone cord. When sparks flew from the cord, Ramirez believed Jesus was responsible, and was so afraid of Christ’s wrath he fled the scene leaving Bennett gasping for breath. She miraculously survived, but needed a whopping 478 stitches to her head.
2. Rhonda Williams
Elmer Wayne Henley Jr. was the accomplice of serial killer Dean Corll, also know as “The Candy Man,” who murdered over 28 people. Henley helped 15-year-old Rhonda Williams escape an abusive home life, only to take her straight to the dangerous Croll. Williams, of course, knew nothing about all the murder and mayhem the pair had carried out together. Henley, realising it was a mistake to bring the teenage girl to the house of torture, vowed to help Williams escape this new terrible situation he’d got her into. Henley shot Corll dead, saving Williams’ life--leading many to believe that Williams might have been party to some of their crimes.
3. Maria Viricheva
19 and pregnant, Maria Viricheva’s story is truly miraculous. Viricheva was struggling with money when she met serial killer Alexander Pichushkin (also known as the Chessboard Killer) by chance at a metro station in Moscow. Pichushkin said he could help her make some money on the side, with some stolen cameras he had stashed at a nearby park. Viricheva went with him to the park, where Pichushkin pushed her into a well. Viricheva, realising what was happening, held onto the sides, trying not to fall, but Pichushkin slammed her head into the side of the well. Viricheva fell 30 feet into sewage water and was caught by a current, but she thought fast, removing her shoes and jacket and holding onto the sides of the drain to avoid being pulled down deeper, and eventually managed to climb out. If she’d hadn’t have done so, she would have made it to the end of the line and drowned.
4. Corazon Atienza
It’s seriously crazy how Corazon Atienza survived the night she let mass murderer Richard Speck into her and her roommates’ home. In 1966, she opened the door to find Speck there, and he forced his way in with a gun. He tied the girls up in the living room, and one by one, raped, stabbed and mutilated them. Atienza had managed to hide under a bed in one of the rooms, and remained silent despite the horror going on outside. At one point, one of her eight roommates was assaulted on the bed above her. Speck’s torture of the girls lasted for six hours, and it’s believed he was intoxicated at the time, leading him to forget about Atienza. When Speck left, Atienza had to get through the carnage so she could climb out a window and call for help.
5. Rebecca Garde
In 1982, Rebecca Garde decided to hitchhike home from work. She was picked up by Gary Ridgway, who would eventually be convicted of killing 48 women and dubbed “The Green River Killer”. In the car, Garde offered him sex in exchange for $20, but soon she developed a strange instinct about him, and worried he was a cop, asked to see his identification. The pair went to a secluded area near a trailer park, but once they got there, Ridgway attacked her and tried to strangle her from behind. Garde managed to fight him off and run into the trailer park for help. Because of her “shady” lifestyle and her subsequent fear of police, it took Garde two years to report the incident.
6. Bryan Hartnell
Bryan Hartnell escaped the Zodiac Killer. His girlfriend, Cecilia Shephard, wasn’t so lucky. The couple was taking in the scenery near San Francisco when a man approached their car and forced them out at gunpoint. The hooded man then stabbed them both repeatedly. Cecilia died in hospital, but Bryan managed to survive. The Zodiac Killer was never caught.