Bad Santas who kill – including serial killer who chopped up victims

Christmas is mostly known as a time for peace and joy to all, but in a few rare cases, the festive season can take a horrifying turn for the worst.

It is supposed to be a season of goodwill to all, as well as being a time to relax and celebrate with your family and friends.

But the most wonderful time of the year can, sometimes, turn into a monstrous nightmare with several high profile murder cases taking place during the festive period – and by bad Santas who kill.

Here, The Daily Star takes a look at some of these evil festive killers.

Mall Santa who put victims in pot plants

Bruce McArthur, a landscaper from Toronto, who also worked as Santa Claus in a shopping centre during Christmas, pleaded guilty to eight charges of first-degree murder which took place between 2010 and 2017.

He was caught with a twisted stash of photos of his victims' corpses after killing them in the Gay Village in Toronto, Canada.

After admitting to his sick crimes, McArthur said the bodies were dismembered and hidden in large planters at a home he used for his landscaping business.

McArthur moved to the Toronto area around 2000 and previously lived in a suburb where he was married, raised two children and worked as a travelling salesman of underwear and socks.

It is believed six of his eight killings had been sexual in nature, while several of his victims had been strangled.

Chillingly, McArthur's Facebook account showed the landscaper posing with families in his Santa getup at Agincourt Mall in the lead up to Christmas.

McArthur was sentenced in February 2019 to life with no chance of parole for 25 years.

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The Christmas party killing

In 2011 Aziz Yazdanpanah is believed to have killed seven members of his own family while dressed in a Santa suit. He targeted his family, which included his children and his wife, just after they had opened their presents and then turned the gun on himself.

Just hours earlier the family had held a Christmas Eve party at their ranch. They were gunned down in an apartment in Grapevine in Dallas, Texas.

It is believed Yazdanpanah turned up at the apartment in the morning because he hadn't been invited to the party, after separating from his wife in March of that year.

He murdered his wife Nasrin Rahmaty, 55, and his two children with his wife – Nona Yazdanpanah, 19, Ali, 15.

Before turning the gun on himself he killed the family of his sister in law. He gunned down Zohreh Rahmaty, 58, and her husband, Hossein Zarei, 59. He also shot their 22-year-old daughter Sahra Zarei.

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"He's shooting my whole family."

Bruce Pardo, 45, killed nine people including his ex-wife after going on the rampage dressed as Santa Claus with four handguns and a flame-thrower at a Christmas Eve party.

A recording of a woman caught in the conflict calling the police, revealed her saying: "He's shooting my whole family. My mum's house is on fire."

She goes on: "We need someone immediately. My daughter's been shot. She was shot in the face."

Former aerospace engineer Pardo had recently gone through a bitter divorce with ex-wife Sylvia, 43, who died alongside her parents and three of her four siblings.

He later shot himself dead.

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Santa theory in 1996 cold case

One sensationalised theory over the death of six-year-old child beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey, who was found dead in the basement of her home in Boulder, Colorado, on Boxing Day 1996, puts a neighbourhood Santa Claus at the centre of her death.

Bill McReynolds, now deceased, was a friend of the Ramsey's who had dressed up as Santa Claus the week before JonBenét's murder to entertain the neighbourhood children at one of Patsy Ramsey's famous Christmas gatherings.

McReynolds was reported to have paid a little too much attention to JonBenét, going so far as to arrange a secret visit from Santa Claus on Christmas.

Supposedly, he had chosen JonBenét to be his "special friend," going so far as to bring a vial of glitter gifted to him by the six-year-old with him into heart surgery.

Even stranger, he was reported to have asked his wife to mix the gold glitter in with his ashes were he to die.

This particular story generated buzz in the Denver Post but was never proven.

A time for exchanging gifts

Melissa Young wasn't quite dressed as Father Christmas, but she had come bearing gifts.

The 37-year-old was arrested for the brutal killing of her next-door neighbour Alan Williamson on Christmas Day 2013.

Young later claimed diminished responsibility and that mental health issues were behind the sustained attack.

Her motive was given as rage due to Williamson dismissively rejecting her Christmas present of a pair of unisex trainers and a copy of The Sun newspaper’s slightly raunchy 2014 calendar.

Young pleaded guilty to culpable homicide in 2014 and was sentenced to a minimum twenty-year sentence. Since being jailed at the women's prison HMP Cornton Vale in Stirling, she has seriously assaulted two female prison officers.

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