Murder By Scissors: 14 Reports of Crafty Killers

Macabre true crime tales of shear terror.

Marlene Lehnberg — Cape Town, South Africa — 1974

At the age of 18, Lehnberg, the child of a domineering and repressive father, had been in a relationship with Christiaan van der Linde for a year. The 47 year old was her coworker at the orthopedic workshop of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in the Capetown suburb of Rondebosch. She was young and naive, and he was charming but already married. After confronting the older man’s wife, who was permissive of the affair but unwilling to divorce, Lehnberg hatched a plan to kill the mother of her lover’s children.

Aaron Laconsello — Muskogee, Oklahoma — 2010

Although we cannot condone crimes of passion, such as the one above, on some level we can understand them. There is a clear motive steeped in the depths of romantic attachment most of us have acted regrettably from in some way or another. But when a brutal homicide happens for no discernible reason, that is much harder to understand. Especially when the victim is a small child.

Anthony Jay Haukos — St Paul, Minnesota — 2011

Somewhere between passion and the inexplicable lies a motivation even more tragic, where the afflicted becomes attacker. 10% of all homicides in the United States are committed by a person suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Mental health issues create a tragic ripple effect that harm not just the affected, but those around them as well.

Todd Winkler — Cameron Park, California — 2012

Perhaps the most symbolically significant murders are those committed by the affluent. In their violence we see the arrogance which drives privilege and inequality, boiled down into the ultimate act of entitlement, the murder of those who would dare displease them.

Joseph Badiali — Hayward, California — 2014

Whatever it is that drives people to kill with scissors isn’t necessarily restricted to human victims. In the case of Joseph Badiali, not only did the college student murder his mother in her home, he mangled her three chihuahuas to death as well.

Rita Narcissa Sanders-Campfield — Rockville, Maryland — 2014

Insanity often forces people to clutch so tightly to normality, that when they snap, it usually contains elements of the dominant belief systems in their culture. Given that U.S. culture is a mix of religion and science, and the common scapegoat of both is magic and witchcraft, mentally ill people often see their atrocities as heroic because they believe their victims were witches, as we saw with Anthony Jay Haukos above and will explore again with Sanders-Campfield below.

Kimberlie Rayburn — Galveston, Texas — 2016

There always has to be that one person who has to outdo everyone else on the list, and in this case Kimberlie Rayburn is that person. Claiming that her victim asked to be killed during a meth-fueled sexual liaison, Kimberlie used two pairs of scissors to dispatch Steven Terence Ryan.

Kimberly Kessler — Yulee, Florida — 2018

I really hate to say it, but this one kinda makes sense, in a weird sort of way. Not because of the motive, but because of the means. Scissors.

Ioan Campeanu — Neasden, London — 2018

After killing his girlfriend with multiple scissor stab wounds, Campeanu went for a drive and then returned home a few hours later and calmly called the authorities and then casually led them to the crime scene. He treated the entire affair as though it was no big deal. It was a pretty simple issue really. Andra Hilitanu was pregnant with his child and he was adamant about not wanting any more children. So he did what must have seemed sensible to him at the time and killed them both. Problem solved.

Benjamin DiCristina — Acton, Massachusetts — 2018

We once again find ourselves in a tale of domestic violence turned deadly, however the ultimate victim of the abuse was the killer’s own father, stabbed to death with scissors as he tried preventing his son from strangling his girlfriend. It has been claimed, and appears likely, that Benjamin was also suffering from prolonged, untreated mental health issues. The combination of domineering aggression with cognitive disturbances is a deadly mixture.

Chaumon Wayan Tyner — Pomona, California — 2019

It really is kind of odd how in just 14 incidents, so many themes and specifics repeat themselves. Mental illness, misogyny and romance are no-brainers. And now, unfortunately, the killing of humankind’s best friend — the dog. But until Tyner, none of the other entries have included an act of arson alongside a scissoring soiree.

Crystal Gutierrez — Grafton, Wisconsin — 2019

Brent Fitch was murdered with scissors by the 18 year old Gutierrez, who was 16 years younger than him, and had been living in his home. The exact nature of their relationship is unclear.

Brandon Ganskow — San Diego, California — 2019

This next one is a story of friendship gone awry. Of forgiveness and second chances that turned into a heartbreaking homicide.

Cheryl Greaux — Pine Hills, Florida — 2020

Given the events of 2020 so far, and an apparent incline in the prevalence of shear slayings, it is no wonder that our annual tally was up and running by April. With scissors. You know I had to, right?

Header Photo: Murder scissors used by Rita Narcissa Sanders-Campfield (photo from Montgomery County court records)


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