Holiday Miniseries: Crimes Committed on Thanksgiving Day
The holidays are often viewed as a time for families and loved ones to come together to share in good food, memories, and exchanges of merry-making. Some families usually try to go all out in order to make a holiday special, sometimes adding stress to an event that should be all about love and being present. With that image of love that goes hand in hand with the holidays, some would find it impossible to want to hurt their relatives on such a special day, let alone kill them. The people in this article are not among them.
Springford Thanksgiving Murders
Brent and Charlotte Spring were an affluent and well-liked couple in their hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. Workers constructing the couple’s home found their bloody and badly beaten bodies early on Friday, November 26th, 2004. Investigators suspected that the couple was beaten to death on Thursday night after they had Thanksgiving dinner with their daughter, Robin. The bodies had been badly beaten, and blood spatter was everywhere in the home. In addition to being beaten, the couple had also been stabbed and their throats cut. The home was staged to look like a robbery gone wrong; however, nothing had actually been stolen from the high-profile couple’s home. With the brutality of the murder, it was obvious to detectives that this was not some random intruder, and the killings had been personal.
Upon hearing about the death of her parents, Robin told investigators that she had an older brother, Brent Jr, who was estranged and that his whereabouts at the time of the murders should be looked into.
Even with going up privileged, Brent Springford Jr was not the typical spoiled rich kid. In college Brent Jr traveled to Latin America to build roads, learning Spanish along the way. Brent Jr also sought spiritual enlightenment and journeyed to several Buddhist and Hindu monasteries on his personal odyssey to self-fulfillment. This search for spiritual guidance may have triggered a dangerous switch in his psyche. Brent Jr was not aware of it, but his mother’s side of the family had a history of bipolar disorder. It appeared that as he explored religions more his mental health began to break down.
Detectives were able to find out that despite Brent Jr’s wife claiming he spent Thanksgiving night with her and her children from a previous marriage, Brent Jr has actually traveled to Alabama from his home in Colorado to confront his parents about his financial situation. The Springfords had funded Brent Jr’s travels and even bought his home in Colorado for him and his wife. His parents decided to cut off Brent Jr in hopes that he would return to college and earn steady employment.
Brent Jr broke into his parent’s home from an upstairs window, knowing that it was not connected to the alarm system. From there, he waited for his parents to return home, where it is believed that an argument erupted, and Brent Jr began to beat and stab his parents.
Later, after leaving his parents’ home and returning to Colorado, Brent Jr checked into a mental care facility and confessed to the murders.
Omaima Nelson is an Egyptian native, former model who murdered and cannibalized her husband, Bill Nelson, on November 28th, 1991.
Omaima Nelson came to the United States with an American husband, who she later divorced shortly after arriving. As a teenager in America, she got around by being with wealthy men and even had a history of petty crime and stealing from her rich boyfriends. There was one boyfriend who she actually held at gunpoint with a shotgun before robbing him. The crime was never reported to the police due to embarrassment on the former boyfriend’s part.
Bill Nelson was a Texan native who had a larger-than-life personality. Bill always wanted the best of the best, including having a beautiful, much younger girlfriend. Bill met Omaima at a bar, and four weeks later, they got married. Some think that Omaima was most attracted to Bill for his wealth, as he loved to show off his money, not that Omaima minded.
Omaima had a past history of being abused and raped by men, and her claim to the police (at least one of them) was that Bill had attempted to rape Omaima, and she acted in self-defense. Omaima attacked Bill with a clothing iron before moving to stab his body with scissors. Stabbing may seem like overkill for just trying to defend oneself from abuse, but Omaima didn’t stop there. After Bill died, she decapitated, castrated, and cut apart the body. When police arrived at the couple’s home, Bill’s skinned and gutted torso was found hanging from the shower head. Bill’s boiled head was found in the refrigerator, and his boiled hands were still in a pot of water on the stove. Most of Bill’s organs and tissues were found in trash bags, but not all. Neighbors told police that they heard the garbage disposal going off all weekend, making detectives suspect that Omaima disposed of most of Bill’s remains that way.
After the murder, Omaima went to an old boyfriend to ask for help in getting rid of the body. The old flame agreed to help, then once Omaima left, he reported her to the police.
Omaima changed her story several times to the police after her arrest on December 2nd; however, she was exclaimed thoroughly at the hospital, and there was no evidence of sexual assault. What was found from the hospital report were wounds and cuts consistent with injuries sustained from cutting up a body.
At trial, Omaima admitted to cooking and eating Bill’s ribs. She claimed it was the sweetest meat she ever had.
Paul Michael Merhige
Paul Michael Merhige stated, “I’ve been waiting 20 years to do this.” Usually, a surprise family guest at an event like Thanksgiving dinner would be something special for a holiday, but not for the Sitton household on Thanksgiving Day, November 26th, 2009.
There were no red flags or petty arguments leading up to the terrible incident where Paul Michael Merhige seemed to snap. Paul calmly walked to his car while his family was gathered around the piano singing Christmas songs, and upon his return, he opened fire on the guests in his sister’s home. Paul killed his twin sisters (one of whom was pregnant), his aunt, and, most heartbreaking of all, six-year-old Makayla Sitton. While he shot everyone else in the living room, he went upstairs to shoot young Makayla in her bed where she was sleeping. Paul actually shot Makayla three times to ensure she was dead. Makayla was supposed to participate in “The Nutcracker” performance the next day.
Paul and his family had a tumultuous relationship. At one point, Paul wanted protection from law enforcement after he claimed that one of his sisters tried to kill him; however, the request was dropped weeks later. One of his sisters, Carla Merhige, also went to the police requesting a restraining order against Paul after claiming that her brother threatened to kill him and himself. This request was also canceled weeks later. Records show Paul had an extensive history of mental illness; at some point, he attempted suicide in 1999 and 2005. Paul deeply resented his parents, wanting to move back in with them, believing that they owed him and had an obligation to care for him. Paul once told a therapist that he wanted to move back in so they could “suffer with him”. It was clear that Paul had a very complicated relationship with his family.
After the massacre, Paul went on the run for five weeks. It’s thanks to the show America’s Most Wanted that a viewer recognized him, and police were able to hold him accountable for his crimes. Paul was convicted on four counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Mehari-Gebreselassie Family Thanksgiving
Earlier in the year, the Gebreselassie and Mehari families had a great tragedy when their loving brother and father, Abraham Gebreslassie, died suddenly without clear reason. Devastated over losing their younger brother, Asmerom and Tewodros craved answers; however, the conclusion they came up with would lead to a second tragedy on Thanksgiving Day in 2006.
Although an autopsy showed that Abraham died of natural causes, Amersom had aggressively confronted his sister-in-law, Winta Mehari, believing that she had somehow killed her husband Abraham for a $500,000 life insurance policy. Because of this, Amersom was no longer welcomed in the Mehari household, but his brother Tewodros maintained a good relationship with his sister-in-law.
After Thanksgiving dinner, Tewodros texted his brother to come to the Mehari home and left the front door unlocked for him. It was at the time when Amersom arrived that Tewodros grabbed his nephew, two-year-old Isaac Mehari, and slipped out of the home. Amersom claimed that he went to his sister-in-law’s home to discuss his brother Abraham’s death peacefully but that the members of the Mehari family that were there that day pulled out guns on him, and he shot back in self-defense. The two guns found at the scene were both linked back to Amersom, and at his sister-in-law’s home, he killed Winta, her mother, and Winta’s younger teenage brother.
The Gebreselassie brothers fled the scene with their kidnapped nephew and hid out at their mother’s home until they were apprehended by a SWAT team. Both brothers were sentenced to life in prison for three counts of murder and one count of kidnapping in the first degree.
Privacky Family Thanksgiving Murders
Thanksgiving Day, 1998, was an ugly day for the Privacky family. Neighbors arrived at the home to find the place in total disarray and bodies everywhere. It begged the question: what happened?
April Boss was invited to spend Thanksgiving dinner with her boyfriend’s family in the Privacky family home. When April failed to arrive at her third shift job, her parents drove by the Privacky home to see if anything was amiss. After pulling into the driveway, April’s parents found a bloody body on the garage floor and a figure fleeing from the house to the nearby woods. When police pulled in and investigated the home, they found the bodies of the Privacky parents, grandfather, the eldest son, and his girlfriend all dead in the home, each victim shot to death. After the police arrived the figure from the woods came back and revealed himself to be Steven Wallace, a close friend of the youngest Privacky son, Seth Privacky. Wallace claimed that Seth Privacky had contacted him asking for help in hiding the murder weapon and disposing of the bodies.
A manhunt ensued, and Seth was found hiding out in a barn behind a friend’s house days later. After the police talk to Seth, it seems that the massacre came out of left field. The family did have an argument earlier in the day about Seth moving out, but it didn’t seem serious enough for what happened next. Seth gathered his father’s .22 caliber handgun and began to take the family out one by one. First, he snuck up behind his brother and shot him in the head. From there, he went to the garage and shot his father and grandfather before going upstairs and shooting his mother after she got out of the shower. Not expecting April to come over, he shot her as well, wanting no witnesses.
Wallace was able to be acquitted after testing that he only helped Seth out of fear for his own life. After being sentenced to life in prison, Seth tried breaking out of jail in 2010 and was shot dead by a prison guard.
While the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year for some, remember at your next family get-together to be thankful you don’t have family members like the ones on this list.