Twelve Days of Slayings: Murders Committed During Christmas and New Year’s
The holiday season is typically seen as a festive and loving time during the year. With bright lights, presents, and intimate gatherings it’s hard to imagine danger or the idea of death. Committing crimes would usually be the farthest thing on someone’s mind during such a wonderful season. With this in mind, it doesn’t stop some from ruining the holidays for others and getting on Santa’s naughty list.
Sameena Imam was a young woman born into a loving family and was doing very well for herself. She was seeing a Costco coworker, Roger Cooper, secretly for about two years by Christmas time in 2014. The relationship was under the radar in part because romantic relationships were against workplace rules, and because Roger had a serious long-time girlfriend besides Sameena. Not wanting to be the other woman anymore, Sameena told Roger to leave his girlfriend and be committed to her. Roger had agreed but had no intention of following through. Roger was a player and not loyal to any one person, even having a relationship with a third woman while he was with Sameena, another coworker from Costco. Not wanting to choose between all three women, or wanting to lose his job if the truth came to light, Roger came up with his own plan: taking Sameena out of the picture permanently.
Roger did not want to be the only one to get his hands dirty, so he recruited his brother, ex-soldier David Cooper to help him. The most surprising thing about David was that he was so willing to help without even knowing Sameena that well. He never told why he was more than happy to help Roger with his devious plan. Together the brothers made a few attempts on Sameena’s life before succeeding.
The not-so-bright brothers first tried to take Sameena out on December 12th, 2014. That night Sameena and Roger had gone to a company Christmas party and were supposed to meet up at an inn for a romantic night together. Roger had never planned to show up, and David was waiting patiently for Sameena at the inn parking lot. Sitting in his vehicle, David realized that he would not be able to move in for the kill when Sameena showed up with a taxi and was dropped off directly at the inn’s entrance. Without the ability to snatch her up without notice, David drove away and informed Roger of the failed mission.
On Christmas Eve Sameena and Roger drove together to Leicester for what Sameena thought was a holiday gathering with Roger’s family. She was under the impression she was going to be introduced as Roger’s girlfriend, and Sameena was so excited she had purchased a bottle of Bellini and some snacks for the party. Of course, Roger had other plans in mind. The couple was indeed headed for Leicester, but so they could visit Roger’s brother, David, in his home.
Once the couple arrived Sameena was blitz attacked by the much taller and stronger brothers. Sameena was only 5’2, and both men were well over six feet tall. Sameena was smothered with chloroform and other toxins before dying. Roger left shortly after and had his brother take charge of disposing of the body.
Sameena was reported missing on Boxing Day by her family, and from there the investigation into her death didn’t take long for the police to wrap up. Sameena’s car was found abandoned without her suitcases or handbag on January 4th, 2015. Shortly after Sameena’s body was found wrapped in a sleeping bag and buried in a Leicester allotment. After finding her car the police used her phone data to see that she had traveled to Leicester with her secret boyfriend Roger. Once police went to David’s home they found overwhelming evidence that Sameena was there, such as the snacks she had purchased and the bottle of Bellini in the fridge.
Both brothers were arrested on January 7th, 2015, and by Christmas 2015 the pair were sentenced to 30 years each behind bars.
It’s always shocking when a murder takes place on a holiday, but there is an extra element of terror when the crime is committed by a family member, let alone when a child takes the life of their parent.
New Year’s Eve of 2014 was supposed to be a relaxed affair in the Gomez household. Mario Gomez had come down from Virginia to visit his mother and siblings. While things had not been easy in the household for the last few years, Suarez Gomez was happy to have her children home for the holiday. However, her middle child, Christian, was not as pleased to have the whole family together.
Christian Gomez was a young man with many problems. He was an easy child, but things changed when his schizophrenia manifested. Christian suffers from auditory hallucinations, and would often flip his mattress over at night as he believed the voices came from under his bed. Christian usually enjoyed spending his free time alone in his room, watching tv or playing video games. When his brother Mario was at the home he would further isolate himself in his room as he and Mario would normally argue.
Maria claimed that her mother tried desperately to help her son with his mental illness. As a single mother, she alone had the burden of doing everything in her power for Christian. Suarez would pick up Christian’s meds and make sure he took them, even crushing them and putting the meds into his food. The family was unable to afford Christian private care or a bed in a state-operated hospital. The therapists the family was able to afford were subpar, many would misdiagnose Christian (such as one doctor who insisted he was bipolar) and not actually take the time to properly look into his mental health. If the meds that Christian was prescribed failed to keep working doctors would simply up the medications or prescribe new meds.
Christian’s mental illness was hard on his family as well. Maria wasn’t able to live in the family home. Christian had a past history of outbursts and inappropriate behavior toward Maria. Christian’s schizophrenia took its toll on Suarez as well, since she slept with a knife under her pillow out of fear of Christian hurting her. In attention to Christian’s previously listed behavior, Christian had been involuntarily institutionalized and was arrested for loitering, prowling, resisting an officer, and disorderly conduct.
For two days before New Year’s Eve Christian had been having thoughts of killing his mother. On the day of the murder, it is said that Christian was upset about having to do chores around the home and grew tired of his mother’s ‘nagging’. Christian was also probably motivated by the attention Mario received from their mother, and of course, he was spurred on most by his illness.
While Christian and Suarez were moving boxes in the garage, Christian snuck up behind his mother with an ax and viciously swung at her. It took him a few swings, but he managed to decapitate her. Mario reported hearing a thump but figured that it was due to his family moving boxes. After twenty minutes of silence, Mario ventured into the garage to find the bloody, headless corpse of his mother. A sloppily cleaned-up red trail from the body to the garage can be revealed that Christian had heartlessly moved his mother’s head to the trash.
Christian had fled the scene on his bicycle after the murder but was caught quickly as the neighbors noticed blood on his shoes when he rode around the block. After being detained by the police Christian coolly admitted to the killing of his mother. Christian spent three years in a mental institution after the arrest until he was deemed fit for trial, and from there he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. The Gomez family was very unhappy with this decision, instead Christian should spend the rest of his life in a mental institution where he would be unable to ever hurt anyone ever again.
The idea of a killer Santa always makes for a good Christmas slasher movie, but a real-life killer St. Nick is not as inviting. This nightmare haunted a family on December 24th, 2008.
The well-to-do Ortega family was having a large Christmas gathering with their children and families, with easily twenty-five people in the home. The adults were playing poker downstairs while the children were playing on both levels of the house. Everything was picture-perfect, like a Hallmark movie. One of the partygoers was an eight-year-old child who thought she saw Santa Claus walking outside the home. A few minutes later there was a knock on the door and the young girl raced over to open the door and see none other than a man dressed as Santa outside the door. This Santa came bearing gifts, but not of comfort and joy. Upon the door opening, the man in the Santa suit shot the young child point-blank in the face.
Without rest, the killer Santa opened fire on all the party guests with the 9mm guns he had on his person. After he finished loading the guests up with lead, the mystery assassin pulled out his next special gift: he had brought along a pressurized tank full of jet fuel and gas, and from there the real horror began. In between the gas and flames from candles in the home, the house caught on fire. Terrified partygoers tried escaping the 50-foot flames, and in the end, it took 80 firefighters an hour and a half to combat the fire. Once the flames subsided, the bodies of the victims were burned so badly that they had to be identified by dental records. In the end, nine victims died that Christmas Eve as a result of a combination of gunshots and the fire.
While many couldn’t imagine someone willing to commit such an awful and intense massacre, and on Christmas no less, the Ortega family knew exactly who this crazed Santa was. During a 911 call made by one of the party guests, it was revealed that the person in the red suit was Bruce Pardo, the ex-husband of Sylvia Ortega. The two had gotten married and divorced earlier in the year, with the divorce being finalized on December 18th.
Although their marriage was short, the divorce settlement was brutal. Bruce had been hiding from Sylvia a special needs child from a previous relationship he refused to acknowledge, and Bruce wanted nothing for Slyvia’s own three children. Bruce believed that Slyvia should take care of them herself with her own money. Bruce was ordered by the court to pay $1,785 a month to Sylvia for child support, although payments were suspended when Bruce lost his job. Bruce was not happy about paying child support, claiming to the court that Slyvia was living with her parents rent-free and spending money frivolously. There is no evidence to back up that last claim.
After fleeing the crime scene a rental car with Bruce’s body was found about forty miles away. The flames caused by his homemade flamethrower were so intense that the sleeves of his suit melted into his skin. It was originally believed that he had meant to fly to Canada after the murders, but he had chosen to shoot himself in the head instead. This was probably due to the amount of pain he was in since he had third-degree burns all over his body.
In the end, he killed nine people in his murder spree, including his ex-wife Slyvia and his ex-in-laws.
It’s always sad when uncontrollable circumstances get in the way of families, and when said circumstances cause families to go to the extreme.
There’s no clear motive for why Scott Kologi did what he did on New Year’s Eve 2017. It was a small intimate gathering in the Kologi household, made up of Scott’s parents, his two other siblings, his grandfather, and his surrogate grandmother. His family had no idea how Scott was planning to bring in the new year.
Less than an hour into 2018, Scott had called his mother upstairs to his dark room where the lights were off. Scott was geared up with gloves, a leather jacket, sunglasses, and a Century Arms rifle ready to go. When his mother came into the room Scott opened fire on her, effectively shooting her four times in the head before she went down, lifeless. She never even had time to scream. Upon hearing the commotion Scott’s father rushed upstairs where he too was hit with lead. Scott managed to shoot his father in the back and torso before moving on to the rest of the family downstairs.
Scott manages to corner his grandfather’s longtime girlfriend in the living room and shot her in the torso before finally shooting his sister three times in the head. Scott had originally planned to kill the whole family, but when he turned the barrel of his rifle on his grandfather he saw that the old man had fallen to his knees in despair over seeing his family single-handedly taken down by his grandson. This cause Scott to hesitate, giving his grandfather and brother enough time to escape the house of horrors.
Police arrived shortly after since numerous neighbors made 911 calls reporting gunfire. When cops made the arrest Scott calmly confessed to the execution of his family members. Even though Scott was only 16 at the time he was tried as an adult due to the severity of the crime and sentenced to 150 years behind bars.
Looking closer into Scott’s life, it seems that not all was well with him. Jonathan Ruiz, Scott’s surviving brother, claimed Scott had problems. It was said that Scott still believed in Santa Claus, was unable to dress him, and would still sleep in his parent’s bed. Scott’s family was aware that before the murders Scott had thoughts of murdering his family, but his father didn’t want him to share these thoughts with his therapist for fear of Scott being hospitalized. Scott’s attorneys claimed Scott had untreated schizophrenia, hallucinations, and severe developmental disabilities, and was reported to have had a psychotic break on the day of the murders. Scott tried to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. The prosecution argued Scott was autistic, not schizophrenia, and therefore aware of what he was doing during the murders.
Relationships can be tricky and there is never really a way to tell what one is capable of. It is usually believed that when one is in love they would do anything in their power not to hurt the other person or the family they build, but unfortunately, there are many who do not hold the same values.
Christmas Eve of 2011 would mark the last day in the life of Za’zell Preston, a blushing mother of three who was only months away from graduating college with a focus on domestic violence. Za’zell and her husband, William Wallace, were out at a Christmas party when they got into a drunken argument. The fighting continued when they got home, and it was so volatile that Za’zell’s oldest child woke up to witness the altercation. This was not the first time the children had witnessed their parents fighting, nor was it the first time their fights got violent.
William Wallace was described as being violent and controlling. As stated before, this was not the first instance of domestic violence in their relationship. Wallace had previously been to jail for beating Preston, and Preston at one point had a restraining order against Wallace. Wallace was arrested at least twice for violating the order and was always able to get Preston to forgive him for any wrongdoings. Preston was so desperate to change Wallace that she would even visit him in jail after he beat her and violated the restraining order. Many people, especially Preston’s family, would beg Za’zell to leave Wallace.
Things came to a head Christmas Eve night. Za’zell tried to escape the apartment but Wallace managed to drag her back. During the argument, Preston’s daughter saw Wallace pushing Za’zell through a glass table. The daughter and Wallace started to pull pieces of glass from Preston until Wallace picked up his wife to take her to the bathroom. From there Wallace dropped Preston on her head on the side of the toilet, and Preston never woke up again. Wallace was so callous about Za’zell’s passing that he put Za’zell’s body into bed without a thought, even with her skin being
cold as ice.
The next morning Wallace propped Preston’s body on the couch with a pair of sunglasses on her face. He made the children open their presents, and when they asked what was wrong with Preston Wallace simply replied “Mommy ruined Christmas, she got drunk and ruined Christmas.” The children would later describe their mother’s body as cold and stiff on Christmas morning.
By mid-morning Wallace called 911 saying Preston needed medical attention. When paramedics arrived Preston’s body was slumped over on the couch and it was clear that she had been dead for hours. Wallace tried to lie his way out of the situation by saying that Preston had hurt herself, of course, the paramedics didn’t believe him and police arrived shortly after to arrest Wallace. Preston later tried telling police that he was defending himself from Preston, but there were blood stains found throughout the apartment, along with holes in the walls and a door knocked off the hinges. Relatives of Wallace later testify that Wallace told them he was “on my way to the penitentiary,” and “we were drinking and during the argument, I tossed her around a bit.”
With all the overwhelming evidence from the apartment and past abuse, William Wallace was sentenced to fifteen years behind bars for the murder of Za’zell Preston.
While for many the holidays are a time of celebration and reflection, people should still be cautious of ill intentions from those closest to them.