Q: What are the craziest deaths connected to theater?
It’s 2017 and a girl lays on her bed in her Brooklyn apartment on an early Sunday morning. It’s 19 degrees fahrenheit outside and the air is cold and dry. A low buzzing resonated through her room as her heater is on high and she nuzzles further into her blankets. Some muffled rustling can be heard outsides along with the wind chimes placed outside her door. She hears heavy footsteps coming through the hallway outside her apartment. She thinks nothing of them, “someone coming in from a long night probably.” As her eyes start to close and she begins to slip back into sleep, a scratching sound starts coming from the other side of the door and it makes her sit up from her bed. Then she hears a key going into the front door's lock and she can hear each feature in it unhinging, opening the door to an unknown intruder. Heavy boots quietly shift, closing the door behind them. She’s sitting back on her elbows, slight panic in her eyes, and her heart beating hard against her chest. She swallows hard and builds the courage to ask who it was.
“Steven?”, she asked - could it be her brother? He usually knocks first, that’s his signal to opening the door.
“.....”, no answer.
“Steven? Is that you?”, her voice breaks at the end. The footsteps grow louder as they approach her bedroom door and she sits farther up against the farthest corner of her headboard. All she hears in her room is her own labored breath. Slowly her door is slowly pushed open and the squeaking sound fills the room. As she pushes herself farther into her bed, she sees a light illuminating a hooded jacket. Her gaze reaches the face being illuminated by the light below it.
It’s her brother.
“Who else would it be?”, he smirks as he steps back out of the room.
“A serial killer….”, she mutters throwing herself back onto her bed.
It’s a good day when you don’t murdered.
Welcome to Serial... killing...
I know, bad joke. Anyway, welcome to my dark world of murder and death….IN THE THEATRE!
After discovering the world of murder podcasts, my passion for the fucked up has reignited and I’m ready to spread the misery. So, let's check out...
1. Killer Performance: Daniel Wozniak
This 31-year-old community theatre actor from Costa Mesa, California decided to kill and butcher his friend and neighbor Sam Herr (a freaking Afghanistan war vet!) and Julie Kibuishi, a jazz dancer who was friends with Sam. Sam Herr was an only child, so it’s no surprise his dad, Steve Herr, thought it was weird his son hadn’t answered his calls all day on May 22, 2010. Soon enough he drove to his son’s apartment in Costa Mesa and let himself in with a key. When he entered Sam’s bedroom, he found Kibuishi’s nearly nude body sprawled on the bed. Dad called 911 real fast.
Not only is Daniel Wozniak an evil murderer, but he tried to frame Kibuishi's death on Sam Herr. Thankfully, he is also a bloody (pun fully freaking intended) idiot, because he conned a 16 year old kid to withdraw $400 at an ATM to buy a pizza (PIZZA!) with the card of a dead human being. The police tracked Daniel Wozniak down at his bachelor party, a sushi restaurant in Huntington Beach, and promptly arrested him. Two days before his wedding.
He broke down pretty quickly in his interrogation (guess he’s not that great of an actor) and revealed his plan to kill Sam Herr and cash in his $62,000 in savings from his service to pay for his honeymoon.
But, what does this have to do with theater?
Well, Wozniak had performed as the lead in the musical Nine the same evening that he shot and killed Julie Kibuishi, and then staged the crime scene (worst set designer ever).
They’ve recommendation that Wozniak be sentenced to death. Moral: don’t commit double murder for a fu*king honeymoon cruise.
2. Always Check Your Props!: Daniel Hoevels
Swedish actor Daniel Hovels clutches his bleeding neck as the audience claps for the insanely realistic special effects. Except Daniel couldn’t enjoy the praise since he’d really just slit his throat. On stage.
Thankfully, Hoevels survived by the mere chance that the knife missed the major artery that his doctor claimed would have left him “drowning in his own blood." This all went down at Vienna’s Burgtheater as Daniel Hovel’s character went to "kill himself" in the final scene of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart. Police were initially investigating whether the knife was switched by mistake or if it was some sort of murder plot against the Swed. Alas, to the disappointment of the press, it seems to have been a huge fuckup on behalf of the props department.
Two stitches and a bandage later, Hoevels was given the okay. He went back to work the very next week claiming,“The show must go on.” He is now playing in Ulrich Plenzdorf's The New Sorrows of Young Werther where the character winds up shooting himself in the head. Just make sure to double check that gun again, Dan.
3. “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” : Edith Webster
It’s 1986 and Edith is getting ready to die for the hundredth time in her dramatic death scene. As she is singing "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" in the production of The Drunkard, where she’s played the role of grandmother for eight years, she's finishing her last notes when suddenly she collapses.
This time she’s really dead.
Edith suffered a heart attack during what would be her last performance at the Towson Moose Lodge. The audience sat still for an hour as Edith went out with a big bang. "There was tremendous applause, gearing that, she died," said Richard Byrd, director of the comedy.
4. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you: William Terriss
On December 16th in 1897, William was entering the Adelphi Theatre, a London West End Theatre, through a stage door, preparing himself for an evening performance of Secret Service. What he didn’t expect was to get stabbed to death by Richard Archer Prince, a younger actor Terriss had helped out in finding work in many of the productions he was involved in. Richard Prince had been progressively abusing alcohol and become mentally unstable, so it now comes to no surprise that after being dismissed by William in a previous production he decided to make the irrational decision to kill the hand that fed him. Terris would send him small sums of money too, through an actor’s fund, and still tried to find him acting work. But even with all that help Prince found himself unemployed by the end of 1897.
A couple days earlier Richard and William were seen arguing the night after Prince had been removed from a theatre. Earlier in the day of the murder, Prince had asked for money at the fund's office, but he was told that his request couldn’t be considered that day. No money made Richard a angry boy, so logically he crosses the street and waits for William Terriss near the stage door with a concealed knife. At around 7pm William Terris is taking a cab to the Adelphi Theatre, where he was dropped off at Maiden Lane leading him to the private stage door used only by himself and two of the other principals of the company. He picked his keys out of his packet and proceeded to place them into the lock. He wasn’t expecting to be stabbed in the back. Literally.
As William turned around Richard raised his arm high and plunged a large knife deep into actor’s chest. Terris cried out, “My God, I am stabbed; arrest him.” William Terris was carried out to the passage of the stage door and ice was placed upon his chest wound, but his injuries were beyond medical help. He proceeded to die for the next 8 minutes. At the murder trial Richard Prince was found guilty - but also insane, so he was sent to the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, where he died 39 years later. Another dude who took playing the villain too seriously. Chill the fu*k out.
You know other good theater murders?
Let PXP know in the comments below...