Q: What are the craziest deaths connected to theatRE?
It’s 2017 and a girl lies 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 resonates through her room as her heater is on high and she nuzzles further into her blankets. Some muffled rustling can be heard outside along with the wind chimes outside her door. She hears heavy footsteps coming through the hallway outside her apartment. She isn’t worried — “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, her heart beating hard against her chest. She swallows hard and builds the courage to ask who it is.
“Steven?”, she asks — could it be her brother? He usually knocks first, that’s his signal to opening the door.
“Steven? Is that you?” she asks, her voice breaking at the end. The footsteps grow louder as they approach her bedroom door and she sits up against the farthest corner of her headboard. All she hears in her room is her own labored breathing. Slowly her door is pushed open and the squeaking sound fills the room. As she pushes herself down into her bed, she sees a light illuminating a hooded jacket. Her gaze reaches the face.
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 get 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 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, he also tried to frame Sam Herr for Kibuishi's slaying. 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 one of his victims. 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 steal the guy’s savings to pay for his honeymoon.
What does this have to do with theatre?
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).
Wozniak received the death penalty. Moral: Don’t commit double murder for a fucking honeymoon cruise.
2. Always Check Your Props!: Daniel Hoevels
Swedish actor Daniel Hoevels clutched his bleeding neck as the audience clapped for the insanely realistic special effects. Unfortunately, Daniel couldn’t enjoy their enthusiasm since he’d really just slit his throat — on stage!
Thankfully, Hoevels survived because 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 Hoevels’ 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 actor. To the disappointment of the press, it turned out to be a huge fuck up by 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 went on to appear in Ulrich Plenzdorf's The New Sorrows of Young W. in which his character shoots himself in the head. We’re sure he double checked that gun — a lot.
3. “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” : Edith Webster
In 1986 and Webster was getting ready for her dramatic death scene as the grandmother in The Drunkard, a role she had played for eight years. She sang "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" and, as she finished her last note, she suddenly collapsed as usual.
Only this time she really died.
Webster suffered a heart attack during what turned out to be her last performance at Baltimore’s Towson Moose Lodge. The audience couldn’t believe it as Webster went out with a big bang. "There was tremendous applause and, hearing that, she died," said Richard Byrd, director of the comedy.
4. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you: William Terriss
On December 16, 1897, Terriss was entering London’s Adelphi Theatre through a stage door where he was performing in the play Secret Service. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t get to go on that night because he was stabbed to death by his colleague Richard Archer Prince. Terriss had helped Prince get work in many productions, but the young actor was an alcoholic and mentally ill. Even after Terriss dismissed Prince from a show, he still regularly sent him money via the Actors' Benevolent Fund. But the two quarreled a few days before the murder and the next time Prince went to the Fund and asked for cash, he was told his request couldn’t be granted.
No money made Prince an angry boy, so he waited for Terriss near the theatre with a knife. Around 7pm, Terriss arrived at the stage door, placed his key in the lock and was confronted by Prince, who plunged a large knife deep into his chest. Terriss cried out, “My God, I am stabbed; arrest him!” Unfortunately, Terriss died and Prince was later found guilty of murder, but declared insane. So he was sent to the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Another dude who took playing the villain way too seriously. Chill the fuck out.
know ANY other good theatRE murders?
Let PXP know in the comments below...