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Crimes that shocked the country in 2023

Cracked cold cases, unforeseen arrests, shocking violence and betrayal were among crime cases that rocked the country this year.

New York police made an arrest in the infamous Long Island serial killer case that many doubted could be solved. The longtime suspected killer of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway made a surprise confession. And the massacre of four University of Idaho students continued to grab attention from coast to coast.

There were serial killer cases in California, Pennsylvania, Texas and Oregon. Documents have revealed new details in the JonBenet Ramsey case. Ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin was nearly killed in federal prison.

Here are five of the most followed crime stories of 2023.


Idaho student murders

While the slayings of Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20, took place in November 2022, it wasn’t until their suspected killer Bryan Kohberger waived extradition in early January that the public got a glimpse of the evidence.

Police tracked Kohberger across the country, from his Ph.D. student office at neighboring Washington State University to his parents’ house in Pennsylvania’s Poconos. 

Phone records, surveillance images of a suspect vehicle, DNA left on a knife sheath recovered at the scene and a survivor’s shocking eyewitness account all played roles in a probable cause affidavit unveiled Jan. 5.

University of Idaho victims Madeline Mogen, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, and Kaylee Goncalves

A judge denied Kohberger’s request to dismiss a superseding indictment in December, clearing the way for the case to go to trial after the suspect waived his right to speedy proceedings and tried to fight the case on procedural grounds.

The judge entered not guilty pleas on Kohberger’s behalf at his arraignment in May. He could face the death penalty if convicted on any of the murder charges and one to 10 years on the burglary charge.

Alex Murdaugh murder trial

Once a high-powered South Carolina lawyer, Alex Murdaugh’s world unraveled as years of misdeeds came to light following the June 2021 murders of his wife, Maggie, and their younger son, Paul.

Jurors found him guilty in March, and he was sentenced to two life terms in prison.  

Murdaugh family poses in formal attire


The six-week trial exposed Murdaugh’s crippling financial troubles and corruption. While he has pleaded guilty to a number of unrelated financial crimes, he is appealing his murder convictions.

“That jury had heard almost three weeks of evidence not related to the murder, but to the financial crimes, which he’s always admitted to,” defense attorney Dick Harpootlian previously told Fox News Digital. “But we believe it so prejudiced them that when we put the forensic evidence in, which is very, very strong for his innocence, acquittal, they didn’t hear it.”

Joran van der Sloot confesses

In a shocking turn nearly two decades after the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway in Aruba, longtime suspect Joran van der Sloot confessed to the gruesome details of her murder as part of a plea deal on international extortion charges.

Natalee Holloway smiles in a school picture and Joran van der Sloot looks to his side in court


Van der Sloot, now 36, is a Dutch national who murdered Peruvian casino heiress Stephany Flores five years to the day after Holloway vanished.

He told the FBI in October he crushed Holloway’s skull with a cinder block after she refused his sexual advances on a beach near her hotel. Then he dragged her into the ocean and set her adrift.

Van der Sloot was sentenced to 20 years in prison for extorting Holloway’s mother, with credit for time already served in U.S. custody after his arrival in June. The court will allow his sentence to run concurrently with those he faces in Peru for Flores’ murder. His new expected release date is June 9, 2043.

Suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer arrested

Rex Heuremann in court

In another cold case, police arrested New York City architect Rex Heuermann in a series of murders years after the remains of a group of women were discovered along Long Island’s Ocean Parkway.

Split image showing the Gilgo Four victims

Heuermann has been held at the jail in Yaphank, New York, since mid-July on six murder charges in the cold case deaths of Melissa Barthelemy, 24, Megan Waterman, 22, and Amber Costello, 27, whose bodies police found in 2010 while searching for a different missing woman, Shannan Gilbert, 23.


Police now believe Gilbert’s death was an accident, but they found 11 bodies in the area while searching for her. Heuermann has been charged with killing three of them and remains a suspect in the death of a fourth woman, Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25. 

The deaths of the other victims remain under investigation. Heuermann faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

Kaitlin Armstrong murder trial

Kaitlin Armstrong leaves the courtroom

A Texas jury found Kaitlin Armstrong, 37, guilty of murder last month in the shooting death of pro cyclist Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson, a 25-year-old perceived romantic rival who had gone out on a date with Armstrong’s boyfriend the evening of her murder.

Colin Strickland, 36, another pro cyclist at the center of the alleged love triangle, had an on-and-off relationship with Armstrong, who lived in his house, and had a sexual relationship with Wilson while on a “break” with Armstrong. Once he was back with Armstrong, jurors heard that he continued to talk to her in secret and changed her name in his phone to hide the communications.

Armstrong led police on a 43-day manhunt after the murder and tried to escape custody just weeks before her trial, leading Travis County corrections officers on a 10-minute foot chase before they recaptured her.

She was sentenced to 90 years in prison. 

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