Santa's slay: Bruce Pardo's family massacre at Christmas
Tis the night before Christmas... so what better time to revisit the case of Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, a scorned divorcee who gunned down nine members of his ex's family on Christmas Eve 2008 - and that's just the start of it.
It’s Christmas Eve, a time of celebration and anticipation, for dear St. Nicholas will be arriving tonight but believe me, make sure he comes in via the chimney because you don’t want to be answering the door to him.
The big man touched down in the Californian town of Covina at 11:30pm on December 24th 2008, bang on time, ready to deliver his gifts.
Dressed in his usual red and white attire he approached the door of a suburban home and knocked. A party was in full swing inside and the young children inside screamed ‘Santa! Santa!’ as the door opened to reveal him and an enormous gift-wrapped present.
Little Katrina Yuzefpolsky, 8, ran to greet him but before she could get her arms around him for a festive hug, Santa had pulled two handguns from his festive trousers and shot her in the face.
This Santa was not here to spread festive cheer. There was only one gift to be delivered that night, and that was revenge against his former in-laws, his ex-wife and anyone else who got in his way. The shots rang out over the bells of Christmas and panic inside the party set in.
One partygoer soon realised that Santa was in fact 45-year-old Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, the recently divorced husband of the homeowners' daughter, Sylvia. After shooting his niece in the face, he started shooting indiscriminately as members of the Ortega family tried to flee and take cover. Nine people died that night in what was dubbed the 'Santa Shooting Spree'.
As the dust settled in the days after the massacre, it was claimed that the Pardos' marriage had crumbled after Sylvia discovered that Bruce had a secret disabled child who he had cut all ties with. Others claimed that the regular churchgoer was the sort of man who would pop over to ask how your dog is.
But it would be hard to see the Bruce that went on that sickening rampage that night as a God-fearing christian.
Witnesses reported that he stood over his victims executing them at close range - I very much doubt they’ll ever want Santa to come back. Luckily young Katrina survived along with another minor who was shot in the back.
The chaotic scene left little clue about what had taken place but as the house emptied and bodies lay strewn across the house, Pardo put down his guns and unwrapped the present he had brought with him.
It contained a homemade flamethrower on a trolley, which explosive experts said they had never seen the like of, and two 9mm semi-automatic handguns – bloody good job this wasn’t a film and the parcels got switched leaving him with an easy bake oven.
He torched the house with the help of 18 gallons of petrol. The inferno took 80 fire fighters two hours to put out. The relatives who he gunned down were "burnt beyond all recognition".
After the house was ablaze Pardo also found himself significantly burned with his cheap Santa costume melted to his skin. He removed what he could and changed into street clothes before fleeing.
No longer dressed as Santa, he stuck out like a sore thumb, for this was obviously the best disguise to wear on Christmas Eve. He had bought tickets for an air Canada flight but the considerable damage he had taken in the blaze made him change his getaway and instead he drove 30 miles to his brother’s house in Slywy.
His brother was not at home at the time but police later found Pardo's body, and $17,000 strapped to his leg. He had died from a self inflicted gun shot wound, and his car, parked on a street nearby was booby-trapped to explode if the remains of the Santa suit were removed.
Police went on to search Pardo's property - and reported that this Santa’s grotto was actually a ‘virtual bomb factory’. Inside his home were multiple handguns, shotguns and a high-octane fuel tank, items that could have caused even more unimaginable Christmas carnage and chaos.
At the time, one reporter said: “This divorce shattered Bruce Pardo. It became his obsession. And Bruce began to plot ways to get back at Sylvia. I think that he decided that he wasn’t just gonna kill her, but he was gonna kill everything that she loved and take it, wipe it off the face of the earth.”
Bruce Pardo's festive revenge mission brings new meaning to Santa's SLAY.