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Bad Santas: These Guys Give St. Nick a Bad Name

Hollywood often depicts the men who don Santa Claus costumes during the holiday season in a less-than-flattering light.

But some (alleged) criminals have gone one step further than Hollywood to drag St. Nick's image right through the mud. Below, we've included a list of some real-life "Bad Santas" from Christmases past and present.

Santa Claus as a Murderer

Richard Herr is well known in Flagstaff for donning a Santa costume wherever he goes. Herr's recently published book "Inside, Outside," however, reveals that Herr has a much darker past than the white beard and big red suit would suggest, AZfamily.com reports.

In the book, Herr describes his role in the brutal 1966 murder of housewife Betty Reynolds. At the time, Herr pleaded guilty to the murder and admitted "hitting Reynolds on the head with his fist" before stabbing her to death. Now, however, Herr maintains his innocence and claims he was coerced into confessing.

Flagstaff parents will probably think twice before letting their kids near Herr this year.

Santa Claus as a Bank Robber

Earlier this month, a man dressed as Santa walked into a Bank of America in Phoenix and demanded money from a teller, according to AZfamily.com. The suspect then took off with the cash in a dark gray Dodge Ram pickup truck.

The FBI is still searching for perpetrator. If you have any information about the robbery, you should call (623) 466-1999.

The Original "Bad Santa" Crime

Arguably the most notorious "Bad Santa" crime of all time took place in Texas on Dec. 23, 1927. Ex-cons Marshall Ratliff, Henry Helms, and Robert Hill robbed a bank with Ratliff dressed in a Santa suit. The ensuing shootout left two officers dead.

Over the next seven days, Ratliff, Helms, and Hill went on the lam, taking a number hostages and wounding eight others. On Dec. 30, the trio was apprehended.

Helms was executed by electric chair, while Hill was sentenced to life in prison. Ratliff was sentenced to death as well, but before the sentence could be carried out he was lynched by a mob in Eastland County.

Here's hoping the Santas you encounter are more of the jolly and non-threatening type. Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everybody!

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