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Throwback Thursday: A Halloween when the bogeyman was real

For this Throwback Thursday, we look back at a Halloween from 20 years ago when there was really something that had the community scared.

During Halloween 1994 there was a bogeyman lurking. He was never reported as being caught.

Six children in the month leading up to Halloween reported attempted abductions, including a 10-year-old girl being grabbed and escaping when her dog, Billy, bit the man. Three attempts were in or near Smithton and the attempts increased as Halloween approached.

Churches and community groups planned alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating to keep children off the streets. Smithton residents on Sept. 29 crowded the school gym to hear from law enforcement and discuss the investigation and safety.

The suspect’s description was similar for a dark-haired white male, at least 6 feet tall, sometimes with facial hair, and four artists’ sketches were developed. The Illinois attempts were reviewed for links to at least one Missouri case, but charges were never filed against a suspect.

Halloween night in Smithton found road blocks at the entrances to town. Elected leaders helped police patrol to keep the trick-or-treaters safe.

The Halloween 1994 newspaper also featured lighter, traditional coverage including Flintstones costumes and a person-powered Bedrock car that Belleville residents Jack Korves and Brian Campbell built for their children. Korves and his family are also known for going all-out at Christmas, filling their yard on Llewellyn Road with lights and character cut-outs.

Because Halloween fell on a Monday, many of the adult celebrations were already over. Belleville schools decided against celebrating on Friday, and held parades and parties on the real day because the kids would be excited and have trouble focusing on Halloween.