Once biggest shopping mall in world abandoned after grisly murder & rape history (2024)

The Randall Park Mall was the biggest in the world when it was built in 1976, but the £143million shopping centre couldn't withstand changing economic conditions and became tainted by a history of gruesome crimes

Once biggest shopping mall in world abandoned after grisly murder & rape history (1)

Once the largest shopping centre in the world, one £143million mall now lies derelict and abandoned after a grisly history of murder, kidnapping, and rape.

With eerie empty cinemas, and escalators frozen in time, the Randall Park Mall is a far cry from what it once was.

Measuring nearly 2.2million square feet, the huge mall was supposed to be the future of retail in Ohio, US when it was opened on August 11, 1976.

But it, like countless other retail ventures, suffered the sharp end of economic tides and was such a failure that not only was the mall shuttered after just 33 years but now it is set to be demolished.

Before it’s reduced to rubble, photographer Matthew Christopher, of Abandoned America, dug deep into the shopping mall, exploring it so it’s story would live on.

The stunning pictures show the ghostly empty shopping centre that would’ve once been teeming with excited shoppers.

Mr Christopher has an interest in shooting abandoned sites, and began documenting them a decade ago when researching the declining hospital system.

Since then, he’s travelled the US investigating abandoned buildings and makes his own podcast series about his adventures.

But this mall has a grisly history of murder, kidnapping, rape and grand theft auto that tainted its reputation as it passed from owner to owner, until it was eventually shut.

First year sales peaked at £114million, but the murder of a 23-year-old shoe store employee, Larry Cook, in the Christmas of 1977 shocked locals.

He was shot in the back of the head and robbed of around £1000 in cash and cheques, then his body was found two days later when a maintenance worker spotted his feet sticking out a snow drift in the car park.

Then, just two years later, a food chain executive was kidnapped along with his wife, but whilst Julius Kravtiz’s partner managed to escape, he would later die from his gunshot wounds after being discovered not far from mall.

The mall’s 9,000 car car park was supposed to be a selling point, but it created the unexpected problem of rampant car theft, and Mr Christopher said stories quickly began to circulate of muggings and violent attacks, and racism in the area was prevalent as well.

Unruly teenagers were also a problem, on one occasion in 1987, eight teens smashed in the window of a jewellery store and tried to rob the place, but were caught.

Then, in another incident, 150 youngsters stampeded through the mall - but it isn’t clear why, or what caused this, but it added to the growing reputation of the mall.

Around this time, like many other places in America’s Rust Belt, North Randall was being hit hard by the effects of deindustrialisation.

Until it was shut, it was passed from owner to owner, eventually being sold for as little as £6million.

But trouble in the mall continued, the Easter Bunny got into a fight with one of his helpers and one of Santa’s elves was sued after an alleged assault too.

Despite this, new owners came in and invested millions, but in 1998, in the Magic Johnson Cinema, patron Paul Robinson shot dead another man, then tried to kill himself.

The cumulative stories and tragic crimes added up, as the mall struggled to stay afloat in a changing economy.

One of the most shocking actions happened in 2002, towards the end of the mall's life, when a security guard named Curtis Smith accused a 17-year-old girl of shoplifting.

He took her to a holding area and ordered her to have sex with him or she would be arrested.

Located just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, Randall Park Mall was built on the site of what was once the Randall Park Race Track.

It was home to over 200 stores, a three-screen movie theatre and came with 9,000 parking spaces, and it had five anchoring department stores, in Sears, Horne’s, Higbee’s, May Company, and JCPenny.

But despite initial hope, it fell into a spiral of decline and the mall eventually shuttered on March 12, 2009.

The former Dillard's store and interior of the mall were demolished in 2015 to make way for an industrial park, and the remaining anchor tenants were demolished in 2017 after they all closed down.

The once grand central court of the mall is now a mess, with litter and glass scattered across the floors.

Light still pours in from the skylights daily, but the seating areas are a mess of chairs strewn across the floors and the remains of mannequins.

There are holes in the ceiling in some places but the explorer said others looked almost like new.

You can follow Mr Christopher’s Abandoned America work here.

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Once biggest shopping mall in world abandoned after grisly murder & rape history (2024)


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