Urban legends are supposed to be creepy stories like the kind you told each other as kids while sitting around a campfire. They are supposed to be so scary and so unbelievable that they cannot possibly be true. However, the facts are that the world is a very frightening place. There are some very crazy and some very dark, evil people. It turns out that these terrifying urban legends happen to be true. Some of them happened in real life more than once.
We collected 15 of the most popular and most terrifying urban legends. They describe ghastly things that no one should experience; however, people did experience these things in real life. We found the real news reports to prove it.
You may want to have this evidence to win bets at the bar; however, you probably do not want to read these things while you are all alone, late at night, and sleeping in an old, haunted house. These are the kinds of things that will give nightmares to even the most cynical person, who is not easily frightened. It is best to know the truth behind these urban legends in order to be able to avoid encountering these horrific things yourself. In some cases, your life may depend on knowing what to avoid, so you can recognize a serious, potential danger.
Here are 15 of the most ghastly urban legends that turned out to be true.
15. Bodies Buried In The Backyard
In the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie called Rear Window, the actor Jimmy Stewart plays a man who has to stay at home to recover from a broken leg. He spends most of his time sitting, resting, and staring out the rear window of his apartment through a telephoto lens to watch what is happening in the buildings across from his. He sees all kinds of things that make his imagination run wild, such as a man fighting with his wife, and then she disappears. After that he watches the same man bury something large in his backyard. Thinking that the man buried his wife, he gets paranoid and tries to convince his wife what he thinks happened. She, of course, thinks he is imagining things. Rear Window is a wonderful film to watch for those who enjoy classics. It is a Hitchcock masterpiece.
In real life, we have the story of Dorothea Punte, who was a kindly looking older woman living in Sacramento, California. She befriended the elderly who had no friends or family. She invited them to live in her boarding house. They all received a monthly Social Security check. She killed them and then buried the bodies in her yard. She wanted to get the money from their monthly check, which she was able to cash at many of the local bars she frequented. She got away with this scheme for many years during the 1980s, since no one reported the deaths or the missing elderly. It is estimated she killed nine helpless, elderly people and was stealing checks that totaled over $5,000 per month.
Punte died in 2011, at the age of 82, while incarcerated and serving two life sentences. While in prison, she wrote a book entitled Cooking With A Serial Killer, which featured recipes of the delicious homemade food she fed her elderly tenants for a short while before she killed them. The UK Daily Mail reported that her deadly boarding house re-opened during 2013 as a macabre, tourist attraction.
14. Harassed/Robbed/Kidnapped/Killed By A Fake Cop
A person (most likely a female), driving alone, usually late at night, on a deserted road, is pulled over by what appears to be a police vehicle with flashing lights. A man dressed in a police uniform asks for the driver’s license and then asks them to step out of the car. This is not a real police officer. Instead, it is a man pretending to be a cop. The fake cop then gropes the woman, fondles her, robs her, perhaps rapes her, and maybe kidnaps her to hold her hostage for further exploitation. Her car is left on the road abandoned and she is reported as missing. Another method is for a man to flash a police “badge” in person and then accost a victim on the street.
Fake cops are an epidemic of criminal behavior that is a global problem. In many countries, it is impossible to tell the real cops from the fake cops and the real cops are corrupt. In Edmonton, Canada the SUN reported a fake cop is targeting sex-trade workers.
In Texas, the Chron reported that the Splendora Police have a photo of a vehicle, which looks very much like a police vehicle because it used to be one, that a fake cop is using to pull over victims. This brazen fake cop even shows up at crime scenes pretending to be a police officer. The real police have been searching for this fake cop for months, who has so far avoided capture. In New York City, the NY Daily News reports that a fake cop fondles his victims and then robs them. These are just a few examples of so many and the danger is very real.
13. Halloween ‘Props’ Turn Out to Be Real
Skeletons, mummies, hanging bodies, witches, and vampires are all part of the common Halloween decorations used during that holiday. Many are used as props for Halloween Haunted Houses. Is it possible these creepy displays and some front yard decorations are real?
During 1976, the workers setting up a haunted house in Long Beach, California at the Nu-Pike Amusement Park were moving a “prop” mummy and accidentally broke its arm off. This revealed real, human bones. The body was that of Elmer McCurdy. He was a train robber shot by police during a robbery attempt in 1911. After his death, his body was mummified by the undertaker, who charged five cents to view it. Later, the mummy was taken around the country for display at traveling carnival shows. Somehow it got misplaced and ended up in a prop warehouse in Southern California.
When the mummy was discovered to be real in the 1970s, it was sent back to McCurdy’s home state of Oklahoma to be buried. Officials poured a huge amount of concrete over the buried casket to make sure he was never removed to be put on display again.
Another bizarre Halloween story happened during October 2005, in the little town of Frederica, Delaware A hanged woman showed up in a tree by the side of a busy road. All the passers-by thought it was a clever Halloween prop; however, it turned out to be a real 42-year-old woman who had committed suicide by hanging herself. NBC News reported the body was hanging in plain view for many hours before some of the locals called the police to investigate.
To make sure this does not happen to you, don’t rob trains and if you want to commit suicide, it may be better to wait until after Halloween or at least not use a rope to hang yourself from a tree in the front yard.
12. There Is A Monster In The Closet
A favorite fear of children is that there is a monster in the closet, or under the bed, or knocking on the window. Children have vivid imaginations and can easily be confused by what they see when they wake up late at night and remain in a half-asleep state. It is difficult to tell a bad dream from reality when first becoming awake. This is when the kids scream out for their parents who come running thinking something horrible may have happened to their child. Most of these nighttime fears go away naturally as a child gets older; however, on occasion, there is another explanation.
There have been cases where adults noticed strange things occurring. They hear noises at night that sounds like someone in the walls or see something moving in the corner of a room that quickly jumps out of sight. Such was the case for, Tatsuko Horikawa, a 57-year-old Japanese man who was living alone in a Kasuya, Japan. At least that is what he thought until he discovered that a 58-year-old Japanese woman had been secretly living in his home. She was hiding in the upper part of one of his closets and coming out only when he was gone, to shower and steal food. She had been living in the home for about a year before she was caught. Listverse reported on this story and nine other creepy stories about intruders hiding in people’s homes, so this is more common than you might think.
To catch such an intruder, when a child says there is a monster in the closet, pay close attention and have the home given a complete and thorough inspection using police dogs that can smell hidden humans.
11. Harvesting of Body Organs
You wake up in a strange hotel room. You are in a bathtub covered partially with ice. You have a long incision on your body where some of your organs have been removed. You vaguely remember meeting someone in a bar but that is all you can remember because you were drugged. You blacked out before they performed the surgery to steal one of your body parts. If you survived this operation they probably only took one of your kidneys. You are lucky to be alive. If they took other organs, you would be dead.
Not only does this happen, the frequency of this organ stealing is increasing. Most of the cases are in the third-world countries where the controls over selling body organs for transplants are not as strict. In China, they have institutionalized this inhumane process. CNN reports that members of the Falun Gong spiritual group, which the government in China is persecuting, are routinely arrested, and then kept alive in prison until the jailers can harvest all their body organs to sell to hospitals for transplant operations.
10. Dead Body Found Under Hotel Bed
These stories are about guests who try to sleep in a hotel room, which has a putrid odor but they cannot find where it is coming from in the room. It is the sweet, sickly, smell of decaying flesh; however, they do not recognize this smell. They call to complain to the hotel desk and ask for another room. In some cases, the hotel is fully booked and there are no other rooms available for that night, so they sleep in the room in spite of the smell. They wait to be transferred to another hotel room in the morning. When the hotel room is carefully searched a dead body is found under the bed or stuffed in part of the bed.
Snopes reports that this happened many times in America, in places like Kansas City where a man spent three nights in a room with a dead body hidden in the box springs under the bed. It happened in Atlantic City and in Pasadena, California, where the body had been decomposing for ten days. It happened in Miami, Florida and Fort Lauderdale.
If you are going to kill someone in a hotel room, at least be kind enough to chop up the body, put the pieces in suitcases, and throw them in the dumpster before you leave. This is how a professional mafia hit man handles this problem. They take care of the mess so others do not have to. If you smell something horrible, look under the bed and inside the box springs and/or pedestal if the bed has one.
9. Kind Neighbor Is A Serial Killer
There are so many stories from people who lived next to serial killers that say how quiet, kind and polite the person was, and that they gave no indication of being a mass murderer.
Richard “Angel of Death” Angelo was a quiet person and a good tenant. He poisoned seven hospital patients. Ted Bundy who was handsome and polite to females may have killed up to 100 women. He confessed to killing 30. Dean “The Candy Man” Corell was always trying to do kind favors for others. He killed at least 28 boys. Donald Harvey got along with everyone. He killed over 37 people. Thought Catalog has plenty of other nice quotes describing serial killers from people who actually knew them.
If you happen to live next to a quiet, polite neighbor who is a loner, it may be a good time to move, especially if you see visitors arrive and then never leave or there is a strange smell coming from where they live.
8. Parasites That Eat Your Brain
You go swimming and feel something crawl up your nose or you go camping and you feel something crawl into your ear at night. You slap at it and then go back to sleep. A few weeks later you hear scratching and chewing noises that sound like they are coming from inside your head. You start to have severe headaches and blurry vision. When you go to the doctor they run a few tests but they cannot find anything wrong. Your family thinks you are imagining things and that you are a hypochondriac. Things continue to get worse until you go completely insane. Parasites have eaten your brain!
Can this really happen? Yes, according to Popular Science there is more than one kind of parasite that can enter through the nose cavity, mouth, or the ear canal, travel into the brain, and start to eat it. In Florida, two twelve-year-old boys were hospitalized after being attacked by a brain-eating amoeba called Naeglerai fowleri that made its way into their brain by swimming up the children’s noses. This parasite is found in the warm, shallow waters of freshwater lakes, streams, and hot springs. Even though this disease is rare, 32 people have contracted it over the past decade, It is not the only parasite that can do this, there are others including a type of roundworm and the pork tapeworm that got into one women’s brain after she ate a pork taco.
7. Restaurant Serves Human Meat
A popular fake news item is a claim that restaurants use some kind of disgusting meat in the dishes they prepare. There have been claims of restaurants using dog meat or cat meat in America and in the UK. Those claims are probably false; however, both dog meat and cat meat are served in restaurants found in Asia. What about human meat? Claims can be found on the Internet that restaurants in South Africa, Belize, and Indian restaurants in London serve human meat. Those are all fake news. Metro UK reports that one restaurant in London may have to close because it cannot get any more customers after it was falsely accused of using human meat. Snopes reported also that the story about a McDonald’s in Oklahoma City that was rumored to use human meat is false.
Cannibalism still exists in parts of the world that are very remote such as Papa New Guinea and parts of the Amazon Rain Forest. However, the most likely time that human meat was consumed in developed countries was during the food shortages caused by World War II across Europe and in Russia. Millions were starving to death in Russia and they would have probably eaten any kind of meat available, human or otherwise. Ranker has a list of nine stories about people being unaware they were eating human meat.
6. Being Buried Alive
This is the classic urban legend and still is frightening to this day. In the not so distant past, being buried alive was a real problem. One doctor, William Tebb, who studied the reported medical cases around the end of the 19th century found 291 cases of almost premature burial, 149 cases of actual premature burial, and six cases were embalming and dissecting began while the patient was still alive. Some of the coffins of people accidentally buried alive were later dug up. For example to relocate a cemetery. When those coffins were opened there were obvious scratch marks created by the trapped person making a feeble attempt to escape.
People were so worried about being buried alive that special coffins were used by the wealthy that were outfitted with flags that could be run up and/or bells that could be rung by a person who was still alive and yet trapped in a buried coffin. Another solution was a special burial vault that had an escape hatch. This hatch could be opened from the inside by turning a wheel if the person was accidentally buried alive.
The Daily Mail published a story about one Russian woman who suffered a heart attack in 2011 and was pronounced dead by a team of physicians at the hospital. She later awoke at her own funeral, where she scared all the mourners by screaming out. The shock of waking at her own funeral caused her to have a second heart attack. This second time, she really did die.
In Santiago de las Vegas, about 12 miles south of Havana, Cuba, for the past thirty years, there is a festival where they hold mock funeral services and then bury a man alive, while he pretends to be dead. They lower the open-face coffin into a deep hole but do not throw any dirt in the hole. Then they bring the coffin back up, “revive” the man, and have a big party to celebrate his resurrection.
To avoid being buried alive there is always the choice of cremation. In that case, if you are not actually yet dead, you will just be burned alive, which kills you much faster than suffocating to death in a coffin. Of course, you also could just take a cell phone with you into the coffin and make sure you have the batteries recharged.
5. Woman Cuts/Bites Off Man’s Privates
This is a story that makes men cringe. Remember what was done by Lorena Bobbitt? This is the woman who 24 years ago took a knife while her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, was sleeping and cut off his penis. She claimed this was in response to the abuse she suffered from him. His penis was surgically reattached. He said in a 2016 interview with People magazine that not only does his penis still work after all of these years, his sex life went into overdrive after this terrible event. He became famous, worked in the adult movie industry, and by his count had sex with over 70 women since then. Lorena lives a quiet life with her teenage daughter and a long-time partner.
Because of this real event, there have been many “copycats” that take this type of story to a newer, more violent level. The Daily News reported in 2015 that an Oklahoma man woke up to find his girlfriend trying to bite off his penis. She bit him very badly; however, she was unsuccessful in completing the job. This is a case of an urban legend now becoming legendary.
4. Toes and More Cut Off By An Escalator
Women who wear open-toed shoes and kids with loose shoelaces, this one is for you. How many times does your mother have to tell you to watch your step getting on and off the escalator? This is not the same as her telling you to be sure to wear clean underwear, in case you get into an accident or not to cross your eyes because they can get stuck that way. There may be some serious risk here, especially if an escalator is running out-of-control and the emergency shut-off switch does not work or if you are trapped and too far from the switch to turn the system off.
Serious accidents happen on escalators all the time. In China, many women and children died from escalator mishaps. Usually what happens is that something gets caught, like part of a shoe, a shoe lace, or some loose fitting clothing and then it is pulled with terrific force into the mechanism. If it is your shoe that is caught, your toes can get crushed or cut off. In one case in China, reported by CNN, a man had to have his crushed leg amputated after it got gnarled in an escalator. In another accident, a woman died while trying to pull a small boy free from being trapped. Escalator dangers are very real and they are not taken seriously enough by most people.
3. Drowning In A Cup Of Water
There is an old saying, “Don’t drown in a cup of water.” Its meaning is to not make something bigger than it is. A cup of water is certainly too small for a person to fall in and drown unless they went through the looking glass and shrunk in size like Alice in Wonderland; however, it is technically possible to drown using only a cup of water.
Doctors note that the amount of water that needs to enter the lungs to cause drowning is about the same amount as a regular glass of water. Even though a person may be struggling to swim in an ocean of water, all they need to do in order to drown is inhale about a glass of water. That is all it takes to fill up the lungs. Once the lungs are full of fluid, they can no longer do their job to oxygenate the blood that is necessary for a person to stay alive.
Another phenomenon reported by News.com.au is called “dry drowning.” If a person, especially a child, gets water into their lungs, they may experience troubles and even die up to 72 hours later after they are no longer in the water. The fluid that remains in the lungs may not be enough to kill them right away; however, it is enough to make the lungs fail after a delay and might kill them later.
To avoid drowning, stay completely away from water including bathtubs or at least be very careful when you are near it. Supervise children extremely carefully when they are around water. If you do have a near-drowning experience, which starts to make you feel ill later, seek immediate emergency medical attention.
2. Lightning Kills People Inside a Home
You are sitting, watching television. There is a thunderstorm going on outside. The rain is pouring down. There are bright lightning flashes, followed by immediate booms, which means the lightning strikes are hitting very close by. You pick up an old fashion telephone or touch anything, like a lamp that is plugged in, and a lightning strike comes down the cable from outside the house, enters the home, and kills you. Is this urban legend possible? And, does lightning ever strike the same person twice?
Penn Live says it is possible to be killed while being inside a home from a lightning strike. All that is necessary is for the lightning to connect to the house wiring and the electrical charge to travel down the wires to make contact with your body.
Mental Floss tells the story of a man who got hit by lightning seven times over the course of many years working as a park ranger. He holds the Guinness World Record for being hit the most times by lightning and still survived. The first time it happened he was inside a fire tower that did not have any lightning rods.
To avoid being struck by lightning move away from anywhere that has frequent thunderstorms. If you cannot do that then always wear boots with thick rubber soles as insulation, rubber rain gear, and rubber gloves. Rubber is very good at blocking the transmission of electricity. Just because you may be inside a home do not think you are completely safe. The photo shown is what happened inside a home when lightning struck outside. Look at the burn marks on the walls around the electrical sockets.
1. Killer Clown In The House
To top off our ghastly, super-creepy, deadly list of urban legends that came true, we finish up with the story of the Killer Clown.
In this urban legend, a teenage babysitter is told by the parents of the two small children that she is watching that after she puts them to bed she should go to the family room to watch television until the parents come home. She puts the kids to sleep and goes to the family room. There is a lifelike clown statue in the room, which gives her the creeps. She calls the parents to tell them that everything is fine; however, she asks if she can cover up the freaky clown statue in the living room because it disturbs her. The parents tell her that they do not own a clown statue, to get the kids, and immediately get the hell out of the house while they call the police.
Many people do not like clowns. Having a fear of clowns is called “coulrophobia.” Evil clowns have been the villain in many horror movies, such as Stephen King’s movie called It, which featured Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
In real life, a man named John Wayne Gacy liked to dress up as “Pogo” the clown to perform at children’s parties and for sick children in the hospital. He was a successful businessman and a respected community leader. He was married twice. He had a very dark side as well. He lured teenage boys to his basement with the promise of alcohol. He got them drunk, sexually assaulted them, sadistically tortured them, and then killed them. He killed 33 teenage men this way and then buried their bodies under his house in Chicago until he was caught in 1978. He was executed for the murders in 1994.
Our advice is. if you see any evil clowns, run away as fast as you can.
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