9 Unbelievable Urban Legends (That Happen To Be True)
Halloween is that special time of year when you can casually tell tales of murder, mayhem, and mind-flaying horror around the water cooler or dinner table without everybody assuming you're a psycho. Most spooky legends are merely gruesome fiction, designed to warn kids away from taking candy from strangers or humping in cars parked on secluded country roads ... Or at least, that's what we tell ourselves. As it turns out, a gut-twistingly large percentage of them have happened to real people. Real people like you. Just sayin'.
We've already shone a shaky flashlight on these terrifyingly true campfire tales eight times before, but there's so much factual horror out there that this year, we've managed to put together our longest (and disturbing-est) collection yet. For instance, did you hear the one about ...
A Girl Is Silently Murdered In A Library (And No One Notices)
Libraries, with their unnerving silence and many musty, forgotten corners, naturally attract whispered tall tales. Of course, most of these stories are about people sneaking off back to the periodicals section to Dewey each other's decimals with sensual abandon. But there are also darker legends. Who can forget the horrifying tale of the dead woman who supposedly stalked New York's Public Library back in the '80s?
There's even a documentary about it.
Some spooky shit, right there. But reality is even spookier ...
Penn State student Betsy Aardsma was beautiful, bright, popular, and socially conscious. If she was a character in a horror flick, she'd definitely be the last survivor, but real life is more frightening and cruel than any movie. On November 28th, 1969, Betsy told people she was going to the university's library to research a paper, but what she got instead was a single, deadly stab wound to the chest. And while librarians tend to discourage cold-blooded murder in the stacks, most would have approved of how silently the crime was carried out: Despite numerous other students being only feet away from the crime scene, nobody heard any sound of a struggle.
Thus narrowing down the suspects to a professional, a ghost, or a mime.
Betsy wasn't discovered until several minutes later, and initially, nobody realized what had happened to her, because her red dress camouflaged any blood stains. To this day, the circumstances surrounding Betsy's death remain a mystery. So beware, college students: The next time you're sent down to the stacks for a research paper, tedium and possibly stepping on a used condom aren't all you have to fear.
Cause Of Death: Atomic Wedgie
Since most kids will only listen to reason if you scare the shit out of them first, there are plenty of tales about the potential dangers of youthful pranks and hijinks. Putting a potato in an exhaust pipe will make the car explode in a giant fireball! Kids have been shot for TP-ing houses! One time, some kid died from an atomic wedgie!
Here's what that means, if you didn't play Magic: The Gathering at school.
Obviously, that last one isn't true; the victim wasn't a kid. The rest is correct. Apparently, pulling the perfect wedgie is possible, so long as you don't particularly care if your victim lives or dies. One fateful day, a 34-year-old man was arguing with his 58-year-old stepfather, and decided to grab his undies and give him an atomic wedgie. Shockingly, the police say that alcohol played a factor in this plan.
"Now I am become death, destroyer of Hanes."
The man managed to get his stepdad's underwear over his head, but the waistband caught around his throat, resulting in a death that was simultaneously horrifying and America's Funniest Home Videos-worthy. Ironically, after being arrested, the man claimed that the fatal wedgie was revenge for all the years his stepfather had spent bullying him. Live by the wedgie, die by the wedgie.
A Killer Lives Hidden In A Family's House For Weeks Before Murdering Them
A family starts to notice something awry about the house they're living in. Things go missing, other things that shouldn't be there inexplicably show up, and eerie footsteps are heard. Next thing you know, the whole clan is found murdered under circumstances only they and their squatter/killer will ever know.
This true tale of terror takes place nearly a century ago, on a small, isolated German farm named Hinterkaifeck. Sometime around mid-March of 1922, the farm's owner, Andreas Gruber, began to notice a lot of ominous things happening on his property. He found weird footprints, keys went missing, unknown items mysteriously showed up, and the family began hearing footsteps in the attic. It seems that people were less sensitive to obviously terrifying things back in the good old days, because the Grubers shrugged off the weirdness and went back to waxing their mustaches, souring their kraut, and whatever else German families occupied themselves with in the 1920s.
They probably should have checked that attic, though.
For the love of God, can we please write the Thanksgiving articles now?
On the evening of March 31, 1922, Andreas, his wife, his daughter, his two grandchildren, and the maid were all brutally killed by someone wielding a mattock (a tool that's half pickax, half ax, and all deadly). At least whoever did this wasn't a completely terrible guest, though, since the animals were well-fed when the family's bodies were discovered four days later. To this day, the identity of the killer remains a hotly contested mystery, but given that the victims were named Gruber and the murderer had a penchant for skulking around above the ceiling, it's hard not to imagine the suspect as some sort of psychotic German John McClane.
Man Checks Malfunctioning Oven, Gets Trapped Inside
There are plenty of stories of unfortunate people getting trapped inside a turned-on oven and baked like a lasagna, because "fire bad" is still a thing we have to constantly remind kids about. But that's never happened outside of a Looney Tunes cartoon, right?
Or Saw movies, which are even less plausible than Looney Tunes cartoons.
The big industrial oven at a British kayak factory was on the fritz, so a supervisor decided to look inside to see what was wrong. Without telling anybody else. Uh-oh. While he was poking around, another worker managed to fix the problem. Then, not knowing anybody was inside, he turned the oven back on. Also -- Jesus Christ, you guys -- the worker was engaged to the supervisor's daughter.
The doomed man ironically found himself at the mercy of the oven's "safety" measures, as its doors automatically slammed shut and locked once it was turned on. As the oven's temperature rose to over 500 degrees, he presumably cried out for help, but nobody could hear him over the sound of kayaks being made.
In a bitter touch, the man somehow found a crowbar inside the oven, but before he could pry the door open, he passed out from shock. His body was only discovered when people noticed smoke billowing out of the oven. This paragraph is now over, and -- to paraphrase Werner Herzog -- may we never read it again.
The Pigpen Of Death
It's a favorite trope of gangster and horror films -- the leering villain has the hero tied to a chair, and he threatens to, gasp, feed them to the pigs. But pigs aren't really man-eaters, are they? What with their cute curly tails and all?
It turns out that pigs are almost as into eating us as we're into eating them. A Vietnam War vet in Oregon started raising pigs as a form of treatment for his post-traumatic stress disorder. His family described the farm and pigs as a "life-saver," but it's usually a bad idea to look toward animals who roll around in their own filth for therapy.
That's not mud.
In 2012, the man went to feed the pigs, and was never seen again. Or at least, 99 percent of him was never seen again. It's unclear what exactly happened in that pigpen. Maybe he had a heart attack, or maybe one of the pigs decided that action needed to be taken before Easter rolled around again. Whatever the precise course of events, the man's piggy pets completely devoured him, leaving behind only his dentures and a few tattered scraps of fabric and flesh. The sage advice of Troy McClure was only ever so slightly off on this case.
Related: 27 Facts About The 27 Club
Woman With Headaches Discovers Unwelcome Guests In Her Brain
This tale involves somebody going on a sunny Mai-Tai-sipping vacation, only to return with some tropical horror crawling not through their crotch (as we're all used to) but through their brain. The lesson: Never leave your home without a hat. Or just never leave your home. Alarmist hogwash, surely.
Previously in this series, we brought you the story of a woman who came back from vacation with maggots in her ear canal. But this spiritual sequel ups the puke-factor tenfold. A 31-year-old woman from Garland, Texas began suffering from severe headaches and vision problems, and figured she should see a doctor. The good news: There was nothing wrong with her brain. The bad news: Except for all the translucent jelly-like sacs living there, that is. Each one, if you're wondering, contained a baby tapeworm.
"I'm never going to LV-426 again."
The doctors said that she must have picked up the parasites during a trip to Mexico ... Which was extra horrifying, because she hadn't been to Mexico for two years. Think about that -- this poor woman had been living with brain parasites for two freakin' years.
Oh, and in case you're thinking that this was nothing but a fluke you don't have to worry about: There are a number of tapeworm species that target the brain, and according to doctors, vacationers returning home with something burrowing through their gray matter is becoming more common. So yeah, don't worry -- we won't laugh at you if you head straight to the McDonald's on your next vacation.
Never Let Your Psychotic Ex Cook Dinner For You
Ever since Glenn Close made a generation of guys squirm with her rabbit-killing ways, stories of jilted lovers cooking up their ex's beloved furry friends have captured the public's imagination. There's no better way to establish a character as candidate for Worst Person Ever than having them kill an adorable pet.
Dog-killing is to Glenn Close what silly hats are to Johnny Depp.
At least one guy took the movie as an instruction manual, though ...
Ryan Eddy Watenpaugh of Palo Cedro, California sounds like a real charmer. After his girlfriend broke it off due to his abusive ways, Ryan decided to reinforce her decision by attacking her in her home. The woman managed to flee, but when she returned to her apartment, both Watenpaugh and her Pomeranian, Bear, were gone. A month later, Ryan and the woman reconciled, and he offered to whip her up a home-cooked meal. Y'know, out of the goodness of his heart.
After the romantic rendezvous, Watenpaugh solved the mystery of the missing pet with these stomach-turning texts:
I mean, BBQ sauce on sweet rolls? Ugh.
Not long after, a small bag appeared on her doorstep, and when the woman opened it, she found Bear's tiny severed paws inside. Yes, Watenpaugh returned what was left of his girlfriend's dog in a doggy bag. So not only is he a shithead and a psycho, but he also makes terrible puns. We did it. We found him. We found the legitimate Worst Person Ever.
The Text From Under The Bed
It's the ultimate pee-your-pajamas slumber party horror story. A teenage girl is shaken when she starts receiving threatening, obscene phone calls, but she manages to convince herself there's nothing to worry about. As is usually the case, teenage intuition is dead wrong, and she later discovers the creep on the other end of the line was within striking distance the entire time. As in, you know ...
In July of 2014, a 16-year-old girl from Chester, England unexpectedly found herself in the middle of basically every slasher movie ever. The girl started receiving messages from a local 18-year-old sweet talker named Kyle Ravenscroft, who texted that he was watching her and that he wanted her to awaken to the sight of him hanging outside her window. And those were just his suave opening lines. At midnight, our protagonist received another terrifying text as she was getting ready for bed: "I'm in your house."
"You will suffer, wench. Also, do you have any coffee? I don't want to crash mid-stalk."
True to genre traditions, our victim wrote the texts off as a joke, and didn't bother to call the police. The girl would sleep most of the night in her mom's bed, but later, when she returned to her room, she noticed a row of shoeboxes she kept beside her bed had been disturbed. This is the part where you cover your eyes and beg the hapless teenager to not look under the bed, even though you know she's totally going to. Sure enough, she looked, and found Kyle had been lurking under her bed all along. Thankfully, the girl escaped unharmed, but you know she's going to be checking under her mattress with a flashlight every night until she's 80.
The Legend Of Charlie No-Face
If you grew up in or around Pittsburgh, there's a good chance you spent your whole childhood terrified of the Green Man or Charlie No-Face, who was said to wander dark alleys and lonely country lanes at night. The story went that Charlie No-Face lost said face foolishly playing near power lines, which makes him sound like a character dreamed up by the power company for electrical safety PSAs.
Yep. This is the rare, terrifying case of kids on the playground getting the story pretty much dead on. Charlie No-Face was actually a man named Raymond Robinson, who really was cursed with a grotesquely deformed, skull-like face. One summer day in 1919, a young, not-yet-faceless Raymond and his friends thought it would be a swell idea to horse around on a local electrified trolley bridge. A boy had died on the bridge a year earlier, and all the kids knew this, but electricity had, like, just been invented, so parents didn't bother to teach them basic stuff like, "Don't play on proven-deadly electric bridges."
Sure enough, Raymond got a dose of 1,200 volts, which scorched his face like a blowtorch. His eyes were cooked in their sockets, his nose was burnt off, and his left arm was destroyed up to the elbow. Despite absorbing enough electricity to melt Frankenstein's neck bolts, Raymond somehow survived the ordeal. His face, obviously, did not.
He's the one in the middle.
For the rest of his life, Raymond led a mostly solitary existence, only leaving the house at night because he didn't want to give kids nightmares. That plan didn't work out so well. Usually, the boogeyman only exists in your head, but sometimes, he's simply that guy down the block who only mows his lawn at night.
For more reasons every aspect of life is terrible, check out 8 Creepy Video Game Urban Legends (That Happen To Be True) and 5 Horrifying Places Real People Got Trapped And Forgotten.
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