A chill down our spines. A whisper in our ears. Sometimes, we get an eerie sense that there are more things in the world than science can explain. As for the things we can explain? Well, those moments can be even creepier. From chilling mysteries to uncanny truths, these are the most terrifying and disturbing event in history. Trust us, you're going to want to keep the light for this one.
Few people know it, but Wes Craven got the idea for A Nightmare on Elm Street from a real story of a boy who suffered terrible nightmares and actually ended up dying in the middle of one. As Craven said, "He told his parents he was afraid that if he slept, the thing chasing him would get him, so he tried to stay awake for days at a time."
When he finally fell asleep, his parents thought this crisis was over. Then they heard screams in the middle of the night. By the time they got to him, he was dead. He perished in the middle of a nightmare.
Speaking of nightmares...
King Herod the Great is less "Great," more evil. After accusing his wife of adultery and having her executed, King Herod had her body preserved in honey. He continued to perform disturbing acts with the corpse for years afterward. But karma came for him. Following a reign of 37 years, he experienced a terribly painful end from an ailment that rotted his body and gave him worms.
This next event, though, takes "terrifying" to the high seas. You ever heard of a "ghost ship"?
In 1867, a beautiful ship named the Mary Celeste left the coast of New York. The captain was a man named Benjamin Briggs, and he brought his family and crew to transport cargo to Italy. They never made it to their destination. The boat was found floating in the Atlantic Ocean on December 5, 1872. Nothing was missing, and all of the paper documents were still on board. The only thing missing was the people.
Honestly, it's worthy of an Edgar Allan Poe story...but as this next tale shows, Poe's life was just as dark as his fiction.
No one knows how famed creepy writer Edgar Allan Poe passed. At least, those who did know are long since dead, and all firm records of his end have been lost. Poe was found on Baltimore’s streets on October 3, 1849. Eerily, he was wearing someone else's clothes. He was in pretty bad shape, and expired in hospital just four days later.
He was never coherent enough to explain what had happened, and he kept shouting "Reynolds" the night before. Again, there’s nothing left from his medical records, including even his death certificate. Speculation about the cause of the writer's bizarre end ranges anywhere from suicide, cholera, epilepsy, and perhaps even foul play.
Then again, our next victim met an even more gruesome end.
Kaspar Hauser was a young boy who stumbled out into the streets of a village in Germany in 1828. When people asked about who he was, he claimed he had lived in total isolation up until this point, saying he was held captive in a dark, small room with a low ceiling. Hauser claimed someone would come and feed him every day, but that was the only contact he would ever have.
He had no idea who his "keeper" was. For a while, he hung around the village—until his strange past caught up to him. He was found dead from a stabbing, and the mystery is still unsolved. Of course, as we'll see, sometimes not knowing is better...
Catrina McGhaw signed a lease on her North County ranch house in 2014. Not long after that, the St. Louis woman was contacted by a family member who told her to check out a documentary on serial killers on A&E. That's when McGhaw discovered that the house she was in had belonged to Maury Travis, a killer who used the property as a torment chamber.
Next up: A whole family of killers.
In the 1870s, a family named the Benders immigrated to America from Germany. The family consisted of four people: an older husband, a wife, and two younger adults. They built their own home deep in the woods, but it wasn't just for cozy fires and family dinners. The Benders built their cabin for a dark purpose: They designed it specifically to lure people in.
They would lure in unsuspecting victims, guide them to a "seat of honor," and once they sat, release a trap door. The victim would fall into a cellar, where they would perish. One day in a nearby town, the carriage for a traveler came in without its owner. A few days prior, a man passed through that town and headed towards the direction of the Benders' family home.
The town got together and invited the locals to discuss the missing owner of the carriage. Eventually, it was determined that this family had something to do with it. But by the next morning, the whole family was gone. The town dug up a number of bodies over the next couple weeks on their land. By 1873, they'd discovered 20 bodies, many with crushed skulls.
For years after this, there were several sightings of the family but it ended up not being the same people. No one knows what happened to them.
Now, we go from devilish families to the devil himself.
“The Devil’s Bible,” also called the Codex Gigas, is a legendary Latin manuscript that’s said to be the product of a monk’s bargain with Satan himself. In the 13th century, a monk was about to be executed unless he could compose a single, impressive work in one night. To achieve this impossible task, the monk sold his soul to Satan and produced this 165-pound, three-feet-long book.
While that’s just a legend, The Devil’s Bible does exist as a real text, and it appears to have been written completely by the hand of a single scribe.
Alright, satanic monks are creepy...but what about green-skinned children?
According to historic records from the 12th Century, two children- a brother and sister with green skin appeared in a village called Woolpit in Suffolk, England. But that wasn't the strangest part. They wore strange clothes, and spoke a language that no one could understand. They only ate beans and refused to eat anything else for several months.
Eventually, the boy became sick and passed. Once the girl grew up, her skin stopped being green, and she learned to speak English. She explained that they came from a place with other green-skinned people called St. Martin’s Land, which was an underground place where the sky was always twilight. There was a river, and a “luminous land” shining across the water.
The siblings said they climbed into a mysterious cave, and on the other side, there was blinding sunlight, and they were somehow in England. Modern-day historians believe that these children were actually Flemish immigrants, while others believe they may have been aliens from another planet, or beings from another dimension.
Our next eerie subject might know something about that.
Throughout the 1700s, a man who is only known as the Count of St. Germain was traveling throughout Europe. He was spotted many places, and yet he always seemed to be the same age. No one knew where he came from, but he could speak multiple languages, and was talented in just about everything. He was also an alchemist. On paper, he passed in 1785.
However, there are records of him being alive afterwards—still looking just as young as he was years before. Some believe he actually figured out how to live forever.
Well, the pair of brothers in the next story certainly didn't figure out how to live forever. Oh no, they met brutal ends.
Long before hoarders made reality TV, two brothers named Homer and Langley Collyer made hoarding their life’s work—and ultimately their end. Langley was blind and paralyzed, and Homer began to collect newspapers he hoped his brother could read when his blindness was eventually cured. The junk collection soon grew out of control, and they even created traps throughout their home to protect their loot.
Responding to a call about a noxious odor in 1947, officers sifted through layers of junk and eventually found Homer dead. He was crushed when his own collection of junk collapsed on him. Authorities removed tons of junk from the house, and finally located what remained of Langley’s body weeks later. He had perished of starvation when his brother no longer brought him food.
Mental illness is a serious business...and our next chilling event proves it.
In Strasbourg in 1518, a form of manic group hysteria broke out, causing townspeople to compulsively dance. Known as “The Dancing Plague,” the episode began with a single dancer who danced for four to six days. Within a month, 34 had joined the dancing, and after a month, 400 people manically danced in the cobblestone streets.
Up to 15 dancers per day had fatal heart attacks, strokes, or just passed from exhaustion. Neither ailments nor psychology were well-understood at the time, and modern scholars have blamed the episode on ergot poisoning, which causes hallucinations and hysteria. The cure recommended by authorities at the time? More dancing!
I'll tell you one thing, the next woman made me hysterical.
Madame Delphine LaLaurie was an influential French-Creole woman married to Dr. Louis LaLaurie. However, despite their grand home and lavish affairs, Madame LaLaurie had a sinister secret. She was extremely cruel to the slaves working within her house. She enjoyed killing her slaves, and would bury the bodies in shallow graves around the house.
It wasn’t until a terrible house fire in the LaLaurie mansion that outsiders finally made the grisly discovery of slaves hidden away in the attic, scattered human body parts, and other unspeakable conditions. This story was recently brought to life by actress Kathy Bates, who played LaLaurie in American Horror Story: Coven.
Now we go from haunted houses to one haunted doll.
Around 1904, a boy named Robert Eugene Otto, or “Gene,” owned a strange-looking doll of a boy, who he also named Robert. Robert the Doll is said to be haunted, aware of what is going on around him, and even responsible for multiple violent mishaps while he was in Otto's care. Robert's tale even formed the basis for the film Child's Play.
But this? It's just "child's play" compared to the bloody tale I'm about to tell you.
Adolf Hitler is widely believed to have committed suicide by ingesting cyanide capsules and shooting himself, but a declassified CIA document revealed that the CIA received reports that he survived and fled to South America. The document included reports by informants that the Fuhrer was alive and living in Columbia in 1955—almost a decade after WWII ended.
One memo included a photo of an alleged man that did strongly resemble the dictator. The CIA was skeptical of these reports at the time and, according to available records, did not attempt to locate the alleged suspect. One CIA spokesperson commented on the release, stating that the chances that Hitler escaped were “about 5%.”
Still, did Hitler ever predict his death? Our next guy did.
Chicago firefighter Francis Leavy was dedicated to his job and loved by his peers, which is why his co-workers were understandably puzzled when his demeanor suddenly changed on April 18, 1924. Gone was the friendly, ever-smiling man, and in his place was a silent, unsmiling guy who avoided everyone. Later that day, Leavy made a chilling announcement.
He claimed that he had a premonition that he was going to die that day. Just as the words left his lips, they were called to a fire, and lo and behold, Leavy died when the building’s roof caved in. The next day, while his fellow firefighters mourned him, they noticed a handprint smudged on the glass of the window that Leavy had been washing the day before.
Now we move from a mystery to a horrific curse.
Four of the actors in the 1982 horror movie Poltergeist perished not long after the film came out, some of them violent and unexpected ends. Because of this, people now believe that the film had a curse hanging over it. Even the child star of the film, Heather O'Rourke, passed in 1988 at the age of 12 after a bowel obstruction released deadly toxins into her blood.
But the thing is, this isn't the only kind of curse...
In 1983, a young man by the name of Don Decker claimed that he could make it rain anywhere he wished, at any time. Decker was an inmate at Monroe County in New York when his grandfather passed. He was granted leave to go to the funeral and spend a few days with family, and that’s when the strange events began occurring.
The night of the funeral, Decker was staying with family friends when he was seized by a deep chill and he slipped into some kind of trance. While in the trance, water started dripping from the ceiling and walls, but there were no pipes in the area and no conceivable reason for the leaks. As soon as Don left the home, the house went back to normal.
The same thing occurred in a pizzeria Don visited, leading the owner to think that he was possessed by the devil. When he returned to prison, the walls and ceiling of his cell started leaking, leading officers to conclude that Don was making it rain. Thanks to assistance from a priest, the rain stopped and never occurred again.
I know another case that could have used a priest...
Just before midnight on September 8, 1987, 77-year-old Minnie Winston was horrified to discover what appeared to be blood splattered on her bathroom floor. A further search revealed the substance on the lower walls, in the kitchen, in the living room, in the basement, and even under a television set. When the lab results came back, people were stunned.
Although the authorities refused to take it seriously at first, they soon saw it was in fact blood, and they were completely flummoxed. The blood didn’t match either one of the Winstons, and with no other leads to explain the occurrence, they dropped the investigation. I probably would too; I've seen The Shining and I have no desire to repeat it.
The next tale involves no blood at all, and it's just as creepy.
One beautiful day in 1966, the three Beaumont children hopped a bus for a five minute jaunt to the beach, and seemingly vanished into thin air. Witness sightings of the children were varied and bizarre. One witness claimed that the children were playing with a tall blonde man, and the mail carrier claimed to have seen the children walking towards home several hours later, but they never turned up.
Vanishing children are one thing, but what about a vanishing city?
Hoer Verde was an entire town of 600 people in Brazil in the 1920s that vanished. The only things found were a gun that had been fired—and an utterly disturbing message. It said, "There is no salvation." There was no sign of conflict—no bullet holes, no blood puddles, nothing that indicated the village was attacked in any way.
However, there were nearby towns, and not a single one of the 600 ever turned up. Even if they all evacuated, and were ambushed on the way, disposing of 600 corpses and hiding all signs of conflict is no easy feat. No one ever confessed or said they were present at anything like that. In short, 600 people just vanished.
Our next eerie story also left haunting messages...and much more.
In June 1942, a "phantom barber" haunted the town of Pascagoula, Mississippi. On Monday and Friday nights, under complete darkness, the man would slit open window screens, sneak inside houses and cut the hair of a sleeping occupant. He especially seemed to have a thing for blonde girls, beginning with two girls in the convent of Our Lady of Victories.
Women were understandably freaked out, the authorities were completely mystified, and men rushed out to arm themselves. And still, the phantom barber continued his trimming spree. Two months later, a man broke into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Terrell Heidelburg and attacked the couple. The authorities automatically assumed that this was their guy, but he swore he wasn’t the barber. One day, the break-ins just suddenly stopped.
At least the barber left traces of himself, though. Most people never experience this next phenomenon...but the ones who do are in agony.
In the town of Taos, New Mexico, there's a mysterious hum known as the Taos hum. Interestingly enough, only 2% of the population can hear it. Those who do describe it as sounding similar to a car’s idling diesel engine. Not so bad right? Well, the hum has made almost every single one of the few people who can hear it extremely depressed and tormented.
Some think that the hum is caused by alien spaceships sending signals to earth, while others believe that it’s some kind of electromagnetic radiation that only certain people can hear.
The next event is plainly visible and audible on camera footage...but it's still a terrifying mystery.
On Feb 19, 2013, maintenance workers discovered the body of Canadian student Elisa Lam in a water tank on top of the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles. Footage from an elevator security camera was extremely strange. It showed Lam exiting and re-entering the seemingly broken elevator while talking and gesturing oddly. Occasionally, she seems to hide inside the elevator, though no one else is visible.
The video quickly went viral, and people were understandably freaked out about it. To make things even more strange, Lam was naked when they found her, but her clothes and personal effects were strangely floating nearby. The autopsy report ruled it as accidental, but an examination of all the evidence suggests that something just doesn’t add up.
Elisa Lam suffered a brutal end, but at least she didn't endure the strange treatment these next corpses got.
Victorian England had a bunch of strange fads. For example, tattoos were very popular, especially with Victorian women. Bizarrely, post-mortem photography was also all the rage. In these photographs, people would take a recently deceased family member and stage them, either in a family portrait or alone, as if the deceased was just sleeping or resting.
Even these death-obsessed Victorians would have a tough time with the next one. How many people could handle seeing a haunted face on the floor?
One August Day in 1971, Maria Gomez Pereira was in her kitchen when she noticed a stain forming on her kitchen floor. The stain, which seemed to have no evident cause, formed a face. This totally scared the bejeezus out of her and her family, and when she couldn’t remove it, her husband and son took a pick-axe to the floor and laid down a new one.
Problem solved right? Nope! The face reappeared about a week later. Being a small town, gossip about the face spread, and the mayor got involved. He removed the face and excavated the kitchen to try and get to the bottom of the mystery. When he did, they found a bunch of bodies ten feet beneath the floor! And their condition was...odd.
Creepier still, some of the skeletons, which were around 700 years old, had no heads. They filled in the floor again and they thought that was that. Wrong! A few weeks later, multiple faces began to appear on the floor. This led to a full-scale investigation, and they totally sealed off the kitchen. When they officially unsealed it, the faces had moved and evolved.
Some people thought that Maria was behind the mysterious faces, but since they continued to occur after her passing in 2004, that no longer seems likely. This incident has been called "without doubt the most important paranormal phenomenon in the [20th] century" by paranormal researchers, but skeptics also call it a hoax.
Before you read on, I want you to imagine yourself in a small room. A tiny room. A miniscule room without air. Ok, now we're ready to go.
Sneaking a boy into your bedroom is perhaps not that unusual, but killing him while doing it is. In 1667, James Betts passed from asphyxiation after his lover, the young Elizabeth Spencer, sealed him in a cupboard when her father returned early. Sadly, Elizabeth committed suicide shortly after. This all took place at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and people say the young lovers' ghosts haunt the grounds to this day.
From one lovers' dark story, we go to the most infamous, bloody star-crossed love in history.
In 1889, the 17-year-old Baroness Marie Vetsera was found apparently shot alongside her lover, the married Prince Rudolf of Austria, at their Mayerling country hunting lodge. His worried attendant broke down the bedroom door with an axe, only to find Rudolf slumped at the bed with blood at his mouth. His mistress Marie was lying on the bed, also stone-cold dead.
It was an apparent murder-suicide; but to this day, the sequence and chain of events leading up to their ends remain ambiguous. Although some assumed the prince killed his lover, recently discovered letters from the Baroness to her mother indicate that she was planning to die alongside the prince "out of love." Yet the mystery doesn't end there.
In 1959, a doctor inspected Marie's remains. Shockingly, he found no bullet hole in her skull, but evidence pointed to death by violent blows to the head. He went through the archives of the affair and found that only one bullet was on the scene. As a result, he theorized that Mary perished in an accident, perhaps from an abortion, and that Rudolf subsequently shot himself in his grief. The full story, however, goes with them to their graves.
Just like the Crown Prince and his lover, this next event is full of questions. It's also full of strange liquid and pure terror.
Reportedly, in the 1950s, an object fell from the sky near Philadelphia. Officers checked out the scene, and reported finding sticky, odorless ooze coming out of the strange item, which might have been purple, according to reports. After that, the object apparently just dissolved. In the end, the news story inspired the horror movie The Blob.
The truth really is stranger than fiction. Mystery writer Agatha Christie also knew this...and Agatha Christie had a real-life mystery of her own.
In 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie disappeared. The authorities at first suspected her husband of foul play—after all, days earlier he had confessed his love for another woman. Eleven days after her disappearance, Christie turned up in a hotel several hours away, checked in under the name of her husband’s lover. Her explanation made jaws drop.
The novelist said she had no idea what she was doing there and no memory of how she got there. In other words, her mind was a blank. Some people think that Christie intended to fake her own passing and frame her husband for the dirty deed. Others believe that the trauma of her husband’s infidelity sent her into a depressive episode.
So far, we've gone through things that really happened. But what if you just hallucinate something?
(Original Caption) Portrait of Agatha Christie (1890-1976), English writer. Undated Photograph.
Hallucinations come in many different forms. Some people who are beginning to go blind see very realistic, absurd things that are not actually there. This is “Charles Bonnet Syndrome.” In one case, a woman was diagnosed with the eye condition glaucoma. Her life was very normal, until a trip to a grocery store triggered her hallucinations.
The shelves would begin to drip, and turn into thick mud. She could pull an item off the shelf, but this hallucination of mud was too thick to put anything back on the shelf once she picked it up. These Charles Bonnet hallucinations can become so vivid that people can see animals or entire landscapes that do not actually exist.
I wish I could say this next story was a hallucination. Instead, it involves a secret code and an impossible detail.
When the decomposed body of Ricky McCormick turned up in a field in St. Charles County, Missouri in 1999, two handwritten notes were on his body and appeared to be a series of coded messages. Strangest of all, Ricky was a 41-year-old high school drop-out with heart and lung issues. McCormick was also pretty much illiterate. So how did the coded messages get there?
Another strange fact was that authorities were unable to pinpoint a cause of his end, and that they found him 15 miles from his home. Guess what? He didn’t drive or own a car, and there wasn’t any public transit in the area. In 2011, the authorities officially ruled his end as a murder and asked for help deciphering the code. So far, nobody’s been able to break it.
Obviously, some things in this world can't be explained. But for this upcoming story, that goes double. What happens when your own body starts rebelling against you?
We’ve all had days where we’ve been suddenly overcome with exhaustion, but in Kalichi village in Kazakhstan, many residents suddenly started falling asleep in the middle of the day for no apparent reason. They reported being out for anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days, and some experienced memory loss, vertigo, and nausea when they woke up.
Medical experts have yet to figure out why this was happening, and they haven’t been able to offer the residents any advice. The village has been tested for radiation, but the levels were normal. In 2015, researchers found that the village had high levels of carbon monoxide, which could theoretically explain some of the symptoms, but scientists still haven’t reached any conclusions.
Sometimes, though, the culprit is coming from inside your own head...
Hundreds of years ago, when people perished on the battlefield or elsewhere outside, their bodies often just lay there until they rotted away. As they decomposed, their skulls would start to grow a moss called usnea. People believed that this moss contained the spiritual qualities of the fallen men, and they would gather it up as medicine.
Dealing with corpses can get very disturbing very fast, but this next woman didn't think so. She literally wouldn't let go of her dead husband's body.
The union between Joanna I of Castile and Philip “the Handsome” of Burgundy was one of passion, albeit lopsided passion. By all accounts, Philip was into Joanna, but just not enough to stay faithful. Unfortunately, Joanna was really into Philip. When Philip’s mistress had the misfortune of crossing paths with his wife, Joanna apparently snapped and hacked the other woman’s hair off with scissors. But it gets worse.
When Philip passed, Joanna refused to let him go. Literally...Refusing to part with her philandering husband, she viciously clung to the body. Even when her father and the government stepped in to finally bury Philip, their separation did not last long. Joanna ordered him exhumed, leapt at his coffin, and kissed his dead feet.
From that moment on, you couldn’t have Joanna if she couldn’t bring Philip. The coffin—thankfully closed most of the time—would accompany her to meals, travels, and even her bedside. Only years later did Philip return to the ground, albeit at a safe distance, i.e., buried right outside of her window. Now that's a "til death do us part" moment.
As it turns out, there's a lot about the past that's downright gross. For example: birth control made with poop.
Ancient Egyptian women used crocodile dung as an early contraceptive. They would insert a pessary made of the dung, plus honey and sodium carbonate, inside the vagina. However, since crocodile dung is slightly alkaline, like modern-day spermicides, it's possible it actually could have blocked or destroyed sperm. Still though...
Next, we look at one of the most destructive and inexplicable events to ever happen...and no one was there to see it.
Siberia, Russia, is so cold, that it is one of the least populated places in the world. It also hosted one of the most mysterious events of the 20th century. In 1908, there was an explosion so powerful, it bent the trees over flat for 800 square miles. Thankfully, no one met their end that day, except for some unlucky reindeer.
It shook the ground so much that even England felt the blast. The sky lit up all over the world. Years later, NASA declared that the blast was from a meteoroid, but many people have theories that something else, something far more sinister, may have happened. There was no hole in the ground where something should have fallen, and no one ever found evidence of a meteor.
I wouldn't call this following story "sinister," but I would call it "disgusting," and frankly, I wish I'd never read it.
In 1651, a Dutch man named Jan de Doot removed his own bladder stone with a knife, and he pulled the stone out through an incision he made in his perineum. If you don't know what that is, trust me, you don't want to, and you probably don't want to Google it, either. He later had the bladder stone, which was the size and shape of a chicken’s egg, set in gold.
Our upcoming story is so chilling, they made a movie about it.
In 1959, nine experienced hikers set out on an expedition in the Ural Mountains in the Soviet Union. One member named Yuri Yudin, starting to suffer from old health issues, had to turn back. Little did he know, his pain would save his life. Yudin agreed to meet his fellow hikers in the town they were supposed to arrive at on February 12.
But on February 20, there was still no sign of them. Rescuers sent out a party, only to find an utterly chilling sight. The tent was abandoned with all of the hikers' shoes in it. Keep in mind, this is a Russian winter and they were expert travellers. The tent also had a large slash on the back, like there had been something blocking the front of the tent.
Six of the bodies appeared to have hypothermia, and three expired from apparent physical trauma. One victim had a fractured skull, while two others had major chest trauma. But it got even stranger. According to the doctor who examined them, the force required to cause the damage would have been comparable to the force of a car crash. One of the victims, perhaps most disturbingly, was missing her tongue and eyes.
Ok, take some time to shake that one off, because we're moving onto The Exorcist, one of the most terrifying films of all time. And guess what? Behind the scenes, it was even creepier.
The Exorcist wasn't just scary on the big screen, there were mishaps behind the scenes as well. Jack MacGowran, the actor who played Burke, got influenza and passed. Many other actors also received injuries, and the set burned down. The crew even brought in a priest to bless the set on more than one occasion, but I guess it never took.
The next story on this list is my personal favorite, and by that I mean I hate it so much and the details have haunted me forever.
One day, two men were found on a hill, lying side-by-side and wearing lead masks. Both were wearing fancy suits and waterproof jackets, and neither showed any sign of trauma. Someone then found a note at the scene that said, "16:30 be at the agreed place. 18:30 swallow capsules, after effect protect metals wait for the mask sign."
Presumably these "capsules" are what ruined them, but officers didn't perform an autopsy so we'll never be fully sure. The weirdest part, however, is that note. It implies they were waiting on something to take effect after ingesting the capsules. If the capsules are indeed the culprits, it's unlikely they knew anything about it beforehand. But who's to blame, then?
Now we've got an eerie coincidence that defies explanation, and it happened in the most unusual way.
In June 2001, a girl named Laura Buxton from Blurton, Staffordshire, UK, put a note with her name and address inside a helium balloon and let it go. The helium balloon traveled to Pewsey, Wiltshire, UK, where another Laura Buxton found it and replied to her 10 days later. Oddly enough, the two Lauras were both 10 years old. Cue the X-Files music.
The following story is infamous in some corners of the world. All I have to say is two words: "Tamam Shud." If you know, you know. If you don't...read on.
On December 1, 1948, a man’s body washed up on Somerton Beach, Australia. The man was around 40 years old, and wore a green sweater and a raincoat, despite the high heat. The authorities found no pieces of identification, and all the labels on his clothes were missing. Oddly enough, his fingerprints and dental records didn’t match any of the registered profiles.
The autopsy did not reveal any trace of poison in his system and they did not reach any conclusion as to the cause of his end. Officers then spread the man's picture around the world, but nobody seemed to recognize him. A month later, they found another suitcase, likely belonging to the victim, full of clothes...with the labels missing.
Later, the authorities discovered a hidden pocket in the man's pants. In it was a paper with the words "Tamam Shud" printed on it. Turns out that those words are from a rare edition of a collection of poems from Omar Khayyam. After they released a photo of the piece of paper, a man contacted the authorities. He told them another disturbing piece of evidence.
The day before officers found the body, this witness found a very rare edition of the book on the backseat of his car. The authorities then found a coded message in the back of the book: Five lines of seemingly random letters, one of which someone had crossed out. They never decrypted the code. Even today, we have no idea who the "Tamam Shud" man is, or what happened.
Warning: Don't keep scrolling unless you can handle spiders. SO MANY SPIDERS.
Susan and Brian Trost from Missouri bought a home for $450,000, but little did they know that it was swimming with Brown Recluse spiders. That is, until they started coming out of the walls. Pest control experts claimed that there were close to 5,000 of these spiders in the house. Just one bite can lead to pain, nausea, swelling, itching, and potentially organ failure. Naturally, the couple sued the original homeowners.
We begin our next story with a locked trunk in an empty basement. Creepy enough...but it's what was inside the trunk that really freaked people out.
In 2010, two women were cleaning out the abandoned basement of their apartment building when they made an utterly chilling discovery. After the women found a mysterious trunk in their building’s basement, they opened the dusty bag, and felt their blood immediately turn to ice. The trunk contained the mummified remains of two newborn infants wrapped in 1930s newspapers.
When officers investigated, they learned the trunk’s eerie story. The owner was Janet M. Barrie (no relation to J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, by the way) and the bodies in the trunk were her children. What happened? Why did Barrie place her babies' remains in the trunk? Tragically, we will never know. Barrie lived to 97 and never told a soul.
Ushering you into this next story is a reminder that we have parasites living inside of all of us. But did you know people used swallow disgusting critters on purpose?
The “tapeworm diet" was popular in Victorian times, and it was even more disgusting than it sounds. In order to lose weight, people literally swallowed tapeworms and other parasites in the hopes that the critters would do the work for them. The worst part? The celebrity opera singer who sparked the fad probably never practiced it.
Everyone loves a mad king, but the tale of Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, our next subject, is more chilling than people know.
In 1886, Ludwig, the Mad King of Bavaria, took a walk along the shore of Lake Starnberg with his doctor. The next morning, their bodies were found floating in the lake. Neither had water in their lungs, though the doctor's body showed signs of strangulation and bludgeoning. The truth behind the king's end remains a mystery to this day.
So far, there have been many secret codes throughout this list. But what if I told you that the most famous code is hundreds of years old and has never been broken?
The mysterious Voynich Manuscript has illustrations of plants that do not exist. Even more creepily, it's in a language no one on Earth knows. Some people believe that the Voynich Manuscript is in code, but no one has been able to figure it out. Theories surrounding the book point to witchcraft, but to this day, no one really knows who wrote it, or why.
The name "Hiroo Onoda" may or may not be familiar to you, but I bet you'll never forget his upcoming story.
Hiroo Onoda was an Imperial Japanese Army officer who kept his jungle post in the Philippines for 29 years, refusing to believe that WWII was over. He survived on coconuts and bananas and would sometimes kill villagers he thought were enemies. Local authorities searched for Lieutenant Onoda constantly, yet he always evaded capture.
Finally, a man named Norio Suzuki found and befriended Onada, but despite explaining that WWII was long over, Onoda still refused to surrender. Suzuki travelled back to Japan and summoned Onoda's former commanding officer, who personally flew to the Philippines and relieved Onoda from duty. He finally surrendered in 1974.
Now we go to "The Revenge of the Dead." Because yes, a dead person can kill you.
Sigurd the Mighty, the ninth-century Viking Earl of Orkney, managed to get killed by a man whom he'd beheaded. Following a particularly vicious battle, the earl tied the head of his enemy to his horse’s saddle. On the way home, one of the corpse's teeth grazed him as he was riding, and he perished from the resulting infection of his leg wound.
This fate, though, was a mercy when you consider the next story.
Becoming widowed in ancient India did not mean that the widow could mourn and move on—or at least not in life. The practice of "Sati" was the belief that a woman couldn't live without her husband. As a result, people would burn her alive in her husband’s funeral fire. The other option? They would bury her alive next to his corpse. Both were pretty gruesome ways to go, so women probably prayed that they passed first.
Everyone's heard of Dracula, but have you heard of the real Dracula?
The real-life Dracula, Vlad III, known as Vlad Tempes (the Impaler) ruled Wallachia from 1456 to 1462. Vlad lived during a time when there was constant conflict. He suffered imprisonment, his father met a gruesome end, and his older brother was blinded with red-hot iron stakes before being buried alive. Vlad was infamous for his inhuman cruelty with his victims, and of course for his favorite form of execution, impalement.
Thing is, Vlad the Impaler is not the only Dracula predecessor...
Before there was Dracula, there was Mercy Lena Brown. In 1892, the 19-year-old Rhode Island resident passed soon after her mother and sister of tuberculosis. As her brother lay dying too, locals whispered that dark forces were behind the family misfortune. To get to the bottom of it, they dug up the family from their graves.
When they opened the coffins, their blood ran cold. Mercy’s corpse was 100% free of rot. Naturally, the villagers believed Mercy was a vampire. So they cut out her heart, burned it, mixed the remains with water, and fed it to her sickly brother. For some reason, this did not cure the boy and he passed soon after.
This next story is titled "Isidor Fink Meets An Impossible End," and I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it.
In 1929, a man named Isidor Fink returned home to his New York apartment. Moments later, people heard screaming from inside. However, the doors were locked from the inside, and the windows were nailed shut. After prying the boards off of the windows, the authorities actually needed to send a small child to unlock the front door, because the window was too small for an adult.
When the officers went inside, they saw that Isidor was dead, with three bullet holes in his chest. They couldn't find a gun. Nothing was missing. There were no fingerprints, and there shouldn't have been a way for anyone to escape the apartment.
Granted, Isidor Fink has nothing on "The Mad Trapper of Rat River."
In 1930, a trapper nicknamed Albert Johnson was the target of a huge manhunt in Northern Canada after opening fire and hurting an officer. Dozens of hounds, officers, local natives, and even an aviator scouted the area. The manhunt lasted 33 days, during which Johnson traveled 85 miles through a blizzard, hostile terrain, and cold weather.
In the final firefight, Johnson managed to shoot an officer dead. After the act, Johnson's response was utterly disturbing. He laughed. It was the only sound the other officers heard from him during the whole hunt. He eventually died, but the authorities never discovered who he was or how he acquired the skills to survive in such a hostile environment.
Now comes a tale of Peter the Great, who we should maybe just call "Peter the Horrific" for how he punished his cheating wife...
Russia's Peter the Great was infamous for his terrifying temper, but when his wife cheated on him, he absolutely lost his mind, at least according to legend. He cut off the other man's head and then forced his wife to keep it in a jar by her bedside at all times.
Ok, that's rough, but this next guy got killed by his own doctor, sooooo...
During the Civil War, patients drank alcohol to numb the pain of surgery—but oftentimes the surgeon would take a nip for himself to calm his nerves. A Confederate hospital matron by the name of Phoebe Yates Pember claims that one doctor was so tipsy that, when setting a patient's broken ankle, he set the healthy ankle. Afterwards, the patient passed from infection.
Next up: Did you know there are people who believe they're actually dead?
Cotard's Syndrome is a rare mental condition that convinces patients that they aren't actually alive. In some cases, the patient thinks they've lost blood, body parts, organs, or their soul, which leads them to believe that they are dead. Most of these cases are the result of psychosis, a medical condition, or mood disorders, and doctors usually treat Cotard's with electroconvulsive techniques.
Edgar Allan Poe made it on this list twice, but this second time is much different than the first.
In the history of creepy coincidences, few get as creepy and cannibalistic as this one. In 1838, Edgar Allan Poe published his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket—a story about a group of shipwrecked sailors who end up drawing straws to see which of them will be eaten. A man named Richard Parker ended up drawing the deadly lots.
46 years later, a group of real-life men found themselves likewise stranded at sea when a 17-year-old boy among them fell violently ill. With his odds of survival low, the others chose to kill and eat him for their own sustenance. That boy’s name? Richard Parker.
I'm not pranking you with that story, but this next story is a prank gone very, very wrong.
In 1939, Harvard freshman Lothrop Withington, Jr., bragged to his classmates that he ate a live fish. They bet him $10 he couldn’t do it again, but, with a Boston reporter documenting the event, Withington put a live goldfish in his mouth, chewed, and swallowed. The story ignited a craze for eating live goldfish on college campuses across America.
Imagine never being able to forget the feeling of a goldfish sliding down your throat. Well, this next woman would know how that feels.
Jill Price, an American woman from Southern California, has a condition called hyperthymesia: She never forgets anything. Since she was 14 years old, she’s been able to remember everything, even the most obscure detail. While it might seem like a gift, Price calls it a curse, claiming that never forgetting anything is a burden on her sanity and gives her no peace.
Next: An allergic reaction that made somebody sprout...nails.
In 2009, doctors gave a Memphis resident steroids for an allergic attack. Over the next three years, her body suffered one of the strangest allergic reactions in medical history. On the surfaces of her body which would normally grow hair, she started to grow nails, due to a change in the number of skin cells. She is the only person of record to suffer from this rare disorder.
Sounds like something out of a horror movie. And hey, so does this next one—straight from the zombie apocalypse.
In the early 20th century, a Russian scientist named Aleksei Kuliabko filled the veins of a corpse that had been dead for only a day with a concoction that would supposedly revive its heart. And guess what? It worked! The now-living corpse began making an odd breathing sound that scared everyone, but after 20 minutes, Kuliabko terminated the experiment on his “human zombie.”
Next: Everyone loves Hamilton the musical, but few people realize that Aaron Burr's daughter met a dark and mysterious fate.
On New Year’s Eve 1812, the young Theodosia Burr, daughter of Aaron Burr, left to visit her father up north via ship. Unfortunately, utter tragedy struck. A storm destroyed the vessel, and no one saw either the boat or Theodosia ever again. Decades went by and in 1869, a woman who lived by Nags Head reportedly called a doctor to attend to her, saying he could take any item in her house as payment.
When the doctor tried to claim a portrait on the wall, the sickly woman sprang straight up, and yelled, “It is mine! You shall not have it! I am on my way to visit my father in New York, and I am taking this picture of his darling Theodosia!” She then, apparently, snatched the painting, ran into the ocean, and—like Theodosia—was never seen again.
You ever seen the movie The Butterfly Effect? This next one is just like that, but with much more death.
In Buenos Aires in 1983, a dog fell out of a 13th-floor window and instantly killed an elderly woman walking on the street below. As if that wasn’t bizarre enough, an oncoming bus struck the gaping onlookers, fatally injuring one woman. Then, a man had a fatal heart attack after witnessing both events. It was a bad day for everyone involved, basically.
In 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand also had a brutally bad day—but there's more to his infamous story than they teach you in school.
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, visited the city of Sarajevo. While there, a young radical named Gavrilo Princip fatally shot him. At the time, Europe was a powder keg waiting for a spark, and Princip’s assassination of Ferdinand provided that spark. But few people know the jaw-dropping truth about that fateful day.
Incredibly, Princip shooting Franz Ferdinand was a stroke of pure luck. Princip and five others attempted to end Ferdinand earlier that day with primitive grenades. The attempt failed, and Princip fled the scene to go dejectedly eat a sandwich in a café. Much to his astonishment, however, Ferdinand later drove right by him, giving Princip another chance. This time, he succeeded.
As this next story shows, though, the aristocracy have often met extremely gruesome deaths. But none quite so gruesome as King Adolf Frederick of Sweden.
King Adolf Frederick of Sweden was a weak ruler who failed to gain respect during his life. His end didn’t help matters. The king perished after consuming a meal of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, kippers, and champagne followed by no fewer than 14 helpings of his favorite dessert. Yep, that's right, Adolf literally ate himself to death.
From the plush decor of the Swedish Monarchy, we now go to the brutal Mongolian steppe—and one very eerie prediction that came true.
The warlord Tamerlane was incredibly brutal, and on June 20, 1941, archaeologists from the Soviet Union uncovered his tomb. There was a dark message waiting for them. An inscription read, “Whoever opens my tomb shall unleash an invader more terrible than I.” Two days later, the Nazis launched their invasion of the USSR with Operation Barbarossa.
One question for you at this point: Have you ever drank a human toe? You're about to know what that feels like.
Drinkers in Dawson City, located in Canada’s Yukon Territory, can visit the Sourdough Saloon and become a member of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club should they desire. Just ask for Captain River Rat, purchase a shot of Yukon Jack, and watch as a human toe is dropped into your drink. After pledging the Sourtoe Oath, simply drink the shot. And remember, your lips have to touch the toe!
However, DO NOT SWALLOW THE TOE. Since its inception in 1973, several overzealous patrons have downed the toe, either by accident or on purpose. The bar is on their 10th toe, and there is now a fine of $2,500 for swallowing the precious digit. We repeat, DO NOT SWALLOW THE TOE.
Few people could really earn the title "The Unluckiest Man On Earth," but in our next story's case, it's 100% true.
A Japanese man named Tsutomu Yamaguchi managed to live through the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima—only to return home to Nagasaki, where he lived through the second attack. He spent the rest of his life as a vocal critic of nuclear proliferation. He passed of cancer at age 93. Doctors believe the cancer was unrelated to either event.
Ever wonder why people consider Alcatraz almost impenetrable? Well, it's got one weird feature.
Alcatraz, one of America’s most notorious prisons, was for a time the only prison in the United States to provide inmates with hot showers. Alcatraz is on an island in San Francisco Bay, and wardens thought the hot showers would hinder escape. According to the theory, it would prevent the inmates from acclimatizing to the freezing cold Bay water and swimming to shore.
Before reading this next story, I thought Shirley Temple was America's Sweetheart. Boy, was I wrong.
Shirley Temple was an incredibly famous and popular child star, and, like all celebrities, was subject to the rumor mill. One persistent rumour suggested that she was not actually a child, but a 30-year-old “dwarf.” Supporters of the theory pointed to her small body type (um, she was a child) and the fact she never seemed to lose any teeth.
In fact, she lost her baby teeth regularly and wore a dental plate in her films. During the height of these rumors, the Vatican even dispatched an investigator, Father Silvio Massante, to verify that she was, in fact, a child. The Vatican.
Next up, the head honcho of mystery: The Bermuda Triangle. But believe me, you don't know the half of it.
You may be familiar with the legend of the Bermuda Triangle—the small area of the Atlantic ocean that seems to be responsible for more unexplained disasters than anywhere else. What you may not know is that the "discoverer" of the New World himself, Christopher Columbus, had his own weird encounter with this spot.
According to records from the time, Columbus reported seeing a giant flame, a mysterious light in the distance, and unusual compass readings while passing through the area.
Anyone else ready for one of the freakiest things to ever happen on a movie set? I know I am.
During the filming of the 1976 movie The Omen, the film crew hired a private plane to transport them, but they had to make a last minute cancellation. Instead, the plane flew elsewhere, only it didn’t get very far. The plane crashed violently onto a road, into two traveling cars. And who was in one of those cars? The wife and children of the pilot who crashed the plane.
If that gave you shivers, wrap yourself up because this next one involves one of America's most infamous assassins.
Though he would become Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth was a promising figure as a youth. The son of theater actors was athletic, charismatic, and became a famous stage actor in his own right. However, a prediction made by a fortune-teller haunted him. The soothsayer decreed that Booth would be famous, but would die young and come to “a bad end.” In case you think this might be historical revisionism, Booth himself wrote down the prediction.
Everyone's heard of "The Angel Of Death," but do you know the story of one of the original, real-life angels?
Miyuki Ishikawa lived a pretty normal life, until she earned the nickname of Oni-Sanba or "Demon-midwife." Miyuki worked as a hospital director and midwife, and in the 1940s, she began killing infants from poor families via neglect. Her reason was chilling. She thought she was doing the children and their struggling families a service.
Authorities accused the Demon-midwife of 103 attacks, and sentenced her to eight years behind bars. In reality, people now believe that over 200 children perished under her direction.
Next: "The Axe Man Of New Orleans," who tormented the city with one brilliant, awful message.
From 1918-1919, the Axe Man of New Orleans terrified the city. The Axe Man would take axes from his victims’ homes and chop them to bits. One day, someone claiming to be him sent a letter to the local papers. In it, he claimed to be a lover of jazz, and promised to kill anyone whose home didn't have “a jazz band in full swing” on the night of March 18.
You can believe that the people of New Orleans partied like their lives depended on it that night, and true to his word, no one playing jazz got hurt that evening. On the night of October 27, 1919, he took his final victim, and after that, no one ever heard from him again. Who was the Axe Man? If you asked the superstitious people of New Orleans, he was a supernatural creature.
This next story wasn't supernatural, but it was monstrous. I'll put it this way: Don't read it if you just ate lunch.
In 2015, a young woman began to have headaches. They discovered that she had a brain tumor, and when the doctors removed it, they were shocked to see that it was a lump resembling skin. It also contained bone, teeth, and hair. But this was no parasitic twin. The mass was a "teratoma," or "monstrous tumor." When the woman was an embryo, some cell tissue fell off and ended up in her brain. It then developed hair and teeth while the rest of her grew as normal.
Believe it or not, ghosts are real. Don't believe me? Then this next story will prove me right.
The 1897 death of Elva Shue is the only case in American history where the judge allowed the testimony of a “ghost.” When Elva's family found her at the bottom of the stairs, her husband Edward was hesitant to let coroners examine her neck. Elva’s mom, Mary Jane Heaster, did not trust Edward, but she could do nothing but pray.
Then, according to Heaster, Elva came to her in a “dream” and told her mother how Edward crushed her neck because he disliked the way she cooked dinner. Heaster successfully petitioned for her daughter’s exhumation and, sure enough, the coroner determined foul play in the same manner as the alleged ghost’s details.
No one expects to wake up one day, walk into their barn, and get murdered by an unknown man. But that's exactly what happened in the little-known "Hinterkaifeck Case."
On March 31, 1922, a Bavarian family saw tracks leading to their farm, but not away again. They found a newspaper and other clues indicating that somebody was nearby, but when they searched, they couldn’t find anybody. One of the family members went to the barn, and someone suddenly felled with them a hatchet. This is where things get really dark.
No one could hear the screams from the barn from the house, but the others presumably went looking for the missing woman. The unknown assailant picked them off one-by-one as they entered the barn. The authorities never charged anyone.
Graveyards are scary places even today. But in the Victorian period, corpses had to be aware of one specific and ever-present danger...
In the 19th century and before, being literally buried alive was an ever-present worry. Many doctors could sometimes mistake a comatose or otherwise unresponsive patient for a cadaver. Because of this, people developed "safety coffins" that allowed the "cadaver" to alert people above ground that they were not, in fact, a corpse.
Our next story is not for the faint of heart.
Jason Barnum, who is currently serving 22 years in prison for shooting an officer, got the nickname "the Eyeball" because of a tattoo that darkens the white part of his right eye. He also has other designs tattooed on his head.
Tattoos are one thing, but what about a boy who seemingly revived himself?
In Brazil, a two-year-old boy tragically passed from pneumonia. His grieving family made funeral arrangements over the next few days—and then received the shock of their lives when the boy suddenly sat upright and asked his father for water. Yet the parents were still in for another devastating heartbreak. The boy lost consciousness again, leading the coroner to proclaim him dead once more.
Now, we come to the bizarre story of Karen Overhill, the woman who didn't know herself.
In 1999, Karen Overhill began finding herself in strange places with no idea about how she got there. She also found bookmarks further into books than she remembered reading, heard voices at night recapping her day, and ran into people who she didn’t know but who knew her. Eventually, she discovered that she was suffering from an extreme case of multiple personality disorder, and had 17 distinct personalities. She was able to get rid of them all, and can finally be alone with her thoughts.
Karen Overhill had it rough, but what about a man named Phineas Gage?
A 19th-century railroad worker named Phineas Gage had an iron rod rammed through his head—and survived. In one of the most bizarre medical anomalies in history, Gage lived another 12 full years without most of his brain's left frontal lobe. His story does have another interesting twist to it, though. Friends of his say that his behavior was virtually unrecognizable from this point on, describing him as “no longer Gage.”
Medieval punishments were notoriously brutal, but King Philip the Fair's daughters soon learned he was more brutal than most.
When King Philip IV of France discovered his three daughters-in-law were having intimate relations with knights from his court, he forced them to stand trial for adultery. He found two of them guilty, then shaved their heads as punishment and sentenced them to life imprisonment. He then found the knights guilty and flayed them and hanged them. How's that for fair?
King Tut's tomb has fascinated people for centuries...but it also contains one dark secret.
When researchers discovered King Tut’s tomb, they found an iron dagger that was still sharp thousands of years later. Having a sharp dagger is not strange in itself, but the dagger’s origin is quite mysterious. Scientists have tested the metal and determined it came from a meteorite, and the ancient Egyptians most likely didn’t have the technology to craft a weapon from meteorite debris.
As a result, it either came from another more advanced civilization or, some people say, aliens left it behind.
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