The plaintiffs would be vulnerable outcasts going up against one of the most powerful institutions in the world. Together they had a chance. Joining the cases was critical on a practical level, too. The plaintiffs would need to call on each other as witnesses, but if each case was tried separately, they would have to return to the court and tell each story perhaps a dozen times, in front of strangers, an experience that many of his clients would find unbearable. The expert witnesses would have to be summoned again and again, and the court would need to assemble different juries for each case.
The cost would be extraordinary. The defense fought hard against letting all the plaintiffs join their cases together for a consolidated trial. It argued that it could prejudice a jury to hear stories from such a long timespan. The letters would have been invaluable, practically a database of abuse and abusers. Widman was also unable to get the letters directly from White, for reasons neither lawyer can now recall.
The defense argued that when the bishop had asked former orphans to share their stories with him, he had done so out of a sense of compassion, and that he had given them the settlement money out of concern for their well-being. If by paying the money, the diocese had also bought itself protection from further legal action, well, that was just incidental.
Long enough that no allegation, no matter how concrete, could ever be verified. There was simply no way to know any of it. The facts were lost in the mists of time. It was a smart strategy. For the plaintiffs, it was also a cruel one. From their perspective, their long silence was not an accident; it had been forced on them, a direct result of the abuse they had suffered. How many times had the children learned the lesson that no one was interested in their pain? If you cry, you cry alone. How many times had they been punished for speaking up, leaving them to conclude that no one in power was interested in their problems?
That their pain had no meaning inside or outside the orphanage walls? Again and again, they learned that their firsthand observations were not valid. The nun told Sally she had a vivid imagination. It took years — decades — for these survivors of St. Still, the list of victims was growing, and so was the list of abusers.
Multiple laymen were also accused of molestation and other abuse. Fred Adams, who worked at the orphanage in the s and sometimes wore a Boy Scout uniform, still haunted some of the boys of St. Adams told one boy he would one day go to battle for America and needed to be able to tolerate torture if captured. Adams trussed the boy up and hung him from the ceiling. Then he tied a string to his penis. As he pulled on the string, the boy swung back and forth and smacked repeatedly into a hot bulb that was hanging behind him.
Adams said, You can't say anything to jeopardize your fellow man… This is definitely going to happen to you. Vivid though these images were, Widman was nervous about how they would fare in the litigation. In sex abuse cases across the United States, defense lawyers had started to challenge recovered memories. Then in Bennington, Vermont, he deposed two siblings, a brother and sister, former residents of St.
The sister, a slight woman in her forties, spoke positively about her time in the orphanage. At some point, Widman told me, he mentioned the name of the nun who had sewn with the girls, and who was said to have sexually assaulted more than one of them. For one beat, no one moved.
Then, Widman recalled, pandemonium broke out. The defense attorneys started yelling and screaming. What had Widman done? Had he given her money? Widman himself was frantic. What are you talking about? The woman said that she remembered what the nun had done to everyone, and that she had done it to her too. She continued to serve as a witness — but for the plaintiffs. It was happening in Canada too. In Montreal, less than miles north of Burlington, former residents of Catholic orphanages were now coming forward to say that as long ago as the s and as recently as , they had been subjected to the most extraordinary abuse.
Just as with St. Widman went to Montreal to learn more. Duplessis observed that orphanages received only half the amount for each resident that hospitals and mental institutions received. And they were pulled out of the orphanages where they had lived and moved into mental institutions. Often it was the defiant ones who were shipped off first. Some orphanages were simply rebranded as asylums, and untrained nuns were elevated to the status of psychiatric nurses — armed not just with their wooden paddles but with all the tools for treating mental illness in the s, including restraints and intravenous sedatives.
Many killed themselves or struggled with addiction and other damage. But many of those who survived were ready for a fight. Their struggles had been chronicled in a book, Les Enfants de Duplessis , by the sociologist Pauline Gill. They had filed more than criminal complaints against individual members of religious orders.
I asked one of the enfants , a woman named Alice Quinton, if she had seen any children die. She told me that one of her friends, an especially strong-willed girl named Evelyne Richard, died after being injected with the drug we now call Thorazine. Quinton especially remembered a little girl called Michelle, who was only about 4 years old, was said to have a brain tumor, and was often bruised and marked from beatings. Michelle cried all the time and was beaten all the time.
A year after she arrived, one of the nuns discovered her body, stiff in the little straitjacket that she had been tied into. Decades later, when Alice told her story to the police, they informed her that one of her tormentors had died at some point along the way. Hearing how the St. He also heard that a similar story was unfolding in Ireland. Adults who had grown up in residential schools run by Christian Brothers and different orders of nuns were starting to discuss how they had been assaulted, raped, and brutalized, and the police were investigating some of the cases.
The Irish government was not doing much — the statute of limitations ruled out the pursuit of criminal charges — but it seemed clear that a storm was building.
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Around the time that Alice Quinton told me about the children who had died in the institution where she grew up, I was trying to track down all the stories about deaths from the St. Scattered through the witness depositions, the stories were hard to piece together: How many deaths were claimed?
Who saw them? When in the odd-year period covered by the litigation had they occurred? When I first came across the horrifying tales about a boy who drowned and a child who froze, I turned the page I frantically tried to cross-reference the accounts in other depositions and track down the witness, but usually I found only a whisper of the original story. The orphanage was in operation for over years. Thousands of people passed through its doors. It stood to reason that there would have been some fatalities along the way, even if only from natural causes. But the defense never offered an accounting of who had died and how, except in a few narrow instances when forced to.
A former resident named Sherry Huestis told a story that she had confided to her sister decades before: In the middle of the night, the seamstress, Eva, would sometimes pull Sherry out of bed to keep her company as she walked the hallways checking the doors. One night, Huestis testified, awful screams broke the silence, and Huestis followed Eva to a room where two nuns were hovering over another nun in the bed. The one in bed had her legs up and wide open. A little black baby was coming out. The next day, Huestis went to her work in the nursery, and sure enough, the little baby was there, sweet and tiny.
Later, the nursery nun walked up to Huestis and slapped her good and hard across the face. I read the depositions of a number of former residents who, separately, described being made to kiss an old, dead man in his coffin at the orphanage. It was uncanny how many remembered the event. That was more or less where the conversation ended. He just asked the plaintiff what she would say if he said that. In another deposition, a man called Joseph Eskra, who spent time at St. Another resident who was there at the same time described a large group of children standing on the shore of Lake Champlain and joining hands to form a human chain.
Slowly the children walked into the water to search for a missing boy. The children had to walk in a long way before the water reached their waists. Before they got to the sharp drop-off, the word came down the line that the boy had been found. Eskra had last seen Willette out in the lake, where some bullies were trying to keep him from grabbing onto a floating log. Now someone carried him to the beach and laid him out on the sand in his striped bathing shorts, legs splayed.
Soon firefighters were crouched around him trying to push air in as the sheriff, who had arrived in his patrol boat, stood nearby. But it was too late. Eskra talked about another boy who failed to turn up at dinner one night. A group of about 20 set out with flashlights to look for him. They found him near the swing set, tied to a tree, frozen to death. Eskra took Borsykowsky at face value and tried to be helpful. It was happening in Albany too, with survivors of an orphanage called St. The two cases played out in isolation, but I was amazed by the similarities: Though they were run by nuns from different orders, the orphanages were only miles apart.
The claims of former orphans — and the counter-claims of church supporters — were tearing each community apart. The stories made the front page of each local paper, but not a single person I interviewed from either case seemed to know about the other. The Albany case had one crucial difference: Orphanage survivors had managed to get a police investigation. The Albany fight began with Bill Bonneau, who had seen his three younger brothers hauled off to St. Only two made it out. The youngest, Gilbert, died when he was 8.
Doctors said it was meningitis. But in , more than two decades later, Bill got a phone call from a stranger who said her name was Marian Maynard. Bill told me that Maynard had an urgent message about Gilbert: Before Gilbert died, he was beaten by a nun. Maynard said the nun had savagely hit Gilbert in the head and he died the next day. For decades Maynard had kept the story to herself — but she happened to catch sight of the nun in Troy that day, then raced home and worked her way through all the Bonneaus in the phone book.
She ended the conversation promising to call him back.
But days and then weeks and then years came and went, and the call never came. The ad ran for many years. It was when a local reporter named Dan Lynch noticed the ad and wondered if it came with a story. Was he a victim of a brutal institutional environment? Has the truth surrounding his death been covered up? Dozens of former St.
One spoke of being thrown down concrete stairs, one was forced to kneel for hours in punishment, one was hung upside down in the laundry chute, and one was forced to eat his own vomit. One heard it snap. He died in In the s, a witness would tell police that she had seen a nun brutally beat the boy days before he died. All three pathologists agreed there was no evidence that the boy died of meningitis. The man said he knew nothing about the investigation. But despite all the evidence that the Bonneaus had managed to gather, the DA never brought any charges, and no lawyer ever agreed to take the case and file a civil suit.
The request was denied. Sally had told Widman about a day at the orphanage when she and a girl named Patty Zeno had been told to wash the windows. Patty was on the sill when the explosive Sister Priscille, even angrier than usual, came storming into the room, punched Sally on the arm, and told her to leave. But Sally was still there to see what happened next: The nun reached through the window frame and shoved Patty hard. Patty spun away from the window, somehow leaving her left foot on the sill. Lurching past the nun, Sally grabbed that ankle and an arm as Patty crashed hard up against the brick wall on her left.
Somehow Sally managed to get Patty back inside, and then for a while they hung on to each other crying. After Sally first told Widman this story, a woman contacted him and said a nun called Sister Priscille had tried to push her from a window. It was Patty herself. Sister Priscille had it out for her, she said, because she had once reported her to Vermont Catholic Charities, which had an office next door.
Patty remembered the nun warning her, You will pay for it — the same words she had mouthed as she shoved Patty off the windowsill. When they met again as adults, Sally asked Patty if she remembered the way they all used to sleep on their sides facing the same direction with their hands tucked under their head as if in prayer. The swimming lessons were another case in point. Like Sally Dale, many children had claimed it was common at St. But when it came to the nuns, they had a different story. One said she never went swimming at all, one said she went down to the lake but only to supervise the boys, one said she swam with the girls, and one said that she and many other nuns swam at the lake but only when the children were not there.
One said the nuns did not have a rowboat. Even some of the orphans said they had never seen a rowboat at the orphanage, let alone been thrown in the water. Initially, it was like one of those great tilting historic debates, like the assassination of JFK, where one person saw a gunman on the grassy knoll, but with equal certainty another said the knoll was empty. Leroy Baker said he was thrown in by a nun and a male counselor. They told him to swim or drown. Richard MacDonald said he was thrown too. It was Nov. At least four more would follow. Robert Widman sat on her right. Her husband was nearby.
Sartore was masterful, switching directions deftly and often, so that plaintiffs could not be certain of his next move. Pressing Sally for facts one minute, he would pivot and ask her to speculate on strange, impossible questions about the nature of time and the workings of memory, before pulling back and lightening up, pausing a beat, then circling back around to prod and probe.
Sally pointed out her scars for the camera. Here was where Sister Blanche pressed the iron into her hand. Here was the broken left pinkie from when a nun, whom she later named as Sister Claire, kicked her legs out from under her on the ice. Here were the scars from when she slapped out the fire on her snow pants. Here was the problem with her ribs from where the nuns pounded her with their fists and it was so hard to breathe.
Here was where this wrist was broken, and then here this wrist; here was the elbow, and the scar on the knuckles on both hands, and here was the knee that was fractured. Sartore, a big man whose build had been shaped by long years of competitive swimming, knew how to pace himself. He was cool and implacable for almost the entire 19 hours. Sartore zeroed in. She just knew that she didn't like it. Did Sally think of it as abuse back when she was at the orphanage, Sartore asked? Back then she had not even heard that term.
The brothers who she said abused her down at the lake — how did she know they were actually men rather than boys from the other side of the orphanage? She held up her fingers several inches apart, unmistakably suggesting the length of a penis. Then she broke off in a goofy laugh, looking around at Widman.
She spoke about it as a child would. Devoy had his own rooms and dining table, at which he was often joined by seminarians. Sally told Sartore that when she was quite little, she had done her very best to be good for a whole week, and for once it had worked. She set his table and took in his food and placed it on the table before him.
He yanked down her panties, touched her backside, and told her that she had cute buns. The next time he tried it, the headstrong girl spilled the soup in his lap. Sally declined his invitation to undermine herself. As Sartore and Sally moved from past to present and back again, small, vivid memories punctuated the larger grim narratives. Sally recalled, still mystified, that sometimes in summer a nun would wake the children in the middle of the night because an ice cream truck had come by with leftovers.
The children had to eat as much as they could, right there on the spot, because there was nowhere at St. Sally had brought some old photos. Here was Doris Jacob in the kindergarten; it must have been around Here was Sally in a tiny cap and gown that Irene made for kindergarten graduation. Sartore asked about when Sally saw Patty Zeno pushed out the window: How had Sally forgotten that day?
An expert witness that Widman had called explained that for more than years, psychologists and psychiatrists working with victims of trauma had documented buried memories that burst out into the open, as well as troubling gaps where time had seemingly vanished. Bessel van der Kolk, a Harvard psychiatrist, testified that people like Sally and her fellow orphans are doubly hurt — by the original abuse and then also by the litigation. Sally had been inconsistent in some of her claims. She said her memories came flooding back at the reunion, but she had given an interview detailing some of the abuses a year before that.
When shown a report of that interview, in her deposition, she said she had no recollection of giving it. Also, she said she was around 4 or 6 when she kissed the boy in the coffin, and that Sister Noelle had been present. Sally said at first that Sister Jane of the Rosary was the only nun she really liked.
Later she described Sister Jane as an oppressive and abusive figure. And in her account of the day that one adult after another was told to beat Sally but could not bring themselves to do it, some details and a name varied over time. But Anna Salter, an expert in the psychology of predators and victims, testified that it was common for a child to be attached to someone who abused them, and that what tended to come through with recovered memories was the overall narrative — not necessarily all the specific details.
Even if they were remembered, they might be too embarrassing to describe. Nonetheless, Sartore kept returning to the point. Had Sally consciously pushed her memories away? Could Sally have called up her memory of seeing the boy who fell if someone had asked her about it before the reunion? Or rather, buried. On the fourth hour of the third day of their deposition, when Sartore came back round to the boy, he sounded a bit bored by the events. But he was fully engaged when he asked Sally what allowed her to summon those recollections.
How did Sally remember events that she said she forgot 50 years ago? Could she now recall any memories she had between and of events that she said occurred in the early s? When did her memories become repressed? When did she forget the thing that she forgot? Borsykowsky gave a quick and unequivocal no and didn't respond to written questions I sent him afterward. Sartore initially said no, but then to my surprise invited me to his office in downtown Burlington, which I visited on an autumn day.
After a few minutes, the man whose voice I recognized so well from the deposition tapes came sweeping into the reception area, guiding me into his wood-paneled office and offering me a seat at a green table. I had wanted to meet him for a long time, and now here he was — Darth Vader, in business casual. Sixteen years after the St. Responding to my inquiries, he paused occasionally, kept his face perfectly expressionless, and fixed me with a very long, uncomfortable stare. As the seconds ticked by, I felt I was being sized up, inspected for weak spots. When the litigation began, he would sit in his office late at night, just trying to get a handle on who was who.
Over the course of five or six years, Sartore said, he interviewed nearly nuns. The depositions were a chance to learn the facts. What happened psychologically? What happened sexually? And who was there and who knew it?
We Saw Nuns Kill Children: The Ghosts of St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage
They were also, he said, a dry run for the combat of a trial, a chance to see how witnesses would present, whether they would cry, whether they seemed genuine. He compared it to a medical examination. Does this hurt? She had been so stoic, yet I could see his poking and prodding caused her a great deal of pain. I wondered if he had reservations about going after her that hard? Did we ultimately go to the lengths of verifying those documentations?
But there was rational documentation. You can spin any kind of speculation out of that. Things that grew up to be the mythology of the organization. About four years after the St. I wanted to know how his convictions had fared since then. Surely it had become more possible to imagine that a nun might say something untrue? And that was as far as he would go. Sartore stayed rigorously professional. If he had any doubts, it was clear he would not share them. One woman, who was so fond of the mother superior that she had stayed in touch with her for years, recalled that she was made to slap herself in the mouth.
She said it was because she talked too much. In the s, said another, some children were sent to the attic in punishment and it scared them, but she felt they had been sent there because they were hateful. Being hit with the clappers, said another woman, made her a better person. A man said it was what he deserved. One woman recalled being thrown in the lake from a boat.
The Ghost Rapes of Bolivia
One said her sister was shut in the closet. One was punished for wetting the bed, and another was made to sleep in the same direction as the other girls with her hands under her head. The priests on the witness list were comfortable being questioned — never defensive, just resolute — and they gave nothing up. Father Foster, by then a monsignor, waited until the end of his deposition, then chided the lawyers for failing to ask him about one important topic.
Taking control of the moment, he delivered an impassioned speech praising all the sacrifices the nuns had made. The women had worked so hard, laboring through the day and sitting up till dawn with the children if they were sick. Nobody was perfect, and goodness knows, the children at St. Widman and Morris deposed about 20 nuns. Many had been born in Canada and were raised speaking French. They joined the order when they were teenagers or young women, and from the time they entered the order, taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Sisters of Providence nuns wore the same uniform and ate the same food.
They talked about being proud of their long years of service, and about being moved around for most of their lives. Some had taught at local Catholic day schools or at another orphanage in Chicago or had returned to the motherhouse in Montreal. They were moved around inside the orphanage as well. In the s, Sister Noelle became a coiffeur — a beautician — for the nuns.
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For the most part, the emotional tenor of the depositions was muted. The nuns were tentative, polite, careful. Sister Donat, once mother superior, acknowledged that the children did have to sleep with their hands on the pillow. It made supervision easier, she said. Sister Ladislas said she saw Sister Leontine slap a child in the face. Sister Miles said that she herself once slapped a child in the face. She felt terrible about it. Another used the paddle, but never on the skin, and only when it was badly needed. Others said the rules of the order strictly forbade physical discipline.
She had no problems, and she had never touched a child in anger. Yet Widman asked her about records he had obtained showing that she had hit a boy so hard that he was sent to the hospital. She had been sent away the same day to receive counseling from a psychiatrist in Montreal — a significant response, considering that corporal punishment for children was not uncommon in that era. Sister Fernande de Grace readily admitted to the incident. She regretted it. It was only the paddle. How many times? How many times did the counselor crawl into bed with you? Give us a number.
It had been hard enough for some of the orphanage survivors to tell Widman about the abuse they suffered. Most of them found it excruciating to sit in front of a bunch of fancy opposing lawyers and tell the story again and again, as it was subjected to hostile scrutiny.
Dale Greene was 39 when he gave his deposition in Handsome and smart, he had been a gifted athlete and a top altar boy at St. But now he was recovering from a stroke, which his doctor attributed to stress. He needed a cane to walk. Greene told the attorneys that a counselor assaulted him in his bed in the boys dorm at St. Over what period of time? Greene found it hard to say. The defense paused, lingered over another detail, and then returned to the counting. Might have happened 10 or 20 times to you; is that accurate? Is that your best recollection today? I have no idea. But it went on for years.
The defense attorneys asked plaintiffs to estimate the frequency of their rape or molestation by day, by week, by year, and then overall. Then they would get the plaintiff to compare the estimates and to count — so if it was x times a week, that would be y times in total, right? David Borsykowsky asked one plaintiff, who said she was digitally raped by a nun, how far the nun had penetrated her.
The woman had been 5 at the time. Defense attorneys asked plaintiffs if they had personally done anything to provoke being punched in the face. Or if they could precisely define sexual abuse. Sometimes the defense questioned whether a plaintiff had even been at the orphanage, until the plaintiff provided proof. Given all that, it was remarkable how few times plaintiffs blew up.
Greene struggled to explain. Greene had had enough. He launched into the most impassioned soliloquy of the entire litigation. He spoke for himself, and, whether or not he realized, for everyone else in his shoes. And I answered it already, the same question. I found out — when I found out that there was a lawsuit, I wanted to be involved in it.
Not because I was going to get money. Because I was going to finally straighten out shit that happened to me all my life and should not have never happened. And you guys here are representing people that you know nothing about. But you guys are upsetting me. The schooling was pretty good, and we got to do a lot of stuff as far as sports and shit like that. But I mean, overall it sucked — excuse me. Or you had to eat things a normal person would not eat; but because they served it, you had to eat it. And if you got sick and threw up, you had to even eat your own puke. One deposition early in the litigation required Jack Sartore and the other defense attorneys to visit Sarasota, Florida.
Widman and his wife, Cynthia, took them to Siesta Key, a barrier island, to go swimming and have dinner. The key was renowned for its pure white sand and clean, inviting water. For once, Widman recalled, Sartore, who had sternly avoided even minor friendly chitchat, submitted to being social. Maybe he would relax a little? It was a lovely day that turned into a beautiful evening. The group sat outdoors and ate a delicious fish dinner, and had a civil discussion about the case. Widman believed that the litigation was hurting the orphans. It opened old wounds, and it created new ones.
He told Sartore that his plaintiffs deserved an apology and that they needed to be able to get counseling for the rest of their lives. He asked Sartore if he would settle. By spring , a federal judge had ruled on two of the most important issues, and for the survivors of St. And worse still, the St. They would each have to bring their own cases as isolated individuals. There would be no chance to stack the stories up, to show the similarities, to let the patterns emerge and overwhelm disbelief. The shattered plaintiffs were going to have to go it alone against the Catholic Church. Some of the plaintiffs dropped their cases.
A judge dismissed another five. He ruled against Marilyn Noble because of the statute of limitations. She had written Orphan Girl No. But the memoir, she told me, was used as evidence that she had been aware for almost two decades of the damage she suffered. The judge ruled that the statute of limitations barred her claims of emotional and physical abuse. Sally had once told someone about having been forced to eat vomit.
She had told someone else that she had been beaten and banished to a terrifying attic. One month later The Washington Post ran a national feature detailing the legend of the Goatman. Ultimately, the Goatman has become one of America's most persistent and well-known urban legends, with claimed sightings still occurring with regularity and cheesy fictionalizations still creepin' out the Old Line State.
Why it's creepy: The Salem Witch Trials were creepy enough to begin with go read The Crucible again if you don't believe it! Where it came from: Legend has it he uttered a curse against Salem right before his dying breath you could understand why he'd have some ill will. For generations, his apparition has allegedly appeared in the cemetery before something terrible is about to happen, including a fire that burned down a sizable proportion of the city.
There has also been a series of tragedies that have hit the Salem sheriff's office starting with the heart attack that killed George Corwin four years after he presided over the trials. He slaughtered them one by one, casting them into Cedar Creek before being caught by their parents and hanged, but not before saying he was possessed by demons. Where it came from: There is no record of an Elias Friske in the area, though there was a prominent Friske family beginning in the s.
An 8-foot, musty-smelling, barefoot man with a reputation for being unnaturally aggressive is a hell of a thing to consider encountering in the woods. Some reported sightings were just that: sightings. Zitzow returned from driving in the woods with dents all over his car hood and said the Hairy Man jumped onto the road and began pounding the hood. Where it came from: Nobody really knows. Sightings trace back to the '60s, had a significant increase in the '70s, and still happen from time to time.
Others say the Hairy Man is real and point to a mysterious skull discovered in the Vergas Trail area that is human-like, but not hominid. Where it came from: From Robert Johnson selling his soul to the Yazoo Witch , many ghost stories in Mississippi persist, but the Three-Legged Lady gets points for changing to suit what scares you. Some say that extra leg was removed from a dead lover and attached to her body.
Some believe she's the ghost of a mother who got lost searching for her dismembered daughter after all she could find was a severed leg. Some say she wants to race you across a nearby bridge. Why it's creepy: The dark, canopied trail running through Wildwood, Missouri, just outside St. Louis, has been a hotbed of creepy tales for ages, often revolving around shadowy human figures following and frightening those along the trail.
The origin stories of the trail's haunting varies widely, from the kind of plausible railway accidents, executed Civil War spies to the more sensational sadistic children's hospital. Several years ago the pathway was paved so it might be used as a bike path, but that hasn't done much to slow the legend. The police are doing their best, however. Why it's creepy: Usually, when you see a hitchhiker on a particularly desolate stretch of highway -- which Highway 87 certainly can be -- it gives you the willies.
Legend has it those who encounter the hitcher suddenly find his body bouncing off the front of their car. The hitcher , meanwhile, repeats the cycle endlessly, trapped in his own personal hell as he repeats his moment of death with whichever driver happens to be cruising down the road at the wrong time. Legends of wandering spirits of Native Americans are pretty prevalent in this part of the country, too, so chances are the hitcher lore and the native stuff just mated logically.
Why it's creepy: There's no shortage of "creepy road where creepy things happen" stories, but Nebraska's Seven Sisters Road is particularly unsettling, with the legend telling of a young man who, following a dispute with his family, led each of his sisters out to seven different hills and hung them from a different tree. Where it came from: The precise origins of the legend are unclear sometimes it's the father rather than the brother, depending on who's telling the story but it goes back long enough and is ingrained well enough in the local culture that it's taken into account when making highway construction plans.
But secret government cover ups, dead aliens, and playing God in the middle of the desolate Nevada desert is creepier than probing Randy Quaid. It's been said that everything from time travel, genetic experiments, and alien autopsies are commonplace at Area Frankly, no one outside of high government knows what goes on in there. Where it came from: First off, Area 51 is a real, highly classified military base in the southern portion of Nevada ; its purpose is publicly unknown. But in the early s, in the infant stages of the Cold War, President Eisenhower approved plans to build the U-2 stealth plane and created Area 51 to house the development labs and test field.
When reports of the -- admittedly, spacecraft-looking -- plane floated through the public and media, theories spread, and the conjecture around Roswell's "alien crash" site only fanned the flames of speculation. From there, it's been the epicenter for all US government suspicion. Why it's creepy: The charming archipelago of Isles of Shoals off New Hampshire's eastern shore is the perfect destination for a seaside picnic Two young women were horrifically butchered via the particularly creepy maniac-with-an-axe method in the late s, and apparently you can still hear them screaming, often late at night, which is just objectively unsettling.
This specific Island, Smuttynose, is said to be haunted by these ghosts, the axe murderer himself, pirates, and a gang of other poltergeists. And c'mon, have you ever seen an abandoned old lighthouse in the fog? Where it came from: The islands have a history longer than the country they are in. Blackbeard himself was rumored to use the islands as a honeymoon destination and gold depository in the early 18th century -- and naturally he killed some people there along the way. By the time Louis Wagner murdered the women living on Smuttynose, there were already ghost stories about the haunting chain of islands.
With history, pirates, and of course, axe murders, come creepy tales. And again, the abandoned lighthouses don't help. And the Watcher -- a legend that creeped its way to viral fame in -- is like a David Fincher movie breathed into horrifying life. If you don't know the details , in the summer of a young family moved into a million dollar house in Westfield, New Jersey.
Soon after, they started getting letters signed by someone only ID'ing themselves as "The Watcher" claiming it was his duty to "watch over" the house -- while also spouting crazy lines like "Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested? Where it came from: Is this a prank based off a weirdly accepted local legend? A media hoax? A way to drive down real-estate prices? It's impossible to know, but I feel very weird. And somebody is still sending letters to inhabitants of the house.
The debate and skepticism still burn in the creepiest corners of the internet , and while it's a fairly "new" legend, it's probably one of the scariest entries on this list, no matter what you believe. Why it's creepy: Simply put: It's a rabid beast that may or may not be the size of a bear but definitely has spikes on its back and glowing eyes.
It can fly if it wants, but it will definitely suck the blood out of your pets and family. And a TON of people think it's real. Which is almost scarier. Where it came from: Anyone who grew up in the Southwest knows about the legend of the Chupacabra -- down there, it's as big as Bigfoot, even if people can't agree on what it looks like exactly. The first "sighting" happened in in Puerto Rico, and "eyewitness" accounts of "the goatsucker" have been a steady trope across Central America, reaching a heat in Mexico and the Southwest over the past two decades.
New Mexico, in particular, has been the source of some notable Chupa-sightings. As recently as this summer, a treasure hunter claimed he found a genuine chupacabra skull in Las Vegas, NM. Why it's creepy: The Montauk Project -- a series of alleged! So, we're talking about psychological warfare, experimenting on children, opening portals to other dimensions, and various other nefarious, government-funded creepiness.
Hey, you've probably seen the show. Where it came from: While there were rumors circulating around shady government activity on the Southeastern tip of Long Island for nearly a decade prior, the legend wasn't fully baked until the early s, when Peter B. Nichols -- a parapsychologist and electrical engineer -- helped pen The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time , which detailed a slew of salacious "repressed memories" from his days working in Montauk, corroborated by other "colleagues.
The Montauk Project itself is said to be a piece of a larger psychological warfare conspiracy called The Philadelphia Experiment , which naturally, inspired its own film too. Where it came from: In a string of mysterious, gruesome deaths began to hit animals in and around Bladenboro, North Carolina -- broken jaws, crushed heads, and even reports of blood completely drained from bodies.
Eyewitness accounts varied, but seemed to point to something vaguely feline in nature, but also larger and more powerful. The story made the national news, and there were multiple hunting parties that attempted to catch the beast. They never did, but the killings eventually stopped. At least for now. Tagus, though, takes the cake due to the little fact that people believe that it once housed a Lutheran church that doubled as a hotbed for Satan worship.
Legend is, it burned down, but if you stand in just the right place, you can hear the screams of the damned bubbling up from hell itself. There are also reports of hellhounds , glowing gravestones, and a ghost train. Vandals and revelers have made the few people who call Tagus home very wary of visitors, and lord knows that the combination of a rumored portal to hell and extremely unwelcoming locals in a small town is boilerplate horror-movie fodder.
The city's last church burned to the ground in Why it's creepy: It sounds like something stale your granny might keep in her candy dish, but is actually a legend about pale, sickly, genetically altered children with giant heads and razor sharp teeth that simply love killing babies and also you, in some variances. So, yeah, much worse. Where it came from: Riffs on the tale also exist in Michigan and Connecticut, but the Ohioan case is particularly compelling. These Melonheads haunt the woods of Kirkland, and are apparently the adopted children of a unscrupulous doctor who used the pre-Melonheads to test new medical and surgical methods In some versions of the tale , the kids are more likely to scurry away like chipmunks than bite your face off.
In others, they are just ghosts of the kids. One thing is certain: They definitely inspired one very campy, hyper-local horror movie. Where it came from: The place was built in , and shortly thereafter original owner Fred Scheruble was shot to death, but not before allegedly impregnating a maid who perished on the 10th floor.
Like many slightly pervy ghosts, he likes to mess with randy teenagers making out in their cars, though more sinister legends have him eating dogs, wandering the wind-swept roadside, and even jumping in the back of pickups and sedans, filling the car with the scent of rotting flesh. His main haunt is Piney Fork Tunnel, an abandoned freight tunnel in Hillsville.
But if you seek him out, keep your foot on the accelerator: If he even manages to touch your car, it might stall out. Then you'll be hanging out with Charlie No-Face for the rest of your probably short life. Where it came from: Ray Robinson was a real man. As an adult , Robinson walked Western Pennsylvanian highways Route to be exact , but only at night, as his shocking visage garnered unwanted attention.
His "glowing" appearance is likely due to the petroleum jelly he needed to coat his damaged skin. Those who know him claim he was incredibly sweet, though profoundly isolated. It seemed that back in the day Rhode Island was in the midst of a vampire panic, and its most famous victim was year-old Mercy Brown. After her mother and sister died, Mercy succumbed to tuberculosis as well.
Due to the panic, villagers presumed something supernatural was afoot. When they exhumed Mercy, he body was remarkably well preserved He died two months later. They say the spirit of Mercy, though, still haunts the cemetery of Exeter, where her gravesite remains a place where morbid tourists flock and where a chill hangs perpetually in the air. Where it came from: Historical fact Return to Book Page. Jesse Editor ,. Sara Green. Daniel J. Bill Pace. Richmond's Horror legends return featuring the classic 'Church on Sundays' as well as all new and previously digitally unavailable tales of terror from Bill Pace, Daniel J.
Kirk and Sara Green. Journey into the world of Richmond, Virginia's oldest neighborhood. Discover the terrifying secrets of the occult world and the significance of the fault line in tales like Green's Richmond's Horror legends return featuring the classic 'Church on Sundays' as well as all new and previously digitally unavailable tales of terror from Bill Pace, Daniel J. Discover the terrifying secrets of the occult world and the significance of the fault line in tales like Green's disturbing 'Richmond Stains' and the even more vile horror of lust in 'Born Again. Kirk's spooky ghost story 'When the Floor Grows Cold'.
Turn the lights out and feel the chills. Get A Copy. Kindle Edition , 83 pages. More Details Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book.