Script Written by Michael Wynands
Top 20 Creepiest Coincidences in History
Well… what’re the odds of THAT? Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 Creepiest Coincidences in History
For this list, we’ll be looking at various chance encounters, overlapping events or strange connections from throughout history that will send chills down your spine.
#20: Karma Kills
Many relationships end on a sour note, but they rarely result in the deaths of three people. Legend has it that in the late 19th century, Henry Ziegland broke up with his girlfriend, who killed herself as a result. Her brother hunted Ziegland down and shot him, committing suicide immediately after. Ziegland was not killed by the shot, however: the bullet barely missed him and came to rest in a nearby tree. Years later, Ziegland attempted to blow up the tree, only to have the blast propel the bullet into his head, killing him.
#19: The Erdington Murders
On May 27th, 1817, the body of a 20-year old local woman named Mary Ashford was found with signs of trauma in the suburb of Erdington in Birmingham, England. The man she’d been out with the previous evening, Abraham Thornton, was deemed the prime suspect. Due to a lack of evidence and a strong alibi, he was ultimately found not guilty, leaving the crime unsolved. Flash forward 157 years to 1974, and Erdington was struck by a nearly identical crime. Another 20 year old woman was found dead after having gone missing, like Mary Ashford, on the Christian holiday Whit Monday. The last person to see her? A man with the same last name, Michael Ian Thornton. He too was found not guilty.
#18: The Cases of Catherine Eddowes & Mary Kelly
On the evening of September 29th in 1888 London, a woman by the name of Catherine Eddows was taken into custody for being drunk in the streets. The police, however, didn’t learn her real identity until after the fact, as she gave them a fake one during her stay in the drunk tank - that of Mary Kelly. If either of those names ring a bell, it’s because they both went on to meet the same grisly fate at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Eddows was killed shortly after being released from custody. She was his second to last victim and one of only two to have her face mutilated. The other was none other than the real Mary Kelly, the Ripper’s last known victim.
#17: The Jim Twins
Let’s discuss a coincidence that, while nonetheless odd, does have a notably happier ending! Twins James “Jim” Lewis and James “Jim” Springer were separated shortly after birth and adopted by different families. They grew up without any contact with one another. When they finally did meet at the age of 39, the similarities between their lives proved downright uncanny. As children, they both had dogs named “Toy” and excelled in math and woodworking. As adults, they both were married twice, first to women named Linda, then to women named Betty. When they had sons, they both named them James Alan. They were both smokers, drove Chevies, and even chose to vacation at the same Florida beach!
#16: The King’s Double
For protection, many kings use body doubles. Apparently, King Umberto I of Italy came upon his own double by accident. While eating dinner at a small restaurant, Umberto noticed that the restaurant owner was nearly identical in looks to himself. But they soon discovered more similarities: they were both born in the same town on the same day in the same year, they both married a woman named Margherita, and the owner had opened his restaurant on the same day as Umberto was crowned King. Wait, it gets weirder: the day after the pair met, on July 29th, 1900, the owner was killed in an accidental shooting – the same day that Umberto was assassinated.
#15: James Dean's Car
Actor and icon James Dean died tragically at the tender age of 24. In addition to acting, Dean was passionate about cars to the point that he was contemplating venturing into professional racing. Unfortunately, on September 30th, 1955, his dreams were brought to a screeching halt when he got into a fatal accident on his way to a race in his brand new Porsche 550 Spyder. As is often the case with celebrity cars, the Spyder and its parts have since changed hands multiple times over, but they seem to bring bad luck to everyone they touch. The car’s engine has been involved in a number of subsequent accidents (one fatal), and the drivetrain another. A building where the car was stored caught fire.
#14: Two Finnish Brothers
They say that twins have an incredibly strong bond and often know what the other is thinking, feeling or doing. These two Finnish brothers took that bond to a whole other level in 2002, when both died on the same road in separate accidents within hours of each other. The first brother died when he was hit by a truck while riding his bike. The second brother died two hours later under the exact same circumstances, about 1.5 kilometres from the spot where his brother had been killed earlier.
#13: The Mysterious Monk
Frustrated with life and depressed, painter Joseph Aigner (EYE-g-nur) attempted to commit suicide on multiple occasions – once when he was 18, and once when he was 22. But, according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, he was stopped both times by the same Capuchin monk. When he was 30, Aigner was sentenced to death for his political activities, but was again saved by the monk, who intervened on his behalf. Eventually, Aigner was successful, and killed himself with a pistol when he was 68-years-old. The funeral ceremony was conducted by – you guessed it – the exact same Capuchin monk, whose name Aigner had never even learned.
#12: Falling Baby
Raining cats and dogs is one thing. But babies?! One day in 1937, Detroit street sweeper Joseph Figlock was hit on the head by a baby who’d tumbled from a fourth floor window. Fortunately, Figlock broke the baby’s fall; while both were injured, the baby lived. A year later, Figlock was going about his business, sweeping in an alleyway, when ANOTHER child, this time a two-year old, fell from the sky. Right onto Figlock! Once again, Figlock unwittingly saved the day. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Twice!
#11: A Painting That Predicted Hitler’s Evil
Before getting involved in politics and becoming one of the greatest monsters in human history, Hitler had aspirations as a painter. Even after abandoning these, however, he remained passionate about the arts, and this painting is said to have been one of his favorites. Painted by Franz von Stuck (frans von shtooook), an artist Hitler long admired, “The Wild Chase” is a gloomy and foreboding work that von Stuck just so happened to complete in 1889 - the year of Hitler’s birth. The painting depicts Wotan (VOH-tawn), a Germanic god, leading the mythic “wild hunt” followed by an army of the dead. Wotan bears a striking resemblance to Hitler and many retrospectively see this painting as having predicted his rise to power and bloody legacy.
#10: The Cannibalized Boy
One of the greatest authors of the 19th century, Edgar Allan Poe, wrote a book titled “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.” The book depicted four shipwreck survivors who eventually killed and ate a boy named Richard Parker. Several years after the publication of Poe’s story, a yacht called the Mignonette sank and left four survivors stranded at sea. The three older survivors eventually killed and ate the cabin boy – whose name was Richard Parker.
#9: Thomas Jefferson & John Adams
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were two of the most important players in the founding of the United States. Both played a large role in the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence, which was eventually approved on July 4th, 1776. Although their relationship deteriorated over the years, they eventually reconciled, and oddly, died on the exact same day. That day? July 4th, 1826, exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration.
#8: Aztec Prediction of Cortez
In the early 16th century, the Aztec Empire was at the peak of its prosperity under Motecuzoma (moan-tay-coo-SOH-mah the second) II. In 1519 however, an ancient and deadly prophecy seemingly came true, bringing unimaginable destruction to this awe-inspiring civilization. According to local legend, Quetzalcoatl (kets-ah-coh-AT-le), described as being bearded and of white skin, would one day return from his travels to once again stake his claim over the Aztec people. The predicted date on the Mayan calendar just so happened to coincide with the year when the Spanish conquistadors arrived, led by the bearded and white-skinned Hernán Cortés.
#7: 27 Club
The 27 Club refers to a group of famous people – mainly musicians – who have died at the age of 27. It started in the late 1960s when Rolling Stone Brian Jones, Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix all died at this age. Two and a half decades later, Kurt Cobain committed suicide at 27, and recently, Amy Winehouse overdosed and died at the age of 27. Winehouse actually stated years earlier that she was worried about dying at 27. All in all, the club has claimed over 60 artists, musicians and actors since the start of the 20th century.
#6: Mark Twain & Halley’s Comet
Mark Twain was born on November 30th, 1835 – just two weeks after Halley’s Comet was visible on Earth. Twain, who was the author of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” seemed to strongly associate with this celestial event. In fact, he famously declared: “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.” He died on April 21st, 1910 – one day after the comet had returned.
#5: Violet Jessop [AKA "Miss Unsinkable”]
This Irish Argentine stewardess had a knack for being at the WRONG place at the WRONG time . . . but somehow emerging unscathed. Violet Jessop was working aboard the RMS Olympic when it collided with British warship HMS Hawke in 1911. The Olympic had to limp back to port. However, that was just a taste of things to come. Jessop was also aboard the Titanic when it sank in 1912. And the HMHS Britannic, which sank in 1916 due to a sudden explosion, later revealed to have been a mine. This earned Jessop the nickname “Miss Unsinkable”. We’re thinking that with her luck, she was either the best person to stay close to aboard a ship . . . or maybe a reason to change ships entirely.
#4: A License Plate That Predicted WWI
As most historians agree, the first world war - which would go on to last four years and claim the lives of millions - all began with the death of one man. On June 28th, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed by Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalists. War soon followed, drawing in an ever-widening network of allies into what became a global conflict. No one had any clue when or how it would end, with one possible exception - a license plate. When looking for answers, it typically pays to go back to where it all started. Sure enough, the very car in which Franz Ferdinand was murdered contained a prediction. His license plate was “A II II 18” which many retroactively read as “Armistice - 11th November, 1918”.
#3: Tamerlane's Tomb
In June of 1941, Russian anthropologists, led by Mikhail Gerasimov (gay-RAH-SEE-mawff), conducted a dig at the site at the Gur-e-Amir (GOO-reh-ah-MEER). This mausoleum was the final resting place of Tamerlane, a Turko-Mongol conqueror who founded the Timurid (tih-MUR-id) Empire, and was thought to be responsible for the death of up to 17 million people as a result of his deadly campaigns. Depending on who you ask however, he may have upped the body count post-mortem. Inside his casket, the anthropologists reportedly found the inscription “Whomsoever opens my tomb will unleash an invader more terrible than I." They went ahead and opened the tomb anyway, and three days later, Operation Barbarossa began. This Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union was the largest in human history.
#2: The Titan & the Titanic
In 1898, Morgan Robertson published a novella entitled “Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan.” The plot revolved around the HMS Titan, a British luxury liner that hit an iceberg and sank while crossing the northern Atlantic. Of course, in 1912, the Titanic sank in a similar fashion, and that’s where things get bizarre. Both ships were considered unsinkable, both hit an iceberg in the month of April approximately 400 miles from Newfoundland, both were approximately 800 feet long, and both resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 people. The lack of lifejackets and lifeboats was also a serious problem for both ships – tragically so for the real life Titanic.
#1: JFK & Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln and JFK were elected to congress 100 years apart in 1846 and 1946 respectively. They then both became president 14 years later in 1860/1960. Both were killed by fatal gunshot wounds to the head, and succeeded by men named Johnson who, wouldn’t you know it… just so happened to be born 100 years apart. Add to that some other coincidences like them dying on Friday, their family names containing seven letters, and the fact that they were both famous for their civil rights efforts, and you’ve got two presidents cut from an eerily similar cloth.