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Top 20 MORE Urban Legends That Turned Out to Be True

Top 20 MORE Urban Legends That Turned Out to Be True
VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Jesse Barber
These urban legends are far from fictional. For this list, we'll be looking at the myths and legends that have a little more truth to them than we first realized. Our countdown of urban legends that turned out to be true includes The Dog Boy of Quitman, Halloween Hangman, Le Loyon, The Woman in Black, and more!

Top 20 MORE Urban Legends That Turned Out to Be True


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 MORE Urban Legends That Turned Out to Be True.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the myths and legends that have a little more truth to them than we first realized.

Are there any urban legends from your area that you know to be true? Let us know in the comments below!

#20: The Dog Boy of Quitman


The simplicity of this tale is what makes it so frightening. In the 50s and 60s, a couple who had struggled to conceive finally had a baby boy named Gerald Bettis. In his early childhood, there were several reports of his cruelty and stubbornness. But this goes far beyond behavioral issues. With time, he began abusing cats and dogs. As he fully matured, he used his size to intimidate and imprison his elderly parents in their own home. When his abuse caught the attention of authorities, he was placed in jail and passed away. As the legend tells, the spirit of Bettis lurks around the small Arkansas community. Witnesses have reported that this apparition resembles the victimized dogs from his youth.

#19: Stairway of Mayhem


In your childhood, you have likely been scared out of your mind at the prospect of being gobbled up by escalators. Children have shared terrifying stories of man-eating escalators to impress their peers. But the scary stories seem to be more of a cautionary tale than a purely made-up legend to scare kids. There have been several reports of injuries and fatalities from riding these metal staircases. Sometimes an article of clothing gets caught in the grate. Other times, people lose their balance and fall several feet. It’s no wonder that some folks hesitate to use these metal stairs. So next time you board an escalator, please proceed with caution.

#18: He’s in the Walls


After a long day, nothing can beat the sheer comfort of being at home. But what if you sensed that you weren’t really alone? The story of the man hiding with walls has been dramatized and shared as a spooky myth. But in the 80s, a man named Daniel LaPlante allegedly had a crush on a young woman. When she and her sister tried to have a seance, they heard eerie knocking around their house with bizarre messages. It appeared that LaPlante had been hiding in the house’s secret crawlspace, tormenting the object of his obsession. But that’s not the only case. A simple Google search will show several instances of people secretly living in others’ homes.

#17: Halloween Hangman


During this spine-chilling holiday, mind-blowing decorations are essential. Each display sets out to out-scare or out-gore the last. But what if a Halloween prop seemed too convincing to be fake? This legend generally follows a performer who attempts to shock the audience by pretending to hang himself. But he tragically takes his own life by accident. Real-life misfortunes have contributed to the spread of this legend. In 1990, a teen passed away attempting to do this same act. A similar instance occurred at a haunted house in 2001. Halloween is supposed to be a time for cheeky, spooky fun. But when that line between fiction and reality is blurred, the consequences can be horrifying.

#16: The Uncanny Doll


The Japanese doll named Okiku certainly gives Annabelle a run for her money. But the true story is just as tragic. In the early 20th century, a young boy gifted his little sister a doll. She and the doll were inseparable until she tragically passed away from illness. As a tradition of memorium, her family erected a shrine in her honor and placed her doll there as well. But over time, they claim that the doll’s hair had been growing. The family was convinced that the spirit of their child had possessed her favorite toy. They gave the doll to a local temple, where it currently resides. Her hair has reportedly reached past her knees despite the priests’ efforts to keep it trimmed.

#15: Aliens in New Mexico


Since its inception, this phenomenon seems to have gotten a little more validity. In the 1930s, rumors of a secret military base kept conspiracy theorists preoccupied. To them, there was a multi-level building buried underground that contained experiments on extraterrestrials. There have been revelations in Congress where individuals allege an actual alien conspiracy, but no hard evidence was offered. However, in the 80s, there were reports of everyone’s favorite alien E.T. found buried in New Mexico… technically speaking. After an effort to create a video game based on the film disappointed fans, Atari allegedly dumped unsold copies in a landfill. This is far from the fabled government complex. But in this case, the truth is sillier than fiction.

#14: Forbidden Garments


In horror movies, we’ve seen villains use human remains to make a bevy of household items. Lampshades, coats, tools, and several other items were repurposed in a dark fashion. This legend has more real-world truth than one would think. In the late 19th century, a frontier outlaw named “Big Nose George” was caught and executed. His remains were sent to a tannery, where his skin was turned into a pair of shoes. Who would conceive of such a thing? Well, a Wyoming doctor by the name of John Osborne was the recipient of these heinous shoes. If this story wasn’t bizarre enough, he went on to become the first Democratic Governor of Wyoming. The shoes are currently on display in a Wyoming museum.


#13: The Mysterious Stain


The picturesque town of Bucksport, Maine has an intriguing tourist attraction. The tomb of the town’s founder, Jonathan Buck, lies in the cemetery with a creepy characteristic. There’s a stain shaped like the leg of a woman that will not go away. No matter how many times his descendants have the stain removed, it reappears. The legend tells of a witch who was burned at the stake and cursed Buck shortly before she died. It sounds more like an inconvenience than a curse, but it’s still bothersome hundreds of years later. Details of the story differ, but historians claim that no executions were carried out during the witch trials. But if you’re ever in Maine and feeling confident, feel free to check it out.

#12: Underground Cities


For the past several decades, rumors of secret subterranean towns have been a hot topic for conspiracy theorists. Locations like the Denver Airport have been suspected of housing covert meetings of the New World Order. But in reality, these structures are more likely than you’d think. In Beijing, China, there exists a bomb shelter that’s said to be capable of accommodating millions of people for several months. This project has schools, water wells, and even a roller skating rink. When it was opened for tourism, visitors described the tunnels as genuinely eerie. There’s also a network of underground tunnels in Turkey that runs roughly 60 meters deep. No apocalyptic meetings are held in these structures, but it’s a fascinating topic nevertheless.


#11: What’s That Smell?


When we check into a hotel room, we like to think there will be some respite from our travels. The amenities are wonderful and, if you’re lucky, the toiletries are fully stocked. But what if there’s a lingering scent of a rotting corpse? The legend about bodies hidden in hotel rooms has developed from real-life incidents. In 2003, a man checked into a hotel room and complained to management about an awful odor. After a few days and likely several showers, the man couldn’t bear the stench and checked out. When the cleaning crew did their rounds, they discovered a body stuffed into the room’s mattress. There have been other similar cases that highlight the transient nature of hotels and the people who frequent them.


#10: Playing Cards


Fans of Creepypasta are well aware of “The Alice Killings.” For the uninitiated, they were a series of crimes in Japan. The culprit would leave a playing card next to the victims’ bodies with the name ”Alice” written in blood. But this real-life crime bears an eerie resemblance to the online horror story. In 2003, Alfredo Galán Sotillo terrorized the streets of Madrid, Spain. He would leave playing cards next to the bodies of his victims. The media appropriately dubbed him “The Playing Card Killer.” It’s alleged that seeing his nickname in the newspapers encouraged him to continue his horrific rampage. He eventually turned himself in and claimed that the playing cards were more of an afterthought after seeing the detail depicted in the news.


#9: Familiar Cadavers


Some folks elect to have their bodies donated to science in the event of their passing. But what happens in the name of science is rarely confirmed to them. In some rare cases, it has been alleged that some medical students have dissected former acquaintances. There was an incident in 1982 at the University of Alabama where a student recognized one of the cadavers. In fact, she recognized it as the body of her great aunt. She promptly received a replacement. The history of medical education regarding cadavers was initially plagued with ethical dilemmas. In the 18th and 19th centuries, some had to resort to grave-robbing to secure specimens to dissect.

#8: Le Loyon


Also known as the Ghost of Maules, this legendary figure was described as a humanoid that lurked on the outskirts of a Swiss village. The description of this entity sounds like it was ripped straight out of Scooby-Doo. Dressed in a cloak, gas mask, and coveralls, it eluded confirmation for decades. But in 2013, a newspaper published an alleged photo of Le Loyon. The image went viral and the Ghost of Maules was not happy about it. A note was found in the forest that was ominously titled “Death Certificate and Testament of the Ghost of Maules.” The letter detailed annoyance with the unwanted attention. Sightings of the Le Loyon have stopped since then and, if it’s a real person, we hope they’re okay.


#7: The North Pond Hermit


In these modern times, we’re inundated with social media, emails, and a million different things competing for our attention. It may feel like we just want to run for the hills in hopes of escaping. In the area surrounding the Belgrade Lakes of Maine, folks would share campfire stories about an enigmatic person who would burglarize lodges for supplies. Although he was never violent, his mystery filled the imaginations of campers. In 2013, Christopher Thomas Knight was arrested following 27 years of living alone in the forest. He subsisted on foraged supplies and whatever he could get his hands on after breaking into cabins. When asked about his solitude, he said he simply wanted freedom. After a brief jail sentence, he’s living a quiet life.


#6: Polybius


This legend perfectly captures the distrust that surrounded technology during the 80s. Around this time, an arcade game appeared in several regions surrounding Portland, Oregon. It was a massive hit. Folks quickly developed an addiction and disputed over who would go next. There would be further rumors of men in black. They would allegedly collect data from this game to study how it affected the players’ minds. Unsurprisingly, these games vanished after a month. The first record of this game didn’t appear until decades later, and it’s unlikely it ever existed. However, there were claims of FBI raids in Portland during the same time period. But they weren’t trying to brainwash teens. They were investigating arcade owners for illegal gambling.

#5: The Red Room


The truth behind this contemporary folklore is much more grim than one would expect. The Red Room was an Adobe Flash horror animation that existed on the hosting service Geocities. It tells the story of a young boy who was cursed by a pop-up on his computer. The curse proceeds to do what curses do and the boy meets his end. However, in 2004, this animation gained infamy. A schoolgirl brutally attacked her classmate. She allegedly had the cursed website bookmarked on her computer at the time of the murder. Perhaps the most chilling part of this case is that, regardless of what you believe of curses, The Red Room was involved. Here, the line between fact and legend is dismally blurred.


#4: Hotel Hell


In the coastal county of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, there lies a decrepit building that used to be called The Maribel Caves Hotel. In its heyday, it was a travel destination for a high-luxury clientele. But there was a sinister side to this premium travel destination. The building was allegedly taken over by organized crime when the business went under. As legend has it, the ghosts and spirits still haunt the grounds. Some have even claimed that the building used to stand over a portal to hell. The building was partially destroyed thanks to a tornado in 2013. Let’s hope that didn’t awaken any ancient demonic spirits.


#3: The House Under the Lake


There’s something ominous about a large body of water. We never know what may be lurking in that dark abyss. This small Connecticut community has reported strange goings on around one lake in particular. In the late 19th century, a family enjoyed life in their house that overlooked Gardner Lake. Over time, they would be happier with the view from the other side of the lake. That’s when a mostly brilliant plan was hatched. In the middle of winter, they contracted someone to move the house across the ice once the lake had frozen over. The house fell through and sunk into the lake’s icy depths. We guess we’ll never know if the grass is greener on the other side of that frozen pond.


#2: The Woman in Black


In this Appalachian legend, a mysterious woman would appear to men who had done misdeeds such as adultery. The phantom would use several different tactics to set these men straight, or else they’d suffer dire consequences. But in more recent years, a woman cloaked in black garments caught national attention. Reports of this mystifying woman dominated social media and people would try and predict where they’d find her next. She was eventually identified as a military veteran who had recently shaved her head. According to her brother, she suddenly started traveling south to her hometown. When asked, she says she wishes for people to mind their business. Maybe we should take her advice.


#1: Don’t Eat the Candy


Arguably, the best part of Halloween is stopping by your neighbors’ houses to collect delicious treats. Surely nobody would dare to tamper with that sacred tradition. Right? There’s been massive moral panic over the rumors of drugged Halloween candy over the past several decades. Parents are rightfully weary of allowing their children to accept sweets from strangers. Their fears aren’t totally unfounded. In 1959, a dentist in California allegedly gave out candy laced with laxatives to several trick-or-treaters. The next decade, a woman reportedly gave children arsenic traps and steel wool. Although none of these instances resulted in fatalities, they still serve as a strong reminder to proceed with caution with strangers, especially during All Hallows' Eve.
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