6 Horrifying Urban Legends That Actually Came True
The world is a scary place. We tell ourselves that the chilling tales we hear online and around the campfire can't be true, because we like being able to leave the house without collapsing into a broken ball of anxiety. But it's time once again to pop that little bubble of self-deception.
As we've demonstrated a frankly insane ten times before, you shouldn't take urban legends lightly, because these grisly tales can and will happen to you. Here is yet more proof that you're right to fear everything.
Note: The final entry is horrific and should not be read by anyone.
The Brain-Invading Cockroach
Bugs are disgusting enough when we're awake, but the things they can do to us when we're asleep and defenseless is a whole different kind of disturbing. Thankfully, the widely spread "fact" that we're all regularly swallowing spiders in our sleep isn't true. But bugs can squirm their way into other places. Like your brain.
An Indian woman named Selvi ended up with an insect in her head, but it wasn't from anything she ate or did. A cockroach straight up declared, "Your head looks cozy, so I'm moving in!" Selvi awoke to a "tingling, crawling sensation" in her nose and assumed she was getting a cold, but then she started to feel like her eyes were burning. After visits to four different doctors, it was determined that a fully grown roach had taken up residence in the base of her skull, near her brain and between her eyes (that's the prime beachfront real estate of the cockroach world).
The cockroach had no intention of leaving, possibly because it was hoping to pilot Selvi like a Megazord. Doctors were able to get it out with a 45-minute operation which combined suction devices and forceps, ending its 12-hour stay in the poor woman's goddamn skull. Both the cockroach and the woman were fine, but had it stayed in there much longer, it would have died and probably caused an infection that could have spread to her brain.
And no, you can't dismiss this as bullshit foreign news. Not only does The Washington Post mention a 1994 case wherein a cockroach burrowed into an American grad student's ear, but they also have a video of the roach being removed from Selvi, which we recommend never, ever watching. So that's something that could happen to you anytime you go to sleep for the rest of your life.
Warning: Not safe for ... fucking anywhere, really.
The Tinder Stalker
New tech inevitably leads to new legends, and plenty already involve the kinda-creepy-to-begin-with dating app Tinder. As the story usually goes, a woman finds a murderous stalker lurking in her house, and it turns out to be some weirdo she previously swiped left on so hard she had to ice her thumb afterwards. Get ready to delete your profile.
Australian doctor Angela Jay met Paul Lambert through Tinder, but ended their six-week relationship upon discovering that he was a possessive dick. In response, Lambert set about working hard to prove her point. He bombarded her with calls and texts, shadowed her on social media, and threatened to harm himself. When that charm bomb didn't work, he decided to escalate things.
One day, Angela returned home from work, entered her bedroom, and saw her lingerie and some cable ties laid out on her bed, which is not a pleasant surprise to come home to when you live alone. Then Lambert burst out of her closet and began stabbing her legs and hips. Angela tried to scream, but Lambert covered her mouth, locked eyes with her, and uttered words that are rarely soothing even when you're not wielding a knife: "It's okay, I just want to talk."
With Angela more in the mood to flee in terror than chat, Lambert moved on to Plan B and doused her in gasoline. In what was the absolute best possible outcome in that scenario, the gas allowed Angela to slip from Lambert's grasp and run to the safety of a neighbor's house. Lambert fled, but was shot dead by police two hours later when he burst from his car with the knife he was apparently really attached to. Angela survived with 11 stab wounds, which we're pretty sure qualifies as a goddamned miracle.
The Killer Clown (With An Even Weirder Twist)
Unless you wisely swore off the internet around three years ago, you've probably heard about the spate of "killer clowns" being spotted around the world. Most of these sightings are nothing but pranks, but is clown murder a real thing? And don't say John Wayne Gacy -- he didn't kill while dressed as a clown, as far as we know. Even he thought that was too creepy.
Well, this series isn't called "Creepy Urban Legends Staged by Guys Hoping to Impress Reddit," so the answer is yes. In the spring of 1990, Floridian Marlene Warren answered her door and found herself face-to-face with a clown sporting the classic orange wig, red nose, painted-on smile, and lingering air of menace. She was holding a bouquet of flowers and two balloons, one of which read "You're the Greatest!" Then, in flagrant disregard for the balloon's message, she pulled out a gun and shot Warren in the face.
Warren's teenage son saw the whole thing, and watched helplessly as the killer strolled away, got into their Chrysler LeBaron, and drove off. The mysterious clown would then avoid justice for 27 years, because sometimes real-life bears a disturbing resemblance to It.
Improvements to DNA technology allowed police to arrest Sheila Keen, who had been having an affair with Warren's husband, Michael. In fact, 12 years after the murder, Michael married Sheila.
So if your relationship with a stepparent is on the rocks, at least you can take a moment to appreciate that they never murdered your real mother in front of you while dressed like Ronald fucking McDonald.
The Trick-Or-Treat Murder
Halloween is weird. Usually you'd call the cops if folks dressed as monsters, murderers, and mutant turtles kept marching up to your door to demand candy, but for one night a year, it's considered wholesome fun. Well, at least right up until someone shows up in a creepy costume and aspirations of being a real-life Michael Myers. Sure, the vast majority of costumed people you meet don't want to murder you, but you can never be sure, right?
On October 31, 1957, Goldyne Pizer put on gloves, makeup, and a Halloween mask, then walked up to Peter Fabiano's door with her candy bag. It was late, around 11:30, but Fabiano answered the door. Maybe he was hoping to avoid an egging. Instead, Pizer raised her bag, which contained a gun, and shot him dead.
Now here's where it gets strange. Aside from scouting out her target at one of the hair salons he ran, Pizer had never met Fabiano before killing him. So why did she pull the trigger? Well, Fabiano's wife Betty had developed a close relationship with a woman named Joan Rabel. It was so close that it threatened their marriage, so Betty eventually broke it off and returned to Peter. An angry Joan convinced her friend Goldyne to off her rival by convincing her that Peter was a "vile, evil man," and it seems Goldyne was willing to take her word for that.
Papers at the time described Joan and Betty's relationship as "abnormal," and Joan's control over Goldyne as "Svengali-like." Most have taken that as old-timey code for "they were in a lesbian relationship," but we'll probably never know the precise parameters of this deadly love rectangle. We'd sure watch a Netflix true crime series about it, though.
The Avenging Alligator
People loves stories about dumb criminals getting their just desserts. People also love stories about other people getting devoured by animals, because people are terrible. Combine the two and you've got an instant "Only in Florida" saga. A burglar tries to ditch the police by hiding in a swamp, but he isn't alone. There's something else lurking in those dark waters, and it's hungry.
In late 2015, enterprising young Floridian Matthew Riggins and a buddy set off on a trailer park burglary spree. Unfortunately, their criminal scheme unraveled when residents immediately noticed them skulking around. The cops were called and the friend was nabbed, but Riggins decided to try his luck by hiding in nearby Barefoot Bay Lake. Then the screaming started.
Barefoot Bay Lake, despite the pleasant name, is the absolute last place you want to go wading. It's full of alligators, and one of them decided that Riggins looked like dinner. The police couldn't find Riggins during their initial search, but ten days later, his drowned body was recovered. Well, most of it -- he was missing a few chunks, which were later discovered in the stomach of an aggressive alligator. Pro tip for aspiring criminals: Avoid areas where alligators are in charge of the neighborhood watch.
The Baby Thief
Pregnancy fears are a common subject of urban legends, because pregnancy can be terrifying. One of the more enduring tales of horror involves a baby-crazy lady attempting to steal another woman's unborn child right out of the womb. The French even made a (completely insane) movie about it. But come on, that's too nuts to happen in reality ... right?
This is the story we warned you about. Last chance to turn back.
Michelle Wilkins didn't notice anything particularly off about Dynel Lane when they met via Craigslist. The two pregnant ladies talked pregnant lady things for a while, then headed down to Lane's basement so Wilkins could look over the spare maternity clothes Lane was giving away. There was only one problem with this friendly scene: Lane wasn't pregnant, just obsessed with the idea. She'd been pretending for over a year, having fashioned a fake stomach, attended a baby shower, and even picked out a name. Lane's boyfriend and family presumably all slept through the "babies come out after nine months" part of health class, but the jig would have to be up soon. Lane needed a baby to continue the ruse and, one way or another, she was going to get one.
Eventually Wilkins kept trying to leave, but Lane would keep the conversation going, and even closed the door when Wilkins opened it. When Wilkins insisted, Lane hit her repeatedly before pushing her onto a bed, where she tried to choke Wilkins and then smashed a bottle over her head. At this point, this still wasn't the worst Craigslist meetup ever, so Wilkins made a desperate attempt to salvage things by saying "I don't know why you're doing this, but I love you."
"If you love me, you'll let me do this," replied Lane, before stabbing Wilkins in the neck with a jagged shard of the bottle and officially moving the scenario into horror movie territory. Lane then choked Wilkins unconscious. When Wilkins woke up, she was in terrible pain and could feel that her intestines, which generally should be inside of her body, were not. She managed to call 911 and was rushed to the hospital ... where Lane had recently showed up begging people to save "her" baby.
The seven-month-old fetus never stood a chance, but Wilkins somehow survived her wounds. Sorry, on this list, that's as close to a happy ending as you're going to get.
In addition to instilling fun new phobias ever year here at Cracked, Nathan has written for Uproxx, IGN, and tons of other places. Keep up with his latest at his website, WCCF Tech, or by following him on Twitter.
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What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror, the third book in David Wong's John Dies at the End series, is available now!