It’s a warm summer night in 1950. Maybe Earth Angel is playing on the radio. Maybe a teenage boy has borrowed his father’s Studebaker to impress his girl. Maybe he’s brought her to Lovers’ Lane, a quiet patch of field at the end of a winding gravel drive. It’s dark and secluded, but that’s what he’s looking for.
As they settle in for an evening of romance, their musical interlude is interrupted by an urgent news bulletin. A mad man has escaped from the local asylum, a criminal deviant bent on murder and mayhem. Police are actively seeking a suspect. He’s got a hook for a hand. The asylum lies just a half mile from their parking spot.
The Good Ending
The girl grows concerned over sounds emanating from outside the car. Metal on metal. Scratching. Obviously, the romantic allure of the backseat and the crooning of the love song have worn off. She’s so scared that she demands they leave immediately. The fine hairs on the back of her neck are at attention, bristled, suddenly very aware of another presence lingering just beyond the car door. She’s petrified. Her male companion is less than amused, having had his romantic evening thwarted, but he agrees to take her home. He throws the car into gear and they speed down the drive toward home.
They pull up in front of her house a short time later and, in the interest of chivalry and the hope that he might get another chance later on down the line, he jogs around the car to her door to open it. As he reaches for the handle, he sees it: a bloody metal hook hanging there, glinting in the moonlight.
The Bad Ending
The boyfriend, irritated by his girlfriends irrational fear, says he’ll take her home after he goes to relieve himself. He leaves her into the car and disappears into the darkness. After a time, the girlfriend begins to hear scraping sounds on the roof of the car. She gets out of the car to see what the noise might be and comes face to face with her boyfriends butchered body. He’s hanging upside down from a tree, his fingers scraping against the roof of the car.
This legend is an oldie, but definitely a good-ie!
It seems as if this legend was designed to frighten, hoping that fear would fix the problem of the insatiable teenage libido, but you could also read into the story a little more. If you channel your inner Freud, you could find all sorts of sexual overtones and imagery. The teenage boy who wants to “get his hooks” into the girl. The tearing off of the hook could symbolize castration. The radio broadcast acting as a sort of voice of reason or conscience, jarring the teens out of their romantic mood.
The Hook Man is a popular urban legend. I’ve heard it more than once while settled around a glowing camp fire in the woods. For me, it was a tale meant to frighten and titillate. A story to make us believe that, at any moment, a hook-handed crazy man would burst through the tree line and flay us all, as the popular fantasy/slasher film Candyman put so aptly, “from [our] groin[s] to [our] gullet[s].”
Here’s My Advice…
Interestingly enough, the first appearance of The Hook Man legend in print was in a Dear Abby column on Nov. 8, 1960.
DEAR ABBY: If you are interested in teenagers, you will print this story. I don’t know whether it’s true or not, but it doesn’t matter because it served its purpose for me:
A fellow and his date pulled into their favorite “lovers’ lane” to listen to the radio and do a little necking. The music was interrupted by an announcer who said there was an escaped convict in the area who had served time for rape and robbery. He was described as having a hook instead of a right hand. The couple became frightened and drove away. When the boy took his girl home, he went around to open the car door for her. Then he saw — a hook on the door handle! I don’t think I will ever park to make out as long as I live. I hope this does the same for other kids.
It is interesting that the only consistent part of The Hook Man legend, throughout all incarnations of the tale, is that the maniac wears the prosthetic on his right hand. Never his left.
According to Elissa Michelle Zacher, a writer from The Epoch Times, who penned an article entitled, “Urban Legends: Modern Morality Tales” (2010), in order for The Hook Man story to be classified as an urban legend, it must meet the following criteria.
1. The story must contain outrageous content in an everyday setting: The Hook Man escaping from the insane asylum. What sort of prison or asylum allows a criminal to keep his hook prosthetic while incarcerated?
2. The origin of the story is anonymous: The story has been around for so long, nobody really knows where or how it originated.
3. There are multiple incarnations of the story: The Hook Man is sometimes hiding in the back seat of a car. In some incarnations, the boyfriend gets out of the car to urinate and the girlfriend stays inside the car. She then later hears scraping on the roof of the car. Her boyfriend is hanging from a tree branch above the car, his boots scraping on the roof. Sometimes, the woman is at the gas station and goes to get back in her car when her hamstrings are sliced through. She falls to the ground and the hook man pulls her under the car, brutally maiming her with his hook. In yet another story, the couple run out of gas on a deserted highway. The girlfriend stays in the car while her boyfriend goes in search of a fueling station. She falls asleep and is awoken by a state trooper who tells her to get out of the car and not look back. She does and sees her boyfriends mutilated corpse hanging from a tree.
4. No matter who tells the story, it begins with “it happened to a friend of a friend of mine.”: There is no real credibility and no person to hold accountable for factual information.
5. There are some aspects of the story that are plausible and have a ring of truth: Young lovers let their libidos get the better of them and let their guard down. Something bad happens. A couple run out of gas. An escaped mental patient. A deserted location. Car trouble. Murder.
6. The story serves a purpose, either as a cautionary tale or otherwise: A cautionary tale about the dangers of premarital sex. A warning about spending time in abandoned places. No one can hear you scream.
The legend of The Hook Man was carefully curated by parents and caregivers to deter hormonal teens from unsavory activities on lovers’ lanes throughout North America. Often, it’s easier for parents to offer a narrative in place of logical explanation to get a point across, though many people under the age of 30 might think it’s a child of Hollywood. Movies like I Know What You Did Last Summer have plucked the Hook Man figure straight from urban legend, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to fear.
Urban Legends Brought to Life
In the 1930’s, a man described as wearing shabby clothes and around 40 attacked two couples in secluded locations, similar to locations that might be used for popular make out spots, on two separate occasions. In one instance, a man was killed outright and a woman was sexually assaulted. He released the woman close to a bus stop with a letter to be sent to the press. The letter made little sense, but stated that the man had been killed because he possessed secret government documents and that the killer was an international secret agent. The killer was never caught. Seven years later, there was another double murder, but in this instance both victims were found with red bulls eyes on their foreheads.
In 1946, the small town of Texarkana, Texas was terrorized by a ghoul called The Phantom Killer or the Texarkana Phantom. Over the course of 3 months, 8 people were murdered, all had parked at Lovers’ Lanes. The Phantom Killer’s spree began on February 22, his first victims Jimmy Hollis, 25, and Mary Jeanne Larey, 19. Hollis was ordered out of the car by gunpoint and told to pull down his pants. He was then struck in the head with a heavy object, cracking his skull. He attempted to rob the couple and struck Larey with the object as well, then telling her to run for her life. Larey, unable to navigate the undergrowth in her heels, was easy prey. The killer was able to catch her and assaulted her with the barrel of his gun. Both survived the attack and gave a description of the phantom, stating he was wearing a white hood with eye and mouth holes cut into it.
A month later, Richard Griffin, 29, and Polly Ann Moore, 17, were parked in a popular make out spot. A driver passing by thought the couple had fallen asleep in their car, but upon approaching realized the two had both been shot in the back of the head.
Next, Paul Martin, 16, and Betty Jo Booker, 15, were killed in a remote location. A couple in their 30’s were also murdered in their home, though some wonder if this murder was committed by the same person.
Reigniting the anxieties of Texarkana residents, The Town That Dreaded Sundown was released in 1976, claiming to tell the stories of the murders exactly as they happened. At the end of the film, we see a figure from the ankles down, feet clad in combat boots, standing in line at the movie theater. The Phantom Killer was never caught.
The Zodiac Killer also enjoyed haunting secluded locations like lovers’ lanes. The Zodiac murdered his first victims in Benicia, California in December, 1968. David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen had stopped to park at around 10 P.M. The couple were discovered less than an hour later, shot to death and lying on the ground beside their car.
In July, 1969, Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau, 22 and 19 respectively, parked at a secluded spot in Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo, California. Michael was shot in the head but survived his injuries. Darlene was not so lucky. Police originally thought that Darlene’s husband was to blame for the murder, Darlene and Michael were engaged in an affair, but he had an airtight alibi. The Zodiac has never been identified, aside from though speculation, but his motives were clear: he enjoyed killing, likening it to hunting wild game.
David Berkowitz, The Son of Sam, was also keen on finding his victims in flagrante delicto. In July, 1976, Berkowitz shot two women who were parked in a parking lot. In total, Berkowitz killed 6 people and injured 7 more.
Whether based on actual fact or a simple tale of abstinence, the tale of The Hook Man is a riveting urban legend. Over time, it has evolved and shifted to suit the time in which it is told and put down roots in our collective psyches. How many of us have heard this story, been frightened by it, and gone on to relay it to some other unsuspecting individual? How many of us have gathered with our peers around a blazing campfire, placed a flashlight under our chin, and let fear reign.
Episode 5 is now available for download! Find it at hauntheads.podbean.com or on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/haunt-heads-podcast/id1229525500?mt=2.
Mimi brings you the tale of Seven Bridges in South Milwaukee, WI, and Janine brings Bundy and the story of how his childhood home in Tacoma, WA, might just be haunted. This episode includes movie reviews, true crime, a rant about how ridiculously expensive cable is, a terrible impersonation of Buffalo Bill, and more of Mimi’s infectious laugh.
It’s all over the internet: Ted Bundy’s Childhood Home HAUNTED! No murders ever occurred in the home (that I’ve been able to confirm) and Bundy had long left home by the time he was arrested. What do we make of this story?
If you don’t know who Ted Bundy is, you should perhaps lift the edge of your rock every once in a while. He was only one of the most prolific serial killers EVER, but he wasn’t always such a famous individual. Bundy was born on Nov. 24, 1946 in Burlington, Vermont, and, by the time of his arrest in 1975, it is said that he murdered at least 36 people, though some believe that number could be 100 or more.
Bundy was a rapist, murderer, burglar, serial killer, and necrophile. When he was arrested in ’75 for failure to stop for a police officer, several items were found in his possession indicating that Bundy had a dark hobby. A crowbar, handcuffs, trash bags, an ice pick, a ski mask, and other items believed to be burglary tools were found in Bundy’s vehicle and he was taken into custody. Bundy was executed in Florida’s electric chair in 1989.
The Bundy family took possession of the home in 1955. It was a small blue house, built sometime around 1946 (the same year Bundy was born) and was roughly 1400 sq ft. Ted was 9 when the family moved in and, by the time he was sentenced to death, his family was no longer living there. It is said that Bundy’s room was either on the main level of the home or in the basement at the bottom of the stairs.
According to contractor Casey Clapton, he was hired in October of last year to remodel the house so it could be flipped, the home is indeed haunted by something otherworldly. Clapton’s 11 year old daughter, often charged with the task of recording the repair notes he dictates as he walks a new property, agrees with this assessment. She claims the house “makes her feel weird” and has refused to remain in the house alone. Clapton dismissed her claims until he spoke with a neighbor about the home and found out about the previous owners.
According to Clapton’s employees, tools often unplug themselves and the batteries on personal electronics drain without explanation or warning. Heavy furniture has also tipped over. A built in dresser was pulled out from its niche in the wall and toppled to the floor. The furniture required two workers to move it. “Help Me” was written on a basement window beneath a protective screen that had been placed over the glass. Although it’s not impossible to unscrew the screen, Clapton’s employees saw this as an unexplained phenomena. Clapton says although it’s “not impossible” to remove the screen, it would “make it difficult” for someone to do so. Although a security system is in place on the property, contractors who have locked up the house the night prior have returned in the morning to kitchen drawers and cabinets hanging open while the system remains engaged. The word “Leave” has also been found written in the drywall dust on the floor with no footprints surrounding it.
Although Clapton, his daughter, and his workers are all freaked out by the occurrences at the property, Clapton himself doesn’t see it as a problem. A self professed lover of true crime, Clapton thinks it’s neat to work on the property and, even if it is haunted, says he’ll continue the remodel.
Did Ted return to his childhood home after his death or is the home haunted by something or someone else? What are your thoughts? Leave us a comment below!
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He employed over 1,000 gunmen and half of the police in Chicago were on his payroll. Dozens of city officials were paid off and he controlled elections with threats and terror. That man was Alphonse “Al” Capone. He was perhaps the most powerful crime boss of his day and one of the most recognized men in American history. During prohibition, Capon basically owned the city of Chicago.
Capone was born in 1899, in Brooklyn, NY. He moved to Chicago in 1920 with his uncle, a mob boss named Big Jim Collisimo and worked for him until he and a fellow mobster had Collisimo killed. By the time Capone was 26, he controlled a crime organization worth over $30 million and had a payroll of over $300,000.
Eventually arrested for tax evasion in 1934, Capone was sentenced to 11 years in Federal Prison in Atlanta, but was eventually transferred to Alcatraz, one of the toughest prisons of the time. Prisoners were severely beaten for the slightest infraction and spent long stretches in solitary confinement, also called The Hole. Capone was arrogant and had a difficult time believing that the rules of the prison applied to him, so he was sent to The Hole several times during his stay, once for bribing a guard and twice for speaking. Each time he emerged, fellow inmates reported that Capone appeared shaken and changed for the worse.
In Alcatraz, Capone’s life was threatened regularly and he was often attacked by other inmates, receiving beatings and, in one instance, a stabbing. He was granted permission to spend rec time in his cell and, in an effort to give him something to occupy his mind, his wife Mae sent him a banjo. He often sat in his cell and played.
After five years, Capone had snapped. He refused to go to the mess hall to take his meals and was often seen crouched in a corner of his cell rocking and babbling to himself. He made his bunk several times a day and was said to have entire conversations with something unseen. Capone left Alcatraz in 1939 and retired to his mansion in Miami, FL, reportedly flitting between lucidity and psychosis for the remainder of his life.
Some visitors to Alcatraz have reported hearing banjo music in Capone’s cell, but his ghost is not said to haunt the structure. Rather, Capone himself was a haunted man. Capone had ordered James Clark, the brother in law of Bugs Moran, killed, and asserted that Clark’s ghost haunted him daily. Capone’s body guards reported hearing him begging to be left in peace and, when they broke down the door to his bedroom fearing for his safety, they found Capone alone and shaking. His employees would often hear him talking to himself and asking to be left alone. Capone had even employed a psychic, Alice Britt, to rid him of the spirit causing him unrest. All of these instances were before Capone was ever imprisoned.
Was Capone haunted by the ghost of James Clark? Capone ordered the murder of many people during his time as a crime kingpin. Why would only one ghost attach itself to him?
Do you think Capone was actually being haunted by Clarke’s ghost? Have you visited Alcatraz and heard Capone’s banjo music? Let us know in the comments.
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There is little explanation for the events that took place in the small, isolated town of Black River Falls at the end of the 19th century. Between 1890 and 1900 the town, filled with primarily German and Norwegian immigrants, fell victim to a rash of occurrences that very nearly brought the town and all who lived there into complete downfall. Charles Von Schaik, a local photographer, cataloged the events in photo form capturing some 30,000 images. What he captured on film was evidence of vagrancy run rampant, murder-suicide pacts, madness, and the unexplained.
In the 1890’s, Black River Falls was enduring the worst financial crash and commercial depression the country had ever known. Many immigrants had come in hopes of growing or starting a family in the area and the land was very cheap, but upon arrival had realized that the land was worthless, not even worth what they paid. Railroads offered free fare to those eager to move elsewhere. Shortly thereafter, residents began acting strangely. Stories of ghosts and witchcraft swirled and reports of random violence, shootings, and suicides rose. Residents took their lives and were found hanging in barns and from trees on their property. Some accounts of strange behavior include:
- A farmer blew off his own head by placing it over a hole full of dynamite and lighting the fuse.
- A woman, concerned about the rash on her back, went outside and doused herself in gasoline then lit a match and self-immolated.
- A young mother takes her children for a day at the beach and drowns them one by one while the others watch.
- A fifteen-year-old girl burns her employers barn and house because she “wanted some excitement.” She had burned several buildings of previous employers.
- A recently divorced man shoots his wife and family dead in the town square.
- A young man attempts suicide by laying on the train tracks. He had only been living in Black River Falls for about a month. It takes four men to remove him from harm. After this incident, he is never seen or heard from again.
- A farmer decapitates all of his chickens, convinced that the devil has overtaken his farm.
- A family offers lodging and food to a drifter who, after the family goes to sleep, shoots them all before shooting himself.
- A former school teacher, now addicted to cocaine and travelling the country by train, is admitted to the insane asylum for her propensity to break windows. She had been arrested and institutionalized scores of times for the same activity.
- A ten-year-old boy and his brother run away from home and kill the owner of a remote farm by shooting him in the head. They live on the property for some time before being discovered by the farmer’s brother. The younger boy is caught while the older flees the scene. Authorities capture the older boy, but not before he shoots one of the men. The boy is sentenced to life in the penitentiary.
Today, Black River Falls is a tourist destination and is home to roughly 3,600 souls. People come to the community for camping and shopping and downtown is filled with small shops and restaurants that resemble little of the town depicted in Von Schaik’s photographs. There are no explanations for the behaviors of the residents in the 1880-90’s and answers will likely never be found. Despite that fact, there will always be speculation surrounding the small town and its former inhabitants.
Have you ever visited Black River Falls? Do you have any theories as to why these strange occurrences took place? Do you have a story you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.
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On June 9, 1912, the Moores, husband Josiah (43) and wife Sarah (39)including their four children, Herman (4), Katherine (9), Boyd (7), and Paul (5), and two members of the Stillinger family made their way back to the Moore home following a church social. The event began at 8 p.m. and concluded around 10 p.m. The children and their parents readied themselves for bed and settled down for the night. What followed is considered by many the most gruesome event in Iowa history and a tale of murder that would rock the small community of Villisca to its very foundation.
The Stillinger children, Ina (8) and Lena (12) had been asked by the Moore children to stay the night after the lamps in town went unlit due to some argument between lamp lighters. The girls were supposed to travel to their grandmother’s house for supper, but were afraid of the dark. In a strange twist of fate, they stayed with the Moores instead, believing this to be a safer alternative. When they all arrived back at the house, they went to bed, the Stillinger children occupying the guest bedroom on the first floor off the kitchen and the Moores upstairs. Sometime between midnight and 5 a.m., the entire family and the Stillinger children were brutally murdered with an axe.
Many have speculated that the attacker hid in the attic space and waited until everyone was asleep. Two spent cigarettes were found in the space. It has also been speculated that the food the family may have consumed had been poisoned or tampered with in some way to facilitate their murder.
The murders were a national sensation, causing friends and neighbors to turn on one another and making it difficult to buy a means of protection or a lock anywhere in the town. Many suspects were questioned, but were ultimately cleared or dismissed by authorities.
Reverend George Kelly– Kelly had a history of mental problems and was considered a sexual deviant. He was also accused of being a peeping tom and writing lewd letters to women in town. It was reported that Kelly left early in the morning the day of the murder and talked about it on the train out of town. This information could not be confirmed by witnesses and, although Kelly had confessed to the crime, they had no evidence to support Kelly as the killer. He had also contacted people in town asking for details about the murder. Kelly later recanted his confession and was acquitted twice.
Henry Lee Moore (No Relation)- Moore had been charged/sentenced of the murder of his grandmother and sister (he killed them with an axe no less), but authorities could not link him to the crime. He was also accused of killing several other people, but the charges did not stick.
Frank Jones– A former employer of Moore. Jones became a business rival when Moore went out on his own and was bitter about the loss of business caused by the split. It has also been said that Moore had been seeing Jones’ sister, which he was not pleased about. This has never been proven.
William Mansfield– It was speculated that Mansfield was hired to kill Moore and his family by Frank Jones, but there was no proof of this.
Andy Sawyer– A transient who was in town the night of the murders. He stated that he left town after the murders because he did not wish to be blamed for the crime.
On June 10 at approximately 5 a.m, the Moore’s neighbor, Mary Peckham, exited her house to hang some laundry out to dry. She was surprised to see that the shades on the Moore home were still drawn and that the children were not outside tending to their chores. At approximately 7 a.m., Peckham walked to the Moore home and knocked, but received no answer. She tried the door, but it was locked from the inside. The shades were still drawn. On two of the windows that were without shades, clothing had been hung to block the view inside.
Peckham immediately called for Josiah’s brother, Ross Moore, who tried the door before using his key to enter. He walked through the kitchen and into the guest bedroom, often referred to as the Blue Room. When he saw the two Stillinger girls lying dead with dark red stains surrounding them, he immediately retreated back to the porch and called for authorities.
The sheriff arrived and took in the scene. He made his way into the house, found the two Stillinger girls in the Blue Room, then proceeded upstairs to find the Moore’s in a similar state. All had been attacked with an axe, but only Josiah Moore had been struck in the face with the sharp side of the axe, his wife and the children had been bludgeoned with the blunt side. The sheriff returned to the porch where Peckham and Moore’s brother were waiting. He muttered something about each bed having a dead body in it and went back to town for reinforcements. Once there, he told several townspeople about what had happened and, within a short time, almost 100 people had converged on the house. They wandered inside and gawked at the dead bodies, essentially destroying the crime scene. The townspeople arrived even before the coroner. Finally, the Villisca National Guard arrived and took control of the scene and cordoned off the area at around noon.
A through search of the home by authorities found the following:
A pan of bloody water sat on a table next to some uneaten food.
There were axe marks on the ceiling, either from the killer chopping at his victims or swinging the axe around maniacally (both are speculated).
Sarah Moore’s face was completely unrecognizable and Josiah Moore had no recognizable features from the shoulders up. Both parents had been struck between 20-30 times each.
Josiah Moore’s head had been crushed completely and pieces of tissue and skull fragments were all over the head board.
The Moore children likely slept through the murders while it is speculated that the Stillinger sisters, at least Lena, awoke while she was being attacked. Her body hung off one side of the bed and her skirt was pulled up to her waist. Her underwear had been removed and thrown under the bed. There was no sign of sexual assault. Ina had her hips angled toward a lamp that sat on the floor next to the bed. Again, there was no sign of sexual assault.
The axe was found in the Blue Room and appeared to have been partially wiped clean. A slab of bacon wrapped in a towel was also found in that room. Some speculate the killer intended to steal the bacon and forgot it, others claim it was used as an artificial vagina due to the way the bodies of the Stillinger girls were found. However, authorities found no hair or fluids.
The killer covered the mirrors in the house.
The murder remains one of Iowa’s most perplexing mysteries. Locals blame the authorities at the time for mismanagement of the crime scene, believing they could have brought someone to justice. Of course, at the time, there was no DNA testing and the crime scene had been so badly muddled by the townspeople that fingerprint evidence was destroyed. There would have been no database to compare the prints to anyway. Basically, authorities would have had to catch the killer as he left the scene or in the act.
With such a terrible crime, the house must contain some residual energy, right? Of course it does! Violent death and unsolved murder can have that effect. Guests can do a daytime tour (for the faint of heart, as the website states) or an overnight and many visitors have reported seeing and hearing ghostly phenomena. Full bodied apparitions have been spotted as well as disembodied footsteps and voices. EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) have caught children laughing and, immediately after, heard them crying out. They have also recorded children telling them to “hide.”
Have you ever visited the Villisca Axe Murder House? Tell us about your experiences in the comments. Don’t forget to like/share/follow if you like what you’ve read!
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