The 5 Creepiest Urban Legends (That Happen to be True)
The best creepy campfire stories are always the ones that end with the words, "...And it's all true, because I have the damned documentation here to prove it!"
In that spirit, we've tracked down five of the creepiest tales and urban legends that really happened to real people, proving once and for all that nothing is more terrifying than everyday life.
The Dead Body Under Your Freaking Matress
The Legend: A couple checks into a hotel and have to put up with a foul odor in their room all night. They call the staff to complain and somebody figures out the stench is coming from the bed.
Now, there's no way that scenario is going to have a good ending. You're almost hoping at that point that it'll turn out the last guest just got drunk and pooped behind the headboard. But, no, the staff take off the matress and discover the couple has been sleeping over the rotting body of a dead girl who had been stuffed in the box spring.
The Truth: This actually happened, in Las Vegas. Also, Kansas City, MO and Atlantic City, NJ and several times in Florida and California and, well, let's just say that in or under the bed in a hotel room seems to be a fairly popular destination for the recently deceased.
It makes sense if you think about it. The closet and under the bed are the two most popular places to hide just about anything, so it's not surprising a hell of a lot of corpses end up there as well. In fact, the odds are pretty good that at least once a guy has killed a prostitute, tried to stuff her under the bed, only to find there was already a body there.
The strangest part isn't that the bodies wind up in such a terrible hiding place (killers often aren't the type to plan ahead). No, the strange thing is that in almost every story people will sleep part of, or in many cases, the entire night, on top of the corpse before reporting it.
Most people we know will complain if they detect that someone might have smoked a cigarette in their room four months ago. Not these people, they slept inches above an oozing heap of rotting human flesh rather than inconvenience the hotel management by asking for a new room.
Or, at least we hope sleeping is all they did on that bed. Oh, man, can you imagine dying and then the first thing that happens is some middle age couple starts porking over you? Ew.
Hopefully they at least got a free continental breakfast out of the ordeal.
The Funhouse Mummy
The Myth: A prop at a carnival was discovered not to be made of the usual combination of papier mache and carni spit, but human skin and bone. All the little kiddies at the haunted house had been poking and giggling at a real, mummified dead body.
The Truth: Apparently the smell wasn't just coming from the convict manning the corndog stand. Back in 1976, a camera crew filming an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man began to set up in the haunted house at the Nu-Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach, Calif.
As they were moving aside a "hanging man" prop, they accidentally knocked off its arm and discovered human bones inside. Bionic, this poor sap wasn't.
The story gets stranger. The body was actually that of criminal mastermind Elmer McCurdy, who was killed in a shootout after robbing a train in 1911. The princely sum old Elmer got killed for? $46 (and two jugs of whiskey).
McCurdy was embalmed by the local undertaker, and apparently the guy was so darn pleased with his work that he propped up the corpse in the funeral home as evidence of his skills. People were charged 5 cents to see the corpse, which they paid by dropping a nickel in the cadaver's mouth. Remember that little bit of history the next time somebody turns their nose up at you for liking Hostel 2.
Think it can't get any stranger? Oh, you naïve fool. After several years of raking in the nickels (how exactly these coins were retrieved after being dropped into the corpse's mouth is something probably best left to the imagination) our enterprising undertaker's scheme was ruined when McCurdy's brothers showed up to claim him. Of course, these guys weren't his brothers at all, but wily carnival promoters. From that point on, McCurdy's mummy went on a morbid mystery tour all around America, popping up at carnivals all over the country before finally coming to rest in Long Beach.
McCurdy is now buried in Oklahoma. Because McCurdy apparently had the most entertaining corpse in history, they prevented anyone else from taking him on tour by dumping concrete on top of the casket. No, really.
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