Reddit user u/Only-Carpenter-6689 posed the question: "What's a local rumor you heard as a kid that turned out to be true years later?" The thread filled with hundreds of shocking stories of whispered rumors and urban legends come true. Here's what people shared:
Warning: Submissions contain disturbing subject matter.
1."My neighbor was rumored to have a dead body in his basement. When he moved, a whole bunch of us neighbor kids decided to break into the house via the window. We all went to the basement and found not just one, but two very decomposed skeletons in what was supposed to be the bathroom."
2."This teacher I HATED was rumored to have murdered his wife and then fled west. There was no body, so he hadn’t been charged, and the school hired him. He was the biggest creep, and he was violent and misogynistic towards his students. He once took a sketch off of my desk, crumbled it, and threw it across the room because he didn’t like that I wasn’t paying attention to his daily rant about how Top Gun was the best movie ever. His daughter was in my sister’s grade and she was messed up (justifiably). A totally believable rumor. Well, it turned out to have been true and he was eventually convicted (twice, since the first conviction was overturned)."
3."The park we played football in used to be a cemetery. They exhumed all the coffins and moved them years before I was born. We’d freak each other out, especially at night, saying there were still bodies buried there. One day, while we were playing, they were doing some groundskeeping work and they found a coffin. The state came out and found 30 more. We were actually playing on top of hallowed ground."
4."It was a local urban legend that this huge, old, abandoned house was haunted because a century ago, there was a murder there. Kids would freak each other out over it, tell ghost stories, sneak onto the property, etc. I thought it was just an urban legend about an abandoned house. Nope. In the early 1900s, a husband and wife were found dead in the house. It was never solved, but the son was suspected because he was missing and never found. No one moved into it after that, and it’s sat empty since. I only found out because they planned to tear it down to build apartments on the property two years ago, but the local community rallied to preserve it."
5."The community I grew up in had an abandoned hospital in it. The place was spooky as hell. The story was that the hospital had a maternity ward where they would steal babies from Indigenous women and then make the mothers disappear. They also said they would experiment on people and perform surgeries with no anesthetic. Turned out it was true! They say that place is crawling with ghosts, and that you can see the ghosts of the women walking around the hallways looking for their babies. I can not confirm that one. I always stayed away from that place — it was too creepy. They ended up trying to redevelop the building into condos. You could not pay me enough to ever live in there."
6."I lived in a really small town, population around 200 people, tops. When I was a kid, I’d explore the town. There was a railroad track that went through the edge of town, and if you followed it a good bit, it crossed a small creek/river. That bridge was called Dead Woman Crossing. The story was that a woman had killed her infant child there and then jumped off the bridge into the water, and that sometimes at night, you could hear the baby cry. Allegedly, there were ‘sightings’ of a woman there. It freaked me out, so I didn’t mess with it. It was really eerie. Years later, some people messing out there reported finding human remains in the creek near the bridge. The remains were a young woman, but they didn’t find anything of an infant, if I remember correctly."
7."As a teenager, my friends and I used to talk about this haunted old mansion. I think some of my friends had broken into it, or so they claimed. The story I remember people saying was some stereotypical horror movie tale of people whose car had broken down had sought help and then the owner ended up killing them. There was a huge greenhouse/conservatory inside it, so we imagined them being chased through this indoor jungle by a maniac. The place was rundown and looked like an institution — bars on the windows and all. I later found a news story online about it. The owner was some rich jerk back in the 1980s who used to go pick up young male sex workers in the city and take them home, and then he'd more or less keep them prisoner in his house and get them to perform all sorts of degrading acts."
"A couple of them got together one day and decided they weren't going to do this crap anymore. They wrecked his greenhouse/conservatory, then waited for him to come home and stabbed him to death as he came in. The newspaper had these old photos of blood all over. I guarantee that very few people even know or remember this story, especially people who weren't around then. But, that house colored my adolescence. I drew it for art class. The family had a hard time dealing with the house, hence it being rundown, I guess. They had people live in it rent-free just to maintain it and stuff. It was hard to sell given that it was a hideous place and had had a murder. Eventually, it got torn down and turned into condos, and I'm sure those condos are haunted, lol."
8."This older kid had this lightning streak scar all over one side of his neck and down his body. The rumor was he was throwing stuff at the power lines behind our neighborhood. Turns out he was. He was throwing copper wire at it, and it arced. He's lucky to be alive."
9."When I was in middle school, I had to transfer to this really shady school for a couple weeks. There was a forest behind the recess area, which nobody would go near since there was constantly this strong, disgusting stench that seemed to be coming from inside. There was a rumor that a murderer who got released from jail secretly used the forest to continue satisfying his pleasure of killing things, and he supposedly killed animals in the masses, like deer and squirrels. I transferred to another school after a couple weeks and forgot about it. Fast forward to my sophomore year of high school. They were supposedly renovating the middle school, which came with a fancy new playground they would build in the woods. Apparently, the workers were clearing out the trees when they found dozens of corpses of animals, including deer, birds, raccoons, and foxes. They cancelled the entire renovation and closed the school permanently after that."
10."That the big, empty field slightly outside of town with nothing but a shed and an AT&T sign was a nuclear bunker. My parents thought I was nuts after telling them I heard this rumor somewhere, and I kept bringing it up every time we drove past, but they would always answer, 'No, it's not.' Turns out, it totally is a nuclear bunker. It was filled with telephone switching equipment and was designed to be nuke-proof so that the telephone network would keep working in the event of an all-out nuclear war, and it even included a little area for the crew. There used to be a website that had some photos of the inside while it was under construction, but I can't seem to find them anymore."
11."I grew up in a beach town in California, and one year, these Christian hippie types started rolling around, passing out pamphlets and inviting people to the new restaurant they were opening. I looked at my friend after they walked away, and I said, 'Thats a cult for sure.' It became a running joke. We ended up going to the restaurant multiple times. They had really good food and a nice ambiance, and it became kind of a staple restaurant for locals. They never pushed any agenda on their patrons. Cut to a decade later. I was living in Las Vegas and meeting a coworker who was from the same area I grew up in. Turns out she grew up in that cult and escaped when she was 23, a few years before I met her. We ended up becoming kind of close, and she shared some of what it was like."
"When I was 13 and running around the beach, getting approached by these dudes, she was working at the restaurant, without pay, under strict rules. Turns out the cult is known for child labor violations, has been accused of abuse multiple times, and makes everyone work in for-profit business for free. And I'm sure she just barely scratched the surface for me."
12."That there was an unmarked graveyard in a field across the road (in rural Canada). The oldest guy in the area talked about there being one somewhere in the area, but he wasn’t sure where. Maybe 10 years ago, an older gentleman, probably in his 70s, came over to our house when I was home from college and asked who owned the property across the road. He said his family lived in the area over 100 years ago and he was looking for the family burial plot. He asked for permission to search and spent some time with dousing rods in the field (maybe 75 acres total, but he was focused closer to the road). He marked over 15 spots that he said were places where bodies were buried underground. He said he could tell by the way the rods moved if bodies were male, female, or that of a child."
"He even showed us how the rods would be still, but when you walked over the spots he marked, they would cross, or move away from each other. He came back the next year and spent some money getting a big stone and a nice custom plaque made to mark this spot. He probably spent $1000 or a bit more on that, including renting a backhoe and operator. Then, we never saw him again.
We used to play hide and seek at night, but we’d never go to that area where he placed the markings because it felt eerie and sometimes would be foggier. After he showed us the dousing rods that one day, I told my younger cousin to lay on the ground so I could try it on him. I walked over him with the dousing rods and nothing happened, so I said, 'Well, I guess you ain’t got no soul,' and walked back to the house."
13."There was a rumor that started while I was in high school that our principal, who had recently come to us from another state, was a murderer. Most people blew it off as just that: a rumor. A few years after I graduated, it turned out the guy actually was a murderer. He had been the primary suspect for murdering his wife (horribly, with a baseball bat, then chopped up and hidden in containers), but the law didn't have enough evidence to prosecute. DNA eventually got him. No one ever found out how the (true) rumor started, but I'd suspect someone in law enforcement from his former hometown tipped someone off."
14."There was a dude who lived about two streets over from me. Other people in my neighborhood would talk about how they got packages with his name but their address, and joked about it being a bomb (as the parts in there were really weird, like gunpowder, a clock, and candle wicks). Somebody who had moved in more recently (mind you, this was about six years ago) caught wind and didn't realize it was a joke. He called the police and told them that somebody had a possible bomb and he wanted someone to check it out and make sure it wasn't real. Eventually, the police came and searched his house. Turns out, they found at least seven improvised explosives just sitting on his living room couch. He was arrested shortly after, and, if I remember correctly, sentenced to 20 years without parole."
15."There was an old, tall dude in a trench coat who always wore a hat with two big feathers in it. We heard he was a rocket scientist, so we called him Rocket Man. He always had super wild, far-fetched stories. Turns out he actually was a rocket scientist. He worked in some of the biggest labs around the world. We literally just thought he was off his rocker!"
16."As a kid, there was this neighborhood myth about ‘The Hatchet Man' lurking in our woods that my brother helped spread. All the younger kids were terrified. Then, one day, we were out playing kickball and a police car and an ambulance zoomed through our game, sirens blaring, coming from my nearest neighbor’s house. Our street was usually so quiet and was off the beaten path It turned out a guy had been hanging out in the woods and spying on my neighbor for weeks. That day, she was alone and he broke in with a knife. My brother really had seen a guy lurking in the woods."
17."I used to hear from some kids in my hometown that a dude was murdered by a man (who accused him of stealing some things) with a machete whilst on a horse at night. If you went there, you would see him and his ghost horse. Flash forward 10 years and my mom and I were looking through her memory box and I found a news clipping with the story and her name in it. It was her old boyfriend and her horse."
18."At my primary school, there was a rumor that a man was living underneath one of the buildings and was killing and eating the local wildlife to survive. Every now and then, people would claim they saw something under the building. One day, we got to school and saw police pulling a sleeping bag, a knife, and a bunch of animal skins out from under the building. Turns out it was true after all, but I have no idea what happened to him."
19."There was a rumor at my high school that the building down the way was a cult. It wasn’t unheard of to dare people to go over there, and then you’d end up being followed or sometimes invited to dinner. Turns out, it was the HQ of the cult the Duggars were in, IBLP. I was watching that documentary and my mind was blown because all the high school rumors had been true!"
20."Everyone at my school knew someone who knew someone who told them that this one house down the road from the school was owned by a local drug dealer and that it was his emergency hideout house. Years later, I was driving past and laughed at how ridiculous the story was. Two weeks after that, the house was on the news with armed police surrounding it. Turns out it really was this drug hideout and the guy was involved in way more stuff than that. They found drugs, weapons, and evidence of a human trafficking ring in there. The house was mysteriously burned down while his court case was going on, and it has been a burnt-out empty lot ever since."
21."That a quiet and polite dude we knew growing up was a murderous and ruthless gang leader. We used to go to his parties, we saw him out on the town, and always exchanged pleasantries. We would see him at the bar, and there was little indication he was not to be messed with, until one day we bumped into him in a parking lot. We were exchanging pleasantries when a truck pulled up a couple of spots over. He said, 'Just a sec,' and calmly walked over to talk to the guy. A short conversation ensued, and he opened the driver's door and started pummeling the guy. He was on top of him in the driver's seat, punching down."
"We were stunned. After a short while, he got out of the truck and walked back, calmly finish his conversation with us like nothing happened. We saw the truck pull away, so we think the guy lived. A few years afterwards, more rumors surfaced about him and it made sense that they were true. One day, his arrest made international headline news. He received a heavy sentence for a ton of different crimes. He likely won't ever be free, and his affiliates are still doing business."
22."There were rumors that there were bodies dumped into a pond at a park. Turns out it was true. They drained the pond to clean it and found over 30 bodies. I used to run right next to there for cross country."
23."There was a secret cult in one of the neighborhoods. Turned out to be NXIVM."
24.And, on a lighter note: "There was an elderly man who could be seen walking all over town. Long gray beard, usually seen in tattered clothes. 'Walking Man' or the 'Silver Bullet' were nicknames for him. The rumor was that he was actually really wealthy, but lots of people just assumed he was homeless because he was always walking, carrying groceries or whatever. Well, about a year before he passed, it came out that he was actually one of the wealthiest residents in our town, and he donated millions to local youth programs and schools. Turns out he just liked walking a lot and placed no value on material things, like clothes and cars."
Are there any rumors or legends from your town that turned out to be true? Tell us in the comments!
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.