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11 Horrifying Urban Legends That Actually Happened

When it comes to urban legends, most of them have been told time after time with little variation in the story. The terrifying not-sure-if-this-is-true feelings associated with urban legends is part of what makes these stories so popular. People like being scared; even if they say they don’t, which is why you’re embarking on this nightmare-inducing list right now. Our list does have one little difference: the urban legends we’ve included here are—dun, dun, dun—TRUE! Yep, each one of these incidents really happened, and we’ve got all the gruesome details. Oh yeah, and about those nightmares you’ll be having tonight. . . don’t say we didn’t warn you!

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11 Horrifying
Urban Legends
That Actually
Happened
1. Buried Alive
Perhaps one of the oldest urban legends is
the tale of being buried alive. Pretty scary,
right? Well, this urban legend is actually not
an urban legend at all. See, burying people
alive, or “premature burials” as they called it,
was actually a thing back in the day. Most
burials were intentional and sadistic, but
some happened on accident (don’t ask me
how). It’s safe to say that with several feet of
dirt above one’s grave, I highly doubt that
this little “mistake” could be fixed.
2. Creepy Crawlies Inside Your Head
There is no shortage of urban legends about
critters setting up camp inside the head of an
unsuspecting host. Total BS, right? Wrong. Take
Rochelle Harris for example. The 27-year-old
returned home from a Peruvian vacation, and she
kept hearing scratching noises that seemed to be
coming from inside her head. Well she went to the
doctor, and he discovered that she had an army of
maggots lodged in her ear canal. So that
scratching noise she was hearing? Yeah, that was
the maggots chomping on her ear flesh. OMG.
3. The Man-Eating Escalator
Every little kid shares a common fear: getting eaten
by the escalator. I can testify to this because I myself
was a victim of a hungry piece of machinery that had
a taste for shoelaces. Luckily, the only casualty in
that situation was my shoe, but other people have
not been so fortunate. In fact, there are so many
reports about people who’ve been seriously injured
(or killed) by escalators that it’s beginning to look like
a real-life game of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Note to
self: take the stairs.
4. The Dead Body In The Mattress
This urban legend has had people
inspecting their hotel beds for years.
According to the freakish tale, a couple
discovered a rotting dead girl in their
hotel mattress. Yeah, no thanks. Spoiler
alert: this gut-wrenching scenario is
weirdly common, and incidents have
been reported in hotels across multiple
cities including Pasadena, Atlantic City,
and Fort Lauderdale.
5. Decapitated By An Elevator
Getting your head chopped off by a faulty elevator . . .
Really? Um, yes really! Turns out this freak accident isn’
t just an urban legend, and it’s happened not one, but
several times. In 2003, a Houston Doctor was
decapitated by a hospital elevator. Just last month, a
20-year-old Russian woman lost her head as her son
watched in horror. Yet another reason to take the
stairs.

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11 Horrifying Urban Legends That Actually Happened

  • 2. 1. Buried Alive Perhaps one of the oldest urban legends is the tale of being buried alive. Pretty scary, right? Well, this urban legend is actually not an urban legend at all. See, burying people alive, or “premature burials” as they called it, was actually a thing back in the day. Most burials were intentional and sadistic, but some happened on accident (don’t ask me how). It’s safe to say that with several feet of dirt above one’s grave, I highly doubt that this little “mistake” could be fixed.
  • 3. 2. Creepy Crawlies Inside Your Head There is no shortage of urban legends about critters setting up camp inside the head of an unsuspecting host. Total BS, right? Wrong. Take Rochelle Harris for example. The 27-year-old returned home from a Peruvian vacation, and she kept hearing scratching noises that seemed to be coming from inside her head. Well she went to the doctor, and he discovered that she had an army of maggots lodged in her ear canal. So that scratching noise she was hearing? Yeah, that was the maggots chomping on her ear flesh. OMG.
  • 4. 3. The Man-Eating Escalator Every little kid shares a common fear: getting eaten by the escalator. I can testify to this because I myself was a victim of a hungry piece of machinery that had a taste for shoelaces. Luckily, the only casualty in that situation was my shoe, but other people have not been so fortunate. In fact, there are so many reports about people who’ve been seriously injured (or killed) by escalators that it’s beginning to look like a real-life game of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Note to self: take the stairs.
  • 5. 4. The Dead Body In The Mattress This urban legend has had people inspecting their hotel beds for years. According to the freakish tale, a couple discovered a rotting dead girl in their hotel mattress. Yeah, no thanks. Spoiler alert: this gut-wrenching scenario is weirdly common, and incidents have been reported in hotels across multiple cities including Pasadena, Atlantic City, and Fort Lauderdale.
  • 6. 5. Decapitated By An Elevator Getting your head chopped off by a faulty elevator . . . Really? Um, yes really! Turns out this freak accident isn’ t just an urban legend, and it’s happened not one, but several times. In 2003, a Houston Doctor was decapitated by a hospital elevator. Just last month, a 20-year-old Russian woman lost her head as her son watched in horror. Yet another reason to take the stairs.
  • 7. 6. Waking Up In The Middle Of Surgery Many urban legends tell of unlucky patients who regain consciousness in the middle of their own surgery. They’re paralyzed and unable to speak or move, but they’re fully conscious and THEY. CAN. FEEL. EVERYTHING. I heard about this one thanks to that horrible Hayden Christensen movie Awake, but I never thought it was actually a thing. However, to my horror, “anesthesia awareness” is real and many patients have lived to tell about it.
  • 8. 7. Black Market Kidney Thieves The Kidney Heist is a tale as old as time, and aside from a few minor variations, it goes something like this: unsuspecting traveler is befriended by locals, and the next thing they know, they’re waking up in a bathtub full of ice only to find that their kidneys have been surgically removed. Yikes! Sounds like a horror movie, right? Well, yeah, because this plotline has been featured in many a scary movie, but it’s not just in the movies anymore. In 2008, 33- year-old Mohammad Saleem was recruited to work construction in New Delhi, India. Several hours after meeting his new “bosses,” he woke up on a metal cot sans kidney. Turns out he was the latest victim in a large-scale organ trafficking ring that targeted laborers who needed work.
  • 9. 8. The Stunt-Turned-Accidental-Hanging You know the story about the kid who accidentally hanged himself during a stunt-gone- wrong? Well, it happened in 2001, and the boy was 14-year-old Caleb Rebb, who was working at a local Haunted Hayride attraction in Michigan. According to reports, Rebb secured a noose around his neck as a stunt to make the hayride scarier, but then something went wrong and he actually died. People did see him struggling, but they assumed it was part of the act, so no one came to help him.
  • 10. 9. The Legend Of Dog Boy Gerard Bettis (aka Dog Boy) was a creepy young kid who lived in Arkansas in the ‘50s. He got his nickname from his obsession with collecting tons of dogs and keeping them locked inside his home. However, his pets weren’t the only ones he kept locked away. He also held his parents—yes, his parents—prisoners in their own attic for many years. He frequently abused them both and rarely gave them any food. The truth finally came out several years later when Bettis was arrested for growing marijuana, which prompted his mother to come forward about the gruesome details of her child-turned-captor.
  • 11. 10. The Damsel In Distress Gets A Helping Hand And Then Dies All of us girls are familiar with the urban legend about the damsel in distress and her charming knight in shining armor who turned out to be a cold-blooded killer. Sounds familiar, right? Perhaps that’s because it’s 100% true, and that knight in shining armor happens to be one of the most iconic serial killers in history—Ted Bundy. Bundy was good looking, well dressed, and well educated, so on the surface he seemed like a total catch. Being the evil sociopath that he was, he used his charming demeanor to lure women into his murderous trap. One of his acts involved offering a woman a helping hand, and then asking her for a ride in order to get her secluded and vulnerable. A nice, helpful man needs a ride? Sure, what’s the worst that could happen?
  • 12. 11. The Dead Body Rolled In The Carpet This story has been told a million times; perhaps to dissuade college kids from attempting to redecorate their dorm rooms. It seems absurd, but like the rest of ‘em . . . it’s true. In 1985, three Columbia students found a rolled up carpet on the street so they decided to take it back to their place to liven things up a bit. When they unrolled their new carpet, they discovered the body of a man who’d been shot several times. Yikes!
  • 13. Image URLs Slide 1. Title image via Shutterstock Slide 2. Image Source Slide 3. Image Source Slide 4. Image Source Slide 5. Image Source Slide 6. Image Source Slide 7. Image Source Slide 8. Image Source Slide 9. Image Source Slide 10. Image Source Slide 11. Image Source Slide 12. Image Source
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