If there’s one disclaimer that’s likely to make a ghost story more terrifying, it’s those oft-used words— everything I’m about to tell you is true.
Made-up supernatural tales may send a shiver down our collective spines, but there’s something about a real-life haunting that’s infinitely scarier. After all, if it happened to them, it may well happen to you, right?
With that in mind, here are five of the spookiest true-life supernatural events ever. Good luck with sleeping tonight…
Five Terrifying Real-Life Hauntings
1) Robert the Doll
Robert, a sailor-suited chap with a cloth face and cuddly dog under one arm, belonged to Robert Eugene Otto, a rich kid living in Key West. For some reason, the child went by the name of Gene.
Right from the start, things got pretty weird. Gene’s mother would hear two voices chatting away in her son’s bedroom; then when she entered, there was only Gene, sat staring at his doll. Mishaps started occurring in the house. Movements were heard, like little footsteps tiptoeing along the floor; particularly in the dead of night.
Gene had an unhealthy attachment to the doll and kept it as an adult. He positioned it in an upstairs window, and local schoolkids swore that the doll moved all the time, disappearing and reappearing at will. Finally, Gene died, and his house was purchased by Myrtle Reuter. She kept Robert in the attic but claimed that he would move around the house on his own on a regular basis. Visitors also heard giggling from upstairs. After two decades, she donated the doll to the local museum.
Was that the end of Robert’s reign of terror? Alas, no. Visitors flock from far and wide to see this famous doll, and even send gifts to him in the post. Although skeptical of his supernatural powers, the museum staff never eat the edible presents Robert receives. Better to be safe than sorry, eh?
2) The Winchester Mystery House
One thing’s for sure; Sarah Winchester was an unusual lady. After losing her son and husband, the grief-riddled heiress moved to the rural wilderness of California, to start a new life.
She commissioned the construction of what’s now known as the Winchester Mystery House; a sprawling Queen Anne-style house that never stopped growing. However, its continuous growth wasn’t the strangest thing about it. Stairs, chimneys and doors led to nowhere. There were lots of things grouped around the number 13—13 drains in a sink, 13 windows in a room. In short, the house was completely odd, and unsettled anyone who came to visit it.
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding Sarah Winchester herself, mainly because she was such a recluse. The facts seem to point to the widow’s belief that she was cursed, and that she needed to keep on building the house to avoid the wrath of the spirits that continually harassed her. Although this can’t be proven, what is true is that most of her new plans for building work were created at night.
3) Elisa Lam
The case of Elisa Lam’s death at the infamous Cecil Hotel still remains a mystery. It’s a tale with multiple layers, many strange facts, and a lot of online speculation about what really happened to the poor girl.
In 2013, the residents of Cecil Hotel started to complain that their water pressure was down, and that the water tasted kind of odd; a sweet, unpleasant flavour that made them feel nauseous. A maintenance guy duly investigated in the water tank on the roof, where he got a grisly surprise. There, lying face-down in the water, was Elisa Lam’s body.
Accidental death or murder, you might think? Some say neither, based on the sinister CCTV footage captured before her death, while she was in the hotel lift. (You can watch it here, if you’re brave!) If you don’t want to watch it, then I’ll quickly summarise. Elisa enters the lift, then cowers in the corner, before jumping towards the doors, looking both ways as if she was being chased. At one point, she also leaves the lift and enters the hallway, waving her hands weirdly in the air, as though wading through water.
Even more strangely, the door leading to the roof (where Elisa’s body was found) was locked and alarmed. How she ended up out there is anybody’s guess.
4) The Myrtles Plantation
Described as one of the US’s ‘most haunted locations’, it’s not surprising that the Myrtles Plantation makes it onto this list.
For this tale, we have to rewind back to the 19th century and meet Chloe, a slave girl. She started out working on the plantation, then later became the plantation owner’s mistress. However, the owner started to lose interest, and Chloe hatched a plan to ensure that she’d be allowed to stay—giving her lover’s daughter a small amount of poison to make her sick, thus enabling Chloe to nurse her back to health.
Unsurprisingly, the plan went horribly wrong. Two of the children (and their mother) died from eating the poisoned food, Chloe’s horrible plan was discovered, and she was lynched from a tree. Except Chloe’s story didn’t end there. Countless visitors have seen her lingering outside the house, and plenty of strange events have happened within the home too; such as furniture moving across the floor on its own, and objects mysteriously vanishing.
Like all good hauntings, it continues to this day. In 1987, the owner of the house awoke to find a black woman in a dress, standing by her bed and clutching a candlestick. Ghostly children have been seen out on the veranda, and the piano upstairs occasionally plays all by itself.
5) The Indianapolis Exorcism
Exorcisms; they’re a dime a dozen, aren’t they? Well, occasionally a case comes along that makes you wonder whether there might be some truth in it after all. The events that happened in one family in Indianapolis is a prime example.
The experiences that Latoya Ammons and her family went through sound like something out of a movie. According to the reports, her children were possessed by something or someone that compelled them to climb the walls, talk in deep voices that weren’t their own, or even fly across the room as though thrown by unseen hands.
Sounds far-fetched? Well, in this instance, there were close to 800 pages of records covering the case, which included interviews with the police, psychologist and a Catholic priest. All agreed that there was something very wrong with the Ammons family, and that it seemed to be supernatural.
Here’s one of the spookiest parts of the original report. Apparently, Latoya’s nine-year old walked backwards up an entire wall until he reached the ceiling. He then flipped right over the observer and landed perfectly on his feet, whilst holding on to his grandmother’s hand the entire time. This event was not only witnessed by a court official, but also by a nurse.