5 popular urban legends you had no idea were actually terrifying true stories

Swallowing watermelon seeds will grow a plant in your stomach, swimming right after eating will make you cramp and drown; these are myths we heard throughout our childhoods before we grew up and realized they were false. Or are they? Well, those ones might have been, but some urban legends have surprisingly turned out to be true.

5 Real Urban Legends

1. Kidney Theft

The Myth:    

A businessman goes on a trip and in the hotel lobby bar, he meets a beautiful woman who offers to buy him a drink. Later, they go back to his room where he suddenly passes out. The next morning, with no recollection of what happened and a severe pain in his back, he realizes his kidney has been cleanly and professionally removed.

The Truth:

What may sound like a case of a ridiculously bad hangover actually happened to several hundred men in India. One, in particular, was Naseem Mohammed, 25, a laborer who was desperate for work when he was offered a 3-month painting contract.

He was placed in a house for two weeks, being well fed the entire time as they stalled the job, so he had no reason to be suspicious. After being persuaded to give a blood sample, he was injected and woke up in a hospital with the same pain and scar as the man from the myth.

The culprit was found to be a group of doctors who were running an illegal organ selling business where they supplied human kidneys to the wealthy Indians and foreigners. They were said to be led by Dr. Amit Kumar who was later arrested in 2008.

2. Killer in the Backseat

The Myth:

A woman is driving home late when a vehicle tailgating behind her continuously flashing their lights at her backseat. When she finally gets home terrified, she realizes there was an escaped murderer about to kill her from the backseat and the other driver was trying to warn her. And thus began a now incredibly cliché horror movie trope.

The Truth:

Widely thought to have originated in New York in 1964 when an unsuspecting police officer found a man hiding in the back of his car.  After recognizing him as a dangerous killer, he shot him dead.

A similar incident happened in Chicago in 2013. As a woman went in to pay at the gas station, a man snuck into her unlocked minivan. When she returned, he assaulted her and forced her to drive to an ATM to steal her cash. So remember, always lock your car doors when you’re not around.

3. Body Under the Bed

The Myth:

A honeymooning couple checks into their motel and becomes aware of a horrible odor so bad that they ask to switch rooms. The hotel is fully booked so they send a maid to thoroughly clean the room, but when the couple returns the smell persists. They tear the room apart eventually pulling the mattress off the box spring where they find a woman’s corpse. What happens in Vegas, right?

The Truth:

In 2010, 28-year-old Sony Millbrook went missing after being last seen at a motel in Memphis. After missing payments, the staff removed her things and cleaned the room to be rented out again. Her family insisted on searching the room but the staff refused and eventually her body was found under the box spring two months later.

Her boyfriend was later found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the murder. In that time, the motel had rented the room to others so people had unsuspectingly slept within inches of the decaying body. I’m sure they’ll give every hotel room they ever stay in a thorough sweep before spending the night again.

4. The Killer Inside the House

The Myth:

A teenage babysitter is watching TV when the phone rings and a man at the other end tells her to check on the children upstairs. When she asks who it is they hang up, and she ignores it as a harmless prank. When he calls again saying the same thing, she gets worried and calls the police who tell her they will trace the next call. Again he calls so the police trace it only to discover he is inside the house with the children.

The Truth:

Thirteen-year-old Janett Christman was babysitting a 3-year-old boy in Columbia, Missouri on March 18, 1950. Around 10:30pm, police received a call from a young girl hysterically screaming right before the line went dead. No one could identify who called because no one was manning the switchboard at the time.

When the child’s parents came back around 1:30am they were horrified to find the house ransacked with Janett’s body in a pool of blood on the floor. She had been strangled with a wire, hit over the head and stabbed with a mechanical pencil several times.

The initial suspect was a local man who had been known to carry a mechanical pencil around and had an interest in Janett, but inexplicably there was little cooperation with the police so he was never convicted and her case remains unsolved to this day.

5. The Realistic Halloween Decoration

The Myth:

A lifelike Halloween decoration of a person being hanged turns out to be a real person hanging from a tree.

The Truth:

In 2005, a 42-year-old woman in Frederica, Delaware hung herself from a tree a few nights before Halloween. Passersby thought it was a prop and admired its realism, until a few days later when someone inspected it closely and noticed it was real.

Urban legends sound realistic because of their plausibility to actually happen and judging by these stories, it’s hard to deny that. Maybe the next time someone tells you an old scary story it might be more true than you thought.

The Hearty Soul

The Hearty Soul

The Hearty Soul is one of the world’s largest health information hubs. We connect regular people with cutting-edge research and the insights of medical professionals.
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