Urban Legends and campfire tales are always fun, but did you know that some of our favorite twisted tales actually have real-life counterparts?
The original incidents may have had twists and embellishments added, but nonetheless, events matching the general description of various urban legends have indeed happened.
If you’ve ever been creeped out by a scary modern folktale, you might have reassured yourself that it’s completely made up. That’s not always the case.
Here are few famous urban legends and the true stories behind them.
Body In The Bed
In this tale, a couple driving across the country decides to stop for the night in a small roadside motel. When they enter their room, they notice a rotten, musty smell. They investigate but find nothing.
Trying to pass it off, they climb into bed, but the smell just seems to be getting stronger. Finally, they get up and push back the mattress of the bed. To their horror, they discover a corpse decaying in the bed frame.
You can’t get more on the nose than this one. In 2010, a woman by the name of Sony Millbrook was reported missing after relatives noticed she hadn’t picked up her kids from school. Millbrook, her children, and her boyfriend had been renting a room at the Budget Lodge in Memphis, Tennessee.
After several days without any word, staff members at the motel entered her room, boxed up her belongings, and claimed to clean the room. Police questioned the motel employees but didn’t take the investigation any further.
A couple of days later, the room was rented out. Over the next few weeks, it would be rented out three times. Occupants noticed an odd smell. A few even tried burning incense, and the staff attempted to cover the smell with fabric softener sheets shoved in ceiling tiles, but no one ever managed to put two and two together.
The body was finally discovered on March 15 under the mattress and box springs. Millbrook’s boyfriend, LaKeith Moody, who had also been missing, was eventually found driving Millbrook’s car.
He was arrested, and the Memphis Police Department launched an internal investigation to see if any mistakes were made in handling of the case.
It makes one wonder if any of the families who stayed in the room were given a voucher for a free night.
Death By Wedgie
How many times have we heard this? “I heard about this guy who gave a dude an atomic wedgie so severe that it killed the kid!” According to legend, the underwear was pulled up so high and tight that it caused severe trauma to the rectum, which somehow lead to death. The true story, however, is a bit more interesting and makes a little more sense.
In 2013, Oklahoman Brad Lee Davis got into an argument with his stepfather, Denver St. Clair. As the argument grew more heated, Davis decided to handle things the old-fashioned way, by yanking his stepdad’s underwear up and then pulling it over his head. This move was the mythical atomic wedgie, not to be confused with a standard wedgie. As it happened, the elastic band of the underwear wrapped around Denver’s throat, cutting off his airway, and he suffocated.
In 2015, Davis pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the incident.
Santa’s Stuck In The Chimney
The Christmas season is in full bloom, and a man decides he wants to surprise his family. He goes into town and rents a Santa costume. Then, on Christmas Eve night, he climbs up on the roof, makes his way to the chimney, and begins his decent.
He wants to make a grand entrance, bursting through the opened fireplace and belting out “Ho Ho Ho,” but halfway down, he slips and becomes lodged. Stuck, and without anyone knowing his plan, the man remains there, his muffled cries going unheard. Days pass. The family reports their father missing, but little can be done.
Then, one cold night, the mother goes to start a fire. She notices an odd odor, and the flue seems to be stuck. Upon further investigation, she finds her husband’s body still trapped inside.
This story was so popular it even managed to make its way into the 1984 movie Gremlins, and while there aren’t any known reports of a Santa stuck in a chimney, it doesn’t mean this one is completely without merit.
In 1986, a burglar got trapped while trying to enter a home down the chimney. Neighbors reported hearing someone yelling for help, but no one could figure out where it was coming from. Days passed, and workers in the area began to hear a tapping sound, but much like the yelling two days prior, they were unable to track down the origin of the sound. It wasn’t until the homeowner noticed a rotten smell four days later that the body was discovered.
Then, in 2015, a similar case was reported after a burglar in California managed to get himself stuck in a chimney while attempting to break into a home. Unaware of the would-be intruder, the homeowner started a fire. The thief began to scream, and the house filled with smoke. The homeowner called 911, and when the authorities arrived, the intruder appeared to still be alive. However, by the time they finally dismantled the chimney enough to remove him, he had succumbed to smoke inhalation.
These are just a few examples of the true stories behind some of our favorite urban legends, but there are plenty more out there. So the next time you’re sitting around with a group of friends, and someone begins telling a creepy story, just remember, there is a seed of truth in every myth.
Cooked To Death In The Tanning Bed
No woman wants to look bad for a wedding, but sometimes, time slips past us. So, what is a woman to do when she needs to get tanned in a matter of three days, but the tanning salons have limits on how long she can stay in the bed?
She goes around to as many salons as she can find, of course. In this story, a young lady facing a pasty complexion at a formal event hits up every tanning salon in town within a 36-hour period so that she can look her best on the big day, and it works! She attends the wedding browned and beautiful.
The next day, she wakes up not feeling so great, and she notices an odd, almost burned smell, so she decides to go see her doctor. After running a few tests, the doctor drops a bomb on her.
All those visits to the tanning bed in such a short amount of time have cooked her internal organs. The girl now has less than a week before her body will shut down, and she will die.
The first thing we need to point out is that tanning beds don’t work this way. Tanning beds use UV light, and the story is more akin to microwaves, but that doesn’t mean tanning beds can’t be lethal. Tanning beds deliver two to 12 times the amount of UV radiation that one would get standing in the midday sun.
On May 24, 1989, Indiana native Patsy Campbell passed away due to burns inflicted after spending 25 minutes in a tanning bed 11 days earlier. It was, more or less, an accident, as Campbell was taking a drug to help treat psoriasis that made her more sensitive to light. Two days after her tanning session, she began to break out in blisters.
The UV rays, combined with the medication, caused her to suffer burns on over 70 percent of her body. It was the first documented case of a fatality due to a tanning booth.
Others have suffered as well. In 2007, a woman in Australia, Clare Oliver, succumbed to the effects of melanoma, which she claimed was a direct result of over-tanning.
They Stole My Kidney
A man is away on a business trip. His meeting has gone well, and he has headed back to his hotel, where he decides to unwind with a few drinks down at the bar. While he is there, he meets a mysterious woman. They get to talking end eventually head back to the man’s room for a different kind of a nightcap.
Things seem to be going great until the man blacks out. The next thing he knows, he is waking up in a bathtub filled with ice. He then notices a sharp pain in his back. He reaches around and feels a long scar.
Finally, he manages to pull himself out and call 911. Paramedics arrive and discover someone has removed the man’s kidney.
It’s a sensational story of organ harvesting and the black market sales of body parts, but it isn’t completely without merit. The story itself has been circulating since the early 1990s, and many people attribute part of its origins to a Turkish man named Ahmet Koc, who, in 1989, claimed he had traveled to London for a job.
Once there, he said he went for a medical check and was given what he believed to be an injection for a blood test but turned out to be a sedative. He woke up the next morning with a kidney missing. He was told not to worry and that he would be compensated for the missing organ.
As it turns out, Ahmet’s story was a little misleading. The truth was that he had agreed to sell the kidney but felt he was paid unfairly, so he concocted the “stolen organ” tale to get back at the doctors who had performed the surgery. At least three doctors were found guilty of medical misconduct, and Koc was left feeling a bit empty in more ways than one.