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Real-Life Horror Stories That Played Out Online
When the strange and horrific intrude on our lives, it can be hard to convince anyone that they really happened. It used to be that the worst things that would happen in a person’s life would stay private, things known only by a small group of friends—or, if the stories spread, urban legends that no one knew whether to believe.
But today, it’s different. Since the invention of the Internet, pictures and movies of strange and terrifying things have been going up online. Killers have posted their thoughts for everyone to see. And the world has been able to watch true horror stories play out in real time, right on their computer screen.
10 Hotel ZaZa’s Room 322
A Reddit user called “joelikesmusic” posted a seemingly innocuous question on a Houston subreddit. He and some colleagues had stayed at the Hotel ZaZa, he explained, and after seeing his colleague’s room was different from his, he wanted to know: “What’s up with room 322?”
Room 322 was beyond strange. In an otherwise ritzy hotel, this room had a hard, concrete floor, and its bed had chains. The walls were decorated with skulls and eerie paintings of monstrous, deformed people; one showed two twin girls with giraffe-like necks, conjoined by the hair. And then, in the midst of the chaos, there was a strangely innocuous photograph of a smiling middle-aged man: Stanford Financial Group president Jay Comeaux.
Most troubling of all, the room was small, one-third the size of a normal room. The rest of the room was blocked off by a brick wall with what appeared to be a one-way mirror. The other two-thirds of the room, it seemed, were on the other side of the wall—a place where people could peer in and watch whatever it was that happened in room 322.
When Joe’s colleague asked the staff about his room, he was told it wasn’t meant to be booked and was quickly moved into another.
Hotel ZaZa changed their tune, however, when the story went viral. Now they insisted that this was one of their room’s “kooky” themes, modeled after a jail cell. Their other theme rooms, though, were luxurious places with chandeliers and couches. Room 322 was the only one with skulls and a concrete floor. And why was Jay Comeaux looking over it all?
A reporter asked the hotel. Their staff, he said, sounded nervous and would only reply, “I need to look into that a little bit further.”
9 37.761962 N, 96.210194 W
On November 29, 2011, a 4chan user posted a picture of Emily Sander, an 18-year-old girl who had gone missing six days earlier. Next to the picture, he wrote one short sentence: “If anyone can correctly guess their own post number, I will tell you where she is buried.”
When somebody did, the user posted the coordinates “37.761962 N, 96.210194 W.” They pointed to a place on the side of a county road 80 kilometers (50 mi) east of El Dorado, Kansas. It was the exact place where the police found Sander’s body, one hour and ten minutes after the post was made.
Sander, it turned out, had been brutally raped, murdered, and then driven out into the wilderness and dumped on the side of the road. The police soon charged Israel Mireles with the crime. He’d fled to Mexico after Sander’s death and had hidden a bloody knife at his girlfriend’s grandmother’s home.
Mireles and the police have never mentioned the post on 4chan, but somebody, whether it was Mireles or someone who’d simply stumbled upon her body, knew where Sander was buried before the police did—and they might hold the secret to a missing piece of the story.
8 Lake City Quiet Pills
In 2009, a strange post showed up on Reddit. It was a eulogy for a user called “ReligionOfPeace,” posted by a friend who wrote, “He died at his desk lookin at your site.” The poster, called “2-6,” had never been on the site before, but he explained, as if everyone would know what it meant, that he was “the person who provided ReligionOfPeace the space for ‘That Old Guy’s Image Host.’ ”
When people looked into “That Old Guy’s Image Host,” they found a porn website registered with the strange domain name of “lakecityquietpills.com.” It was a weird name for a porn site, but when people started looking at the website’s code, they realized it was something else altogether. Hidden in the code of the website were ads for strange, long, overseas jobs. “Need 5 fluent Portuguese,” one said. “6 month private gig.”
People started making connections. There was an ammunition plant in Lake City, Iowa, some realized, which might mean that a “quiet pill” was a bullet. And they started finding hints to back that up. In his posts, ReligionOfPeace was oddly knowledgeable about the difficulties involved in killing someone with piano wire, and his eulogizing friend 2-6 had posted on another site, Fark, that he dispensed “Lake City Quiet Pills” to people “in need of permanent rest.”
A whole conspiracy about a group of a hired killers grew, one that might have been paranoia or might have been a group of people falling for a hoax. But the story became eerily relevant about six months later. A Hamas commander named Mahmous al-Mabhouh was assassinated in his hotel in Dubai—and the assassins, investigators reported, had been funded with credit cards from a bank in Lake City.
7 Jared Lee Loughner
In 2011, a man named Jared Lee Loughner opened fire on a crowd in a supermarket parking lot in Tucson, Arizona, killing six and wounding 13 more people. His target was Representative Gabrielle Giffords, whom he severely wounded. It was one of those tragedies that make people wish they’d had some hint it was coming, but Loughner hadn’t hidden his decline into madness. He filmed it—and posted it on YouTube.
Before the massacre, Loughner kept an active YouTube channel in which he would ramble madly about the US government using mind control. He filmed his school, calling it his “genocide school” and saying, “We’re looking at students who have been tortured.”
But it wasn’t just rants; there were heavy hints about what was to come. He wrote his bio for the channel in the past tense because he expected to soon be dead. And he promised to create “a new currency,” which, he warned, he would bring to America, whether he had to use “lethal or non-lethal means.”
The videos are a strange and terrifying glimpse into the psyche of a man who was becoming dangerously unhinged. And hidden among them was a desperate cry for help. In one rambling video called “Final Thoughts” he said, “Jared Loughner is in need of sleep.”
6 The Sleep As Android Ghost
A single mother posted on Reddit that she’d been using the “Sleep As Android” app to help her get a more restful sleep. She’d turn on a feature that would start recording whenever it heard nighttime noises, wanting to see if she was talking in her sleep or if she had sleep apnea. But instead, she reported in her post, she’d heard something she could never have expected.
The only other person in her house had been her three-year-old son, but the App had turned on at 2:04 AM, picking up strange noises that sounded like someone was rustling through her things. She heard herself in the recording groggily asking, still asleep, “What are you doing?” And then she heard a man reply: “Nothing.”
It wasn’t her voice. It was a deep, distinctly male voice. She put up the recording and the data from the app, hoping someone would have an explanation, but nobody could give her any other than the obvious: Someone had been in her house.
They hadn’t taken anything, though. Nothing was stolen—they’d just rustled through and left.
She kept using the app, and though she never heard the voice again, it did pick up the strange rustling noise two more times. In the end, seeing no other choice, the woman and her son moved out. Only then did the rustling noises stop.
The Hole is the Church of Scientology’s prison compound. It’s a place that’s at the center of the church’s most notorious stories. There are rumors of people being beaten, starved, and brainwashed inside, and that might be just what happened to one Reddit user who calls himself “CB_Wizdumb.”
On a post showing the bladed fence around the prison compound, CB_Wizdumb eagerly commented that this was his hometown. He wasn’t afraid, he boasted, to try to sneak in. He wrote, “Give me an address and I’ll GoPro the s— out of this place.”
A few hours later, he added a picture showing himself climbing over the fence to prove that he’d gone through with it. More updates, he promised, would follow. Soon, he would give the Internet a firsthand glimpse of what was inside the Hole.
But the pictures never came. Instead, less than half an hour later, his post had been edited so that now it simply read, “I apologize if I have offended any specific community. Trespassing is never funny, nor should it be considered a hobby.” And, shortly after, he started deleting every post he’d ever made about Scientology.
Nobody knows for sure if it this was some elaborate joke or if he’d been caught and forced into silence. But he definitely climbed the fence—and whatever pictures he took on the other side never saw the light of day.
4 David Kalac: The 4chan Killer
In November 2014, a post went up on 4chan’s /b/ board that showed a picture of a woman’s battered, naked body. “Turns out,” the user callously wrote, “its way harder to strangle someone to death than it looks on the movies.”
“Check the news for port orchard Washington in a few hours,” he added a few moments later. “Her son will be home from school soon. He’ll find her, then call the cops.”
Most of the people on the site thought it was fake, some calling it a “low-quality bait.” But shortly after, the death of Amber Coplin was on the news, and the man who’d made the post—her boyfriend, David Kalac—wasn’t lying.
It played out how he’d predicted. Coplin’s 13-year-old son came home and found his mother’s bloody and bruised body in her bedroom. Her face had been bashed in. Next to it, Kalac had placed her driver’s license, with the word “dead” written over it. On a picture on the wall, he’d written, “She killed me first.”
Kalac had promised 4chan that he’d commit “suicide by cop,” but in the end, he lost his nerve. When the police found him, he gave himself up, too scared to face the fate he’d forced upon Amber Coplin.
3 Sad Satan
On the Deep Web, the part of the Internet that can’t be accessed by search engines, someone found a strange video game called Sad Satan. It had been put up anonymously, and it was a strange, creepy game. But this was something more than just an eerie survival horror game.
The game had players wander through a blurry, black-and-white hallway while, overtop, weird backward recordings of a child’s voice played. For the most part, the whole game was just senseless wandering, but strange things kept popping up.
Children would walk through the maze and strange pictures would flash up—one, for example, showing Jimmy Savile, a notorious pedophile and sexual predator. At one point, a Charles Manson speech played, telling the user, “If I started murdering people, there’d be none of you left.” And there were weird, coded messages, which, when cracked, read things like “I can track you,” “kill kill and kill again,” and “5 victim!! :) :).”
The game became popular when a YouTube user showed it, but according to one 4chan user, the version on YouTube hides the truth of the game. “Don’t believe that coward,” the user wrote. “He did not show you what was truly in this game.” And he added another version—this one filled with flashes of child pornography.
Nobody knows for sure who made the game or why it exists. Some say the one on 4chan is the real version of the game; others say the 4chan user added the child porn himself. Some say the game was just a hoax made for YouTube hits, and others say it’s part of a child pornography conspiracy. Whatever it is, though, it’s deeply unsettling.
2 Mr. Anime
“Mr. Anime” was Trey Sesler, a YouTube reviewer with thousands of subscribers who would share his thoughts on anime, video games, and—more and more as time went on—guns.
His show started off normal enough, but as it went on, signs of madness started slipping through the cracks of his mind. He stopped talking about anime and started talking about guns and serial killers instead, joking in one that he was “the guy that does all the gun stuff now.”
The last video he posted was eerily titled, “Mr. Anime is Planning Something.” In it, he said he would be taking a break but assured his viewers, “Everything is going really good.” He never explained what it was he was planning in the video—but his viewers soon found out on the news.
Shortly afterward, Sesler killed his mother, father, and brother. He scrawled a message on the wall, reading, “Why did I do this? I love my mom, dad and brother.” A manhunt began, and the police found him, heavily armed in his car, driving to Waller Junior High School.
Sesler had planned on shooting up the school. If he hadn’t been caught, he’d planned on killing at least 70 people before ending his own life. He’d killed his family, he explained, so they wouldn’t have to deal with the pain of finding out what he’d done.
1 The /b/ Serial Killer
In 2015, another anonymous user on 4chan put up two pictures: one a glamor shot of a young woman, and the other her dead body, lying in bed. “I have killed several women for pleasure,” he wrote. “If you can guess a name I will upload a picture. [ . . . ] If you guess all of the names I will show you where I dumped a body in 1999.”
People started guessing as many women’s names as they could, and true to his word, the user added more and more gruesome photographs of dead women. The pictures he had didn’t show up anywhere else on the Internet—and they didn’t quite look like the photos a police officer would take at a crime scene.
When people started looking into it, they found GPS coordinates coded into the pictures that put the user in Carlin, Nevada. And they found out that the first woman was Shauna Maynard, a woman who went missing in Las Vegas and has never been found.
The FBI was contacted, but they haven’t tracked down Shauna Maynard or the /b/ Serial Killer yet, nor have they proven that body in the picture was really hers. The Las Vegas police, for their part, have said that they think it’s a hoax.
The police, though, won’t explain why they don’t believe it–and not everyone’s convinced that it’s a lie. After all, as one user pointed out: “It’s not the first time a killer has been on /b/.”