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10 Unsettling Real-Life Stories That Will Haunt You

by Estelle
fact checked by Jamie Frater

There are some terribly unsettling things that happen every day that we’re not aware of until it is splashed on the front page of the newspaper or make the rounds as a viral social media post. Some of these things have been happening since before any of us were born and still have the potential to make our hair stand on end. On this list are just a few unbelievably creepy incidents that will haunt your nightmares for a good long while.

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10 Woman stuck in chair for months

On 16 February 2017, an Ohio church volunteer placed a call to 911. He told the operator that a 75-year-old woman he had been caring for for over a decade was not acting herself and seemingly refused to get out of a specific chair at her home.

However, police were not prepared for the horrific scene that awaited them when they arrived at Barbara Foster’s home in Springfield Township. Barbara, who at that point weighed 550 pounds, was found literally molded to her chair as her skin had begun attaching itself to the fabric. It seemed that she had been trapped in the chair for at least a year, and as emergency personnel removed her from the house Barbara’s bones started breaking because they were extremely frail.

From the sight and smell of the house, it was clear that Barbara Foster was a hoarder, with the smell becoming so strong that it reached the sidewalk before Barbara was rescued.

Barbara’s left leg was amputated soon after she arrived at the hospital. But unfortunately, after a month-long stay in the hospital, the former teacher and animal lover died in March 2017.[1]

9 Suicide forest is eerily silent

The fact that Aokigahara is a popular destination for both hikers and those who want to end their own lives is terrifying enough. In fact, it is the world’s second most common destination for suicides behind The Golden Gate Bridge. But the creep factor of this dark, dense forest doesn’t stop there.

It is not surprising that many believe Aokigahara to be haunted by the people who never leave it. Some also believe that there is a bird demon called Tengu that roams the forest. Tengu and various ghosts have been blamed for the fact all signs of human life vanish about a mile into the forest.

But perhaps the eeriest thing about the ‘suicide forest’ is that despite the number of hikers and hopeless looking for a solution, the place is completely silent. This has been attributed to the density of the foliage and trees as well as the presence of a lava floor. To test the theory some visitors to the forest have let out loud screams only to have them swallowed up in the thick atmosphere.[2]

8 Infestation by the thousands

In October 2007, Brian and Susan Trost bought their dream home in Weldon Spring, Missouri. To their horror and dismay, the couple soon began seeing brown recluse spiders everywhere in their home. Once, when Susan was taking a shower, one of the spiders fell from the ceiling and almost landed on her. She dodged it just in time and it washed down the shower drain.

The Trosts filed a claim with their insurance company and lodged a complaint against the home’s previous owner. This was after they had tried to deal with the problem by employing exterminators to spray behind the drywall and put down pesticide in the attic. These measures did not help at all and by 2012, the house was literally oozing spiders. The population of spiders were estimated to be around 5,000. The Trosts were forced to move and their home went into foreclosure.

In 2014 the house had been vacant for two years, but only of people. The brown recluse spiders continued to overrun the property.[3]

7 The voices won’t stop

Children often invent imaginary friends to deal with feelings of loneliness or simply to enjoy a fantasy world of their own. They ‘see and hear’ their imaginary friends with an enthusiasm that most adults will never understand.

Unfortunately, however, the voices that children attribute to their invisible friends often become far too real. It is estimated that at least 1 in 12 children persistently hear voices in their head. In 2018, 21-year-old Laura Moulding told the BBC that she had been hearing voices since she was three years old. The voices surround her almost constantly and are a mixture of male, female, adults, and children.

As a toddler, she heard a lion and bear from a beloved TV programme calling to her: “I’m coming to get you.” They repeated this over and over until Laura was terrified. By the time she was fifteen, her auditory hallucinations had become too much for Laura and her mother took her to a doctor. At this point, Laura was self-harming to try and block out the pain of the voices telling her that she was useless, no good and that no one loved her.

Laura Moulding was eventually diagnosed with severe depression that included psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, disturbing thoughts, and a lack of self-awareness.[4]

6 Where is Pedro Alonso López?

In 1980, Pedro Alonso López was arrested for trying to lure a 12-year-old girl away while she was browsing through a market in Ecuador. This incident took place mere days after a mass grave of 53 young girls was uncovered in the area. After being taken into custody, López confessed to the murders of 300 girls. His MO was to pose as a salesman who had become lost and needed assistance to get back to his office. He would then lure young girls away from their distracted families and proceed to rape and murder them. He told police he committed the murders to ensure the girls could go to heaven.

Shockingly, this monster received a mere 16-year prison sentence and was released in 1994 after serving 14. An hour after being released, López was arrested again for illegal immigration and deported to Colombia. Here he was convicted of a murder he committed 20 years prior. However, he was declared insane and spent some time in a mental asylum before being released again in 1998.

In 2020, no one knows López’s whereabouts. He could be continuing his murderous streak unabated anywhere in the world. Rumors that he had died in a vigilante style killing have yet to be confirmed.[5]

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5 The stone baby

In 1955, 26-year-old Zahra Aboutalib went into labor and suffered for 48 hours before being rushed to a local hospital in Morocco. Upon her arrival Zahra witnessed another woman dying in excruciating pain while giving birth and this frightened her so much that she fled back home.

When, after a while, her labor pains ceased, Zahra carried on with her life. She never gave birth and never suffered a miscarriage. She adopted three children and eventually became a grandmother. 46 years after her terrifying experience at the hospital, Zahra felt intense pain once more. Doctors took an ultrasound scan of her belly and found a mass. An MRI scan revealed the mass to be her unborn baby.

It was discovered that Zahra’s pregnancy had been ectopic with the fetus growing from the fallopian tube and into her stomach. Because the baby was never born, it basically calcified inside Zahra’s body and was removed during a four-hour procedure. Zahra Aboutalib became known as the woman who gave birth to a stone baby when she was over 70 years old.[6]

4 Starvation led to cannibalism

Photo credit: Don Hurlbert, Smithsonian

In 2013 a grisly new discovery was made as part of ongoing research into the Jamestown Colony. While recent excavations have led to the discovery of animal carcasses consumed during the harsh winter of 1609, newly discovered bones told a horrifying tale of human dismemberment and cannibalization. The bones belonged to a 14-year-old English girl.

The bones revealed that the girl had been struck by an object to the head at least four times, which led to her skull being split in two. She also had a penetrating wound to her left temple which is believed to have been made by a knife for the purpose of removing her brain and the flesh from her face for consumption.

While experts agree that the young girl was dismembered to be eaten, it remains to be discovered whether multiple people cut her into pieces or whether one person was responsible for the dark act.[7]

3 I don’t want to work for Mickey anymore

There are a multitude of conspiracy theories and dark rumors that swirl around Disney Enterprises Inc. These include hidden details of evil in Disney movies, including that Frozen is simply a distraction from Walt Disney’s frozen head. You know, the head that is currently stored underneath the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland? When people Google “frozen” or “Disney frozen” it now displays results about the movie and not the host of conspiracies about Walt’s wish to be cryogenically frozen after death.

Sometimes though, real twisted events make these theories seem just the tiniest bit plausible. For instance, in 2010 two Disneyland Paris employees killed themselves. One of the employees was a restaurant manager at Disneyland and had a wife and four children. After the 37-year-old committed suicide, a note was found scratched on a wall in his house: “I don’t want to work for Mickey anymore.”

The other employee had thrown himself in front of a train a month earlier.

The suicides have been attributed to a less than ideal working environment under new management which has been making employees miserable.[8]

2 Don’t look behind the walls

In 2015, a family from Schuylkill County wanted to add some insulation behind the walls of a room in their Auburn house. They were not prepared for what they found behind the layers of drywall: several dead animal carcasses wrapped in newspapers dating back to the 30s and 40s.

Kajia Bretzuis confirmed that they had made one or two animal discoveries since 2012, but nothing at the scale of the new discovery, and that the home inspection before they moved in didn’t reveal any of the horror behind the walls. Removing the carcasses, half-used spices, and other items from behind the walls have depleted the family’s savings as the insurance didn’t cover any of it.

The family, looking for answers, sent some of the artifacts and animal remains to an expert in Kutztown who told them that the items were placed inside the walls as part of a Dutch magic ritual to heal diseases. The Brezuis’s have since started a Go Fund Me account to raise money to tear out more walls to ensure there aren’t any more animal remains tucked inside.[9]

1 Serial killer lair

In March 2014, Catrina McGhaw signed a lease on a North County ranch house. Her landlady was Sandra Travis. A few months after moving in, Catrina was watching a documentary on serial killers with a friend when they both suddenly sat up straight and looked at each other in alarm. The house being featured in various crime scene photos on the tv screen was the very one they were sitting in.

The house Catrina was living in previously belonged to serial killer Maury Travis, son of her landlady, Sandra Travis. Maury had built several torture chambers in the basement of the house and kept corpses there.

Catrina immediately went to Sandra and demanded she be let out of the lease. Sandra was unwilling to release Catrina from the lease until the St. Louis Housing Authority intervened. Only then did she agree to rescind the contract.

Maury Travis killed himself before he could be charged with the murders of at least 17 women.[10]

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fact checked by Jamie Frater

Estelle is a regular writer for Listverse.