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10 Terrifying Real-Life Stories That Made the News

by Estelle
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

We’re all familiar with creepy urban legends. Don’t go out into the woods at night, lest you are gutted by the Hook Man. And definitely don’t say Bloody Mary three times in front of a darkened mirror, or you’ll be dragged to hell. Whenever you’re about to get into your car, check the backseat for an ax killer. And so on and so forth.

The accounts below are not legends, however. Neither are they just spooky stories meant for the campfire or to freak out your friends. On this list are just ten of the thousands of stories about people who were unaware (for a while at least) that they were not alone, whether at home, in their car, or elsewhere.

Related: 10 Creepy And Surreal Moments Caught On Video

10 Who’s Under the Bed

Police: Woman finds burglar hiding under her bed

In a story reminiscent of the guy who thought his dog was licking his hand from under his bed, a woman from Palm Springs, Florida, got the fright of her life in 2015 while searching for her cats.

Thinking that the two felines may have been sleeping under her bed, she reached underneath it only to find her fingertips touching human skin. Terrified, the 61-year-old woman dialed 911. The man who had been hiding under her bed crept out and then fled via the backdoor. Twenty-five-year-old Christian Vatovec was later apprehended by police near a canal in the area. He was found in possession of a digital camera and a gold ankle bracelet.

Unbeknownst to the woman at the time, a neighbor had also called the police after spotting Vatovec knocking on several doors and then entering the woman’s yard. Vatovec was held without bond on charges of theft, burglary, and resisting arrest.[1]

9 There’s Someone in the Closet

College student finds man in closet wearing her clothes

A 20-year-old woman and her roommates, who attended the University of North Carolina in 2019, genuinely thought they had a resident ghost in their off-campus apartment after she noticed some clothes vanishing from her closet and unexplained handprints on the bathroom wall.

On one particular Saturday, the woman, Maddie, arrived back at her apartment, and upon entering her room, she heard noises emanating from the closet. Hoping that it was just a raccoon, she decided to ask: “Who’s there?” She then heard a male voice answer her from inside the closet: “Oh, my name is Drew.” She opened the closet door to find a man inside, hiding in the corner and wearing some of her clothes.

Maddie swiftly texted and called her boyfriend, who wasted no time getting to the apartment and forcing the man to leave. The police were also contacted, and at the time, they couldn’t establish how 30-year-old Andrew Clyde Swofford got into the apartment as there was no sign of forced entry. Swofford was arrested shortly after the incident was reported and charged with misdemeanor breaking and entering.[2]

8 Nightmare Home Purchase

Police: Man Who Broke Into House With Cat Put On Homeowner’s Christmas Onesie

In July 2019, Timothy Smith and his fiancé were celebrating the closing of their first home in Gresham. They arrived at the house on a mellow Sunday afternoon with some of their relatives to find a MacBook Pro, an open bottle of cider, and an assortment of knives on top of their parked car. Thinking that neighbors or friends may have forgotten the items, they collected them and carried them inside the house.

However, as soon as they stepped inside, Smith knew something was off. There was an unfamiliar vape pen on their kitchen table, a missing heating grate, and holes in several walls. In the bathroom, Smith and his fiancé found a stranger’s clothes on top of their washing mashing. Walking into their third bedroom, Smith saw that the hatch to a crawl space had been left open, so he climbed into it and found a cat wearing clothes that belonged to one of his Chihuahuas. He backed up and called 911.

Fifteen minutes after police arrived at the scene, they led a man wearing Smith’s fiance’s onesie out the front door. The couple further discovered that the man, later identified as 38-year-old Ryan Bishop, broke through several walls over three hours, drank beer, ate some of their cupcakes, smoked their weed, and also played their video games.

Smith decided to keep the cat found with the man until it could be determined who it belonged to.[3]

7 “I was hiding under the vehicle simply for the visual.”

Photo Credit: Couperfield / Shutterstock

A 48-year-old woman from Aldi, Nebraska, was about to get into her car in June 2016 when a hand shot out from beneath the vehicle and grabbed her ankle. While freaking out, she watched as a man rolled out from under the car and ran away. She recognized him as the same man who had tried to touch her leg when she tried to get into her car in an apartment parking lot earlier that same month.

A couple of months before, Jesse M. Johnson spent some time in jail after he was involved in a similar incident outside a Walmart. In 2015, he was fined after an incident at a TJ Maxx store. Johnson told his lawyers that he just needed some help for his “weird addiction” and “odd behavior.”

In 2017, Johnson’s probation was revoked after four kids in a car saw him crawling underneath another car. When he heard the kids scream, he crawled back out and drove off in his own car. The kids’ mother wrote down his license plate number, and he was soon arrested and put in jail for disturbing the peace.[4]

6 Hotel of Horror

Victoria Rothe and a coworker were on a work trip and staying at a hotel when the unthinkable happened. Rothe and the coworker went back to the hotel after a long day, and when Rothe opened the door to her room, she spotted a woman standing in the bathroom. Rothe initially thought it was housekeeping, but when she saw the woman holding her clothes, she knew something was wrong. The woman tried to push past her, carrying a bag. Rothe grabbed the bag and searched for any of her own possessions. Finding nothing, she let the woman leave.

Only afterward did she realize that while the woman didn’t take any electronics or money, her hotel room had been ransacked, and the woman had taken some of her medicine. Rothe phoned the police, who found no signs of forced entry and some drywall in the bathroom sink. They left none the wiser after a while, and on a hunch, Rothe moved the mirror hanging over the sink. To her horror, she found a massive hole behind the mirror containing a pillow, blankets, clothes, and more.

It was later revealed that the woman could access other rooms as well through several holes left in the walls after renovations at the hotel. The hotel covered up the holes with mirrors.[5]

5 The Cellar’s Not Empty

Photo Credit: Vladimir Mulder / Shutterstock

In April 2020, Mayor Bruce Wilkerson of Bowling Green, Kentucky, was busy renovating a home he owns when he heard noises from inside. He also smelled cigarette smoke wafting in from outside. He went searching for the source of the noise, and when he went down into the cellar, he was shocked to find what looked like blood on the door and a bag on the ground containing a woman’s leggings.

He didn’t know what to make of the findings and went back down to the cellar again when the electricity in the house went out, as he suspected someone had flipped the breaker. This time he found a young woman cowering in the room. She told him she was “hiding from someone” before pushing past him and running away.

Wilkerson called the police to inform them about the incident and also let them know that while nothing was missing from his house, he couldn’t determine how long the woman had been staying in the cellar. He also noted that he wanted to tell the story before rumors started that he had a “lady locked up in my cellar.”[6]

4 He Watched Her Sleep

Man sentenced for repeatedly stalking, then attacking Westminster woman

On November 12, 2018, 30-year-old Jason Cameron Stiles entered the bedroom of a 20-year-old Denver woman, attacked, and attempted to overpower her. Fortunately, the woman was able to fight Stiles off, and he fled from the scene. Shortly after the attack, police officers arrested Stiles and found a knife and latex gloves on him. Stiles’s handgun was found outside the woman’s home.

Stiles admitted during the ensuing investigation that he had broken into the woman’s home multiple times before the night of the attack and had taken photographs of her possessions, including several pages from her journal. He also hid in her closet, watching her get undressed, brush her teeth, and sleep. Furthermore, it was believed Stiles had been stalking the woman for more than a year before breaking into her home the first time.

Stiles was eventually handed a 16-year-prison sentence after being found guilty of first-degree burglary, stalking, and a crime of violence.[7]

3 Always Listen to Your Children

Ten Questions with… Grady Hendrix

American horror novel author Grady Hendrix revealed in 2019 that a terrifying incident had happened to him when he was a child.

When Hendrix was nine years old, he took up the habit of sneaking downstairs and eating leftovers out of the fridge after the rest of his family had gone to sleep. He didn’t switch on any lights when he snuck from his bedroom down to the kitchen, navigating his way slowly in the dark. In May 1981, he’d been on his usual leftover-binge hunt when the sound of a fork scraping against the counter almost stopped his heart.

Hendrix recalled seeing the outline of a man in the light shining from the microwave clock. The man was calmly sitting at the kitchen counter, eating leftovers and drinking milk from the carton. The man didn’t see Hendrix, so he ran upstairs to alert his parents. By the time they came down, the man had left. They told Hendrix that he read too many horror comics and told him to go back to bed.

Hendrix, wanting to prove that he was telling the truth, started keeping track of where certain items were placed in the kitchen. He soon realized that items such as napkin holders had been moved to different parts of the kitchen overnight and once found a mug in the sink that wasn’t there the previous night.

In August 1981, Hendrix was reading a book in his bedroom when he happened to look up at the air conditioning vent over his bed. Something moved behind the vent, and Hendrix realized a pair of eyes was staring at him through it. Hendrix freaked out and insisted that his parents search the attic and crawl space of the house. Nothing out of the ordinary was found.

Toward the end of August, Hendrix saw what looked like rice scattered over his bed. Upon closer inspection, he saw that it was maggots that had fallen from the vent. Inspection revealed that the man Hendrix had seen inside the vent had died inside it. There was a foam pad inside the vent that the man laid on to make himself “comfortable” while watching Hendrix.[8]

The man’s identity was never revealed.

2 There Is a Stalker in the Room

Photo Credit: Cinemato/ Shutterstock

Between December 13, 2019, and January 15, 2020, 23-year-old Hamza Bouslamti regularly sneaked into a Plymouth woman’s home as part of a “campaign of harassment.” He got into her Facebook and Instagram accounts and posted fake messages, posing as the woman. At one point, he faked an overdose in an attempt to establish contact with her.

One night, the woman stumbled upon Bouslamti, who was hiding under her bed at the time. Fortunately, he didn’t attempt to hurt the woman and was soon arrested after she contacted the police. Bouslamti pleaded guilty to stalking the woman for a month and was handed an 18-month community service sentence and a five-year-restraining order preventing him from contacting the woman in any way or entering her street.[9]

1 Hiding in Young Girl’s Bedroom

This man hid in a house for months

In December 2019, 21-year-old Zacharias Adrian Cavasos “met” a 12-year-old girl via social media. He traveled from Washington to the girl’s home on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon shortly afterward. He met up with the girl in early February and convinced her to let him into her home. He moved into her bedroom without the girl’s grandfather knowing. The grandfather eventually saw Cavasos in the house on February 25 and chased him away, warning him against coming anywhere near his granddaughter.

Cavasos didn’t heed the warning and almost immediately snuck back into the house, where he hid until March 11, 2020. He had hiding spots under the bed and in the closet, in case anyone else came into the room. The grandfather eventually found Cavasos hiding in the room again and called the police. After his arrest, Cavasos admitted to having sex with the girl on multiple occasions while “living” in her room.

Cavasos had, at the time, been released to a clean-and-sober house while he awaited trial.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Estelle is a regular writer for Listverse.

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