“TRUE HITCHHIKING HORROR STORIES” #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: The open road is a beautiful place where you can make friends that you’d otherwise never meet and have adventures that will change your life. But there are also extreme dangers to traveling with strangers on highways and backroads. No matter how trustworthy or well-intentioned a driver might seem, it’s nearly impossible to tell if they are actually a predator or murderer, preying upon innocent hitchhikers. Creepy, true hitchhiker stories can make you think twice before picking up that stranger at the side of the road – or trying to “thumb it” yourself.
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“The Hitchhiker” original story at the beginning of this episode was written by HoneyBunny00:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8b53e2
“Hitchhiking Horror Stories” by Isadora Teich for Ranker.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3yj8t3ka, by Jacob Shelton for Ranker.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2s4a2wkz, Eric Redding for ThoughtCatalog.com:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/hk8pn8rf, and from ScaryCarries.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2aead59t
“Phantom Hitchhikers” posted at Anomalien.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/y4dxkv7m, Kelly Agan for Medium.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/36wucpzm, Paul Adams for The History Press: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8z538u, and Krystal DeCosta for ScientificAmerican.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/mr29nkpa
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(Over time links seen above may become invalid, disappear, or have different content. I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use whenever possible. If I somehow overlooked doing so for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I will rectify it in these show notes immediately. Some links included above may benefit me financially through qualifying purchases.)
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. © 2023, Weird Darkness.
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DISCLAIMER: Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.
A recently married couple were on a long road trip through the heart of the United States. One night it was raining hard and the headlights of their car flashed across an obviously cold, wet man on the side of the road hitching a lift. Not usually one for taking hitchhikers, but the weather was so bad to the husband pulled over and offered the guy a lift. The man thanked them and climbed in. He seemed a bit agitated and edgy, but who wouldn’t be after walking down the street in such a downpour? He barely spoke a word for the whole journey, and eventually the couple dropped him off at a cross roads where he had asked them to let him out – despite the rain coming down in sheets. The couple drove on for a good while when suddenly the car gives out, and no amount of keying the ignition will make it start again. They try turning on the radio, to no avail. The battery is completely drained. So the husband tells his wife to stay in the car while he walks ahead in the rain to try and get help. The woman locks the doors and sits in silence, without even the car radio to keep her company. Eventually she doses off. She wakes up with seeing flashing police lights through the water coming down the windshield and a voice through a loud speaker ‘Mam open the door, get out of the car and run towards us as soon as you can. Do it NOW!’ The woman is confused but gets out of the car and puts her hands above her head. ‘Run and don’t look back!,’ orders the police officer. But how you resist doing so once you hear that? So the woman turns…. In the flashing blue lights of the police car and illuminated by flashes of lightning she sees on top of the car, the hitchhiker they had helped earlier – he could clearly be seen with a machete hacking at the dismembered corpse of her husband, with blood streaming over the car. She screams and faints as a flurry of gunshots ring out. The woman awakes in an ambulance a few moments later, still in shock. The ambulance is still sitting by the side of the road where the woman’s car and husband both lay dead. Over the police radio she hears that the murderer that had just escaped from the area’s maximum security prison was now back in custody… now with another murder to add to his rap sheet and upcoming trials. Hitchhiking can be a dangerous way to travel… even for those who are doing the picking up.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
The open road is a beautiful place where you can make friends that you’d otherwise never meet and have adventures that will change your life. But there are also extreme dangers to traveling with strangers on highways and backroads. No matter how trustworthy or well-intentioned a driver might seem, it’s nearly impossible to tell if they are actually a predator or murderer, preying upon innocent hitchhikers. Creepy, true hitchhiker stories can make you think twice before picking up that stranger at the side of the road – or trying to “thumb it” yourself. (Hitchhiking Horror Stories)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, to connect with me on social media, and more!
A quick warning about this episode – I have tried to clean up some of the language used, but the graphic descriptions of what happened to some people will be extremely disturbing for some listeners – including facts about necrophilia and rape. Listener discretion is strongly advised.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: HITCHHIKING HORROR STORIES=====
No one actively thinks that they’re going to be killed by a hitchhiker – or by the person who picks them up. Unfortunately for everyone in the stories I am sharing tonight, whether they survived or not, they experienced unspeakable terror. Whether the driver is John Wayne Gacy, someone wanting to keep them as a sex slave under a water bed for several years, or a random man wielding an axe, these true stories about hitchhikers should hopefully serve as cautionary tales.
***Jacci Ansell-Lamb was last seen in May 1970 when she was trying to hitch a ride from London to her home in Manchester. Six days later, her semi-nude body was discovered by a farmer outside of Knutsford, England. Investigators discovered that Ansell-Lamb had been sexually assaulted before she was strangled with electrical wire and dumped on the side of the road. Although no official suspect has ever been named, police believe that prolific English serial killer Peter Tobin is to blame.
***Be careful when you’re trekking across New Zealand, especially if you’re carrying any special belongings. One German man who was traveling the country on foot had all of his stuff stolen from him by a middle-aged man in a white Honda near Timaru in February 2016. The hitchhiker said, “Until now, it seemed to be a really safe country. Maybe I put too much trust in people.”
***From Redditor/u/thebestjeans: “So this was told to me by an old family friend, Nicki, numerous times as a kid growing up, as one of those “life advice stories” to keep in mind through the years. And to her credit, I have never forgotten it. Whenever anything associated with hitchhiking comes up it always springs to mind and probably always will. Makes me a bit ill whenever I think about it actually. So Nicki, who grew up at the same time as my dad around the early ’80s, was a young woman in her mid 20s. She’s one of those real kindhearted souls, always willing to help another out in a time of need, you know? And I can’t imagine her being anything other than that when she was younger so I totally see her doing this too. So, driving into the city (about a two-hour-or-so drive out from town) She saw a man walking down the side of the road. As she neared he turned and, in typical hitchhiker manner, stuck out the ol’ arm and thumb. Nicki, bless her heart, pulled over and asked him if he needed any help. She told me that he was really polite, if not a bit shy, when he asked for a lift into the city. Nicki gave a smile and popped open the passenger door for the guy, who tossed his bag into the back seat and buckled up for the ride ahead. They talked pleasantly for most of the trip, about friends, the news, etc. She felt that they were getting on really well and even bought him dinner at the pit stop a little over halfway there. She says he seemed really flustered and awkward when she paid, but one of the things they had talked about was money and how he was pretty dang strapped for cash, which was why he was hitchhiking in the first place. But he eventually relented and they went on their way. As soon as they got into the city he thanked her profusely for the ride and the food and asked to be dropped off once they hit downtown. Before getting out he asked for Nicki’s phone number so he could contact her someday and catch up. Thrilled at the prospect of knowing how her new friend was faring, Nicki wrote it down for him and drove off with the warm feeling of a good deed done. Now I’m sorry if you were expecting something creepy to have happened by now, but I think this is what freaked me out so much as a kid; how nice everything seemed to have worked out. Nicki would get this crease in her forehead and a funny look in her eye when she would tell me the next part. A week later she got a phone call from her driving buddy. He didn’t let her get a word in edgewise after ‘hello’ and told her ‘that she should thank god that she was raised so nice, because when he first got in her car he was planning on raping and murdering her once they got to that pit stop. That he was going to steal that car and dump her body in a ditch further down the road and go on his merry way. But after she talked with him so kindly, and treated him to dinner with a smile on her face, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He didn’t think that he could live with himself after doing that to such a nice lady. And to please, please, Nicki please: Never. Ever. Pick up another hitchhiker.’ Then he hung up the phone. Nicki never got a call from him again, when she tried re-dialing the number she got a payphone. And so, Mr. Hitchhiker, I know I’m never going to meet you. Because I’m going to listen to the advice you gave your driving buddy and never. Ever. Pick up a hitchhiker.”
***From a former Redditor: There was a story on NPR about a man hitchhiking across the county who got a ride from a couple. A while after he got home, he saw them on the news. They had killed a man earlier and were driving with his corpse in their car. They had killed and robbed a few people before then. He was surprised because they were so nice. Remember, niceness does not equal goodness. Anyone can be ‘nice.'”
***From Redditor /u/muttermag: “That reminds me of the woman in the box – she accepted a ride from a couple with a baby. They kidnapped her and held her for seven years. I heard her story when I was a kid, and it’s the reason I would never hitchhike.”
***From the late ’80s to the early 2000s, the bodies of as many as 12 hitchhikers, including 18-year-old Catherine Graham and 32-year-old Tony Jones, turned up on a desolate stretch of highway outside the cattle town of Hughenden. This stretch of highway has been dubbed the “Highway of Death” as a result. The murders remain unsolved. Thus far, it’s impossible to know if all of the murders are the work of a single killer, or if this part of the Australian outback is an area where bodies of victims can be easily and secretly discarded.
***From a former Redditor: “There’s this middle-aged man who lives in the town I’m from. He was a genuinely sweet and caring person. And mind, this is a really small town. One day, he picked up a hitchhiker just outside of town. He told him to jump in the bed of the truck, and he’ll drive him to Walmart. About halfway there, the hitchhiker shot him in the back of the head for no reason. He didn’t even steal anything. And if I remember correctly, he got caught. Henry didn’t die, but he’s permanently disabled and has severe brain damage. I remember when I first heard that, and it scared the crap out of me. This was probably about 12 years ago now, but I still think about anytime someone talks about hitchhikers. It scares me to think someone would do something like that, just because.”
***On May 19, 1977, 20-year-old Colleen Stan decided to hitchhike 400 miles from Eugene, OR, to surprise her friend in Westwood, CA, for her birthday. She was less than 100 miles away from her destination when she had the misfortune of running into Cameron Hooker, a 23-year-old lumber mill worker. Hooker was traveling with his wife and baby when he picked up Stan and forced her to be a sex slave in their home for seven years. During that time, Stan slept in a box under the couple’s waterbed and was repeatedly raped and tortured. Stan wasn’t freed until 1984 when Hooker’s wife helped her escape and get to a bus stop. At his trial, Hooker was sentenced to 104 years in prison.
***From Redditor /u/Jeola: “First of all I want to apologize for any mistakes. English isn’t my first language and even though I’ll try my best to avoid it I’ll probably mess up something. The story took place two years ago. I was on my second week backpacking through Austria and I reached a point where I was too exhausted to walk any longer. It was an unusually hot day; I had blisters all over my feet, and I was ready to call it quits. I was in the middle of nowhere and decided to thumb a lift to the nearest train station. But I was out of luck. I stood there for what felt like hours and no car would pick me up. (I don’t blame them. I spent two weeks sleeping in the woods, my clothes were dirty and I probably looked like a maniac.) When finally a truck pulled up I didn’t hesitate to hop inside because I was so thankful to be able to sit down and rest my feet for a while. I asked the driver if he could drop me at the nearest station so that I could catch a train to Vienna, but he told me that he was heading back there anyway and that he could take me there as long as I didn’t mind him making a stopover to load the truck. I didn’t and so we drove along. We made some small-talk and he seemed to be very polite. It was a pretty enjoyable ride until we reached the first stop. He loaded his truck while I walked around a bit and bought some water at a gas station nearby. He had offered me drinks a few times along the ride but I always declined because I don’t feel comfortable with that. I got back into the truck and we continued the drive to Vienna. Almost immediately after we took off again he told me that it wouldn’t be a problem for him if I wanted to take off some clothes since it was such a hot day. I told him that I was fine but he brought it up a couple more times. He also asked me if I wanted to take a nap in the back and that he had several hitchhikers sleeping there in the past. I declined again and started to feel a little uneasy around him and planned to leave the truck at the next gas stop. All of the sudden he nearly yelled at me to put my head down and hide because he was driving past his stepfather’s car and he didn’t want him to see me in the truck. That struck me as odd, but I did anyway because his yelling took me by surprise. That confirmed my resolution to get out of there as soon as possible and I asked him to drop me of at the next stop and made up an excuse that it was my goal to enter Vienna by foot and that I was rested enough to make it, thanks to his lift. He agreed and I got my stuff ready. He suddenly turned to me and said that I looked familiar and that he was sure he saw me somewhere before. I shrugged it off but he insisted he remembered my face. He asked me if I ever went to a swingers club, because he was sure he saw me there some time. That caught me off guard and I told him that this was impossible because I’d never been to one. ‘Well, do you want to? I’m going to one in Vienna. Let’s go there together, I’m sure you’ll like it.’ At this point I really wanted to get off the truck ASAP, and told him that I had no intention to come with him and asked him to drop me off now. He didn’t answer but reached into his pants and started (pleasuring himself) while he drove along. I froze up, clutching my backpack on my lap and didn’t know what to do. I kept thinking that I’d jump off as soon as he stopped somewhere and tried to ignore what he was doing there since he didn’t respond to my plea to let me out. A gas station was coming up and he stopped what he was doing and asked if we should take a shower together. I figured that there’d be people around and that it would make it easier to get rid of him, so I told him sure, why not. He pulled up and as soon as he stopped I yanked open the door and run across the parking area of the gas station hoping that he wouldn’t come after me. He didn’t, so I just kept running until the station was out of sight and I reached a busy street. Only after my heart stopped racing and I caught my breath I realized that I left my shoes at the truck. I walked the last few kilometers barefoot and kept a look out for the truck until I reached Vienna.”
***Edmund Kemper III, a psychopathic serial killer and necrophile who became known as “The Co-ed Killer,” was born December 18, 1948, in Burbank, California. He was arrested in April of 1973, at the age of twenty-four, after murdering six female students, his own mother, and her mother’s best friend. During childhood, Kemper was physically and emotionally abused by his alcoholic mother, Clarnell, who was divorced from his father. Clarnell frequently locked her son in a dark basement alone at night. Not surprisingly, Edmund grew up to hate his mother and at the age of 14 ran away from home in search of his father in Van Nuys, California. After locating but being rejected by his father, young Edmund was sent to live with his paternal grandmother and grandfather in North Fork, California. Kemper claims that his grandmother, similar to his mother, was very abusive and he disliked her intensely. Despite his relative youth upon capture, Kemper had actually committed his first two murders nearly a decade earlier. Kemper was an extremely intelligent child but he engaged in psychopathic behavior early on. For Kemper, this behavior included the torture and killing of animals, which is a common childhood practice among nearly half of all serial killers. In 1964, at the age of 15, Edmund shot his grandmother in the head allegedly just to see what it felt like. He then killed his grandfather, too, because he believed that his grandfather would be angry at him for killing his grandmother. Kemper was subsequently committed to the Atascadero State Hospital for the criminally insane. To his chagrin, he was released into his mother’s care in 1969 after less than five years of confinement and treatment. His juvenile criminal record was expunged. As a young adult, Kemper stood six-foot-nine and weighed 280 pounds. He frequently thought about killing his mother by 1970 but was not yet ready to do so. The prospect of killing his mother without first perfecting his murder skills on others was too overwhelming for Kemper. Between May 1972 and February 1973, Kemper embarked on a series of six shocking serial murders in which he picked up hitchhiking female students along the highway and then transported them to rural areas where he would kill and then decapitate them, and have sex with their corpses. He collected their dismembered heads in his apartment and would later have sex with them also. He was buddies with all the local cops, They would drink in a bar called “The Jury Room” with the very law enforcement officers who unbeknownst to them were pursuing him. His law enforcement friends began calling him “Big Eddie.” Kemper finally realized his ultimate fantasy and killed his mother with a claw hammer and strangled her best friend on Good Friday 1973. After having sex with his mother’s decapitated head, Edmund Kemper casually telephoned the local law enforcement authorities to confess what he had done. The police initially refused to believe him, thinking that their friend “Big Eddie” was just pulling a prank on them. After several follow-up calls and the disclosure of information that only the “The Co-ed Killer” would know, Kemper finally convinced the police that he was the man they sought. He was quickly arrested without incident and charged with eight murders in the first degree. Kemper was found guilty and given a life sentence because there was a stay on the death penalty in the U.S. at the time of his conviction. Kemper was asked by a Cosmopolitan magazine reporter during a prison interview how he felt when he saw a pretty girl after killing his mother. He said, “One side of me says, I’d like to talk to her, date her. The other side says, “I wonder how her head would look on a stick.” Edmund Kemper remains housed among the general prison population at California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California.
More true and terrifying hitchhiker stories coming up when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: MORE HITCHHIKING HORROR STORIES=====
The idea of hitchhiking across the world and relying on the kindness of strangers to get you from point A to point Z is a romantic one. But for every cinematic story of people meeting at a truck stop and becoming fast friends, there are hundreds of real-life hitchhiking horror stories. The stories I’m sharing with you tonight should convince you that hitchhiking is simply not safe. You could end up kidnapped, injured, or possibly even dead.
***Between 1972 and 1973 Santa Rosa, California experienced the killings of seven women whose murders have never been solved. An eighth probable victim disappeared and her body has never been located. All of the victims were known to hitchhike, a popular mode of transportation during that time. These murders became known as the SANTA ROSA HITCHHIKER MURDERS. The so called Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders have been linked to other crimes that occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s where the facts have been distorted to meet the criteria of the particular murderer thought to have committed them, most notably the Zodiac Killer and Ted Bundy. THESE MURDERS REMAIN UNSOLVED. On March 5, 1972, two high school students made a terrifying discovery: the nude body of a woman lying in a creek bed. The body was that of Kim Wendy Allen, a 19-year-old who had last been seen hitchhiking to school and carrying a wooden soy barrel with red Chinese characters on it. Coroners soon discovered that Kim was tortured to death before being dumped. Her wrists and ankles had been bound, and she had been raped before being strangled by a cord. Investigators determined that she was strangled slowly over the course of a half-hour. Kim was last seen on Enterprise Road in Santa Rosa. Her body was found eight miles east of there. And it wasn’t going to be the last body the police found. Santa Rosa is a town located north of San Francisco just twenty miles from the California coast in Sonoma County. During the late 60s and early 70s, it found itself caught in political upheaval because of its proximity to the hippie movement in San Francisco. In March of 1972, a prison riot broke out at the county jail. In 1968, the infamous Zodiac Killer was making headlines for several murders in the San Francisco Bay area and down in Los Angeles, around that same time, Charles Manson and his followers were the lead suspects in a series of home invasion killings in and around the Hollywood Hills. In other words, there was no shortage of crime, murder, and mayhem in California during this period. That’s why the discovery of a body on the side of the road, although a major cause for concern, probably didn’t raise a lot of eyebrows. On April 27, 1972, almost two months after the discovery of Kim Allen, friends reported the disappearance of twenty-year-old Jeannett Kamahele who was last seen hitchhiking some 20 miles from where Kim was found. Rumors and connections were immediately made as officials began warning coeds against hitchhiking to class and work. Residents were beginning to think a serial killer might be at work, a belief that was further fueled by the discovery of two more bodies in an embankment north east of Santa Rosa. The bodies were that of Maureen Sterling and Yvonne Weber. Both 12-year-old middle school students were last seen February 4, 1972 hitchhiking on Guerneville Road. Their skeletal remains were found 6 months later. Their cause of death would never be determined. Before police could even completely identify their new victims, another body emerged. Lori Lee Kursa’s mother reported the 13-year-old girl missing on November 11, 1972. Believed to have run away from home and known to hitchhike, Lori was last seen visiting friends in Santa Rosa ten days after her mother reported her missing. On December 14, the 8th grader’s body was found down an embankment off Calistoga Road in north Santa Rosa. The cause of death was a broken neck. But with Lori’s death came a potential break in the case. A witness came forward claiming to have seen two men force a young girl matching Lori’s description into their van. The witness claimed that two men grabbed the girl and threw her into the back of a van which was being driven by a white man with an “Afro hair style”. Carolyn Davis was a 14-year-old run away from Anderson, California, a small town three hours north of Santa Rosa. Carolyn ran away from her home on February 6, 1973. She was last seen alive by her grandmother who dropped her off at the Garberville Post Office, two hours north of Santa Rosa, on July 15th. Witnesses claimed to have seen a young girl matching Carolyn Davis’ description hitchhiking down Highway 101 heading towards Santa Rosa. Her body was discovered one year after Maureen Sterling and Yvonne Weber vanished and only three feet from the exact spot where their bodies were discovered. The cause of death was strychnine poisoning. Theresa Walsh was last seen on December 22, 1973 at Zuma Beach in Malibu, California, 460 miles from Santa Rosa. Friends said she was intent on hitchhiking north to Garberville so she could spend the holidays with her family. She never made it home. Instead, on December 28th, 1973 the 23-year-old’s body was discovered by boaters, partially submerged in Mark West Creek just west of Santa Rosa. She was the 6th victim found in Sonoma County in just two years. Truth is, they had no solid evidence and Bundy never took credit for these crimes so still the killer could’ve possibly just gotten away with these awful murders.
***From Redditor /u/jasonissohandsome: “Not my story, but my history teacher’s hitchhiker’s story. As a teenager, my teacher lived in Cook County, IL, and frequently would walk around town/the city as most people do. One day he was offered a ride by a large-ish man in a car and hitchhiked home. The driver had a clown suit and makeup kit in the back of his car because he said he worked as a clown part time, which should have sent bells ringing but he thought nothing of it. So he got driven to his mom’s house and thanked the driver and left. My history teacher said the driver was one of the most polite people he has ever met. A few years later my teacher found out that the man he got into a car with was John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”
***If you’re traveling through Iceland, it’s not out of the ordinary to hitchhike across the small, glacial country. But on August 16, 1982, sisters Yvette and Marie Bauhaud were trekking across the beautiful country and accepted a ride that would change their world forever. The driver, Grétar Sigurður Árnason, dropped the two sisters off at a cabin before accusing them of hiding cannabis, bashing Marie in the head with a rock, and shooting Yvette with a shotgun. Marie survived by hiding in a sleeping bag and running after a police car that happened to drive by. Árnason was convicted of murder.
***From Redditor /u/IranRPCV: “I stopped around sunset when I saw someone at the side of the interstate on the way to Phoenix from Tucson. As soon as I stopped he and three more people got into the car. Before I could say anything, a spotlight hit my mirror, and a state police officer came up, asked me if I was okay, and started questioning my new passengers in Spanish. He said to me, ‘You know you have a car load of illegal aliens here, don’t you?’ He then said I could turn them over to him, and he would keep them in jail overnight and turn them in to INS in the morning, take them up to the next exit and drop them off, or take them to where they were originally headed. Not quite sure I understood him, I asked him to repeat. He said the same thing again. I said that if he didn’t mind, I would take them to their destination, which turned out to be an orchard a few miles up the road. He wished me a good evening, and left, while my passengers kept repeating, ‘amigo, amigo!'”
***In July 2016, a hitchhiker near Brakpan, South Africa, accepted a ride from two unknown men and ended up on the worst ride of his life. After two more men, seemingly hitchhikers, got in the car, they grimly told him he had gotten into the wrong car. One of the men then punched the hitchhiker in the face before tying him up and shooting him five times in the leg. Since this happened while the car was in motion, the driver ended up accidentally running into the wall of a house in KwaThema. The suspects fled the scene and left the hitchhiker in the car. Despite injuries sustained, he survived.
***From Redditor /u/gruselig: “My aunt’s eldest son hitchhiked a lot through New Brunswick back in the ’70s. He vanished one summer, and the best the police could come up with was that he was picked up by someone, murdered, and his body was dumped in the St. John river. They never found his body, and my aunt never got closure. My mother told me that when I was young to discourage me from hitchhiking, and heck, it worked.”
***From Redditor /u/Summat: “My older brother picked up a hitchhiker once after a night of light drinking. The way I heard the story relayed was that after driving for a few minutes the man pulled out a shotgun (god knows how he concealed it, the cops never really figured out that detail of the story) and declared he was going to steal the car. Well my brother being the self-proclaimed tough guy that he was wasn’t going to have this, so he stopped and tried to pull the guy out of the car to the ground. Next thing you know my brother has a shotgun wound that blew off a chunk of his bicep, and the hitchhiker runs off. He made a decent recovery but he still has a chunk gone from his arm and isn’t able to lift heavy things anymore with that one. I will never pick up a hitchhiker.”
***A Polish man traveling through Ireland to buy a car flagged down a car for a ride that seemed to belong to a family. Once in the car, he didn’t mind sitting between two children (one was a 6 month old, the other was 8 years old). After about 15 minutes, he realized all was not as it seemed when they locked him in and met up with a second car on a side road. Even though the hitchhiker gave his attackers all his money, they stabbed him five or six times in the legs in front of the children. Paramedics arrived on the scene just in time to save the man’s life.
***From a former Redditor: “This is story comes from my father’s experience as a hitchhiker. During the late ’60s early ’70s, when he was between 13-16 years old, my father took off for the summer and went on a big trip around Northeast Quebec. Apparently his parents didn’t care about him. Anyway, as he’s going along, he gets picked up by a bunch of Americans headed up in the same way. I can’t recall if they were these guys were draft-dodgers or vets, but either way it became pretty clear to him that these guys weren’t completely sane. Not wanting to draw their attention to this fact, he figured that he would take the ride and ditch them as soon as possible. That first night, they end up in some sort of RV/campground. While making setting up their stuff, one of the rangers comes over and starts giving them trouble. Either they hadn’t paid their fees or didn’t want to pay or whatever. After a little while the ranger leaves and the Americans are really bothered by this guy. Rather than address the issue, they start putting together a plan to off this guy. They’d apparently brought some rifles across the border and thought it would be easier to kill the ranger than be hassled about fees. My dad is generally a calm guy but when he realized what was going on and that these guys would not be talked out of it, he was thinking ‘What am I getting myself into?’ The next time the ranger comes back, my dad approaches him right away tells him that he’s got to go. I am not sure if he paid the guy or just warned him but either way, the ranger left and didn’t come back. The craziest part of the story, in my opinion, is that I think he stayed with the guys for a few more days. Rather than peace the heck out like most people would do, they kept him on with them. Probably saved a ranger’s life and saved himself from a much worse fate.”
***On September 7, 1982, two men from upstate New York picked up an 18-year-old hitchhiker named Randall Shoptwese who was making his way to Alaska. The men had been drinking all day and made the decision to rob the hitchhiker before pulling over to pick him up. When they picked up Shoptwese, he resisted their robbery attempt, however, they managed to handcuff him and slit his throat. The knife penetrated him so deeply that when Shoptwese’s body was found his head was almost completely severed. Both men were sentenced and remain in prison.
***From Redditor /u/HootBear: “I was 18 at the time, driving to get some food on my lunch break. I saw a man probably in his 50s trying to hitch a ride. I was pretty hesitant to stop so I drove by. I felt guilty though, remembering my mom always stopping to help people stranded on the road, homeless, out of gas, etc., so I turned around and offered a ride. He introduced himself (name I cannot remember), and thanked me profusely – he apparently had groceries and told me he didn’t want his meat to spoil in the hot NM weather. He asked to be dropped off at the post office, which was not too far away. As I drove off, he stared at me for a good minute and the sirens went off in my head. Awkward, creepy, and unsettling. After a bit he blurted out ‘You sure are pretty,’ and asked me for a number. I said no, I have a boyfriend and I am not interested in the least bit. He kept asking, and insisting my relationship status was irrelevant. I asked him to stop and he became aggressive. I veered into the closest turn-in, slammed on my brakes and yelled ‘Is it too much to ask for a little good karma every now and then?! Get out of my car, you cad! (yes I said cad).’ He gave me a blank look, then just got out much to my surprise. He ended up forgetting his groceries, and what scared me most is the fact that there was no meat, just some eggplants and nonsense. Now that I’m older and hopefully smarter I will think about who I pick up a little more; that and it also helps having my 80 lb dog in tow.”
***In the ’90s, trucker Keith Hunter Jesperson was the wrong guy to hitch a ride with. He was a serial killer who at one time claimed to have murdered 160 victims, although he later recanted his confession and admitted that he had only killed eight women. His method was to pick victims up at a gas station or on the side of the road, strangle them, and dump their bodies in another state. One woman who he let use his credit card to make a long-distance call woke him up in the middle of the night, making him angry enough to kill her. In order to destroy all evidence of his crime, he then strapped her to the bottom of his truck and dragged her along the highway until she was unrecognizable.
***From Redditor /u/RaccoonYetiKiwi: “I didn’t pick him up myself, but I was with my father who was driving. We got him during the rain. He had long hair that covered his eyes and he was carrying an axe. He looked oddly like a long haired-Hitler, and he had the dark hair and mustache. He was extremely polite and we dropped him off where he needed to go with no problems. I like to think he was a very polite murderer, or did that all the time just to see how people reacted.”
***While hitchhiking across New Zealand in 1989, Urban Höglin and Heidi Paakkonen disappeared outside of Thames, a city on the Southwestern end of the country’s North Island. Despite a massive search for the couple, nothing was discovered until Höglin’s body was found in 1991. Paakkonen’s body was never found. Native New Zealander David Tamihere was convicted of their murders and sentenced to twenty years in prison. Controversy continues to surround the legitimacy of the conviction. Tamihere continues to deny that he played any part in the murders.
***From Redditor /u/howboutme: “I stop for hitchhikers. Some background, I’m 36 now. When I was 13-15 I used to hitchhike out in the country to get around when visiting family who lived in the country. It started when I was walking and someone who knew the area just offered me a ride. When I was a kid everyone was perfectly pleasant and nothing untoward ever happened. Flash forward, many years. I’ve picked up hitchhikers off and on, my dad used to as well. The weirdest one he picked up was some Navajo guy who was walking in middle of the desert while he was doing long haul trucking. The guy literally was in middle of nowhere during a time of the year that the weather could have killed him. He picked him up and traveled with him for about 300 miles and eventually he got stopped by the police and the guy he picked up got arrested. They threatened my dad with aiding and abetting but nothing came of it and took the guy away. My dad picked him up again several days later driving back to find out that the police kept him for a day or two and then dropped him back off in middle of the desert near where he was picked up the first time. My dad took him over the state lines to El Paso and he got out and was perfectly pleasant the whole time.”
***In the early ’70s, Douglas Gretzler and friend Willie Steelman went on a killing spree that left 17 people dead in less than two months. The duo’s crimes escalated from stealing a hitchhikers clothes and money after tying him to a tree to killing a hitchhiker in Arizona and dumping his body in the Superstition Mountains while on their way to murder two friends so they wouldn’t suspect the duo of murdering two of their mutual friends. Gretzler was executed in 1998 for his crimes.
***From Redditor /u/abrutalcow: “Not my story but my dad’s. He was traveling through Arizona on his way to Mexico. He looked to the side of the road and saw a man hitchhiking. My dad pulled over and asked where the guy is going, to which the man said, ‘The next town over.’ My dad, being a very trusting man and this being the ’70s or ’80s, decided he would give him a ride. While they are driving they start talking, and my father asked for his name. His name was Derp. My dad, quite shocked, looked at him and replied, ‘Holy crap, that’s my name!’ They had a few small conversations and at the next [t]own my dad let him out and continued to Mexico. He eventually reached the border. He pulled up and the border official asked to see his license. He took a good long look at the license. The official then took off his big aviator sunglasses and told him to pull over to the side. My dad got out of the car and they put him in a room while they searched his car. He was sitting in the room for a good few hours admiring the entire wall of confiscated tequila when the officer walked back in and apologized for the wait. My dad asked what the reason was and the officer replied, ‘There’s a warrant out for the arrest of Derp.’ Once again dazed, my dad asked, ‘What for?’ The officer replied, ‘Murder.’ My dad damn near crapped his pants.”
***Joseph Naso, a 79-year-old photographer, was dubbed “The Alphabet Killer” for his alleged penchant for killing sex workers with names featuring the same first and last letter. He allegedly killed one woman after picking her up as she hitchhiked home. He was arrested in 2010 after detectives discovered a “diary of sexual assaults,” a list of locations where he disposed of bodies and photos of scantily clad women that appeared unconscious or deceased.
***Ben Rhoades is a trucker who allegedly admitted that he had been “torturing women for 15 years as he crisscrossed America by highway.” The sadistic trucker kept a briefcase full of alligator clips, leashes, handcuffs, whips and various other sex toys. He was caught when an Arizona state trooper decided to chat with Rhoades, who had parked his big rig dangerously close to the shoulder of Interstate 40. Inside Rhoades’s cab, the trooper found a woman shackled to the door covered in welts, cuts, and with a horse bridle secured to her mouth and neck. After Rhoades was arrested, he was tied to a series of hitchhiker murders in multiple states and received multiple life sentences in Illinois and Texas.
I still have many more true and terrifying hitchhiker stories coming up on Weird Darkness.
***I was driving a shortcut from Twentynine Palms, CA to Albuquerque, NM. Twentynine Palms is located in the desolate high desert east of LA. The shortcut was all two lane road through total nothingness, except for passing through Amboy, CA. Amboy is a nearly abandoned town nearly as far below sea level as Death Valley, with a dormant volcano and lava field on one side and a salt flat on the other. It was also, at the time, a hotspot for satanic group activity. So I was driving by myself in the afternoon. I stopped in Amboy and snapped a picture of the city sign, just to prove I was there to friends who dared me to take that route to I-40. I got back in my car and proceeded to drive up into the mountain range between Amboy and I-40. Once I reach the top I am driving north through a canyon with high grass on both sides of the road. Up ahead I see some stuff in the middle of the road. As I approach I slow down to see a red Pontiac Fiero stopped sideways across both lanes, a suitcase open with clothes scattered everywhere and two bodies laying face down in the road, a man and a woman. I stop a hundred feet or so away and the hair on the back of my neck is standing up. Being a Marine, I reach under the seat and pull out a 9mm pistol and chamber a round. Something seemed very wrong, it looked too perfect as if it were staged. An ambush? Was I being paranoid? Something was just wrong. Getting out of the car seemed unthinkable, it was the horror movie move. As I scanned the road I saw a line I could drive. Pass the guy in the road on his left, swerve to the right side of the woman, behind the Fiero and I’d be on the other side. I dropped it into first gear, punched it and drove the line I planned. I passed the back of the Fierro without hitting it or either of the bodies in the road. I continued forward a couple hundred feet and slowed down so I could breathe and let my heart slow down. As I looked up into the rearview mirror I saw that the two bodies had gotten up to their knees and twenty or so people emerged from the tall grass on either side of the road by the car and bodies. At that moment my right foot smashed the gas pedal to the floor and did not let up until I had to slowdown for the I-40 east onramp. I will never know what would have happened to me had I gotten out of the car to check on the bodies or stopped my car closer to them. Somehow I do not think it would have been good. Sometimes real life can be scarier than a movie.
***It was 2001 and my friend and I were 17 (both female) and driving back from a late movie to my house one night. I lived in a pretty rural area in Maine, about 20 minutes from the nearest town. As we were driving down the highway through the woods, we passed a median with a car sitting in it, facing in the oncoming direction, with all its lights off. Right after we drove past it, it flashed its lights, did a 3 point turn and started driving behind us. We giggled that “oh, it must be a gang initiation, we’re gonna get murdered!” because this was Maine and that was obviously not what was happening. The turnoff for my road was a few miles away and this car stayed behind us the whole time. We made the left turn and the car kept going down the highway. Phew! But 30 seconds later we realized that the car must have backed up on the highway and made the turn after us. Now we were getting a little worried. There was still one more road to turn down before we got to my house (this is way in the woods) and the car did the same thing…backed up and made the left after us. Now we were legit freaked. I had a long driveway and the car followed us right into the driveway and almost up to my house, which had all the lights on because my mom was home. We ran into my house, just in time to see the mystery car reverse back down the driveway and drive away. To this day we still have no idea why that car was following us – if they thought we were someone else or if they actually had bad intentions and only changed their mind when they saw that my houselights were on. Since we only ever saw the front of the car, we didn’t get a license plate or a better description than “a blue car”.
***About 15 years ago my mom and cousin were coming home from visiting my aunt who lived 2 hours away. The drive takes you through the desert and up some mountains but there is a shortcut you can take to avoid the mountains and shave about 10 minutes off your drive time, only problem is the shortcut takes you literally through the middle of nowhere. Its a 2 lane road with nothing for 30 miles, no houses, no shops, no lights, not even those roadside emergency phone booths. They’re driving along through the shortcut at about 11PM when they spot something on the road. At first my cousin thinks its a rock so she slows down to go around it. When she gets closer she realizes its a lady with long black hair and what looks like a burlap shawl wrapped around her. She’s crouched down facing away from my cousin. My mom says that she thought the lady might have been in trouble so they pull up next to her and ask if she’s OK and if she needs help. My cousin says the lady stood up and looked at them and let out a shriek like a goddamn banshee. She insists that the her eyes were pitch black and her skin was as white as a sheet and she was really skinny, like almost anorexic skinny. I debate this because it was dark out and her mind might have been playing tricks on her, but none the less it was enough to spook the hell out her and make her punch the accelerator and get out of there. The lady briefly ran after them but they lost sight of her after a short bit. They didn’t stop for anything, even running a stop sign, until they got to the next town where they stopped at a gas station to get something to drink and to collect their thoughts. A few weeks later my cousin was telling her coworker what happened and she said it might have been a skin walker that she saw and that she’s lucky she got away. That spooked her even worse so now she wont go through the shortcut, even when someone else is driving she insists on taking the main highway.
***About two years ago, I was driving home from a family reunion pretty late at night, and the drive was about two hours. I didn’t stay the night because I had to be back for work the following day. Most of the drive was on roads with dense bushes and trees on either side – the real creepy ones you see a lot in movies. Anyway, I had been driving about 45 minutes, and I was starting to get really tired. You know how sometimes you just suddenly become really tired, out of nowhere? Well yeah, that happened to me. I knew I wasn’t going to last, but I didn’t come across any place that I felt I could park and safely sleep. Anyway, after it became clear to me that I wasn’t going to find a place to pull up, and my tiredness wasn’t going away, I did something very questionable. I pulled over to the side of the road onto the grass, behind some bushes, to try and hide my car from anybody else who was going to come past (the roads weren’t empty, I came across another car every few minutes or so). I made a mental note that the time was 11:22, and then fell asleep. Some time later I was awoken by a scratching sound. I looked at the clock – 11:50. The sound stopped after a few seconds, and because I was still extremely tired, I didn’t bother looking around and simply went back to sleep. I was later awoken by the same sound, and it was now 12:40. This time it really freaked me out because the sound didn’t stop. The thought ran across my mind that it was just an animal inspecting the car, but why would it return almost an hour after it had left the previous time? I looked in my rear view mirror and just managed to catch a glimpse of something running away into the forest. Now, at the time, I thought it was the damn hook killer, you know the one that scratched that couple’s car and then slaughtered the guy when he got out to investigate? Screw that, I thought to myself, so I got the hell out of there. There was a bend no more than a hundred yards up the road, and as I came around it, there was a fucking car, parked off to the side of the road with the driver side door opened. I slowed down just to look to see if anyone was in there (there wasn’t). Then I looked in my rear view mirror. I didn’t see anything, and all of a sudden, this guy comes sprinting around the corner. He starts screaming at me, shouting stuff like “Hey! Hey you! Get the fuck out of your car! Now!” I noped right out of there and sped off. I never saw the guy again. Moral of the story? Don’t sleep on the side of a deserted road.
***A couple of years back my best friend and I went on a road trip to the states for a music festival. Met up with some friends, saw lots of things and whatnot. One of our friends comes back home with us, he needed to get back home for school and his buddies didn’t want to head home yet. We decide to drive straight home in shifts, took 24hrs for the full drive. Anyway my story starts where I am driving, night shift at about 2am. It is a beautifully clear night, full moon, no clouds, middle of the summer party type night. While noticing all of these conditions I also notice we have followed the GPS onto a back road and driven into a huuge valley. Open fields, not another car or house in sight and it is important to note that we have not seen anyone or anything relating to human presence for a few hours. Upon entering this valley we loose our satellite signal. We have no satellite radio, no GPS, and no cell signal. Cool beans, doesn’t really matter as I know we follow this road for a couple more hours. About twenty minutes after entering this valley and after loosing all our connections, we come upon a bridge. As we get closer I see a car pulled out on the side of the road. Not uncommon, people sleep in pullouts when they can. What is uncommon is this car has all of its windows blacked out. With all of the light from the moon we should be able to see at least partially inside, but it was completely black. Getting closer we also realize that it has no license plate that we can see. No big deal, we assume that it is abandoned out here in the boonies, that is until we pass this vehicle and almost immediately its lights turn on, and it pulls out behind us on the road. Now this is where it gets creepy- this vehicle starts tailgating us, in the middle of nowhere, and we can’t see who is inside or anything. Again we brush it off, maybe he is lost- needs to follow someone out of the area? Doesn’t explain the windows being blacked out or the lack of a license plate however. Anyway with this car following us I start to get an uneasy feeling. Subtle at first, but growing stronger. Soon I get an all out “get the fuck away from this vehicle ASAP” feeling. I find it important to note, that I do not frighten easily, I do not panic, and I only have ever gotten this feeling in times when I know for a fact my life is in danger. I push these feelings aside as it seems like the silliest response to a possibly explainable situation- that is until I see something in the middle of the road. Almost on cue, this car backs off, as I and my companions (one of whom was asleep beforehand) try to make out what is in the middle of the road. Coming closer we see what looks to be a body laying in the middle of the lanes. This is not a big road, and like I said it was also a back road- still paved but very small. At this moment and at the sight of what appears to be a body in the road ahead, we start freaking out. I, in no way am stopping for no one in this desolate and isolated area. There are no other vehicles around other than the one following us, and I can see no housing or lights for as far as the eye can see. No cell service, no satellite, nothing. I quickly tell the others that I am not stopping, and I am going around or through. By this time we are almost on it, there is no room to go around as there are no shoulders on the road and deep ditches on the sides.. and we are close enough to see now that it is a scarecrow… and I drive over top and on-wards. This car, small enough to go around it, continues to follow. I speed up, it speeds up, I slow down, it slows down…. until I punch it. After about two minutes of this, the car slows down… does a u turn and drives back. Now my passenger turns to me and says “I swear I saw spikes in that thing”.. Lucky for us, we were driving a huge truck, the wheel-span was bigger than the scarecrow on the road and we never even touched it. It was another half hour before we reached cell services and the satellite picked back up. It wasn’t until we reached home at 5am that we remembered, during this time there had been a couple of missing people reported in our province, ones who were on vacation and driving home from the states who never made it home or were ever found. I, and my passengers fully believe that we escaped some crazy “wolf creek” type of death for ourselves. We contacted the police about it and ended up making a full police report, however we were unable to pinpoint the exact location. There wasn’t anything they could really do other than file the report. We definitely didn’t want this to happen to anyone else as it was creepy as hell.
***This didn’t happen to me but I was involved in it. The victim was actually my girlfriend and I got the story later. At the time my girlfriend and I were attending college together. It was a smaller school in a pretty quiet place so most of the students were from the area. My girlfriend, Caitie, was one of those. I came from a distance and so lived in a dorm at the college. Caitie and I would hang out together in my dorm between classes and even some evenings and weekends when we wanted to be together but didn’t feel like going out. It was a Friday night and both of us being pretty introverted decided not to do anything crazy so we planned to spend the night in my room with each other as my roommate was out that night. She wanted some time to go home after classes and assured me that she’d be back around 8:00. Caitie had a car but she never liked driving. Unless she had to pack around her instrument she usually took the bus. That Friday night she had a pretty unnerving experience in doing so that freaked the two of us out for a long while after it happened. She was a small girl, definitely didn’t look like a college aged student. She was short, thin, and quiet. Standing alone at a bus stop in the dark was probably not ideal but she preferred that over taking her own car. She waited for the bus, innocent as a rose, when a van drove past her, then again, then again, then again. She was a bit suspicious but told herself he was probably just lost or killing time. The van then pulled over right in front of the stop and the driver rolled his window down. “Isn’t it cold out here?” he asked, “The bus is always late. Hop in and I’ll give you a ride.” Caitie declined politely and took a few steps back trying to show him she wasn’t interested in anything he wanted. He asked again if she was absolutely sure that she didn’t want a ride and he drove away after she turned him down again. The bus arrived moments later and she was relieved to step on. To her horror, she then noticed the same van right behind the bus. The van followed the bus directly and Caitie texted me to explain the situation to me. I could tell that she was panicked, which isn’t uncommon for her. I offered to talk to her on the phone to calm her nerves and she accepted. We talked about school and things to get her mind off it. Once her stop came, she felt safe enough to hang up the phone and walk the short distance to the college. When she arrived at my dorm room, she was hysterical. It took me over an hour to comfort her enough to get the story out of her and this is what she told me. The van had stopped following the bus after getting stuck at a red light, giving the bus a chance to get ahead. However, after getting off at her stop, the van sped up to her. He was driving like a maniac at this point, going at least 20 kilometres over the speed limit. The bus had already pulled away when the van stopped next to her. It had pulled over right where she intended to go to get to the college so in a panic, she bolted the other way, and the driver raced after her. When she turned her head to look behind her, she noticed he was holding a large butcher knife and waving it in front of him in her direction. She did a wide turn to get back on track to the college, the man following close behind. Lucky for her, he lost his footing on an icy patch on the road and his fall delayed him enough for her to get far enough ahead. When he got back up, he didn’t chase after her again but instead yelled out “I will find you and I will get you!” Since then, she’s always taken her own car instead of the bus.
Keep listening, I still have a few more hitchhiking horror stories to share with you when Weird Darkness returns.
***In South Africa, we have a lot of hijackings, and for a while the favoured method to stop a car was to play dead in the road. Of course it doesn’t take long for people to figure out that stopping to help people on the road is a bad idea and that is where my friend of a friend joins the story. On his way home from work one night (he lived on a small-holding), he sees a body in the road about 1km from his house. He quickly realised what was up and decided to just drive up onto the pavement (kerb for the Yanks I think), and go around the body without stopping. He got home about 2 minutes later, ran inside and called the police. When he saw them coming down the road, he returned to where he had seen the body to tell them where to start their search. Obviously there was no body, but what they did find was quite surprising. Three dead hijackers hiding in the long grass on kerb, as it turns out, when he had driven up on the kerb to avoid the “dead” guy, he had crushed all of the accomplices. The “dead guy” was never found as far as I know.
***This is a true story, told to me by a man who had been working as a murder investigator for over 30 years at the time. I was told this story after asking what the creepiest case he’d ever been involved in was. This happened in northern Scandinavia in the late ’80s, in a part of the country that is mostly covered in dense pine forest. On the highway between cities in this part of the country, you do come across the occasional villages and secluded houses, but there are stretches that seem to go on forever with only pine trees as far as you can see. A young girl, in her early twenties, was taking a motor coach home after being on a trip down south, presumably visiting friends or relatives. This happened just as winter was approaching, and it was freezing outside after nightfall. This girl lived in one of these really small communities that you pass along the highway, but during the bus trip she fell asleep and missed her stop. Looking at her watch, she realized that they’d passed it only recently, and that if she were to get off she would be able to walk back in approximately three hours. Either that, or get off in the next city where she didn’t know anyone or had any place to stay. She explained all this to the bus driver, who pulled off at the next parking space and let her off. That was the last time anyone saw her. Almost fifteen years later, long after the search for her has been given up, she is stumbled upon by a hiker. Her dead body was found tied to a tree, well over an hours walk from the road into the dense, almost impassible forest. The autopsy showed no signs of physical violence of any kind. Someone had just left her there, alive.
***I was a pretty brave person when I was younger. Or maybe I had that sense of invincibility that comes with youth. I’d survived some things: a stalker, who pursued my sister and I for over a year & a half, being sexually assaulted, 2 house fires, and growing up in a house that I swear to you was haunted. Not in that Disney way, either. I’m talking torture chamber in the basement and strange things going on. Anyway, I suppose, looking back, that having been through all of that made me feel a little like either I was sort of invincible, or maybe I just assumed that I’d gotten all of the bad stuff out of the way and nothing else would happen. Whatever it was, I learned to know better. When I was 17, I didn’t have a driver’s license. (In fact, I was 36 before I did.) I walked most places, occasionally catching rides with friends, and, less occasionally, hitchhiking. The night in question was one of those seldom seen occasions when I’d decided to hitchhike, having worked late and being too exhausted to walk. Now, most of the time when I’d hitch a ride, I wouldn’t get in the car with a lone man. Only women or (rarely) men with a wife/girlfriend and/or kids in the car. This night, though, cars were few and far between and it was cold, and really (if I’m being perfectly frank), when he pulled over I took a good look and figured I could take him if he tried anything. He was on the slender side, and had a strange frailness about him, even though he looked healthy enough. I got into the car after we agreed on a destination, we exchanged names and I warmed my fingers in front of the heating vent. He spoke quietly, asking a few questions along the lines of was I a local and how did I like living there. He said he’d only been there a couple of months, but found it beautiful and hoped he could find happiness there. That comment struck me as a little odd, but I brushed it off. It began to snow and the road quickly got slippery, so he slowed and kept his eyes straight out the windshield, driving silently. I was okay with that, as small talk was never my forte. About ten minutes later, I noticed a car near the intersection we were approaching seemed to be sliding, so I said, “watch out!” He immediately hit the gas, shooting through the intersection and burst out with, “Don’t EVER scream at me!” Needless to say, I was taken aback. I said, “Look, this is close enough, just pull over here and I can get there.” He didn’t seem to hear me. “Um, Richard? Did you hear me? I said you can pull over here and let me out.” …no response. He just stared straight ahead, driving faster now than he had been since it began to snow. To say I was scared doesn’t seem to cover the depth of the fear that began to arise in me. I didn’t know if I should stay quiet, or speak, but I was damn sure not going to yell after his outburst. After about a mile, he began to mumble under his breath. I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying, but I assumed he was speaking to me, so I said, “Hmm? I couldn’t hear you.” He began to speak, quietly and rapidly, saying things like, “you’re always yelling at me. I’ve told you time and again I do not appreciate being yelled at, but do you listen? Nooooo. Well I’m done listening to YOU now, do you hear that?” I was at a complete loss. I didn’t know what to say in response or if I should say anything at all. I contemplated just jumping out of the car, but nixed that idea when I realized the door lock was missing; there was just a silver-lined hole where it should have been. I’d started to cry and debate with myself about causing an accident by grabbing the wheel and hoping for the best (at least, I figured, there was a chance I’d survive that), when he suddenly looked at me for the first time since I had gotten into the car. He blinked several times, rapidly, then slowed the car, pulling into a gas station. I waited to see if he’d unlock the doors, not wanting to say anything to set him off again. After a minute or two, he quietly said, “I think I better let you out here.” and hit the button to open the locks. I wasn’t about to hesitate. I jumped out of the car as if it were on fire. I was about to turn and walk into the gas station when he called my name. He looked so damned sad I hesitated. He apologized, said he was sorry if he’d frightened me, that he never would have harmed me, and asked if I’d be able to get home okay. I said I would, and closed the door. He began to pull out of the gas station lot, but stopped suddenly. He just sat there for a couple of moments, his head down. I froze, wondering what the hell he was up to and was about to run into the station, but he opened his window and yelled to me, waving something in his hand. My hat. I’d left it on his seat. I warily approached his side of the car, and he handed it to me, apologizing again. I didn’t know what else to say, so I just said, “Thanks.” I watched as he drove off, making sure he was out of sight before moving on so he wouldn’t know which direction I was heading (I’d decided to go to a friend’s instead of home). As I walked, I went to put my hat back and, on out fell a piece of paper. Folded into the paper was a $100 bill. The paper said, “I’m sorry. Please take a cab and don’t hitchhike any more tonight.” I didn’t. In fact, it was the last time I ever hitched a ride alone.
***I used to drive I-80 between San Francisco and Cheyenne, Wyoming a lot. It’s about 16-20 hours of driving depending on weather and traffic and whatever. One night I was driving and the car starts making this odd grinding noise. Like I ran over something that got stuck. It’s about 2am. I pull into a rest stop (well-lit) and wake up my buddy who was sleeping. I explain it to him, as we get out of the car we both hear what sounds like a kid crying. There are no other cars at the rest stop, but we frequently heard stories about child trafficking and kidnapping nearby, so we decided to check it out. We grab our flashlights and head towards the noise, which is coming from the bathrooms. As we get closer we realize it’s coming from the women’s bathroom, and it’s a low, dull sobbing. We are prepared for the worst. We walk in expecting to see some brutally beaten and/or raped 8 year old or something, and we see – nothing. The sound is still there, and it’s still clearly coming from the room, but the room is empty. We turn on the lights – still nothing. Check each stall, the trash can. Nothing. Even start looking for WHERE in the room it’s coming from – nothing. Is it a hidden speaker? Are we on candid camera? What the fuck? My buddy climbs up one of the stalls to get to the top window in the rest stop which is vented out, and open. He closes it, and the noise stops. Completely. Opens it, and there’s no more noise. We sit there for a few seconds, staring at each other. He shrugs. Then the window slams shut again without him touching it. We were out of that fucking bathroom in seconds. The noise starts up about 10 seconds later as we get to the car, and we’re tearing out of the parking lot within 10 more seconds. The grinding noise is still there. So this time I pull over a few miles later at a Flying J Truck Stop, well-lit, sometimes occupied. Couple of truckers there, no other “civilians” like us. We check under the car. There’s a red and silver piece of metal wedged between part of the car and the road, about 1/2″ or so off the ground, so with us in the car it would definitely have been grinding against the ground. Can’t remove it by hand, it’s really wedged in there, so we kick at it to bend it and figure we’ll remove it when we get back. A week later I had my mechanic take it out when he was doing a service – it was part of a kid’s tricycle. The red area on the back where somebody can stand.
***My dad drives in Texas a lot but there is a particular road he always avoids. I’m not sure what road it is, but he says its in the middle of old Native American land. One night as he was driving through, he kept seeing shadows running along side his trailer. Every once in a while he would hear a loud BANG as if someone was slapping the side of the trailer. He decided to stop and see if a tire has blow, because that’s the only thing that could be making that noise. He did his usual walk around, checking the tires, but as he turned the corner, he heard a laugh, and a shadow took off running down the road. Needless to say, he shit his pants, jumped in the truck, and didn’t stop until daylight. Apparently he saw the skin walker standing on the side of the road with his arms crossed about fifteen miles later.
Those last two stories make for a good segue into our next section. It’s another scary version of hitchhiking horrors – the phantom hitchhiker. The legend of the Phantom Hitchhiker hardly needs an introduction. The core story concerns a traveller who offers a ride to a vulnerable-looking pedestrian, only to find his passenger has disappeared without trace. Later investigations reveal that the passenger was a supernatural entity, not a living human being at all. Hitchhiking ghosts, up next on Weird Darkness!
STORY: HITCHHIKING GHOSTS=====
You’ve most likely heard the story. A person is driving down a lonely road at night when they see a hitchhiker, often a young woman, ahead. The woman is offered a ride and gets into the vehicle, usually the back seat.
The hitchhiker never says a word and after traveling some distance vanishes without a trace.
*****Jerry was driving home late one night when he saw a young lady waiting by a bus stop. He stopped his car and told her that he didn’t think the buses were running so late at night and offered her a ride. The fall night air was getting chilly, so he took off his jacket and gave it to her. Although his passenger wasn’t much for conversation, he managed to learn that the girl’s name was Mary and she was on her way home. After driving for an hour, they arrived at her home. Jerry said goodnight, she went in the front door, and went home himself. The next day he remembered that Mary still had his jacket. He drove to her house and knocked on the door, an old woman answered. John told her about the ride he had given her daughter Mary, and explained he had come back to get the jacket he had lent her. The old woman looked very confused. John noticed a picture of Mary on the fireplace mantel. He pointed to it and told the old woman that that was the girl he had given a ride to. With her voice shaking, the old woman told Jerry that her daughter had been dead for many years—the result of an auto accident while she was trying to get home—and was buried in a cemetery about an hour away.
Jerry ran to his car and drove to the cemetery. He found his jacket, neatly folded on top of a grave. The name on the gravestone was … Mary.*****
You’ve probably heard some version of Late Night Ride—perhaps around a campfire or at a Halloween party. The ghostly hitchhiker is a popular character in American folktales. While many variations exist, many purportedly true, the stories tend to follow a formula:
- A motorist (usually a man), picks up a lonely hitchhiker (generally a young female).
- He transports her to her destination where she either vanishes or enters a house.
- If she enters a house, the driver usually has reason to follow her—e.g., he wants the jacket he loaned her, wants to return something she left in the car, or sometimes, if the destination is a house and she vanishes when the car arrives at the destination, he wants an explanation as to why she disappeared.
- When he knocks on the door, he learns from a grieving loved one that the passenger died (many years ago).
- If he’s trying to reclaim and item, it can usually be found at her grave site.The age of these stories is unknown, but they have existed in the United States since the days when we traveled by wagons, and possibly even earlier than that in other places: For example, in the Bible, the Apostle Philip hitches a ride with an Ethiopian, whom he baptizes before he vanishes. There are roads throughout the world purported to host a ghostly traveler looking for a ride back to loved ones or to their final resting place. Given that this particular story is found in different variations throughout the world perhaps there is more to these phantom hitchhikers than a simple scare.
The simple formula of this story also means that it’s highly customizable. Jerry can easily become “my friend Harry” or “when my dad was in college coming home for the weekend.” Similarly, the address can be anywhere: it can be any old graveyard or abandoned house or tree-lined road. The hitchhiker can be the daughter of any couple known to have lost a daughter to a car accident. During this period, there was also rise in drag racing, resulting in an increase in teen deaths overall. Songs like “Last Kiss” were based on these types of events.
- Why does this work? In the story above, a man stops for a young woman waiting at a bus stop and thinking of the late hour and the difficulty she may have in getting home, offers her a ride. Hitchhiking was also a fairly common practice until recently. In the 1950s and 1960s, and even into the 70s, hitchhiking was a common means of making your way around the country. It becomes less believable today in the context of our current society. One of the basic rules we learn as children is that you never, ever, ever get into a car with a stranger. And yet, time after time, these women do just that, and the men seem to have no ill intent. They simply want to assure that the young woman gets home safely. These stories exhibit a basic concern for others, highlighting a sense of neighborliness and trust that fit with the social perceptions of relationships during that period. These messages can be buried in today’s tales of caution.In these early stories there seems to be two lessons to be taken from these types of ghosts stories. First, there is a reminder of the importance of community—that you could depend on a stranger for help if you were in need. Second, there is a warning —whether that’s going too fast or drinking and driving—because you too could end up like Mary. While the drivers who pick up these passengers are usually male, the phantom passengers suggest a shadowy fate for the driver if they aren’t careful. After all, they could survive, but their passengers—their girlfriends and other loved ones—may not. These stories aren’t necessarily “spine tingling,” but they reflect larger social concerns and are designed to encourage behavior change.
This is perhaps best Illustrated tracing the ways these stories change with time. A darker variation of the hitchhiker story began to emerge in the late 1970s, becoming popular and widespread in the 1980s:
*****One summer day, a woman pulled into a gas station. As the attendant pumped the gas, the woman told the attendant that she was in a hurry to pick up her daughter who would soon be finishing her art class.
While she was waiting, a man walked over to her car. He explained to her that his rental car had died and he needed a ride to an appointment. The location was just down the road from her daughters art class, so she told him she would be happy to give him a ride.
He put his briefcase in the backseat, and said that he was going to the men’s room quickly. A few minutes passed, and the woman looked at her watch. Realizing that she would be late, she drove off quickly, forgetting that the man would be coming back.
She thought nothing of it until she and her daughter pulled into their driveway. She saw his briefcase and realized she had forgotten him! She opened the briefcase, looking for some sort of identification. All she found inside was a knife and a roll of duct tape.*****
This version is also formulaic. But in this case, the protagonist is usually a woman. The message is also a warning—and an indicated of public awareness of violence against women, which had previously not been something openly discussed.
This story is closer to the messages we learn as children about the dangers of trusting strangers. This version has grown more complicated and detailed with time. It amplifies the stranger, sending a clear warning about the dangers of trusting too easily. It demonstrates a shift in societal thinking, which in turn reflects larger events of the time. The early 1980s was a period of tremendous change: John Lennon was assassinated, Reagan was elected, and the US invaded Grenada in the battle against communism. The world was changing rapidly—and seemingly not for the better.
These stories can provide insights about the social organization of the time. In addition to providing a slight chill, they are also apt teaching tools—people of all ages are more likely to pay attention if the story seems familiar and if its somewhat tragic or frightening. There are scary stories in many cultures reserved just for frightening children to insure they behave. There is a lot that can be learned from folklore.
The question is, is there a real case of the phantom hitchhiker that may be the basis for the folklore or modern version of the legend? The answer would seem to be yes.
**********Our first phantom ghost story takes place on Good Friday in March of 1968; Maria Roux and her fiance were driving to her parents home in Uniondale on the N9 about 200 miles from Cape Town, South Africa.
The weather suddenly turned bad and fierce winds forced their car into a ditch. Her fiance survived the crash, Maria however was killed instantly. It was certainly a tragic event but one which occurs everyday all around the world.
What makes the story of Maria Roux unique among traffic fatalities is what happened years after her death.
A man named Anton Le Grange was driving on the N9 during Easter week of 1976, not far from the site of Maria Roux’s fatal crash. It was late at night when he saw a figure standing at the side of the road.
As he got closer he could make out that it was a woman, apparently hitchhiking. Le Grange stopped and offered the woman a ride which she accepted without saying a word. She opened the rear passenger side door and got into the back seat. Le Grange asked the stranger where she was going but there was no response.
He commented that it was rather dangerous for a young woman to be hitchhiking alone at that time of night, again, silence. Le Grange then turned and looked into the back seat, the hitchhiker was gone and Le Grange was scared and confused.
He saw the woman get into the car, he could even describe her and now she had vanished. Le Grange thought that perhaps the woman had fallen out of the car at some point and went to the closet police station, Uniondale, to report the incident.
Once at the police station Le Grange began to tell the desk sergeant of the strange occurrence he had just experienced. No doubt Le Grange’s tale of the vanishing hitchhiker was met with considerable doubt, the possibility remained however that a young woman was lying injured or dead along the N9.
With that possibility in mind the officer agreed to follow Le Grange back to the area of the strange encounter. The officer followed close behind as Le Grange approached the area of the occurrence.
To the officers’ amazement he witnessed Le Grange’s rear passenger door open and close as Le Grange’s car passed the location where he had picked up the phantom hitchhiker. Thinking that Le Grange might be trying to pull off a hoax the officer agreed to follow him past the location one more time.
This time Le Grange would drive with the interior car lights on and the doors would be locked. Despite the precautions, the officer again saw the rear passenger side door open and close as the two passed the same area and this time the officer heard the sound woman laughing as the door was opened by the phantom hitchhiker.
The baffled police officer soon contacted fellow Uniondale officer Sergeant Pat MacDonald. MacDonald was the first officer to arrive on the scene of the Maria Roux crash. MacDonald met with Le Grange and handed him a stack of photos.
The pictures were all of young women and looked much alike. Despite the similarities of the images Le Grange was able to quickly pick out the picture of the phantom hitchhiker, Maria Roux.
The next report of the phantom hitchhiker came in 1978. Dawie Van Jaarsveld was riding his motorcycle on the N9 heading towards Uniondale to visit his girlfriend for Easter. As he rode he spotted a female hitchhiker ahead and stopped to offer her a ride.
She said nothing but put on a helmet and got on the back of the bike and Van Jaarsveld sped off with the hitchhiker hanging on to him tightly. Van Jaarsveld said he was suddenly overcome with a feeling of strangeness and at just that moment experienced what he described as a “twitch” and the phantom hitchhiker, which matched the description of Maria Roux, had vanished.
Uniondale journalist Jani Mayer has followed the Maria Roux story for more than 30 years. “One of the theories of why she apparently can’t go to rest is that she was fast asleep in the car when the accident happened and she didn’t prepare herself for death. She wanted to finalize her wedding arrangements, and the theory is that she will carry on until she reaches her destination.”
**********Another hitchhiking specter is said to be that of a young woman who haunts the underpass of a railroad bridge over E. Main Street in Jamestown, North Carolina. Known as “Lydia”, she has been seen on rainy and foggy nights as she walks alone or stands beside the road searching for help to get back home.
The legend of Lydia is based on sightings and stories, over the past seventy or more years, of a young woman in white as she stands by the road, attempting to flag down passing motorists for help. The ghost is believed to be that of a young woman who died tragically at the bridge many, many years ago. The stories share a common detail of a fatal car accident that occurred as a boy and girl drove on a rainy night to a dance, perhaps the prom. Since then Lydia’s spirit, robed in her dress, returns to the scene looking for a ride home or perhaps to the dance.
Local lore tells of the first sighting of Lydia around 1924. North Carolina folklorist Nancy Roberts included the account of an eerie sighting near the bridge of a woman in her 1959 An Illustrated Guide to Ghosts & Mysterious Occurrences in the Old North State. As collected from a man named Burke Hardison, he told of his encounter with a young woman as he traveled home to High Point on a rainy and foggy night when he was a student at NC State in 1924. Back then the bridge was over Highway 70, although since abandoned but very close to the present-day Jamestown Bridge over Main Street. Hardison claimed to see a girl dressed in a white gown. She signaled for him to stop and asked him to help her get to High Point. He drove her home, and when he went to get out of the car, she had vanished into thin air. He knocked on the door of the house, asked if the girl was there, only to learn from her mother that she had been killed in a car accident at a nearby underpass the year before.
There have been many attempts to match records and evidence with a real person named Lydia, but none have turned up any conclusive proof of a young woman named Lydia who may have died in an automobile accident in the area during the 1920s. In recent years, two local researchers who have long chased the Lydia legend , Amy Greer and Michael Renegar, came upon an article in the Greensboro Patriot from June 21, 1920 that reported the tragic death of a young woman named Annie Jackson who had been killed on the High Point Road, about three miles from High Point and close to the location of both the old and current bridge: when the driver lost control of the vehicle, Annie was thrown from the car. The article noted that the road was wet and the car “turned turtle.” Might this be the origin of the ghost and legend?
Many people over the years have claimed to see the girl in white alongside the road. Some have stopped to help, only to observe her vanish when they stepped out of their cars or turned around for a moment. Today the old bridge is cloaked in vines and overgrowth, giving it the aura of mystery and the supernatural. Both underpasses have become graffiti shrines to the folk legend, as generations of residents have claimed to see Lydia in her long white dress standing by the road waiting for help.
**********Another strange, ghostly story… many years ago, a young tradesman from Bedfordshire decided he would play the Good Samaritan and pick up a stranded traveller. It was to prove to be one of the most chilling and convincing paranormal encounters of modern times.
Late in the evening of 12 October 1979, 26-year-old carpet fitter Roy Fulton from Dunstable was returning home from a pub darts match in nearby Leighton Buzzard when he stopped to give a lift to a young man standing on an isolated stretch of Station Road on the outskirts of Stanbridge. Notions of ghosts and the supernatural were far from Fulton’s mind as, being an avid Liverpool supporter, he was casting his thought’s ahead to the following day’s match and the prospects of his favourite team. In the glare of the Mini van’s headlights he saw a youth standing on the nearside verge thumbing for a lift. Deciding he was going either to Tottenhoe or Dunstable, Fulton came to a halt in front of the hitchhiker who walked along the road towards the van. He was casually dressed in dark trousers and jumper and wore a white-collared shirt. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The man opened the passenger door and got in. When asked where he wanted to go his only response was to point ahead further down the misty road. Fulton let in the Mini’s clutch and the van pulled away.
The journey continued in silence for some minutes until Fulton decided to offer the youth a cigarette. It was the point where what had been a completely ordinary and familiar situation suddenly crossed over a threshold into the strange and frightening world of the unknown. ‘I leant forward and picked up the packet of cigarettes,’ he later recalled, ‘turned round to offer the lad one, and that man or boy was not sitting there.’ Stunned, Fulton pulled the Mini to a halt and turning on the interior light looked into the back, thinking the youth had somehow climbed into the rear of the van. There was nothing there – Roy Fulton was completely alone.
Now terrified, Fulton drove in a panic to his local pub, The Glider in Lowther Road, Dunstable. Ashen-faced and shaking, he blurted out his terrifying story to the landlord Bill Stone and a group of regulars. Two things haunted him about his experience: that the eerie pale-faced youth was somehow part of an earlier traffic accident which had not been reported, and secondly that the sad silent figure would somehow follow him home. Fulton was later interviewed by writer and researcher Michael Goss and in 1985 took part in the respected television documentary series Arthur C. Clarke’s World of Strange Powers. On both occasions he told the same story without any deviations or embellishments – that one night in October 1979, he took a ghost for a ride. Many countries as diverse and wide apart as Sweden, Pakistan, Canada, Korea and South Africa all have their individual and specific phantom hitchhiker tales, but the experience of Bedfordshire motorist Roy Fulton ranks as one of the most compelling and thought-provoking of all.
Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! And please leave a rating and review of the show in the podcast app you listen from – doing so helps the show to get noticed! You can also email me anytime with your questions or comments through the website at WeirdDarkness.com. That’s also where you can find all of my social media, listen to free audiobooks, shop the Weird Darkness store, sign up for the newsletter to win monthly prizes, find my other podcast “Church of the Undead”, and more. Plus if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY – or call the DARKLINE toll free at 1-877-277-5944. That’s 1-877-277-5944.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“The Hitchhiker” original story at the beginning of this episode was written by HoneyBunny00
“Hitchhiking Horror Stories” were compiled by Isadora Teich and Jacob Shelton from Ranker.com, Eric Redding from ThoughtCatalog.com, and from ScaryCarries.com.
“Hitchhiking Ghosts” from Anomalien.com, Medium.com, Paul Adams for TheHistoryPress.co.uk, Krystal DeCosta for ScientificAmerican.com
Again, you can find link to all of these stories in the show notes.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” – Psalm 55:22
And a final thought… “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” –Jim Rohn
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.