Uncovering the urban legends behind Halloween
364 days of the year, we all like to pretend we live in a pretty civilized society. Where brother helps brother, and we’re all fairly safe. Generally, this is true. Of course every society has troubles, but comparatively, Canada is okay.
Which is probably why on Oct. 31 rules get thrown out the window and seemingly each individual makes it their day’s goal to scare the ever-loving god out of somebody. When I was younger, I always used to place a fake spider somewhere in my mother’s vicinity, and – sure enough – every year she’d fall for it.
But, as is the case with many things, somebody has to take it too far and actually murder somebody. Talk about a mood-killer.
So, here are Halloween myths and murders that keep us terrified well after the Jack-o’-lanterns have been blown out.
How many times have your parents told you not to take candy from strangers? This rule is enforced pretty hard well after childhood, except for on Halloween. Because the one day of the year when things become sinister by ten-fold is the perfect time to start loving thy neighbour.
Although, it turns out the poisoned apple doesn’t fall far from the horror tree. The only confirmed case of actual death by tampered candy comes from the seventies. Where one Ronald Clark O’Bryan put cyanide in the Pixy Stix of his two children and their friend.
Tragically the son, Timothy O’Bryan, died instantly. However, the daughter and friend survived as they didn’t consume the poisoned candy.
O’Bryan – eventually dubbed “Candy Man” – was tried and executed.
So why are we still scared? Well, it’s hard to believe that this wouldn’t happen again. Despite the fact that this happened within a family, what’s to stop someone from trying to recreate the event?
There have been other instances of tampered candy reported. Such as Joseph Smith, who stuck needles in Snickers bars and handed them out. Although the worst injury to occur from that was a pricked tongue.
What’s more punishable than sex? If you’re following urban legends, not a whole lot. Steeped in religious allegory, having sex outside of marriage is a sure way to get brutally murdered.
A famous tale follows that of a man with a hook for a hand. As the legend goes, a couple was out late at lovers’ lane when a scraping sound along the car startled their activities.
Ignoring it, the couple continues. However, when the scraping sound persists, the girlfriend insists the boyfriend steps out of the car and find out just what is going on.
A few minutes go by, and still the boyfriend hasn’t returned. Annoyed, the girlfriend unrolls the window and demands the boyfriend quit playing tricks. He doesn’t respond, so the girlfriend gets out of the car, fully expecting him to jump out and scare her.
Except, when she steps out of the car, the boyfriend is laying bloody on the roof with, entrails exposed.
Terrifying. But, as it turns out, not entirely untrue. Going back seventy-one years to 1946 – in a small town called Texarkana – a murderer stalked the streets in a fashion not dissimilar to the dreaded Hook Man.
These series of killings – dubbed the Texarkana Moonlight Murders by media – were made famous by a horror film in the seventies that commercialized these events. While the movie is creepy, I find the true story to be much worse.
True to the legend, a man – wearing a white sack as a mask – stalked parks late at night, finding young couples engaging in sexual activities. Except, instead of a hook, this unidentified assailant used a shotgun.
The case goes on unsolved today, which means if the killer were young enough in the late-forties, he could be an old man – alive and well to this day.
Cat in the Microwave
One of the more disturbing legends to enter our subconscious over the Halloween season involves animal sacrifices, and – because we all of our furry friends – that makes this one a little bit harder to swallow.
Typically, depending on the way the legend is told, it has the theme of fear of technology and its progression. A little old lady, ignorant to the ways of our futuristic world, puts a cat in a microwave, believing the poor creature will dry faster after getting wet.
She walks away, believing the animal is safe, then hears an explosion. When she returns, she finds a gory mess inside the nuke.
The truly scary part of all this comes from 2011, when one Gina Robins allegedly microwaved a ten-week old kitten.
Apparently, Robins was enacting revenge on a former friend Sarah Knutton, owner of the feline, who had reported Robins boyfriend to the police weeks prior.
The real horror from stories of cats in microwaves is the thought of a defenseless animal being hurt. Outside of our children, is there a being we love more than our pets?
They’re eternally loyal, and to have them cruelly killed at our hand or someone else’s truly is the stuff of nightmares.
Lurking in Laurier
Ready for a legend that’s local? First a little history lesson is in order. As most know, Wilfrid Laurier University has been around for over one-hundred years. However, it wasn’t always named after our infamous prime minister.
For its first forty years, Wilfrid Laurier was known as Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. A religious school that still has a faction in the university today. Our legend takes place back when Laurier was Lutheran, in 1947.
As the legend goes, Thomas Euler, a student in his second year, was forced to stay on campus that Thanksgiving when his mother called explaining his little sister had fallen ill with a severe fever.
Resigning himself to an uneventful weekend, Euler settled down to spend the time studying. One by one, his dorm-mates left until it seemed like he was alone.
Later that night, as Euler sat in his room, he heard the sound of a door slamming shut. Figuring it was just another student who didn’t go home, Euler went out searching for the person.
After a half-hour of searching his dormitory, Euler had found nothing and returned to his room. There, he continued studying until he heard the noise again – seemingly closer than last time.
Euler left his room again, looking for the person, but once again found nothing. So, fruitless, he returned to his room. This time, instead of studying, he opted to listen to the radio, blaring the music as loud as he could. He figured whoever kept slamming the door would hear him and decide to be quieter, or at least come find him.
The door slamming continued, growing louder and more frequent. Frightened, Euler locked his own door, turned off his lights and silenced the radio.
He sat quiet in the dark for several minutes until finally the noise outside his door stopped. It grew so silent outside, that Euler believed it was safe enough to open his door again.
What happened next police could never discover, but when Euler’s roommate returned to campus he had to call the dorm administrators to let him in, as the door was locked.
When they opened to door, Euler was laying on the floor with fourteen stabbing wounds in his back. The legend says that if you stay in Euler hall, in memoriam of Thomas, over reading week you can still hear him screaming into the night, begging for mercy.
There you have it, four Halloween legends that’ll keep you up long after the spooky holiday is over. Be sure to stay safe this Halloween and enjoy all excitement the night has to offer.