mythology 20 Stories That Sound Like Urban Legends, But Are (Mostly) True  

Jacob Shelton
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Have you heard the urban legend about the spiders that exploded out of the banana? How about the story of kids finding drugs mixed in with their Halloween candy? Well, those tales, and so many more true urban legends, are waiting to scare the pants off you in this collection of stories that sound too crazy to be true. Everyone grew up in a town with at least one piece of strange mythology that sounded too far fetched to be real; these stories prove even the strangest urban folk tales have a kernel of truth.

Have you ever wondered whether the creepy tales of babysitters being hounded by mysterious callers or people dying from atomic wedgies come from a real place? This list delves into crazy true stories that are the obvious catalysts for real-life urban legends and modern myths. After you check out these urban legends that are (mostly) true, leave us a comment about your local legend that’s totally true and not made up at all. 

The Texarkana Moonlight Murders


The Texarkana Moonlight Murder... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 20 Stories That Sound Like Urban Legends, But Are (Mostly) True
Photo:  American International Pictures

A series of murders that occurred in the Texarkana region of the Texas/Arkansas border in 1946 is most certainly one of the catalysts for lover's lane urban legends (the hook hand, hanging boyfriend, etc). In a period of three months, (an) unknown criminal(s) murdered five people and seriously injured three more in attacks on couples in their cars and homes. 

Most historians believe The Phantom Killer (the mysterious perpetrator of the crimes) was able to get in and out of town without being caught thanks to a railway hub that once sat in the middle of Texarkana. Regardless of where the killer went, the city owns its legacy. Every year, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, a '70s exploitation movie about the killings, is shown in Spring Lake Park, where most of the crimes took place. 

The Hinterkaifeck Murders


The Hinterkaifeck Murders is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 20 Stories That Sound Like Urban Legends, But Are (Mostly) True
Photo: Andreas Biegleder/Public Domain

You know that urban legend about a killer hiding in a family's home for weeks, learning their movements, and waiting for the opportune moment to kill them in their sleep? Well, get freaked out, because it actually happened to family in 1922, in the rural town of Hinterkaifeck, in Bavaria, Germany.  

The story begins six months prior to the murder of the Gruber family, when the maid quit because she believed the family's house was haunted. When a new maid was brought on, she mentioned hearing footsteps in the attic. More bizarre things happened that winter - footprints in the snow leading from the woods to the house appeared one day, as did a strange newspaper, found in the house. Someone tried to break into a tool shed on the farm, too. But in the end, nothing seemed to come of it. 

At least not until March 6, 1922, when each family member was lured to the barn, where they were killed one by one with a mattock. The bodies were discovered a week later, and the crime was never solved. If that weren't creepy enough, the weekend of the murders, neighbors reported that someone fed the cows and let the dog out, and smoke was seen rising from the chimney. 

Spitman Pays for Watersports and Footjobs in London Council Estates


Spitman Pays for Watersports a... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 20 Stories That Sound Like Urban Legends, But Are (Mostly) True
Photo:  Channel 4

A character known as Spitman (linked video has some NSFW material) haunts the urban council estates of West London, where he pays teenage boys and young men for bizarre sexual favors, which range from garden variety water sports (Spitman likes to be pissed on) to all manner of foot fetishism (he enjoys simply being rubbed by bare feet). 

Marlon Tavares made a Vice documentary on the subject, after overhearing talk of Spitman at a pizza place. In the short, various anonymous young men talk about the things they've done for Spitman, and how it works; he gives out a fiver (£5; about $6.50) every three minutes while the favors last. According to Tavares, there were whispers of Spitman's debauchery reaching back decades.

Is it possible there have been multiple iterations of Spitman over the years? Something similar happened in Philadelphia in the late '80s and early '90s. 

Ted Bundy's Trip to Florida


Ted Bundy's Trip to Florida is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 20 Stories That Sound Like Urban Legends, But Are (Mostly) True
Photo: Donn Dughi/State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory/Public Domain

Everyone knows Ted Bundy was a heinous serial killer who would pretend to have a broken leg in order to trick women into approaching him. But in his final crime spree before he was arrested, Bundy brutally ripped through an Florida State University sorority, attacking four women in 15 minutes, and killing two of them. If there weren't reams of evidence for Bundy's trip to Florida, during which he also smashed a dancer's skull, ruining her equilibrium and destroying her career, and tried to assault a 14-year-old girl before her older brother showed up, it would sound like something college freshmen tell each other on Halloween.