Graveyard Shift
136.6k readers

The Real Crimes And Tragedies That Led To Beliefs In Famous Hauntings

Updated October 16, 2019 136.6k views11 items

Horrible hauntings are everywhere. But do you know the secret, gruesome backstories behind some of these famous spooky sites? Folklore tends to link real-life horrors with eerie paranormal occurrences. Whether it's a cold-blooded murder, a terrible fire, or a tragic suicide that features in these violent stories behind ghosts, they're all said to leave behind some spiritual mark. Even if you don't believe in paranormal activity, these stories are sure to send a chill down your spine.

Do you know the bloody real-life events that inspired The Amityville Horror? Have you ever considered what ax-wielding angry spirits might be lurking in Lizzie Borden's home? And why do homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright seem particularly prone to ghostly activity? Read on to discover the f*cked up backstories behind some of the most notorious hauntings of all time. Just remember to sleep with the light on.

  • The Amityville House Hosted A Mass Murder

    Photo: BrownieCharles99 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Immortalized in the hit Amityville Horror film franchise, this house in the quiet New York village of the same name supposedly hosts frightening specters. Still standing on Ocean Avenue with its iconic, eye-like windows, this home was the site of the infamous mass murder of the DeFeo family. In 1974, Ronald DeFeo, in an alleged state of demonic possession, shot his entire family to death as they slept.

    In 1976, George and Kathy Lutz, along with their three children, moved into the house. But they only stayed 28 days before they'd had enough. Aside from the typical bumps in the night, they encountered flies swarming the home, green slime oozing from the walls, and crucifixes turning upside down on their own. A Catholic priest was brought in in an attempt to cleanse the house, but he was told by a disembodied voice to "Get out!" It's impossible to say whether that message was from the spirits of the slain DeFeos, or something more sinister. Regardless, the Lutz family decided to move out immediately.   

  • Tortured Slaves Were Imprisoned In LaLaurie House

    Located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the 19th century charm of LaLaurie House belies a grim and bloody history.

    The house was home to Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie, a prominent member of New Orleans high society. Legend has it that Ms. Laurie's home caught fire in 1834, revealing in its destruction her evil hobbies and pastimes. Local folklore says that the home's attic contained slaves held in small cages or nailed down to tables; shackled prisoners with their eyes and ears removed, fingernails ripped out, and mouths sewn shut; people flayed alive with open, festering wounds; and victims whose bones had been broken and reset to resemble grotesque, animal-like shapes.

    Considering the horrible acts that took place in LaLaurie House, it's no wonder the building is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the region. Now remodeled as luxury apartments, occupants and visitors have reported hearing anguished screams bouncing off the walls, as well as seeing apparitions of slaves walking the balconies and yards.

  • The Lizzie Borden Home Was The Site Of Brutal Ax Murders

    There is an incredibly dark nursery rhyme that goes, "Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks/when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one." This grim pair of couplets has been echoed by generations of children, and the century-old murders they detail took place in the house that still stands in Fall River, Massachusetts. 

    On August 4th, 1892, Lizzie Borden informed her maid of a grisly discovery: her father, dead on the sofa, bludgeoned and mutilated by hatchet. Her stepmother Abby was found upstairs, a victim of the same brutal fate. Since Lizzie was the only person home during the murders - and she reportedly had a rocky relationship with her father and stepmother - she was immediately a suspect in the crime. Evidence, however, proved scant and Borden was ultimately acquitted, with no one else ever being charged. 

    The Borden House stands today as a bed and breakfast, where guests can stay in the master bedroom belonging to the slain couple. But they may not be alone: visitors have reported hearing creaking floors, seeing unexplained shadows, and event smelling a faint floral scent - maybe the lingering perfume of the late Abby Borden. 

  • The Black Dahlia Murder Might Have Happened In John Sowden House

    In the trendy neighborhood of Los Feliz in Los Angeles looms a hulking, Mayan-inspired building created by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The exterior has a brooding quality to it, but it's the history of the home - and what may still be in it - that gives passersby the creeps.

    Commissioned and built in the 1920s by retired artist John Sowden, the house was purchased by Dr. George Hodel in 1945. Hodel was an acclaimed physician in the field of venereal disease, and his practice catered to many of Hollywood's elite. The doctor was also rumored to host hedonistic sex parties in the labyrinth-like home, and was said to beat his children in the basement. But that's not the most sinister act rumored to have taken place below ground in the Sowden house. In the early 2000s, Hodel's son Steve claimed that his father had been behind the infamous Black Dahlia murder - the unsolved death and mutilation of Elizabeth Short - and that it took place in the basement of the John Sowden House. 

    While under investigation for the murder of Elizabeth Short, George Hodel fled the U.S. and spent his remaining days in Asia. Subsequent residents of the Sowden House have reported eerie occurrences in the home, including the sound of chains rattling, disembodied voices, and apparitions that appear to be Mr. Hodel himself.