10 Creepy Stories And Haunted Places That Prove Minnesota Is The Creepiest State

Aw geez, is there any state in the U.S. that should be less creepy than Minnesota? Sharing a border with Iowa, the useless Dakotas, cheesy Wisconsin, and benevolent Canada, Minnesota exists in an area without the remoteness of Appalachia, and you never hear news stories from Minnesota the way you hear news stories from Florida. Situated in the Midwest, America's heartland, the place appears so quaint and wholesome, where would a "dark side" even be able to lurk?

The answer is: everywhere. Every place harbors a dark, spooky side, as this list of Minnesota urban legends can attest. From cannibalistic monsters to spectral pick-up trucks, the variety of ghost and paranormal stories from Minnesota is as impressive as any other state; Native American folklore and modern myths permeate its wilderness. In addition to sending shivers down your spine, many of these Minnesota scary stories also propose new versions of history, including alleged evidence that Vikings may have traveled further west than previously thought. Enter the Land of 10,000 Lakes at your peril.

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  • The "Smiley Face Killings" Theory Began In Minnesota

    A popular conspiracy theory holds that a national network of serial murderers dubbed the "Smiley Face Killers" has been preying on college-aged white men in the northern states for decades. The theory postulates the killer - or killers - nabs inebriated frat boy types from outside bars and dumps their bodies in frigid waters to destroy the evidence. But they always leave a calling card to taunt police: a prominent smiley face painted or drawn on a surface at the body's dump site.

    Most deaths attributed to the Smiley Face killers have been ruled accidental drownings, but one of them - the one that led private investigators to codify their theory - happened in Minneapolis and was later determined to have, in fact, been a murder.

    On Halloween night 2002, University of Minnesota student Chris Jenkins was kicked out of a bar in Minneapolis and vanished without a trace. His body was found months later, encased in ice in the Mississippi River, face up with his hands folded across his chest, and still wearing his Halloween costume. His death was initially ruled an accident, but persistence by his parents and a tip from a criminal informant got Jenkins's death ruled a homicide. And that's when NY-based private eyes Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, both former NYPD detectives, arrived, seeking connections to another case they'd been working on. 

    Similarities in the two MOs led them to uncover a pattern of mysterious drowning deaths involving college students all along the I-94 corridor in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. In many of those cases, a creepy smiley face had been painted on a tree or other surface near where the victims' bodies had been discovered. And so, the Smiley Face Killer theory was born; Gannon and Duarte believe that a group of highly organized killers are targeting college men across several states and have racked up a body count of more than 40 victims.

  • A Demonic Presence Haunts The Basement Of Minneapolis's Soap Factory Art Gallery

    A Demonic Presence Haunts The Basement Of Minneapolis's Soap Factory Art Gallery
    Video: YouTube

    Soap factories are horrible places, even today, because they involve the slaughter of thousands of animals whose body fats are rendered to make soap. One can only imagine what sorts of cruel, vindictive spirits such places might have attracted in the past, when conditions for both the animals and the workers were much worse.

    The Soap Factory art gallery in Minneapolis stands as a perfect example of this. Named for its location in an old soap factory that also made artificial limbs for wounded Civil War veterans, the building's basement is famously haunted by a malevolent entity skilled paranormal researchers have described as "demonic."

    But this deters the gallery's owners not one bit. Instead, they've cashed in on the basement's reputation by hosting an annual haunted house event on the site. It's so intense you have to sign a waiver to gain entrance.

    Who knows how much of what goes on there is staged, and how much is genuinely haunting? What better place to hide a real demon than among a bunch of fake ones?

  • Phantom Kangaroos Invaded Coons Rapids, Minnesota

    One of the strangest North American cryptids is the phantom kangaroo. This mysterious marsupial does more than just hop and box, though. It also possesses supernatural powers, including glowing eyes and the ability to vanish into thin air. Many sightings of phantom kangaroos occurred over the years, and one of the largest clusters of sightings happened in Coon Rapids, MN, over the course of a whole decade (1957-1967). Dozens of people reported encounters with the aggressive 'roo, dubbed "Big Bunny," who rummaged through trash and supposedly killed a number of local pets. And then, the phantom kangaroo was gone, as quickly and mysteriously as it had appeared.

  • A Ghostly Stagehand Haunts The St. Paul Theater That Hosts Garrison Keillor

    The Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN, home to Garrison Keillor's popular radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, is the oldest theater in the state. And, of course, it's haunted.

    The entity in question is called "Ben" by the folks who work in the Fitzgerald. Ben began making his presence known in 1985 after renovations to the theater's ceiling revealed a hidden balcony containing a letter to a stagehand named Ben.

    Ben is usually quiet and somewhat playful, moving or hiding tools and leaving empty bottles of muscatel in out-of-the-way places. But on one occasion, he nearly injured two stage hands by dropping a large piece of plaster between them from the scaffolding above. When the debris hit the ground, the two workers looked up and saw a hazy figure moving in the catwalks, who disappeared right before their eyes. The strange thing about this encounter is that no one knows where the plaster came from; the ceiling of the Fitzgerald is not made from plaster.