Hitchhiking seems sort of fun. Pack a bag, stick out your thumb, and see where the open road takes you. But when it comes to local lore, it seems like every town has its share of hitchhiking urban legends. There's either a certain road where folks say you're apt to encounter scary hitchhikers or a certain car that you should never, ever get into, no matter the weather.Some are, of course, rooted in the supernatural, starring mysterious apparitions or bizarre creatures that lurk in woodsy areas or on desolate stretches of road that easily lend themselves to nightmares and tall tales. Other stories, however, are absolutely true and often feature some of America's most notorious highway killers. Still others are unsolved, with lurking predators never caught or dozens of unexplained similar sightings. After reading these creepy hitchhiking stories, we'd like to suggest you be careful of whom you offer a lift, and if you're traveling alone, maybe go ahead and splurge on a cab.
Edmund Kemper is one of America’s most notorious serial killers. Also known as the "Co-Ed Killer," Kemper used his mother's UCSC faculty sticker to lure young, female college students in the Santa Cruz area into his car and to gain access to the campus. He exclusively targeted hitchhikers, killing six of them, in the 1970s. His killing career ended after he murdered his mother and her best friend, then called the police to tell him what he’d done.Kemper had a troubled childhood and murdered his grandparents at a young age. After he was released at age 21, he began working for the California Highway Department. He noticed a large number of women hitchhiking and soon began picking them up. He later said he had probably picked up and released about 150 women before he started killing.
A woman tells a story about how, at age 17, she was picked up by a strange man while hitchhiking. It was an encounter that would turn her off from the practice forever.
It was a snowy night in an unidentified area. The man in question seemed fine, if quiet, at first. At one point, however, they came upon a hazard on the road and the woman yelled, “Watch out!” The man then yelled back that she should never, ever scream at him.He then ignored her requests to let her out of the car and drove quickly while muttering to himself about how he'd told her before not to yell at him. Keep in mind, they'd only just met. Finally, he pulled into a gas station and let her out. He then pulled back up and returned her hat, which she'd left in her haste to get out of the truck. Inside, she discovered a $100 bill and a note telling her she shouldn’t hitchhike anymore.
If there were ever a story to prevent you from hitchhiking, it would be the story of Colleen Stan, the girl in the box.
In May 1977, 20-year-old Colleen was hitchhiking from Eugene, OR to Westwood, CA. About 100 miles north of her destination, she accepted a ride from Cameron Hooker, 23, and his young wife, Janice, 19. The couple had a baby, which made Stan think she could trust them. Soon, however, Hooker pulled a knife on Stan and it became clear she would be his prisoner.
For seven years, Hooker kept Stan as his slave. He tortured and raped her, and forced her to sleep in a box underneath their bed. He would put her head in a 20-pound wooden box, out of which she could not see. He also forced her to sign a contract stating that she was his slave. Stan became convinced that the contract was real and passed up multiple opportunities to escape out of fear. (Hooker’s attorney would try to use this to his client’s advantage, but to no avail.)Finally, Janice helped her escape. Stan told no one what had happened to her, but Janice eventually went to police and confessed to her and her husband’s crimes, including another incident in which Hooker tried to kidnap a 19-year-old female hitchhiker, but ended up murdering her. Hooker was sentenced to 104 years in prison.
Resurrection Mary is a particularly notable example of the vanishing hitchhiker. Many people have reported seeing her in Justice, IL, a town outside of Chicago.
Those who have seen her have mostly been men. They report seeing a young, blonde hitchhiker in a white dress standing on Archer Avenue between Willowbrook Ballroom and Resurrection Cemetery. Her attire indicates she'd been attending some kind of party or dance. Mary is quiet during the drive and will ask to get out of the car near the cemetery. When she exits, she will disappear in the cemetery or simply vanish from the car.One rumor is that this Mary had gone to a party at the Ballroom with her boyfriend. The two got into a fight and she stormed off but was fatally struck by a car on Archer Avenue. The driver took off and was never caught, and Mary was later buried in the cemetery. Some have attempted to attach the Mary story to two women who are buried in the cemetery.