Truth is stranger than fiction … and it’s also much scarier. These real-life stories of demon houses and mysterious deaths are proof. Read on if you dare. Though take note: You'll likely want to sleep with the light on tonight.
1. The Jersey Watcher
When Derek and Maria Broaddus purchased the home in Westfield, New Jersey (pictured above), they believed they had found their dream house, a place where they could comfortably raise their three children. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
Within three days of closing on the home, they received a chilling letter from someone calling themselves “The Watcher.” The anonymous author claimed to come from a long line of people with a keen interest in the Broaddus’ new home: “My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched it in the 1960s. It is now my time.”
Over the next few weeks, they received more specific and disturbing letters. Of the Broaddus’ children, the watcher wrote: “I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought me.” Communications from the watcher also asked the chilling question “Found out what’s in the walls yet?,” and inquired which family member had the bedroom that faced the street.
Ultimately, the Broaddus family never moved into their new home, and sued the house’s previous owners, claiming that they had also received an anonymous letter from the watcher a few days before the sale closed, but failed to disclose it. A tenant moved into the home February 1st, 2017. About four weeks later, they too received a letter from the watcher, one that the Broaddus’ lawyer described as “more derogatory and sinister than any of the previous letters.”
2. The Cell Phone Stalkers
Getting a threatening phone call from a stranger is terrifying. But for three Washington state families in 2007, the calls became unnervingly personal. The families received calls at all hours of the night, with threats made against their families and pets. It seemed as if the anonymous tormenters were watching quite closely—and listening in, as well.
Voicemails arrived, playing recordings of the families’ private conversations, including one with a police detective. One family member’s cell phone would send text messages to friends … by itself. The callers knew where the families were, what they were doing, and what they were wearing. Once, when one of the victims was at home slicing limes, a call came in from a restricted number—and the voice on the other end said it preferred lemons. When the calls were traced, they led back to the families’ own phones.
Authorities and cell phone providers were flummoxed by the reports; “We’re not exactly sure what is being done to these phones,” said Sprint spokesman Matt Sullivan. Electronic surveillance experts noted the ease with which our cell phones can be hijacked, while others suggested the calls might be coming from inside the house—i.e. a disgruntled family member.
3. The Demon House of Indiana
Evil children are a familiar trope in horror movies. But finding possessed tykes in a police report is far more rare. The trouble started when Latoya Ammons and her children moved into a rented home in Gary, Indiana in November 2011. Paranormal encounters followed suit; there were ghostly shadows, phantom dog barks, physical attacks by invisible beings, and a mysterious oil that seemed to drip off furniture. Then, in April 2012, a demonic force attacked Latoya’s seven-year-old son during a visit with a family physician. After being thrown across the room, the boy—in front of nurses, social workers, and paramedics who all reported seeing the same thing—glided backwards up a wall while growling and gurgling.
Even Charles Austin, a police captain and a skeptic, called the home’s basement “a portal to hell” after investigating the case. Photos he took of the house disappeared from his phone, a threatening voice yelled “You outta here” through his AM/FM radio, and the driver’s seat in his car started moving backwards and forwards by itself while he stood outside the vehicle. After a series of blessings and exorcisms, Latoya Ammons and her family left the house. In 2014, famed ghost hunter Zac Bagans purchased the cursed property—only to knock it down after paranormal activity became too intense.
4. Death at Dyatlov Pass
The infamous Dyatlov Pass in Russia’s Ural Mountains got its name from a doomed group of experienced hikers led by Igor Dyatlov. The nine members set out on January 1, 1959. When they failed to arrive at their scheduled end-point on February 12, rescue groups went looking for them.
What they found produced more questions than answers. A tent was discovered at the foot of a mountain, seemingly cut open from the inside. Inside were the group’s belongings, and leading away from the tent through the snow were footprints—suggesting that some of the members fled without shoes or socks. The first bodies were found about a mile from the tent, while the rest were discovered in a makeshift shelter. Some had broken bones and internal injuries but no external signs of a struggle like scratches or wounds. Another victim was missing her tongue and eyes. Despite an extensive investigation, what happened on the mountain remains unknown.
5. The Missing Scuba Diver
When diver Ben McDaniel descended into the water of Vortex Spring, a large dive park and underwater cave near Ponce de Leon, Florida, he knew it wasn’t going to be an easy plunge. One narrowing tunnel below the surface is even sealed by a locked gate, with a key available only to divers experienced enough to handle its challenges. With the tightest spots in the cave measuring just 10 inches from floor to ceiling, the only way out is the way you came in. McDaniel went down, but he never came back up.
Recovery divers searched every inch of the cave. They explored hundreds of feet beyond the end of the cave map, squeezing through 10-inch spaces. They found just two decompression tanks belonging to McDaniel—but not McDaniel himself, and no other signs that he had been there. No scrapes on the limestone, no feeding fish, and no disturbed silt. His disappearance remains a mystery.