17 Notorious Ghosts And Their Intensely Horrific Origin Stories

January 28, 2023 People's Tonight 204 views

Christopher Myers

While there is no shortage of ghost stories about spectral children or a wailing woman in white, this collection of ghosts with the scariest origin stories stands out as the creepiest of the bunch.

What’s more, these gruesome and macabre tales – especially the paranormal stories about children – are all the more frightening in that they are largely true.

It is said that ghosts are often created when a person’s life ends in a state of extreme fear or pain – like ones from tales of plantation hauntings. If that’s true, then it should come as no surprise that the events chronicled here led to hauntings. And while some iconic ghost tales are more interesting than terrifying, these are some of the scariest ghost stories you will ever come across.


• Photo: Unknown / Wikipedia / Fair use

Marion1Marion Parker’s Spirit Wanders Her Childhood Home

The sad story of 12-year-old Marion Parker began when 19-year-old William Edward Hickman her from her Los Angeles, CA school in 1927. His intention was to ransom her back to her wealthy father, banker Perry Parker. Hickman sent a series of cryptic notes to the Parkers, demanding gold certificates in exchange for Marion. Despite Parker’s attempts to get his daughter back safely, Hickman choked Marion and mutilated her body.

Still intent on getting his ransom, Hickman doctored Marion’s face so that she appeared to be alive. He put Marion’s remains in the back seat of his car, covered it up to the neck with a blanket.

Hickman then drove to the rendezvous and quickly made the handoff, but Parker soon discovered that what he had paid for was not his daughter, but her corpse.

Hickman was eventually caught and convicted, hanging in 1928. According to some, however, Marion lingers on. Her presence has been reported multiple times at her childhood home at 1631 S. Wilton Place in Los Angeles

• • Photo: Dropd / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

LalaurieLaLaurie Mansion Is Haunted By The Victims Of A Notorious Serial Killer

In 1832, Dr. Louis and Delphine LaLaurie were renowned socialites in New Orleans, LA. They surrounded themselves in finery and threw the most elegant social gatherings. However, the enslaved workforce that enabled this luxury was horribly mistreated, even by antebellum standards.

In April 1834, a fire broke out in the kitchen and quickly spread through the house. When firefighters put out the blaze, they found the cook chained to the stove in the kitchen. In the attic, the firefighters found slaves tied up with spiked iron collars. According to other stories, some showed signs of grotesque torture as well.

The LaLauries fled. As for the house, it changed hands many times over the years, but no one stayed very long. Today, footsteps and moans can supposedly still be heard echoing through 1140 Royal Street.

• • Photo: Reading Tom / Flickr / CC-BY 2.0

Sultan‘The Sultan’ Prince Süleyman’s Party Carries On After Death

This story has many variations, but the most common one goes like this: Prince Süleyman’s hedonism knew no bounds, earning him the nickname “Sultan.” His abode at 716 Dauphine Street in New Orleans, LA gained the moniker “The Palace,” and in the 1830s, raucous partying could be heard through the walls at all hours. The Turkish Süleyman claimed to be an actual sultan (or former sultan), which he used as justification for his harems, orgies, and generally lavish and unsavory lifestyle.

One morning, a neighbor noticed that “The Palace” was unusually quiet and that there was blood dripping from the gallery above. The police arrived to uncover a grisly, blood-soaked scene.

Everyone was slaughtered. Reaching up from the dirt in the yard was a single hand – that of the “Sultan,” who had been buried alive.

At the time, police blamed the carnage on pirates, but it is more likely that the “Sultan” was actually the brother of real royalty, and he might have stolen quite a bit of his brother’s money, too. He fled his own country, where he would have been executed, but eventually, his brother’s men tracked him down and exacted a heavy price.

In any case, the sounds of laughter and screaming can still sometimes be heard at 716 Dauphine Street, and some have seen the “Sultan” himself make an appearance.

• • Photo: Ryan Moomey / Flickr / CC-BY 2.0

Moore1The Moore Family Haunts The Villisca Ax Murder House

On June 11, 1912, a brutal deed occurred in rural Villisca, IA. The Moore family was sleeping quietly when an unknown person raised an ax and killed Josiah Moore with one blow from the flat end of the blade. The same fate met Joe’s wife, Sarah, all four of their children, and two visiting neighbor children.

The culprit then covered the heads of the bodies with clothes, covered every mirror and piece of glass in a similar way, and washed the blood from their hands. After that, they took out a two-pound slab of uncooked bacon from the icebox, wrapped it in a towel, and laid it on the floor next to a short piece of key chain that did not belong to the Moores.

The case has never been solved, but one theory links this case to several other ax-related occurrences that took place across the country during this period. The location is believed to still be haunted by the victims of that tragic night. Several ghost investigations have occurred at the house, all gathering compelling evidence that this haunting is real.

• • Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / Flickr / Public domain

SausageThe Sausage Ghost Of New Orleans Wanted Revenge On Her Husband

In the 1800s, Hans Mueller and his wife moved to New Orleans, LA from Germany and started a sausage factory. Their sausage was delicious, but in time their relationship turned sour. The husband found himself a younger mistress, but they couldn’t truly be together until his wife was out of the picture.

One night, the man closed shop and walked to the back room, where his wife was making sausage. He crept up behind her and choked her with a cord. As to what to do with the body, it wasn’t long until customers noticed a decrease in the quality of the sausage. One customer found a bit of a gold ring in their sausage and – realizing that the wife had been missing for weeks – notified the police.

The police found the man huddled in the corner of the room, screaming at the sausage grinder. He claimed that his wife’s ghost had emerged from the grinder, bloodied and mangled, and was coming to get her revenge. He spent the rest of his days in a madhouse, but even there he could not find respite from the specter.

To this day there are reports of a strange woman haunting the Old Hans Mueller Residence, where the nefarious sausage incident took place all those years ago.

• • Photo: Geoff Pick / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 2.0

ChristineYoung Christine Darby Returns From The Grave As A Black-Eyed Child

In 1967, now convicted child predator Raymond Morris targeted 7-year-old Christine Darby of Walsall, England. After assaulting her, Morris took her life and buried her in a ditch. Authorities later discovered her remains in Cannock Chase, which led to Morris’s conviction. He was also believed to be connected with the disappearances of two more young girls whose bodies were found in the area.

But that was not the end of Christine Darby. Since then, there have been reports of a black-eyed girl appearing in the Cannock Chase Countryside. It is believed that this spirit is the ghost of Christine, her eyes black from the blindfold she was wearing when her life ended.

• • Photo: Ed Bierman / Flickr / CC-BY 2.0

ChildrenGhostly Children Watch Over Train Tracks In San Antonio

Sometime in the 1930s, tragedy struck San Antonio, TX. One day just like any other, a bus driver was taking his load of 10 children home. Unfortunately, his bus was having some difficulty. It stalled out – right on the tracks of a railroad crossing. Before the driver was able to get the bus started again, he saw a train approaching. The conductor slammed on the brakes, but it was too late: all 10 children and the driver died in the crash.

Today, you can still go by this crossing near the San Juanita Mission. If you stop in front of the tracks and turn off your engine, supposedly a mysterious force will still push the car uphill and over the tracks to safety. If you spread some flour or baby powder on your bumper, you might notice something truly chilling: several sets of small handprints.

• • Photo: Mkooiman / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

WallsThe Walls Of Clifford’s Tower Drip With Blood

The year 1190 was a dark one in York, England. Antisemitism was rampant, and the local Jewish community found themselves deeply imperiled. Fearing for their lives, many of them barricaded themselves inside Clifford’s Tower, which at the time was merely a wooden structure.

The authorities tried to retake the castle, but the scene turned into pure mob violence. The trapped people decided to end their own lives rather than face the mob.

These ghosts are said to make appearances at the castle on occasion. According to local lore, the very walls of the castle bleed red every year on the anniversary of the bloodshed.

• • Photo: The Curse of La Llorona / Warner Bros. Pictures

LloronaLa Llorona Looks For Children

Many years ago, near the shores of the Santa Fe River, there lived a beautiful peasant woman named Maria. She married a wealthy man and bore him two sons. As the years went on, however, the husband grew tired of Maria. He would leave for days to go womanizing, drinking, and gambling, only returning to see his sons. After a while, he began openly talking about leaving Maria for a woman of higher class and taking the two boys with him.

One fateful day, Maria was walking with her sons when she saw her husband riding in a coach with an elegant young woman. He stopped to say hello to the boys, paying Maria no mind. As the carriage rolled away, Maria lost her mind. She grabbed her children and dragged them to the banks of the Santa Fe, where she preceded to drown them.

When she realized what she had done, she was overcome with grief. She started crying out for her boys, walking up and down the river to find them. She searched for days, eventually becoming emaciated from hunger, but she still would not stop. Eventually, she passed from exposure.

To this day, a ghostly woman – referred to as La Llorona, or “Weeping Woman” – is said to wander the shores of the Santa Fe River wearing the same white dress she wore on the fateful day she ended her children. If she catches a child out alone, she’ll drag them into the water to join her lost boys.

• • Photo: Ackers72 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

BeverlyConstance de Beverley’s Spirit Screams In A Ruined Abbey

Whitby Abbey was first built in Yorkshire in the year 657. It was destroyed by Vikings in 870, only to be rebuilt after the Norman Conquest in 1067. At some time during the abbey’s long history, there lived a nun by the name of Constance de Beverley.

Constance turned out to be anything but constant. She fell in love with a handsome young knight and broke her vow of chastity. When this impropriety was discovered, the punishment was harsh: she was bricked up into the walls of the abbey and left there. Her screams can supposedly still be heard echoing through the ruins.

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• Photo: Pierart dou Tielt / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

GirlOne Little Ghost Girl Has Lingered Since The Black Plague

In the town of York, England, in the time of the Bubonic Plague, a little girl lived with her family in an unassuming house behind the cathedral. The girl’s parents began to show signs of the plague, and as per custom, the house was bolted up to contain the illness and stop it from spreading.

It was assumed that the girl also had the plague, and the three became trapped in the house together. The plague took her parents’ lives, but the little girl never contracted the disease. Despite this, she was still locked in the house with her deceased parents. She pressed her face up against the window, screaming at passersby for help, but to no avail. Eventually, she starved.

If you look closely, some say you can still see the ghost of that poor little girl peering out the window, hoping desperately for someone to set her free.

• • Photo: James H Dunning / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

BrownGrace Brown’s Ghost Appears At Big Moose Lake

Grace Brown was 19 when she worked at the Gillette skirt factory in 1905. There, she met the handsome nephew of the owner, Chester Gillette. The two dated, but Gillette would not commit, often being seen with other young women. When Brown became pregnant, Gillette’s time had run out and he took Brown on a trip to upstate New York.

Brown assumed the trip to Big Moose Lake in the Adirondack Mountains was a wedding trip. The two rented a rowboat from a man named Robert Morrison and went out alone onto the lake. When the two did not return, Morrison organized a search party. They found the rowboat capsized, and nearby, Brown’s remains. Two days later, police found Gillette in a nearby hotel.

Gillette claimed that Brown had drowned herself after he told her that he didn’t love her. The jury did not believe the story and convicted Gillette. In 1908, he met his end via the electric chair. As for Brown, her ghost can allegedly still be seen from time to time on the shores of Big Moose Lake.

• • Photo: CTtcg / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

CourthouseAt The Calcasieu Courthouse, You Can Still Smell Toni Jo Henry’s Burnt Hair

Toni Jo Henry, also known as Annie Beatrice McQuiston, led a rough life. Her mother passed when she was 4, and her aunt begrudgingly took her in. Toni Jo was 13 when she started running away. By age 17, she was addicted to cocaine and working in a local brothel.

Enter one Claude “Cowboy” Henry. The two met in the brothel, fell in love, and Cowboy helped Toni Jo kick her cocaine habit. They were married, but soon thereafter, Cowboy’s past caught up with him. Before the two had met, Cowboy had taken the life of a police officer in Texas, for which he was arrested and sentenced to 50 years.

Toni Jo got it into her head to break Cowboy out of prison. She embarked on this task with the help of Harold Finnon Burkes, and the two began hitchhiking to Texas. En route, they encountered car salesman J.P. Crowley, who stopped to give them a ride. They pulled a pistol on him, forced him to strip naked, and tormented him before Toni Jo shot him.

Afterward, they got drunk at a roadhouse, where they proceeded to brag about their deed. They were apprehended, and Toni Jo was eventually convicted. In 1942, after many failed appeals, Toni Jo became the first and only woman executed in the electric chair in Louisiana.

Her ghost is said to haunt the Calcasieu Courthouse in Louisiana, and her husky voice can sometimes be heard in the halls. You can also sometimes smell her distinct perfume – as well as her burnt hair.

• • Photo: Ecjmartin1 / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

HoleA Mysterious Hole Appears Where William ‘Bill’ Sketoe Was Hanged

Near Newtown, AL, on the banks of the Choctawhatchee River, there is a hole that will not stay filled. Many have tried to fill in the hole, but each morning it appears anew as if freshly dug out during the night. The cause of this mysterious phenomenon is unknown but rumored to be the ghost of Bill Sketoe.

Sketoe was a soldier during the Civil War and for three years, he fought for the Confederacy. Then, in 1864, he got word that his wife was ill. In order to visit his wife, he hired a substitute to take his place on the front line. While tending to his sick wife, he was mistaken for a deserter by the home guard.

On December 3, 1864, the home guard ambushed Sketoe by the shore of the Choctawhatchee River with the intent to hang him. They tied a noose around his neck and threw the rope over the branch of a nearby tree. Unfortunately, the branch proved too low to the ground because when the buggy ran out from underneath Sketoe’s feet, he could still stand on his tiptoes. The home guard then proceeded to dig a hole underneath Sketoe as he slowly asphyxiated. All these years later, that hole is still there.

• • Photo: Cking81 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

SpiritA Spirit Known As Chloe Appears In Photographs At The Myrtles Plantation

Located in St. Francisville, LA, the Myrtles Plantation was once home to many enslaved people, one of whom is believed to have been named Chloe. Chloe had a habit of eavesdropping on conversations through keyholes. After catching her in the act on several occasions, the then-master of the plantation, Judge Clarke Woodruff, cut off her ear and banished her back to fieldwork as a punishment.

Chloe, however, was determined to regain her position. She volunteered to bake a birthday cake for Woodruff’s 9-year-old daughter. She laced the cake with poisonous oleander leaves. She intended to later cure the victim “miraculously,” earning the family’s devotion, but instead, Woodruff’s wife and two of his daughters passed. Upon discovering the scene and learning of Chloe’s plot from the other slaves, Woodruff had her hanged. Then he filled her pockets with rocks and threw her body in the river.

In 1992, Chloe’s image was captured standing between two of the buildings on the plantation. It is one of the most convincing spirit photographs in existence.

Video: YouTube

ScreamThe Screams Of Elizabeth Pratt Can Still Be Heard In Fort Mifflin

In the early 1800s, a woman by the name of Elizabeth Pratt lived at Fort Mifflin, PA with her husband, an officer. Elizabeth’s daughter fell in love with an enlisted man, much to her parent’s chagrin. The daughter ran off with the enlisted man, at which point Elizabeth disowned her.

Not long after that, the daughter contracted dysentery and passed. Not having reconciled with her daughter, Elizabeth went mad. She would run around the fort screaming and wailing at the top of her lungs. Eventually, she took her own life.

Every now and again, her screams can supposedly still be heard at the fort. She is one of many spirits said to reside there.

• • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

GhostThe Greenbrier Ghost Testified Against Her Assailant

In the fall of 1896, Elva Zona Heaster met blacksmith Trout Shue in Greenbrier County, WV, and fell fast in love. Even though Heaster already had a child out of wedlock at 22, the two were married in short order. Not too long after that, the body of Heaster was found at the bottom of the stairs by a young boy who had been hired to help the Shues with chores and errands.

By the time the coroner arrived, Shue had already taken the body upstairs and dressed it for the funeral in a high-necked dress. With Shue clearly agitated and bereft, the coroner only gave a cursory examination of the corpse before declaring it first “everlasting feint” and then “childbirth,” although Heaster was not known to be pregnant at the time.

Heaster’s mother, Mary Jane Heaster, had been against the marriage from the start and immediately suspected foul play. According to legend, she was validated when the ghost of Heaster returned to tell Mary Jane that in a fit of rage, Shue had broken her neck.

Mary Jane was able to convince the local prosecutor to exhume the corpse for further examination. It was discovered that Heaster’s neck had been broken. During Shue’s trial, Mary Jane testified that her daughter’s ghost had returned to her, informing her of the gruesome circumstances. Shue was convicted and passed while in prison three years later. Heaster’s ghost was never seen again.