True crime and disaster stories continue to be extremely popular—just check out Netflix and scroll through any podcast platform. There’s an entire industry, and it can be problematic, but people just can’t get enough of frightening tales of death and destruction.
On Reddit, folks are sharing the scariest true stories they’ve ever heard—whether from their own life experiences or from tales they’ve heard over time.
From true crime stories of abduction or murder to shipwrecks and other disasters, they’ve heard it all.
1. The Story That Inspired ‘Candyman’
“The story that inspired ‘Candyman’ is pretty creepy. A woman in a Chicago apartment was murdered by some drug dealer who lived next-door. How did he get into her apartment? Through a hole behind her bathroom cabinet/mirror.” — MarkOfTheBeets
2. The Bobby Dunbar Story
“This one kid back in the early 20th century named Bobby Dunbar. He went missing, and after like a year of searching for him, his parents came across a man with a kid who looked a lot like Bobby. They believed it was their kid, and after a legal battle with the kid’s supposed mother, they brought the kid home. A whole ass parade happened due to the missing kid’s return. He lived and died believing he was, in fact, Bobby Dunbar. Well, a few decades later, his granddaughter asked Bobby’s (nephew I think?) for a DNA sample so she could see if her and Bobby’s nephew were related. Turns out, they weren’t. Meaning the real Bobby Dunbar is still missing and, probably died alone without his parents.” — yaboispringy
3. Spelunking Disaster
“A spelunker got stuck upside down in a narrow cave for 26 hours. Crews tried to pull him out with pulleys, but had to be careful not to break his legs, because that could be fatal with the circumstances he was in. Rescuers even almost dislodged him, only for an anchor to fail at the last second, plunging him back into the crevice. He eventually died, and they sealed the cave shut with him inside.” — CaptainNoBoat
4. He Came In Through The Doggy Door
“Happened to my boss’s best friend when they were around 17yo: Best friend’s parents were out of town one weekend and she had the house to herself. Went about her business having dinner, watching tv then decided to go to bed. She was lying in her bed with her back to her closet when she heard the door open. She somehow pretended to be asleep — the man who was hiding in the closet walked around her bed to the side she was laying/facing, gently stroked her hair and face then left. She immediately called her boyfriend to ask him to come over then called her parents and then the police.
Long story short this man had been getting into their home via a doggy door (they didn’t have a dog and didn’t bother to secure it) and he’d been living in a tent in the foresty area behind their home for months to creep on her. They found a ton of surveillance footage of her sleeping and pieces of her clothes and stuff. If I recall correctly this happened somewhere in Alabama, most likely mid-2000s.” — halfyellowhalfwhite
5. Family Massacre
“I grew up on a farm in the Texas Panhandle (the boxy part on top). In a house a few miles from ours, most of the members of a family were randomly murdered. One girl, ten years old at the time, survived by pretending to be dead.” — Rostin
6. The Ariel Castro Kidnappings
“The Ariel Castro kidnappings. Basically, a man in living in Cleveland, Ohio, kidnapped three young girls named Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight and kept them prisoner in his home in Tremont for 12 years. He even had a child with one, but more often than not, if one got pregnant, he would just beat them until they miscarried. Eventually, one escaped with the help of a man named Charles Ramsey who contacted police. Castro was then arrested and the other two girls were saved.” — The_Black_Bird756
7. The Franklin Expedition
“The Franklin Expedition. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 British sailors and military personnel on two ships embarked on a mission to find the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic across to the Pacific through arctic waters. The ships, named HMS Erebus and HMS Terror (two former warships reclassified as ice breakers thanks to their sturdier builds) departed British waters in the 1845 and were never seen again.
In subsequent rescue attempts and investigations it was discovered that quite possibly everything that could’ve gone wrong on the expedition did so.
The weight of the ships with their reinforced hulls and decks designed to fire mortars and cannons off of worked against them as much of the waters crossed were shallow and filled with rocks and icebergs. The time chosen to launch the expedition occurred at one of the coldest Arctic periods in recent history, meaning the polar ice and (particularly the pack ice) didn’t melt like usual as the ships became locked in the frozen water and essentially experienced an endless winter for over 4 years.
The food they stored which was supposed to last for years thanks to the revolutionary new process of canning was bought at the lowest price. Much of the food was improperly sealed and spoiled leading to food poisoning and even the ones that were properly sealed and kept intact were riddled with lead thanks to the soldering used to keep the food inside fresh; In conjunction with the lead pipes in the ships the men would’ve been drinking out of for years meant the entire crews of both ships was slowly being infected with all manner of diseases (namely botulism, scurvy and heavy lead poisoning which also affects the mind leading to memory loss, heavy paranoia and general mental deterioration) combined with already present tuberculosis that killed a small number of the crew before departing to the Arctic.
After about 2-3 years stuck in the ice, the captain in charge of the voyage John Franklin and many other crew members died in unknown circumstances and the remainder decided to abandon ships and try and hike out together to the nearest trading outpost and Back Fish river in Canada, hundreds of miles away, by loading up their rowboats with supplies and fixing them on sleds to be pulled. All remaining crew perished on that journey. Their remains discovered by local Inuits/Netsilik tribes, who described desolate campsites of skeleton-like corpses with hastily built, half-open tents and even human body parts in cook pots, heavily implying that the men resorted to cannibalism in their last desperate hours.” — KilroyKhan
8. The Wichita Massacre
“HG, the lone survivor of what would later be called the Wichita Massacre. She was a 25-year-old elementary school teacher at the time, and had gone to the triplex where her boyfriend, Jason Befort (a science teacher) lived with two roommates: Brad Heyka, a chemist, and Aaron Sander, who was studying to become a priest. HG settled in front of the TV and began grading papers when Heather Muller, a friend of Aaron Sander’s showed up. The five friends watched TV and eventually retired to their various bedrooms. HG was woken from her sleep shortly after by loud voices and the bedroom door being kicked open. The two perps eventually gathered all of the persons in the residence and herded them to the bedroom and ordered them (at gunpoint) to strip. Many atrocities occurred as hours went by, but in the end HG – after being shot in the head in a frozen soccer field – ran naked for almost a mile to find a house with Christmas lights (it was mid-December) to beg for assistance.” — Ouisch
9. The Groene Family Murder
“The murder of the Groene family. A deranged pedo named Joseph Edward Duncan was already on the run from the cops for a past sexual assault. He was incredibly charming and manipulative, and was truly pure evil. He camped outside a family’s rural home, unseen by them. He picked it out after driving past it and seeing children’s toys outside. He watched them from afar, got to know their routine with the intent of kidnapping the children, ten year old Dylan, eight year old Shasta. Jed found the lock on the door was broken, entered the home in the middle of the night and tied up the mom, dad and teenage son. He put Shasta and Dylan in his car and killed the rest of the family with a hammer. He travelled around various campsites and cabins with Shasta and Dylan captive, sexually abusing, torturing and raping them. He eventually shot Dylan but Shasta talked him out of killing her. Jed ended up telling her she “taught him how to love.” The scariest part is a cctv footage of Jed and Shasta at a gas station. Because you could easily believe they were just a normal dad and a grumpy daughter if you were an onlooker. Eventually, he took her to a diner where he was finally apprehended when a waitress noticed something was up and Shasta was saved after 7 weeks in his clutches. As he was dragged away, he called to her “promise me you’ll visit me in prison” and she said she would. I don’t know if she ever did. Jed was put on death row and found to be guilty of three previous child murders. He died a few months ago from cancer. But the worst part of it all is how horrible Shasta’s life has been afterwards. Drug addiction, in and out of jail, losing her children etc. Just the most horrifying story ever.” — cheemsgyaru
10. Josef Fritzl
“Josef Fritzl imprisoned his daughter in a secret room in his basement for 24 years, and fathered 6-7 children on her.” — gumball_wizard