An abandoned spot is freaky enough, but add a dead body to the mix and it’s a full on nightmare. It’s bad enough to encounter a recently deceased corpse on the highway after a major collision or seeing your 95-year-old grandpa nestled in an oak coffin at his wake, but to be jogging along the runner’s path at your local park minding your own business when you suddenly stumble over a severed leg is simply too chilling.
You’ve heard the news stories and urban legends where dead bodies are found stuffed and frozen solid in freezers, buried thoughtlessly in a shallow grave in someone’s yard, or decomposing alone in their homes after having died alone seven years prior. But as commonplace as these accounts have become after more and more of these shockers come out of the woodwork, it still chills us to the bone knowing dead bodies could be lurking virtually anywhere, even near you.
Heaven forbid you ever have the misfortune of coming across a dead body in an abandoned spot, or in an area that’s as clear as day for that matter, but many others have, and despite their near terror, they’ve lived to tell their story, report it to the proper authorities, and allow for us to learn about their frightful encounter.
Of course, the tragedies of the deceased and the pain their families must have endured are hard to imagine, but our curiosities can’t help but want to know what the heck happened and why these people’s lives ended in such an unpleasant and inhumane manner.
Read on for 15 accounts of dead bodies being found in strange places. While you may sleep with one eye open tonight, count your blessings that you’re home safe and sound… for now.
15. Detroit Warehouse Elevator Shaft
Detroit, Michigan makes the news regularly for all sorts of troubling news – from shootings to riots – but it is a rarer occasion when the front page news story is that of a dead body found frozen in a block of ice in a vacant Detroit warehouse elevator shaft. In 2009, a dead body, legs exposed while the rest of the remains were “on the rocks,” was found by people who were most certainly not expecting to find anyone at all – dead or alive. The mystery as to why this male body was there remains unaccounted for, but various reports have said that it’s believed the departed person was homeless and fell into in the shaft accidentally. Investigators claimed the body had been there for many months. When a warehouse becomes a “scarehouse” thanks to the discovery of a rotting corpse, nobody’s going to want to use that facility for storage for a long time to come. “Going down” once met reaching the lobby, not a grave.
14. Hurricane Sandy Skeletons
2012’s Hurricane Sandy altered the lives of those in its path tremendously. Some people lost their homes, others lost their lives. Time has healed many, but some are still feeling Sandy’s aftermath years later. But for those who found skeletal remains under the roots of trees uplifted from the force of the storm in Connecticut, the mental image may stay with them long after they’ve recovered from the physical damage. The remains of not one, but several humans were discovered buried beneath the roots of the fallen trees, leading investigators to determine that the land had once been a dedicated burial plot for deceased people who contracted Yellow Fever. If that one tree exposed such a freight, who knows what (or who) else lurked beneath the soil in the surrounding areas? If the area were a cemetery, the findings wouldn’t be so shocking, but the unmarked land left visitors in the dark for decades. Sandy was an Earth shattering shake up, but the real stir was the revelation that skeletons were directly underfoot all along.
13. Hotel California Water Tank Mystery
The lyric, “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave,” had never been so true when it came to the eerie case of a young woman, Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old Canadian tourist who was found dead in a water tank at the top of the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, CA in 2013. Surveillance video footage from the hotel revealed Lam had exhibited “odd behavior” hours before her disappearance, and her strange form of death still remains a mystery. Her story is so unusual that a movie was created based on her unfortunate fate. Hotel guests had made mention of low water pressure in their rooms and an odd taste to the tap water, but whether or not this had to do with Lam’s body being found in the hotel water tank was never confirmed. It was surely not reassuring though for those who bathed in or drank it though!
12. Lil’ Kim Partier
Lil’ Kim and her entourage have been known to get wild, especially when it’s the rapper’s birthday. Having fun is one thing… winding up dead is the result of partying a little too hard. But for the late Ingrid Rivera, 2008 would be the last time she’d live it up with the rich and famous. Rivera was found dead in a utility closet on the rooftop of a popular Times Square, NYC club, Spotlight Live, with a wound to the head as well as other bodily injuries after Kim’s 33rd birthday party. Accounts say the 24-year-old partier was thrown out of the club for being overly intoxicated and was later beaten and left behind, only to wind up dead. While it’s unclear if Lil’ Kim knew Rivera well or at all, she must have been remorseful that such an incident occurred during what was supposed to be a celebration. Perhaps there’s a rap song to be penned as an homage to the deceased, but more likely, Kim as well as the rest of the partygoers would just as well put the incident behind them and have comparatively low-key birthday parties in the future.
11. Gym Mat Massacre
Was it an unfortunate accident or a violent murder? The question looms to this day for the mourning family of the deceased Kendrick Johnson of Valdosta, Georgia, whose dead body was found rolled up in a gym mat in the 17-year-old’s high school gymnasium in 2013. Reports claim the teenager “fell” into the mat while attempting to reach for his sneakers, but Johnson’s grieving and rightfully angered family believe foul play on behalf of the boy’s classmates was the cause of his untimely and unusual death. No charges were filed in the case, but the autopsy revealed that asphyxiation was the cause of Johnson’s death. Sadly, this young man never got to live his life into adulthood, and the circumstances do seem suspicious. Kids want to skip out on gym class as is, but with a case like this in the record books, it won’t be surprising if gym class is cancelled altogether.
10. Scary Teddy Bear
What kid doesn’t love a soft, plush Teddy bear? The doll in some form or another has been in the arms of little ones for decades, helps soothe them at night, and becomes their best buddy when nobody else is around. Unless of course, there is someone around… a dead body inside the bear! That’s what a 15-year-old Alabama kid found zipped inside a Teddy bear he purchased at a thrift store in 2014, in the form of ashes neatly stored in an urn. While most bears are filled with stuffing, this special bear was filled with the memories and remains of a mysterious dead person. Clearly whoever donated the bear to the store must have known there was an urn inside, but if they simply forgot, they must have not missed their “dearly departed” all that much. The kid and his mom tried to track down the previous owner or anyone with knowledge about the urn, but they’ve had no such luck. Maybe the Teddy knows something, but he can’t “bear” the thought of going back to the folks who tucked grandma inside his abdomen.
9. Haunted House Horror Show
Halloween is meant to be scary, and lots of people celebrate the ghoulish holiday by checking out a scary haunted house. Tales of ghosts lurking in hallways, creaky and freaky noises, and flickering lights are always part of the magical mystery of any haunted dwelling. But for one Waukegan, Illinois family who creates a haunted house each year for Halloween revelers to parade through, the fear factor became too much to tolerate in 2014. Apparently, a 71-year-old man died while in the house and was left there for 2 weeks until it was discovered that he was a real person, not a lifelike prop to make the haunted house more frightening. The stench alone should have been reason enough to cause concern, but perhaps that “rotten body” aroma is part of the haunted house tour charm. After that Halloween nightmare, ticket sales for the following year’s house walk-through must have sold faster than bite-size trick-or-treat candy bars!
8. Air Conditioned Carcass
It can get pretty hot in North Carolina, but when a person is discovered dead inside an air conditioning vent, it’s an ice cold way to go. In 2013, the dead body of 48-year-old Kenneth Avery Smith was found inside the air conditioning system of the Town ‘n Country convenience store in Durham, NC, having been there for months, as the store was closed for a while. Authorities believe the man was attempting to break into the store, but got trapped and ultimately perished. Smith was found by insurance adjusters who were on the roof of the building during an inspection. After such a shocking finding, they probably needed health insurance for the psychological counselling they likely needed in its aftermath. There was a missing person alert sent out seeking Smith prior to his discovery, but surely nobody thought he’d be found dead in an air conditioning system. Too bad for Smith the convenience store wasn’t more convenient to bust into.
7. Zoo Zombie
When people go to spend a pleasant day at the zoo, it’s expected they’ll see some interesting creatures, but a dead body – human no less – is certainly not part of the anticipated attractions. But in 2014 in Detroit, a body was found on Belle Isle at an abandoned island zoo. The body was discovered in a mummified state and was said to have been there for a long time. The deceased was believed to be a homeless man in his 50s and foul play was not considered to be the cause of the man’s death. While the zoo hadn’t been used for housing animals for some time, people would visit to see the lush grounds and intricate landscape. Perhaps the man perished while camping out or exploring the area. A trip to the zoo is always educational and fun, but for those who discovered this man’s dead body, it was a visit they’d soon like to forget.
6. Michigan Mayhem
Back in 2009 in Michigan, a few young men spent the day drinking and decided it would be a fine idea to explore an abandoned house nearby. Innocent and harmless fun for a bunch of buzzed boneheads looking for a thrill, right? But their snooping around led to far more than poking through empty rooms and closets… they came across a decaying man, sitting right in the armchair where he had been rotting away for heaven knows how long. No one was seen entering or exiting the home for about 2 years, so it’s possible the deceased was alone, dead, for all that time. Naturally, the sloshed fellas were spooked, but weren’t sure they wanted to admit they’d been inside the abandoned home. By morning, they did the right thing and contacted the authorities, who were able to reach the man’s family to reveal the news no one wants to hear. That’ll teach those young gents to stay home and rent an action movie the next time they’re looking for a little drunken adventure!
5. Georgia Ghost Story
In 2016, an abandoned Augusta, Georgia home was prepped for demolition since it was falling apart, but just before Miley came in swinging on her wrecking ball, a severely decomposed body was spotted inside the home. With the home having been abandoned for nearly four years, this dead body could have been rotting away all that time with neighbours none the wiser as to why the dude (or gal) down the block never set foot outside. The death was ruled as “suspicious” and the body was so badly decomposed that neither the gender nor the ethnicity was able to be immediately identified. It’s a good thing the construction workers took one last look around inside before demolishing the place. Since the Solo Cup factory is located nearby, some local teens could have easily used the abandoned space for a little time to hang out with their red Solo Cups and a keg of beer!
4. Holy Toledo!
A 40-year-old man by the name of Kareem Williams who was missing for a month was found dead inside an abandoned Toledo, Ohio home in 2015. The former resident of the home went by the place to retrieve his mail, on Valentine’s Day no less, only to find something far from romantic inside the home – a cadaver! Police did not suspect foul play, but why this man was inside the home or how and when he died seems pretty suspicious. Hypothermia was ruled as the official cause of death, but why Williams stayed so long to become frozen to the point of becoming deceased is a horrifying mental image. Neighbors were rightfully shocked and upset and asked for the home to be boarded up to avoid having anyone else intrude, and possibly drop dead inside the vacant home. When it comes to uninvited houseguests, this case really takes the beyond-its-expiration-date cake.
3. Voodoo Virgin Islands
St. Croix in the Virgin Islands is supposed to be a place of paradise, not a scene for what would be better suited for a horror film. But when a decomposing body was found in an abandoned home in Estate Whim in 2016, heaven became hell for the officers who arrived on the scene after reports of a nasty odor was wafting from the house. A male vagrant was known to squat at the abandoned home, so it was assumed it was he who met his final fate at the estate. His lifeless body was found on a mattress inside the empty home, making it clear that he’d been spending nights in isolation. The cause of death was not reported, but surely he must have been alone, or worse, left to die. An island vacation is nice, but for those living in squalor, it’s an entirely different experience. You won’t see that on TV commercials for all-inclusive trip packages.
2. Police Station Scare
People show up or are brought to police stations for all sorts of reasons. To seek a restraining order against their ex. Because they have been pulled over for a DWI. To bail out their deadbeat boyfriend. Or because they work there as a security guard. But it’s a rare day when a dead person is chillin’ at the local precinct, especially when it has been shuttered and vacant for decades – since 1979! An extremely decomposed person was discovered at the old headquarters for the Paterson Police Department in New Jersey, alarming local citizens who already had notions that the place was haunted. Reports claim the dearly departed was not a prisoner who was inadvertently left behind, but more likely a squatter calling the building home. Talk about being put away for life! Local cops must feel an eerie presence in their precincts after this ghastly finding, but some of the inmates are probably even more threatening.
1. Open House Hysteria
When a house is on the market, any good real estate agent knows that telling prospective buyers that a dead body had been found in the home is a horrible selling point. It’s even worse when he can’t make the point at all… because he’s the one who was found dead! In 2016, a Cherokee County, Atlanta, GA real estate developer was found shot to death inside an abandoned home. Police discovered the dead body of 32-year-old David Abbasi inside the home, where sources say he was looking at the place for a possible purchase. With this news story haunting the home, it’s unlikely anyone will want to move in. Fears of Abbasi’s ghost or a revisit from whoever shot him would make any new homeowner uneasy, to say the least. The neighbourhood was relatively quiet, so this horrendous news made locals nervous and frightened. This was surely not the way they’d want their hometown to gain notoriety. Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing, this is not.