Once upon a time, hitchhikers were a common sight on our roads – hitchhiking is a cheap way to travel and a great way to meet new people.
Unfortunately for both hitchhikers and drivers, not everyone is what they seem. Some people were out to rob their fellow passengers, while others had even more nefarious plans in mind.
By the time we got to the 2010s, just 7% of 18 to 24-year-olds in the UK had tried hitchhiking – a far cry from the 1970s when hitching was a common way of getting around. Considering, however, that 91% of drivers said they wouldn’t stop for hitchhikers, it is hardly surprising that it has lost its popularity.
Safety concerns have contributed to the fall in hitchhiking’s popularity, since both horror movies and real-life crime stories have made hitchhiking seem like an insanely dangerous thing to do.
The truth is that while grisly hitchhiker murders might hit the headlines, the chances of meeting your end while sitting in the passenger seat of a stranger’s car are pretty small – 0.0000089% to be precise. If you do hitchhike, you’re much more likely to die in a car accident at the side of the road than at the hands of the person behind the wheel! Even then, however, you can’t ignore the chance of meeting a creep or serial killer on a hunt, including these 15 crazy people.
15 Robert Ben Rhoades, The Truck Stop Killer
Robert Ben Rhoades was one driver you definitely wanted to avoid if you were hitchhiking in the US in the late '80s and early '90s. Known as the “Truck Stop Killer,” Rhoades was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murders of two hitchhiking couples. He would shoot the man, and then keep the woman alive for a few days in order to torture and s*xually assault her, before killing her by strangulation. Further investigation of the logs from his truck driving career suggested that Rhoades could be responsible for as many as 50 unsolved murders across the US.
14 Andy Albury Suspected To Be Behind Flinders Highway Killings
The remote Flinders Highway in the Australian Outback is not the best place to hitchhike – and when a car pulled over for hitchhiker Tony Jones in 1982, he must have been delighted to finally get a lift. Unfortunately, Jones was never seen again, and he is presumed dead, probably killed by the same man responsible for a total of 11 victims who disappeared on the same stretch of road. Andy Albury, nicknamed Australia’s Hannibal Lecter after he was convicted for the 1983 murder of an Aborigine woman, is thought to be the main suspect in the Flinders Highway killings, but no one has ever been charged.
13 Cameron Hooker Who Kept Victim In A Coffin-Like Box
When 20-year-old Colleen Stan accepted a lift from a young couple with a baby in 1977, she had no idea that she had actually climbed into the car with a psychopath. Cameron Hooker abducted Stan, keeping her in a coffin-like box for 23 hours a day for much of the next seven years, only letting her out of her prison to sexually assault her. Stan had been brainwashed by Hooker, only escaping with Janice’s help.Even then, she continued to call Hooker and refused to report him to the police. He eventually faced justice when his wife called the cops herself.
12 Bauhad Sisters Killed By A Driver Who Had Safely Taken Them To Their Cabin
Hitchhiking has always been and remains a popular way for locals and visitors alike to get around Iceland – after all, public transport to remote parts of the country is practically non-existent! Two sisters, Yvette and Marie Bauhad, were on holiday in Iceland in 1982 when they decided to hitchhike to their next stop, accepting a lift from local man Grétar Sigurður Árnason. Árnason left them safely at their cabin, only to return later that night with a gun. Marie was knocked unconscious, and didn’t find out that her sister had been shot dead until the next day.
11 Keith Jesperson, The Happy Face Killer
Known as “The Happy Face Killer,” for the smiling faces he drew on letters he sent to the media, Keith Jesperson was responsible for the r*pe and murder of at least eight women between 1990 and 1995. While some of his victims were "working girls," others were hitchhikers he picked up during his work as a truck driver. Jesperson was seemingly desperate to be recognized as the man responsible for the bodies which had been found across the US, and began sending letters to the press, signed with a smiley face, confessing his crimes. He was eventually sentenced to life in prison in Oregon in 1998.
10 Polish Hitchhiker Stabbed By A Man Who Had Kids In The Car
A Polish man, Merek, travelling in Ireland on his way to buy a new car, was delighted when a family with two kids stopped and offered him a lift. His delight soon turned to horror, however, when the driver centrally locked the doors on the vehicle, and turned down a deserted lane. Realizing he was about to be robbed, Merek threw his wallet out of the window, but the driver leaned in through the window and stabbed him anyway – while he remained seated between the man’s two young children! Luckily Merek made a full recovery, but it’s unclear whether the children will ever get over their trauma.
9 Edmund Kemper, The Driver Who Had Necrophilia
Edmund Kemper was sentenced to life imprisonment in California, for killing eight female students between 1964 and 1973. Kemper had already served time in a juvenile detention centre for killing his grandparents at the age of just 15, but no-one realized just how dark his desires were. Kemper picked up his victims while they were hitchhiking, usually to or from nearby colleges. He also engaged in necrophilia, in one case bringing the headless corpse of one of his victims’ home to have s*x with later. Kemper eventually turned himself in, and even asked for the death penalty, which had already been scrapped in California.
8 Peter Tobin, The Serial Killer
Jacci Ansell-Lamb was last seen alive in March 1970, when she was trying to hitchhike from London to her home in Manchester. The 18 year-old student’s body was found a few days later a mile from the M6, with reports showing that she had been r*ped and strangled. Although her murderer has never been found, police suspect that serial killer Peter Tobin may have been responsible for her death.He was given three life sentences for killing hitchhiker Dinah McNicol, as well as two other young women, Vicky Hamilton and Angelika Kluk, and there were similarities between these crimes and the death of Jacci Ansell-Lamb.
7 Hitchhiker R*ped By 3 Women
One Zimbabwean man got a lot more than he bargained for when he accepted a lift from three women in 2016. Within a few miles, they pulled over and all three r*ped him before they made off with his sperm! There were a number of similar attacks in the country in 2011 and 2012, at which time police believed that the women were using the stolen semen in witchcraft rituals for luck, though there is no evidence that they weren’t just after a little male company. The man was forced to “perform” at knife point, and one of the women even threatened him with a live snake.
6 Lydia – The Phantom Hiker
Now we have a ghostly hitchhiking tale from Jamestown, North Carolina. Drivers in the area have reported seeing a young woman dressed in white trying to flag down passing drivers on the US Route 70 where it passes underneath an overgrown bridge. If anyone stops to pick her up, the young lady – who introduces herself as Lydia – gets in the back of the car and gives a nearby address – but by the time the car arrives, she has disappeared. According to local legend, Lydia was killed in a car wreck in the 1920s, and is simply trying to get home.
5 Albert Brust, Killer With Homemade Torture Chamber
A teenage couple, travelling through Florida in 1973, got into the wrong car when they accepted a lift from Albert Brust. He murdered the 16 year-old boy, shooting and decapitating him, before subjecting the 15 year-old girl to almost 24 hours of physical and s*xual abuse in his home-made torture chamber. For some unfathomable reason, Brust then let the girl go, but when she reported the crime to the police, they didn’t believe her. Eventually, neighbours reported a strange smell from Brust’s home, and police found not only the body of his teenage victim, but also that of Brust, who had committed suicide.
4 Connie Smith, Gone Without A Trace
Back in 1952, 10 year-old Connie Smith stormed off from her summer camp after arguing with some of the other girls. She was later seen on the roadside, and was apparently trying to hitchhike back to the camp after all – but that was the last that anyone ever saw of little Connie Smith. Although police scoured the area in Salisbury, Connecticut where the camp was located, her body has never been found, and there has not even been any sign of the clothes she was wearing or the possessions she was carrying. The case still remains open to this day.
3 Philip Fraser’s Corpse Dumped by The Roadside
Philip Fraser is something of an exception in this list of crazy hitchhiking stories – he was actually the driver of the car, not the hitchhiker! Fraser was a student, travelling from his home in Anchorage to college in Olympia, Washington, but he never made it there alive. Witnesses saw Fraser pick up a hitchhiker at a café en route – a hitchhiker who the owners of the café already had concerns about. Later the same day, another couple picked up a hitchhiker who claimed his car – Fraser’s car - had broken down, only it wasn’t Fraser. Philip Fraser's body was found six weeks later, dumped in the undergrowth next to the road.
2 Walhalla Hiker, A Ghost Hitchhiker
Like its neighbour to the north, South Carolina has its own ghostly tale - The Walhalla Hitchhiker. This young man only appears on nights when the weather is bad, asking to be taken to local beauty spots Piedmont Overlook or Moody Springs. As soon as you arrive, he exits the car, and promptly disappears into the gloom. Locals say that the hitchhiker is the ghost of pilot called Larry Stevens, whose plane crashed during a storm when he was taking a sightseeing excursion over the area. While the wreckage of the plane was found, Larry’s body has never been traced.
1 Amy Bilig’s Unknown Whereabouts
17 year-old Amy Bilig disappeared in 1974, when she was hitchhiking near her home in Coconut Grove, Miami. Suspicion immediately fell upon the bikers who were travelling through the area on their way to a gathering in Daytona Beach, but no one has ever been able to establish exactly what happened to Amy Bilig, or even whether she is alive or dead. Amy’s parents have conducted their own investigations over the years, trying to establish who picked their daughter up, and where she might have ended up, but as yet they have not had any success with their few leads, even though many people have claimed to have seen Amy over the years.