5 Scary Stories That Sound Made Up (That Really Happened)

A good horror story is hard to pull off. Too far-fetched and the audience might roll their eyes, too mundane and you risk losing them entirely. Writers struggle long and hard to find that perfect balance. Or they could rip a story from one of these very real headlines and wind up with something more terrifying than most fiction.

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5
A Family's Dream House Was Secretly Crawling With Snakes

In 2009, Ben and Amber Sessions moved into their dream home in Rexburg, Idaho. It was everything they'd ever wanted, the price was a steal, and oh yeah, during the winter, snakes congregated beneath it like it was a sales conference in Florida.

The snakes, not fond of having their hibernation disturbed, responded to the family's presence like angry poltergeists. They tainted the water supply, were constantly heard crawling inside the walls, and covered the yard to the point where it looked like the lawn was moving. Ben killed as many as 42 serpents in a single offensive, but much like the mythical hydra, the snakes were relentless assholes (little-known hydra fact). The day after their daughter was born, Ben and Amber gave up and fled, not wanting their child to be claimed and raised as the Snake Queen.

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The strangest part of the story: When the Sessionses bought the house, they signed paperwork acknowledging the snake problem ... which their real estate agent insisted was simply an invention of the previous owner as an excuse to get out of his mortgage. That signature forced the couple to declare bankruptcy and deal with the resulting financial and psychological difficulties on their own. Because like so many other horror stories with cheap twists, the real villain here was capitalism.

Related: 5 Real Places With Stories Scarier Than Any Horror Movie

4
A Mother And Her Two Children Were Haunted By A Nursery Rhyme

An Ipswich mother and her two young children were being awakened every single night by a tinny rendition of the children's nursery rhyme "It's Raining, It's Pouring, The Old Man Is Snoring." This dragged on for months, and the frightened woman was beginning to wonder if she was losing her mind. Which, of course, is what everyone thinks right before the ghosts sense a moment of weakness and drag their victims to Hell.

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She eventually contacted the Ipswich Borough Council's Rapid Response Team, trying to convince the government that she was being haunted by a nursery rhyme. Though they did confirm that they heard the rhyme too, so good news, she wasn't going crazy! She was probably just being stalked by a supernatural horror.

The team, hopefully armed with iron and salt, tracked the music to a nearby industrial building. The owners explained that the music was a motion-activated security measure meant to scare off thieves, although why they chose a spine-tingling rendition of a nursery rhyme instead of an alarm bell went woefully unexplained. Regardless, the problem was twofold: the volume was cranked up way too loud, and the alarm was being triggered in error by spiders that were skittering across the lens of the security cameras.

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So the mystery was solved, and the woman finally got a proper night's sleep. A story's gotta be pretty high on the creepiness scale when everyone breathes a sigh of relief after finding out it was only spiders.

Related: 6 True Stories That Prove Local News Is Creepy As Hell

3
A Hoarder Unknowingly Lived With Her Dead Son For 20 Years

When elderly blind woman Rita Wolfensohn went to the hospital, her sister-in-law went to her home to pick up some things and found a whole house full of trash and rotting food. As it turned out, Rita was a hoarder. Then the sister found something worse than decade-old Hot Pockets: a clothed skeleton in a second-floor bedroom, believed to have been Rita's son.

Details are thin, but Wolfensohn doesn't appear to have known that the body was there. The man had died of natural causes, the smell of decay was masked by the smells of the hoarding lifestyle, and Wolfensohn was under the impression that her son had moved out. So either she's a murderer so fiendish that she's fooled everyone, or she's an elderly woman struggling with severe mental health issues. Take your depressing pick.

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Wolfensohn wasn't close to her surviving family, so no one had been by to check on her in decades. If there's something even vaguely resembling a happy ending here, it's that she's since been moved to a nursing home, where the people who die of natural causes are hopefully discovered with greater efficiency.

Related: 5 True Stories That Put Every Horror Movie To Shame

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2
A Farm Worker Slipped Hundreds Of Needles Into Strawberries

There's a long-running urban legend about needles being hidden in Halloween candy, and it's total nonsense ... because they were in the fruit this whole time. Yes, we've been blaming innocent ol' sugar when the healthy option was the one truly trying to murder us.

An Australian farm supervisor slipped hundreds of needles into her strawberries, prompting 230 complaints and a financial crisis for the industry. Senior citizens were just starting to doubt the veracity of all those Facebook posts about the government putting AIDS in Pepsi, and then needles in their groceries undid all that progress.

Joshua GanePictured: vindication for every paranoid, email-forwarding grandmother in the world.

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The woman responsible, 50-year-old My Ut Trinh, was motivated by spite over a workplace grievance. She was caught, in part, because she talked about her intentions with a co-worker. Hey, some people take their workplace complaints to HR, and some force an entire industry to its knees while putting hundreds of lives at risk. Different strokes. Trinh's act triggered copycat crimes, and she was denied bail for fear she would harass witnesses, because supervillains are real -- they're just way lamer than you thought.

Related: 6 Horrifying Urban Legends That Actually Came True

1
11 Family Members Committed Suicide Together For No Real Reason

When Bhavnesh Bhatia's grocery store didn't open at the usual time, concerned neighbors investigated his Delhi home and found 11 corpses. The 50-year-old Bhatia and nine other family members, ranging from 15 to 45, had all been hanged. Bhavnesh's 77-year-old mother had been strangled without any apparent resistance. Most of them were blindfolded and gagged. Their home was dubbed the House of Horrors, so the title of the Netflix documentary is already set.

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From the outside, everything appeared to be going fine for the middle-class family. A wedding was in the works, the teenagers had an upcoming cricket match, both their grocery store and their plywood businesses were humming along. The family had even ordered food which was left uneaten, and made preparations for breakfast the next day. The speculation was that any investigation would reveal some sort of secret shame -- massive financial loses, fraud, dishonor. Instead, police found something creepier.

The investigation centered around the diary of Bhavnesh's brother, 45-year-old Lalit Bhatia. Lalit had taken over as head of the family after their father's death in 2007, and it seems he had gone mad with a moderate amount of power. He believed his dead father was communicating with him, and everyone else in the family just ... went along with that. Lalit began to dictate the daily routines of his family. They cut meat and alcohol from their diets, became more religious, and saw their businesses grow and profit. And then they all killed themselves in a ritual meant to let them meet and thank Lalit's father for his spiritual guidance. A ritual everyone thought that they would somehow miraculously survive.

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Psychologists blamed the incident on a shared psychotic disorder. Lalit was delusional, but he had also legitimately helped the family, so no one wanted to be the weirdo who made things awkward by saying, "Hey, maybe group suicide isn't the right move here?" We'll never know whether Lalit believed everything he said, but that's how 11 educated, financially comfortable, well-respected middle-class people killed themselves without making a big deal about it.

Check out all of Eamon Lahiri's work here. For queries about work or his favorite flavor of ice-cream, get in touch at eamon.lahiri@gmail.com or say hi on Twitter.

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