We’ve all heard urban legends about Halloween—the poisoned candy, Satanists killing black cats, and 13-story haunted houses where no one ever reaches the top alive.
Have you heard the one about the hanging mannequin that actually turned out to be a suicide victim?
Sounds like an urban legend, and in many cases they are—the 2014 story about a real corpse that had rotting in a Halloween haunted house turned out to be completely fake, although it was based on a true story from 1976.
Unlike most urban legends, though, the ‘Hanging Man’ has turned out to be real in many cases. As you’ll see, they’re not always suicides. Sometimes they’re the result of accidental deaths. And in one case, the “mannequin” turned out to be a murder victim.
Five days before Halloween in 2005, the corpse of a female suicide victim was hanging about fifteen feet about the ground in full view of the public for hours in Delaware, and it was not immediately reported because people thought it was a Halloween dummy. Instead it was the dead body of a woman who’d deliberately hanged herself.
In mid-October 2009, the body of a California man who’d shot himself dead and was slumped over a chair on a balcony for THREE DAYS garnered no suspicion because neighbors in the apartment complex thought it was a Halloween decoration.
In October 1990, a 17-year-old male worker at a Halloween haunted hayride event in New Jersey accidentally died of strangulation while attempting to performing a “gallows stunt.” The hay wagon’s tractor driver grew suspicious when the boy, Brian Jewell, failed to deliver his scheduled speech when they arrived at his stop. It turns out that Jewell was already dead.
Also in October 1990, a 15-year-old boy in North Carolina was found hanging “amid fake spider webs and plastic bats [while] decorating an aunt’s home” for Halloween.
In 2001, a 14-year-old Michigan boy who was working at another haunted hayride—and whom friend claim “felt awkward simply jumping out of the woods to scare passers-by…[and] decided to take the place of a hanging skeleton.” When he struggled to remove the noose, observers thought this was part of the performance.
In September 2013, a 16-year-old boy from Kentucky died after spending a whole day decorating for Halloween after he decided to pretend he was hanging from the noose as a “prank.”
This is gruesome, so if you have a week stomach, just skip this part…
For the better part of one day in October 2015, people assumed the human-like figure leaning against a fence in a small Ohio town was a gory Halloween decoration. It wasn’t until that evening that they realized it was the battered corpse of Rebecca Cade, whose boyfriend had beaten her to death with a large rock. Her face was so bloodied and disfigured, neighbors at first assumed it was a Halloween prop.