Spirits of the dead haunting the living is a tale as old as time. Every nation has its own frightening legends and stories, and the following 30 are among the most famous, or should we say infamous? From England to Mexico and the United States to Thailand, read on to discover the scariest ghouls and ghosts from around the globe. Some of them have been around for centuries, while others are newer ghosts on the block. Are you ready?
1. The Flying Dutchman, England
You may have heard about The Flying Dutchman, an infamous 17th-century ghost ship that reportedly haunts our planet’s many seas and oceans. Indeed, the spooky merchant vessel is most likely Earth’s preeminent non-human ghost. The legend arose in England, although the tale took place off the coast of South Africa. If you are traveling by ship across the seas between England and the Netherlands or beyond, you really don’t want to report seeing it.
The general tale around the ghost ship is that Dutch captain, van der Decken refused to go into harbor in South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope whilst a bad storm was brewing, ignoring protests from his crew and the passengers. Instead, the captain foolishly challenged God to do his worst. This He did, cursing the ship and damning it to never reach a port again. But worse still, the ship is said to now bring wretched luck or doom to other ships it comes across on its travels around the world's oceans. There have been numerous reported sightings down the centuries, including in 1881 by royalty: the British Prince of Wales, later King George V, claimed he saw her off the coast of Australia.
2. The Jersey Devil, United States
Americans with an interest in the supernatural will likely have come across the tale of The Jersey Devil. But if somehow you haven’t, then let us enlighten you now. As per the website Weird NJ, The Jersey Devil is one of the oldest and most enduring legends from the Garden State. It is a winged beast that is said to haunt the Pine Barrens and the people in the southern part of the state of New Jersey.
The Jersey Devil is said to have been born the 13th child of Mother Leeds, way back in 1735. But momma didn’t see how she could afford or care for this unwanted baby, so threw her hands up to the heavens and shouted “Let this one be a Devil!” Erm, big mistake: as legend has it, the human baby suddenly grew beastly, with horns, wings, and claws immediately forming. It then killed its bearer before going on to haunt New Jersey ever since. There have been reported sightings of The Jersey Devil for centuries — even as recently as 2015 — and the story continues to exert a hold over people today.
3. Kuchisake-onna, Japan
A Japanese legend that goes way back to the Edo period of Japan from the 17th to 19th centuries, Kuchisake-onna is a ghost to be feared. Depending on what you believe, the once-beautiful but later disfigured woman Kuchisake-onna was either mutilated on her face by a cruel partner or by a jealous woman who desired her beauty.
Since her death, legend has it that Kuchisake-onna has become a vengeful spirit, who suddenly appears hiding her mutilated features behind a fan or surgical mask, and asking whomever it comes across if she is beautiful. Any answer has pretty nasty consequences. Saying yes leading to her lowering her mask and asking again, and if yes is given again, Kuchisake-onna slices the face of the witness to match hers. Say no, though, and the frightening ghost will follow you home and kill you. The scary tale hit the headlines in 1979 when there were reported sightings of the vengeful spirit in Japan.
4. Lady in Red of FirstOntario Concert Hall, Canada
If you’ve ever been to the FirstOntario Concert Hall — sometimes referred to as Hamilton Place — you might have been told a story about a mysterious and frightful legend. Yes, a widely known tale about the FirstOntario Concert Hall is that it is haunted. But by whom, exactly? By a female ghost who cries red tears. Yes, really. The female spirit that has been sighted and reported by both terrified patrons and workers, is known as the Lady in Red.
In 2016 celebrity ghost hunters “Spooky Steph” Lechniak and Mitch Markowitz went to the FirstOntario Concert Hall in search of the legend, and their “Ghost Meter Pro” picked up an electromagnetic reading in the empty theater. Lechniak told Spec.com, “The Lady in Red appears with blood-red tears running down her cheeks. She's always crying and in a red dress. I think it's a 1980s-style dress she appears in.” So, this Canadian ghost story is a relatively new one, then.
5. Mae Nak, Thailand
The tale of Mae Nak — also known as Mae Nak Phra Khanong or Nang Nak — is both frightening and long-winded, so here goes. In 19th-century Thailand under the rule of King Rama IV, a man named Mak left his pregnant wife Mae Nak and his unborn baby to fight in the Kengtung Wars with what is now Myanmar. But Nak died in childbirth, along with the baby, before he’d returned from combat.
Yet when Mak arrived home, the story goes, his wife and child were there: he only realized sometime later that they were in ghostly form. Frightened, he bolted from his home and took refuge in a locked temple. Nak decided to scare the life out of the locals, before an exorcist lured her into a jar and threw her in the sea. But Nak was released by a fisherman who discovered the jar. The story is so powerful and of such cultural prominence in Thailand that there is a shrine to Mak in the capital Bangkok, which was built with the hope of appeasing the vengeful ghost and enabling her to move on.
6. La Llorona, Mexico
The Mexican legend of La Llorona has been around since perhaps as far back as the Aztecs, but the best-known tale is dated to the 1500s. It’s a pretty grim story about a woman named La Llorona who had a relationship with a Spanish conquistador that led to a pregnancy. Yet the Spaniard deserted his Mexican woman for another, and in some kind of revenge mission La Llorona drowned their kid in a river.
There are several versions of the tale, one in which La Llorona not only drowns the child but herself, and another where she actually finds the child drowned and her ghost constantly wails in despair. Finally, there’s one tale that La Llorona goes around stealing living children to adopt as her own in the place of her deceased child. Anyway, the legend and bad omen has gripped Mexico for centuries, and countless sightings have been made — including in New Mexico, USA, in the 1930s — of a woman wailing by the river.
7. The Bingen Poltergeist, Germany
The small town of Bingen in south-west Germany is the location for an ancient report of poltergeist activity. That report came way back in the 9th century: in 858 A.D., to be exact. It was relayed in a historical book called the Annales Fuldenses, and concerned a farmer who at first claimed that his own children or others in the village were pulling pranks on him. That is, until activity in and around his farm house began to turn sinister.
The farmer informed authorities of eerie knocking on or shaking of the walls both day and night, rocks raining down on his home, as well as burnt crops and dead farm animals. He reached out to Carolingian monks to perform an exorcism and expel the sinister activity. Was a demon haunting him? One version of the tale suggested that the farmer was a molester of the children in the village, and thus may have had an evil eye put on him. Another stated that he was simply unlucky, but ultimately shunned because of his bad luck.
8. Anne Boleyn’s ghost, England
Anne Boleyn is notorious in history as the second wife of Henry VIII, who was later executed on the orders of the King for alleged incest and adultery. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given her shocking and very public death, there were — and indeed continue to be — countless reported sightings of her ghost across Great Britain.
The most common reported sightings of Boleyn have traditionally occurred in the Tower of London, the location of the doomed Queen’s incarceration and subsequent execution. There, Boleyn’s ghost has been allegedly seen in a white Tudor dress, haunting the place. But Henry VIII’s executed wife’s ghost has also been reported across Britain, from Hampton Court Palace to Windsor Castle, and the places she grew up; namely Blickling Hall and Hever Castle. Seeing Boleyn’s ghost is not thought to bring you good luck, let’s put it that way.
9. The White Woman Of Belchen Tunnel, Switzerland
Switzerland is one of the most beautiful and peaceful nations on Earth. But the famously neutral nation is also home to a frightening ghostly tale. One that was first reported as recently as the latter part of the 20th-century. Yes, in January 1981 just under 20 years after the lengthy Belchen Tunnel was constructed, a local tabloid newspaper called Blick revealed stories that a ghost had allegedly been spotted haunting the area. Police also received calls about it.
The ghost was reported to be an elderly woman who wore white and appeared on the highway’s shoulder trying to hitchhike a ride from motorists. When drivers did, the woman would suddenly disappear as they made their way through the Belchen Tunnel. The ghost thus became known as the White Woman of Belchen Tunnel; it has led to the tunnel and road there being dubbed one of the most haunted on the planet. In 1983 two female jurists claimed to have picked up the woman, and when they asked if she was well, she’d reportedly told them, “No, unfortunately not. I am not well at all. Something really awful is going to happen, something very dreadful,” before disappearing.
10. Prince Sawara, Japan
The legend of Prince Sawara of Japan goes back to the eighth or ninth century. Sawara is believed to have turned into an onryō, Japanese for a “vengeful” or “resentful” spirit. Like Sawara, onryō are most often descended from royal blood and usually women. But as the legend goes, the male prince had built up resentment against his brother Emperor Kanmu during his lifetime, when the latter had accused his sibling of plotting to overthrow him.
The grudge the vengeful spirit of Sawara felt against Kanmu is said to have led him to cause a series of natural disasters that occurred in Japan, ranging from earthquakes to typhoons and droughts. The carnage led to Kanmu relenting and sharing with his brother the title of Emperor of Japan, to bring an end to the madness. Still, Kanmu moved Japan’s capital to the more-sheltered Kyoto from Nagaoka in case the uneasy truce with Sawara went sour again. The story remains culturally important in Japan to this day.
11. The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, England
There’s a terrifying ghoulish legend that goes back to the 18th century in the county of Norfolk, England. It was December 1835 when a ghost was alleged to have been seen by two guests at Raynham Hall, during a Christmas party there. This ghost has since become widely known as The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, and there is even purported photographic evidence of her presence there. Indeed, The Captain Hubert C. Provand photograph is arguably the most famous ghost picture of all time. But who was she?
It is believed that The Brown Lady is Dorothy Walpole, who lived there with her husband Charles Townshend. They wed in 1713; 12 years later Townshend is said to have locked Dorothy away after allegations of an extramarital affair. She patrolled the corridors before dying of smallpox a year later. After the 1835 sighting, a guest shot at the female ghost a year later. Then, some 91 years later she was identified as Walpole by descendants of Townshend’s. But most eerily, a now-infamous photograph was taken of the alleged ghost in September 1936 on the stairs of Raynham Hall, and published in Country Life. Freaky!
12. The Ghost of Ballygally, Northern Ireland
Sit down, and strap yourself in for the terrifying tale of The Ghost of Ballygally. The heavily fortified castle and hotel in Northern Ireland was built in 1625. A woman named Lady Isobel Shaw lived there with her husband, until her death: her demise was either self-inflicted jumping from the tower, an accidental fall from it, or perhaps murder by her husband Lord James Shaw. He had wanted a baby boy, but his wife delivered a girl, so Lord James had apparently locked her in the tower, where she had been driven insane by the mournful cries of her baby daughter.
Since Lady Shaw’s death, Northern Ireland has been gripped by tales of her presence at Ballygally. Both guests at the hotel plus residents have reported sightings of the ghost. One such incident reportedly saw a baby cry manically when entering the tower, perhaps sensing the ghost? The hotel has embraced Lady Isobel’s “friendly presence” and has a room dedicated to her. Erm, yeah, we don’t think we’ll be staying there any time soon, to be honest!
13. La Planchada, Mexico
It was back in the early 1930s when the legend of La Planchada grew in Mexico. A ghostly nurse, she is largely believed to be a warm-hearted spirit rather than a malevolent one. The legend is that La Planchada was working at Hospital Juarez in the capital Mexico City, where she began a relationship with a male doctor. But the medic was already engaged, and when a heartbroken La Planchada found out — while he was on his honeymoon, no less — she died shortly after, either from illness, grief, or maybe by her own hand.
Anyway, after her death La Planchada was reportedly seen floating around the hospital’s hallways, dressed in her neatly ironed uniform, which gave her the name “La Planchada,” or “The Ironed Lady.” Those sightings continue, and La Planchada is said to enter hospital rooms and heal sick people. There have been reports that she glows as she travels around hospitals. Spooky!
14. The Black Monk Of Pontefract, England
In the town of Pontefract in West Yorkshire, there is a terrifying tale of poltergeist activity. The horror story reportedly began in August 1966 when the Pritchard family moved into 30 East Drive. It was soon reported that the eldest child of Jean and Joe Pritchard, Phillip, had begun to be targeted by a supernatural force. The Pritchards complained of flying objects in the home, pictures being cut, and green foam emanating from the faucets. The British newspapers soon got excited by the strange goings-on at the home, where what they called “Mr. Nobody” was reportedly causing havoc, and physically harming their daughter Diane by scratching and pulling her around the house.
An exorcism was attempted, but “Fred” — as the Pritchards called him — allegedly disrupted it and slapped the praying people! Research on the property indicated that it had been the site of a monk being hanged in the 16th century, perhaps explaining the poltergeist activity. This cleric was labeled “The Black Monk of Pontefract.” The frightening story continues to resonate today, and was covered in the movie When The Lights Went out. And a 2016 photo by a ghost-hunter appears to show a black hooded ghost in a mirror facing the staircase where Diane had been dragged half a century ago.
15. The Daughter Of Hứa Bổn Hòa, Vietnam
The legend of the Daughter Of Hứa Bổn Hòa is perhaps Vietnam’s most famous ghost story. A girl named Lan was born in the late 1800s to wealthy businessman Hứa Bổn Hòa, or “Uncle Hòa.” She was his only daughter; at the age of 16 she contracted leprosy, which destroyed her noted good looks. Lan hid away in a room for a year before passing away;a broken Uncle Hòa put a stone coffin in her bedroom in the family’s mansion.
Yet after Lan’s death, strange happenings were reported. Staff brought food to Lan’s room and later noticed that it had been eaten. A person who walked by the mansion claimed to have seen her disfigured features looking out the window. The sad and spooky story was retold in 1973 through the horror flick The Ghost of the Hua Family.
16. Resurrection Mary (“The Hitchhiking Ghost”), United States
The village of Justice, Illinois, is the reported home of an infamous spirit known as either Resurrection Mary or “The Hitchhiking Ghost.” As the latter nickname suggests, the specter in question is one that likes to hitchhike a ride off drivers, specifically around Archer Avenue, the highway by Resurrection Cemetery. Mary — who is reportedly a young, 20-something blonde wearing a formal white dress — targets male motorists, and if she manages to get into their vehicles, disappears soon after they set off.
Like many ghost stories, the legend of Resurrection Mary has several different narratives and origins, depending on who’s relaying it. Still, it is widely believed that Mary met an untimely end sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Most likely Mary died in a fatal car smash, when she was walking home, or alternatively on the way to a nightclub — hence the white ballgown. Resurrection Mary’s story has captured the imagination of locals and those beyond Chicago, with ballads written about her, horror movies named after her and a Bloody Mary served in a local bar for her every Sunday.
17. The Tulip Staircase Ghost, England
The legend of The Tulip Staircase Ghost was born in the summer of 1966 when a Canadian Reverend stayed at The Queen’s House in Greenwich, England, with his wife. It was June 19 when Reverend Hardy checked into the British royal family residence that had been constructed in the early 1600s. But it all went fairly normally until the Reverend went to develop his photographs. Yes, Reverend Hardy and his missus had enjoyed their stay, and they had made sure to take plenty of photographs of the plush interior for their memories, including of the huge Tulip Staircase.
But when they processed these snaps, they were stunned to see a floating, shadowy figure gripping the side of the staircase, and possibly one or two more ghosts too. Kodak experts analyzed the negatives and found no sign of tampering. The story captured the imagination of the British public; a year later a Ghost Club team went to Queen’s House to probe it for paranormal activity, but didn’t find any. But in 2002 a female staff member claimed to have seen a woman dressed in gray floating over a balcony in the house.
18. Lady Jane Grey’s ghost at Ruthin Castle, Wales
Legend has it that the Ruthin Castle Hotel & Spa in Wales is one of the most haunted in the United Kingdom, and that it’s home to a famous ghost. Yes, the castle, which was completed in 1277 and sits in the Clwydian Range of north Wales,, has had some illustrious tenants, including Henry VII and his daughter “Bloody” Mary. But the ghost who inhabits the building reportedly belongs to Lady Jane Grey, the infamous “Nine Days’ Queen” of England, who resided for a short time in the castle.
The great-grand-daughter of Henry VII was shockingly executed in 1554 for high treason. She was reported to have murdered her husband’s mistress with an ax in a blind rage. But her ghost reportedly lives on in Ruthin Castle, presumably having made it back from London, where she had been slain. Lady Jane Grey has been reportedly spotted wandering around the castle battlements and banquet hall with ax in hand; it’s a story which continues to resonate today.
19. The Drummer of Tedworth, England
This ghostly legend holds the distinction of being the first reported incident of a poltergeist in England. It concerns the infamous Drummer of Tedworth, and the tale is spine-chilling. It all began in 1661 when local magistrate John Mompesson came across a drumming busker called William Drury. For whatever reason, the man of the law was not impressed with the musician, and cruelly had his drum confiscated. Big mistake!
Confiscating Drury’s drum seemingly led to terrifying paranormal activity occurring outside and inside the Mompesson home. The family would hear drumming inside and outside, while the kids reportedly began to levitate above their beds. Tables, chairs, and everything that could move in the house began to walk about it, or tumble down the stairs. The poltergeist activity led to Mompesson consulting a priest to carry out some kind of exorcism, but the strange happenings continued. Eventually, Drury was deported to the American colonies and made some kind of admission of guilt for the tumult. But how could he have made children levitate? The earliest paranormal investigator Joseph Glanville also claimed to have witnessed the strange goings-on, and the ghostly legend persists.
20. The Crying Lady in the Dakota, United States
One of the most famous — or should we say infamous — dwellings in New York City is the Dakota Building. Despite its impressive façade and plush interior, the apartment building of the wealthy and famous has seen its share of tragedy and even reported supernatural activity. The likes of Lauren Bacall, Peter Tchaikovsky, and Maury Povich have lived there. But it is with John Lennon that the building is inextricably linked.
Lennon moved into the Dakota with Yoko Ono in 1973. And it was the former Beatle who reported the poltergeist activity there. He reported seeing a “crying lady ghost” that roamed the halls, which must have been terrifying for him. Of course, Lennon’s one life would end outside the building’s entrance, when he was gunned down in December 1980 by crazed fan Mark Chapman. Ono later reported seeing her late husband’s ghost sat down at his piano inside the building. Weird.
21. The Krahang, Thailand
In Thailand, there is a type of male ghost that people call the krahang. Typically, this spirit appears as a shirtless man, who levitates around on a pair of rice baskets after dark. Legend has it that if the krahang spots any lone walkers, it will attack them, whereas in the daytime, it hides in plain sight, blending in among the crowds and imitating ordinary people.
This spooky legend has been well-known in Thai folklore for a long time, although scholars have noted the modern name. In recent years, Thai media have reported on a series of odd occurrences that have been blamed on a krahang. In 2017, a krahang was allegedly spotted and reported in northern Thailand several times. A local elder was called up to hold exorcism rights, but reports of this krahang have not gone away.
22. The Man in Gray, England
The Theatre Royal on Drury Lane in London, England, is widely regarded as the world’s most haunted theater. Indeed, alleged poltergeist activity goes way back before the current theater was built on the site in 1812. Several ghosts have been reported to haunt the property, perhaps the oldest being Joseph Grimaldi, a clown who worked there.
But the most infamous supernatural stalker of the Theater Royal is without doubt The Man in Gray. Patrons of the theater have regularly reported glimpsing this ghost on the balcony, donning a powdered wig and a long cloak. Some of the most famous sightings were reported in 1939 although many have rubbished them. Still, lots of actors treading the boards there have long considered it a sign of a good upcoming performance if they think they glimpse the Man in Gray watching them rehearse or perform.
23. La Sayona, Venezuela
We travel now to Venezuela, where the spooky tale of La Sayona has gripped the natives for centuries. Legend has it that this La Sayona — Casilda whilst she was alive — once resided in a small town back in the 19th century, where she wed a loving man and had a boy. But a man followed her one day as she was swimming and told her that her husband was in an extramarital relationship with her mother. Enraged, Casilda ran home, and burnt the house down with her husband and baby inside, despite finding no evidence of what the man claimed.
Next, Casilda charged to her mother's house to confront her, but was stabbed in the stomach by her machete-wielding mom, who denied the relationship and cursed her. Casilda died in the attack, but not before she angrily vowed to kill the unfaithful husbands of all women. Casilda thus became the fearsome La Sayona, and serves as a warning to any man in Venezuela thinking of infidelity. The name refers to the long, white undergarment she wears, at least according to those who have reported seeing her.
24. Marilyn Monroe’s ghost at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, United States
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is famous for hosting the first Academy Awards ceremony, and for being the residence of several major movie stars in the Golden Age of Hollywood for months at a time. But the hotel is also infamous for being haunted. And who, exactly, haunts the storied hotel? Well, according to 20th-century folklore, punctuated with reported sightings down the years, the ghosts of late A-Listers.
Yes, the Hollywood Roosevelt is home to the most famous ghosts you’ll find. Chief among them is reportedly the ghost of Marilyn Monroe, the iconic blonde bombshell who died in suspicious circumstances. A patron reported having seen Monroe’s ghost hanging out of a mirror in a room in which they were staying. And other visitors have claimed to hear Montgomery Clift’s voice echoing throughout the suite where he once lived. But Monroe’s ghost is apparently not just confined to the Roosevelt: in 2022 actress Ana de Armas claimed Monroe’s ghost had haunted her on the set of the biopic Blonde. Nice to know Marilyn still gets out and about, then!
25. Orpheus and shade, Ancient Greece
Ghost stories go back all the way to biblical times, and are seemingly referenced in the Book of Samuel. The idea of there being an afterlife may have originated in the ancient Near East, where there were debates over the fate of the deceased. Anyway, all this pre-dated ancient Greece and the story of the mythical Orpheus.
Orpheus was said to have descended into the Underworld in search of his recently deceased wife. When he arrived, he discovered that the dead had been diminished to vague shadows, or literal shades, of what they had been when they arrived. This spooky tale is believed by scholars to be the origin of the common perception, in the Western world at least, that ghosts are the semi-transparent and ethereal versions of once-living people.
26. The Headless Horseman, Germany
If you’ve seen the 1999 horror movie Sleepy Hollow, you’ll surely remember the terrifying headless horseman? Well, that fictionalized story for the big screen likely emanates from a notorious German folk tale. Yes, in Germany and across Europe, there have long been tales of headless horsemen who hunt and cause wind-storms and frightening noises.
One particular tale begins in a forest near the city of Dresden, where a woman who was picking up acorns suddenly heard a bang and a horn. It was a gray-cloaked rider. She took little notice and went back to picking acorns. But a few days later, he returned, this time holding his head up. The ghostly horseman said he was Hans Jagenteufel and inquired why the woman was collecting acorns without permission. She said she was doing nothing wrong, and the horseman didn’t kill her, but gave a warning that she shouldn’t earn herself his sorry fate for stealing. Enough to put any petty criminal off in Germany, surely?
27. The Amityville Haunting, United States
The Amityville Haunting is so terrifying that it is little wonder that it has been covered in various movies and TV shows. This horror story all effectively began when the crazed Ronald J. DeFeo Jr. killed his whole family at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York, back on November 13, 1974. Then, 13 months later, the Lutz family moved into the home of this horrendous tragedy. Bad decision.
According to the Lutz family, as soon as they moved into the property, poltergeist activity began in earnest. This included frightening unexplainable events, such as slime seeping out the walls, doors flying off their hinges and visits from ghosts. Spookily, George Lutz began to wake up in his bed at 3:15 a.m., the exact minute that DeFeo shot his whole family. Purported paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren later came to investigate. No wonder the Lutzes bolted after just 28 days there!
28. The legend of the Phi Pop, Thailand
If you haven’t yet heard of Phi Pop, a cannibalistic female ghost from Thailand before, then let us enlighten you. So, Phi Pop is a type of spirit that reportedly first emerged in ancient times, when a prince with a knack for magic managed to transfer his own soul to an animal. But the prince’s supernatural tricks were being noted by his cunning servant, who copied him to steal his body. The prince then rushed to tell his wife that his servant had betrayed him.
Are you still following? Okay, then. Next, the prince fooled the unfaithful servant into leaving his own corpse, before his wife destroyed his body. The bodiless servant’s spirit then made a run for it, becoming a cannibalistic beast who needs to eat intestines to survive. Ew! To cut a long story short, it eventually found a host in the shape of the witch Phi Pop, but it still leaves each night to feed on intestines. The horrific tale still resonates today. In 2007 two women in Thailand’s north were exorcized at the request of about 1,000 people, who believed the duo had been hosting Phi Pop. Ten of the fearful mob died in mysterious circumstances five years later, in an apparent ghostly retribution.
29. The Enfield Poltergeist, England
Along with America’s Amityville Haunting, the Enfield Poltergeist is perhaps the most terrifying of more recent ghost stories. This tale took place in Enfield, England, from August 1977 at the home of the Hodgson family. Mother Peggy recalled hearing a thunderous banging noise from the bedroom of her two daughters. She went upstairs to find 12 year-old Margaret and 11 year-old Janet in bed, frightened by a dresser they had apparently seen moving across their room of its own accord.
Peggy thought the girls were imagining things for a few seconds… until that is, she claimed she saw the same thing happen in her presence. The terrified mom took her and her daughters out of the home and called the cops, who arrived at the house and supposedly witnessed the moving furniture and heard the unexplained voices and noises too. The story reached the press, and paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren visited, supporting the claims of poltergeist activity. Later, the spirit apparently began talking through Janet, claiming it was a man named Bill Wilkerson who had died in the house. Some of those conversations were recorded. The Conjuring 2 was based on this terrifying tale, although Janet later admitted she had made some of it up.
30. The Bell Witch, United States
The Bell Witch went mainstream in 1999 when it was referenced in the hit movie The Blair Witch Project. That telling was followed up by An American Haunting six years later. But the tale of the Bell Witch goes back much further than the end of the 1990s. In actual fact, it was first mentioned as far back as the early 1800s.
The Bell family—after whom the witch was named—moved to Tennessee somewhere in that time period; upon settling into their new home, they started hearing eerie noises. These sounds ranged from chains rattling and dogs barking to what appeared to be a whispering woman. That murmuring female would come to be known as the Bell Witch: legend suggests that this woman was the ghost of Kate Batts, who had lived next door. Did she play a role in the early death of John Bell, who was somehow poisoned? All of that is up for debate, but the frightening presence of the Bell Witch, whether real or imagined, persists today.