True Ghost Stories That Are Spine-Chillingly Scary 

Updated September 17, 2021
blurred ghostly woman wearing a white dress

Spectral visitors, creepy wallpaper, and haunted paintings... these are just a few examples of true ghost stories. Some of these stories are more well-known than others, but all of them will send a chill up your spine and maybe have you sleeping with the lights on.

The Eyeless Boy

On Reddit, user kmendo4 shared the story of the haunting of his childhood home. He shared that, one night when he was 10, he was awakened by the sound of his bedroom door opening, and then felt someone sit on his bed. Figuring it was his mother, he opened his eyes.

Of course, it wasn't his mother. Instead, he was startled to see a boy of about his age, but with empty, black eye sockets. The eyeless boy held out a box, and when the still-sleepy child reached out for it, the eyeless boy disappeared.

Five years later, a girlfriend was visiting, and was napping while she waited for her parents to come and pick her up. When she was awakened, her gaze immediately flew to a corner of the bedroom, where she reported seeing a boy with no eyes, thinking it must have been a dream. She was quite freaked out when her boyfriend shared the encounter he'd had with the eyeless boy in the very same room.

And then again, a few years later, he'd had a child with that same girlfriend and they were staying with his parents, who still lived in the same house. His daughter, who was two at the time, started waking up at the same time every night, and her parents would hear her talking, usually the same conversation, night after night. Thinking it was cute that she had an imaginary friend, her father asked her about it, to which she replied, "It's a little boy. He's nice. He's lost and looking for his mommy."

This continued until the family moved out of the house and into a place of their own.

The Brown Lady Ghost of Raynham Hall

The most famous scary true ghost story is that of the Brown Lady Ghost of Raynham Hall, Norfolk. The case also led to the most famous picture of a ghost ever taken. The picture was captured on September 19, 1936 when two photographers, Mr. Indre Shira and Captain Provand, spotted a figure descending the stairs and snapped a picture.

Locals who examined the photo believe that it is the ghost of Lady Dorothy Walpole. Lady Dorothy was in love with Second Viscount Townshend. However, her father would not consent to the marriage, so Townshend married another woman. Meanwhile, Dorothy had an affair with a man named Lord Wharton, who was also deeply in debt, considered a severe character flaw back then.

When Townshend's first wife died, he and Dorothy were finally married. Somehow, Townshend eventually learned of his wife's past transgressions and locked her away in her apartments. She officially died on March 29, 1726 of smallpox, but many locals still believe that she died of a broken neck after being pushed down the wooden staircase.

Lady Walpole is known as "The Brown Lady" because she was spotted several times through the years wearing a brown brocade dress. In one case, in 1936, Author Captain Marryat and two young guests, one of whom brought along a gun for protection from the ghosts, spotted the Brown Lady headed down the hall coming directly toward them. Captain Marryat was so frightened that he even attempted to shoot at the ghost with the gun, but only succeeded in embedding a bullet into the door behind her.

Haunting on Ashley Street

In 1972 in a home on Ashley Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a 15-year-old girl went to a party hosted by students from the local university. She reported that she suddenly felt a bone-chilling cold and decided to go upstairs (possibly to find a sweater or something.) She reported that one of the walls of the house appeared to start moving, and before she'd fully registered that, a black shadow approached her.

Meanwhile, downstairs, the other partygoers were experiencing their own terror, as posters and pictures started suddenly popping off of the walls and landing on the floor. The girl wandered downstairs, and after the fact, the other partygoers shared that when she'd appeared, she'd said, "The drugs and addiction were my fault, and I accept responsibility for that, but I was not that way deep down inside. I want to apologize to everyone involved for what I have done."

The creepy thing about that? The girl didn't do drugs, or have an addiction... but the students who lived in the house shared that before they'd moved in, the house had been inhabited by a man with a very serious addiction, and the house had only become available after he'd died (in the home) of a heroin overdose.

Resurrection Mary

Probably the most famous "driving at night ghost story" is Resurrection Mary. The first reported sighting of Resurrection Mary was in the 1930s along Archer Avenue in Chicago, Illinois where a motorist reported seeing a young woman dressed in white. Later, there were reports of a young woman dressed in white standing in front of the gates of Resurrection Cemetery. Witnesses claimed she'd attempted to catch a ride by jumping onto the car running board.

As time went on, Mary was sighted at greater distances from the cemetery. There were several reports that young men had found her walking along the side of the road near O'Henry Ballroom. A couple men swore they'd danced with her at the Ballroom. Each type of visitation ended with the man offering her a ride home, but the woman vanished into thin air whenever they neared the gates of the cemetery.

The most commonly reported encounter with Resurrection Mary is that people offer her a ride, and then the woman vanishes while inside the car or when they pass the cemetery. All of the accounts match in description and attire detail. Still, other encounters claim the woman runs out in front of their car. It's widely believed that Resurrection Mary is the ghost of a young woman who stormed out of a dance at O'Henry Ballroom in the 1930s and was later killed in a hit and run. Another story states she was on her way home from a funeral when she was struck and killed.

ghostly transparent woman

The Villisca Axe Murderer Haunting

This grisly, haunting tale starts with a mysterious death (as so many of them do.) The Moore family--Josiah and Sarah and their four children--lived in Villisca, Iowa. On June 10, 1912, their children had two friends visiting.

Sometime during the night, Josiah, Sarah, their children, and their two visitors were all murdered, bludgeoned to death. The case remains unsolved to this day, and their house is known as one of the most haunted places in America.

A few things visitors have experienced include the sounds of children's voices, lamps crashing to the floor, ladders moving, and objects suddenly flying off of tables and shelves.

Robert the Haunted Doll

While ghosts are known to possess people, this scary true ghost story is about a possessed doll. In 1897, the Otto family owned a plantation in Key West, Florida. One of the plantation's servant girls offered the family's son, Robert Eugene Otto, a doll as a gift. Local historians suspect that she practiced voodoo, and that the doll she offered young Robert was cursed.

Once Robert brought the doll into the house, neighbors reported seeing the doll moving from window to window when the family wasn't home. The family could hear the doll giggling and running throughout the house at night. Robert's parents would find his bedroom ransacked, and young Robert reported that the doll did it.

Robert kept the cursed doll through the years. In fact, he became attached to it and spent countless hours locked in his room talking to the doll. Years later, when he married a woman named Anne, he still had the doll. Anne hated the doll, and in time forced Robert to place the doll in the attic. Before long, Robert brought the doll back down to a top floor room with a view. Neighborhood children reported seeing the doll moving in front of the window.

Skeptics might conclude that Robert himself was insane. However, after Robert Otto died, Anne left the home and leased it, but stipulated on the lease that the doll named "Robert" must remain alone in the attic. Families who leased the home reported hearing the ghost-possessed doll running back and forth in the attic as well as the sound of giggling. When they would check the attic, the doll had changed positions.

Once Anne died, the doll was removed from the home and placed in the East Martello Museum where he still resides today. Museum staff and visitors continue to report a great deal of paranormal activity surrounding "Robert" the doll.

The Haunted Nursery

Children can sometimes have overactive imaginations, but sometimes, that can't quite explain the things they claim to have experienced.

Take the case of the haunted nursery. A man on Reddit shared that he has vivid, disturbing memories of his childhood home. The wallpaper in his room was the thing that upset him the most as a child. He swears to this day that he would see the dinosaurs that made up the pattern marching around and violently killing each other. It went on night after night, sending him into terror, until his parents finally took the wallpaper down.

But that wasn't all. Items would be thrown around suddenly, or move for no reason. A chair in the home would suddenly start rocking. He saw the form of someone he didn't know sitting in his room, and he swore that once, a stuffed animal walked.

All of those can certainly be chalked up to overactive imagination, but he also swears that one morning he woke up with long scratches along his arm, and he had no idea how he'd gotten them.

The Haunted Ebay Painting

In February of 2000, a California couple posted a unique painting on Ebay. The painting was reportedly discovered abandoned behind an old brewery. The couple reported that their daughter saw the ghostly children leaving the painting during the night. The husband, quite alarmed by his daughter's story, decided to set up a camera. The couple claimed that they successfully captured two pictures of the boy exiting the painting.

Even scarier than the imagery within the painting was the public reaction to the photos. After more than thirteen thousand Ebay members viewed the picture, the following reactions were reported to the winning bidder:

  • People claimed they were repulsed.
  • Several people became physically ill.
  • Some people reported blackouts.
  • One user reported hearing a voice, and feeling a blast of hot air.
  • Two friends started crying unexplainably and praying for a minute until things returned to normal.
  • One Native American became ill, and was forced to purge his house of unclean spirits with white sage.

The winning bidder discovered that the title of the painting was Hands Resist Him, and it was signed by artist Bill Stoneham.

The winning bidder claimed that no paranormal activity came with the painting, and the original sellers were never identified. However, whether the painting is cursed remains a topic of debate. The artist later reported that the owner of the gallery where the painting was displayed and the L.A. Times critic who wrote the show review were both dead within a year of the show. Coincidence?

Only view the photos if you are certain that you are not easily spooked or disturbed by surreal or psychologically uncomfortable images.

A Visit From Grandma

Another case of children seeing more than adults sometimes do: a young mother shared that when her daughter was two, she was having a typical "terrible twos" type of moment, having a tantrum, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, she stopped, stared at the wall, and then started softly giggling.

She started saying "funny lady" over and over again. Her parents asked her who she was talking about, and she pointed at the wall and said "the funny lady." They asked her to describe the lady, and from her description, it soon became clear that she was talking about her mother's grandmother, who she'd never met.

When the mother relayed this story to her own parents, they didn't seem as surprised as she expected them to be. They said that apparently she'd forgotten that when she was about that age, she'd had a visit from her deceased grandfather.

Telly Savalas and the Ghostly Good Samaritan

The popular Kojack actor, Telly Savalas, had a ghostly encounter in 1959. Coming home to Long Island after a date at two o'clock in the morning, Savalas ran out of gas. He started walking toward the freeway when a high-pitched, eerie voice sounded behind him from the road saying, "I'll give you a ride." Savalas hadn't heard the car drive up, but he accepted the ride. The man wore a white suit and was driving a Cadillac.

When they arrived at the gas station, the man offered to pay for the gas, even though Savalas hadn't said anything about not having any money with him. He accepted the generous offer, getting the man's name and address so he could send the money to him the next day. The man then drove him back to his car. On the way there, he told Savalas that he knew a Red Sox baseball player and even gave him the name. Perplexed, Savalas just nodded. The man helped him fill the car with gas, and the man pushed the car to get it started while Savalas sat behind the wheel.

The next day, the newspaper headlines reported that the Red Sox player had been found dead the previous night. Savalas discovered the man had also written down his phone number, so he called it and talked with a woman who became very upset when he asked for the man. She told him that her husband had been dead for two years. Savalas later contacted her again, and the woman verified that the clothes the Samaritan wore were her husband's burial clothes. His signature on the paper matched her husband's handwriting. The only thing that didn't match was his high-pitched voice, since he had a deep voice. While talking further, Savalas discovered that the man had committed suicide by shooting himself in the throat, and this had destroyed his larynx.

moody figure standing in front of car

Scary but True Stories of Ghost Encounters

While not everyone believes in ghosts, it's hard to dispute true stories of the paranormal. From urban legends like Bloody Mary to Ouija Board encounters, it's hard to say that there's no such thing as ghosts. Decide for yourself if you believe.

True Ghost Stories That Are Spine-Chillingly Scary