It’s not very comforting to think about how many criminals lurk in the shadows of our everyday lives – and the fact is, there are killers out there living among us…
In this AskReddit article, people who have had encounters with killers reveal what happened.
“A man came to my grandma’s house and said he was having car trouble, asked to borrow a wrench. He followed my grandma into her garage and picked up a hammer and whacked her in the back of the head with it. He thought she had died, her skull cracked open. He just left her there, she lived in the middle of the woods. But she didn’t die.
He was caught before he murdered anyone else, and investigators found all kinds of evidence of him stalking her before coming to kill her. In the months before this she noticed strange things out of place, the sink left dripping, doors open, unfamiliar smells, ect. But then- when she washed the outfits that were on her doll collection, she noticed tears and holes in them- and slits ripped into the doll bodies. She immediately changed the locks. He stabbed her dolls.
Then she came home to a break a while later. They only stole only one thing, an old boy scout pin that her father frequently wore. She looked at it from time to time, it had huge sentimental- (but no monetary) value. Turns out it was him the whole time. No one knows exactly how long he had stalked her. He had stalked and killed 2 others in the next town over before coming to my grandma.
It’s terrifying to think that it could be happening to anyone at anytime.”
2. Dated a killer
“Dated one and didn’t know it. Didn’t actually realize it until he and his buddy kidnapped me and held me prisoner for a week and a half. Turned out they were pretty big-time drug dealers who were also human traffickers who liked torture women to death just for kicks.”
3. The van
“I was the first to notice the big white carpet company van that parked behind our house every day around dinner. I must have been 7, and my younger sister was 4. We would play in our fenced-in yard that shared one side with the alleyway, giving anyone walking by a full view of our lawn and the back of our house as well as the backyard of the house next door.
Looking back, I was a total goody-goody and deliberately found any way to suck up to my parents. Our school had just given the typical 90’s “stranger danger” presentation, and had specifically described scenarios where men in big white vans with no windows offered you candy to get in, then drove away with you. I was more proud than scared when I dragged them both outside to show that van out to my parents – like it had been some real-world test. Clearly, I had aced it!
I can’t really recall their response, but I know they didn’t feel the need to escalate it. Maybe they hadn’t noticed the van until the day I pointed it out, but they weren’t bothered enough by it to investigate further.
After we went outside to look at the van, it never appeared in our alley again. A few days passed, however, and by eaves-dropping in adult conversations as goody-goody suck ups do, I caught on that something terrible had happened next door. The boy that lived there was 11-ish (and wanted nothing to do with me or my sister, so obviously we weren’t close) had been taken from their front yard, and neighbors reported seeing a large, white, windowless van drive away. My parents were able to give a great description of the van they had seen in the alley previously, including the carpet store logo – in case that happened to be the vehicle the other neighbors saw.
The police must have easily spotted the van, as I remember the older boy returning home within the next day or so. Being so young and sheltered at the time, I can’t speak to any grizzly details as to how the boy was treated or what happened while was gone. All I can say is that the whole family packed up and moved out shortly thereafter.”
“Got beat up when I was 10 by a man who was a law professor at a fairly prestigious University. He kicked the living s*** out of me pretty hard. Threatened to kill me if i said anything. I didn’t. I lied to my parents about what happened.
A little while later he shot his family with a 12 gauge.”
5. Mom’s best friend
“Not a serial killer but a mass murderer.
His mom was my mom’s best friend. After the murders happened, his mom kind of fell off the face of the planet. She was already raising her other son’s kids because he was in prison for drug related things, and then him not only going to prison but for murdering 4 small kids and his girlfriend, just completely broke her. I think it would any mother.
He sat in my house and gave me 2 tattoos when I was 19 and gave my mom 2 at that time as well.
His mom kept saying he should ask me out and he agreed and was acting flirty. But not only did I find him wildly unattractive, he was covered in swastikas. He had been to prison, also for drugs, and said he didn’t agree with the ideology but got them to fit in at prison. I could see one of the swastikas was actually in the process of being covered with something else and his mom was basically an aunt to me and me and my mom trusted her. She said he had turned his life around since prison and was a really talented tattoo artist and could give us a discount to add to his portfolio.
At the time, nothing really indicated he was capable of murdering children. The swastikas sent a pretty bad message but I didn’t think TOO much of it after he said it was just a survival tactic or whatever, I have heard of that. He was just kind of a trashy, talkative guy. But after those details came out.. idk.”
6. The Backpack Killer
“My grandparents owned a small cafe in the town of Bowral, NSW Australia. Ivan Milat was a regular customer there, they didn’t know him on a personal level, just a causal “G’day, Ivan!”. They knew his parents as well. Crazy stuff knowing that my grandparents would always be in 1m contact with one of Australia’s most notorious serial killers every couple days.”
7. Lady in the white car
“I lived in a house and knew all my surrounding neighbors. Landlord next door, his sister on the other side, and the 5 houses across the street belonged to families whos kid(s) went to my school or were acquainted with my parents. I was in 4th or 5th grade at the time.
I was walking home from school one day and it was pretty hot. This lady pulls up in a white car and offers me a ride home. I tell her “no thanks” and continue walking. She follows me for a minute or two before pulling up again and saying that “It’s ok, I don’t mind.” and that she recognized me as her neighbor across the street.
I immediately knew it was bullshit, because I know all my neighbors. I ask, “Ok. What street do we live on then?” and she said that she doesn’t remember because she just moved in recently. I tell her no again, but this time I start to walk in the opposite direction so she can’t follow me. She turns the corner and I immediately run to a friends house that was closer to where I was.
I told my parents of course. A couple days later a friend of mine told me a mexican lady in a white car tried to offer him a ride after school while he was walking home, saying she was his neighbor. He was literally two houses down from where he lived so he told her to f off and ran home. He wasn’t making it up because only my mom knew about the incident at that time. My parents and his parents alerted the school.
Please teach your kids not to accept anything from strangers. I was feeling sick that day and if I didn’t know exactly who my neighbors were, I don’t know how that situation would of played out. My friend was just an a-hole, smart, or a combination of both so we both turned out lucky in the end.”
8. Serial killer
“A serial killer in Florida… our neighbor was found decapitated and after he was found (responsible for 5 murders of women) we were let known he kept a book, inside was all info on my family, what time we usually got home, what we wore almost everyday, what vehicles we drove, descriptions, approx ages and more.”
9. Robert Pickton
“Not me but my mother.
My parents were both heroin addicts in Vancouver during the 80’s – early 90’s. At one point during this time my dad spent about a year in jail, and right after he went away my mother found out she was pregnant. She got clean shortly after finding out she was pregnant and kept off the heroin for the rest of her pregnancy but she was still struggling to get by on her own.
Previously, when my dad wasn’t bringing in enough cash dealing drugs or was in jail (frequent flyer) my mom would end up turning tricks in addition to whatever work she could scrounge up while living out of shelters and getting high. As she was pregnant she was reluctant to put herself at risk of being attacked and was picking up cleaning shifts at a couple of shitty local motels. She would make a bit of extra money by letting a few friends bring clients to the rooms before she cleaned them.
Every once in a while, her friends would send a client her way if she was really strapped for cash. Usually these were regulars that my mom was already familiar with and felt safe around and she wouldn’t turn down the money. One night when she was around six months pregnant, her friend mentioned that a guy had been asking around for a working girl that sounded an awful lot like her but he didn’t know her name. He described the tattoo on her leg, her hair colour, and the mole on her cheek perfectly so it was pretty clear to the friend who he meant. Friend asked if she should tell him where to find her/how to get in touch since it seemed like he might be one of her old clients, but my mom says she got an awful feeling in the pit of her stomach so she made an excuse about not feeling well and told her not to. Before they parted ways that evening they made plans for her friend to accompany her to a prenatal appointment at hospital a couple days later.
On the morning of the appointment, my mom’s friend didn’t show up. My mom called her apartment and when there was no answer, she went over and let herself in with the spare key. Nobody was home. Assuming her friend had simply forgotten, she went to her appointment alone and went home afterwards slightly annoyed at her for flaking. She tried calling a couple times more that night before asking around about her. No one had seen her for the last two nights, which was rare as they were the busiest nights of the week in the business.
Turns out the last time anyone saw her, she was getting in a car with the same guy that had been asking about my mother. No one ever saw her again. Her body was never found, which makes more sense when you find out that the man who picked her up was later identified by witnesses as Robert Pickton, a local pig farmer and serial killer who would grind up the bodies of his victims and feed them to his pigs (pork from those pigs was distributed across the province for human consumption).”
“Not me, but my ninth grade english teacher once told us about the time she was stalked by Ted Bundy. She was in college at the time and worked nights at a bar. He approached her one night flirting, asking her out, etc. but she wasn’t interested. He was very persistent, and after a while she got angry and told him to get lost.
Later, walking home that night, she noticed a car following her pretty closely. She didn’t look back because she knew that showing any sign of fear gave him control of the situation, so she walked straight into her dorm and warned all her friends. He waited outside for several hours, but eventually gave up.
After telling us the story, she reminded us that if anything like that ever happens to you, don’t go home. Either call the police or go straight to the police station. She got lucky that he didn’t come back for her, and several months later she read about him on the news and recognized his picture and the description of his car.”
11. Almost kidnapped
“Came close to being kidnapped. I know it. The police in my town know it.
I have gone on walks at all times of day and night since I was about 15 or 16. My town is small and safe, but I learned after this particular incident that even the smallest, sleepiest of towns aren’t completely safe. It still gives me anxiety thinking about this night, specifically what may have happened, too much.
It was only about 6 o’ clock, but since it was December, it was already dark. I had just gotten an MP3 player for Christmas, and I loved listening to music and just walking around near my neighborhood. I was just coming down the road to my house when I noticed a car coming around the curve.
I normally would look back at any car coming, even if I was on the sidewalk. I don’t know why I didn’t this time. But it was going very slowly, and I’ve been asked by completely well-meaning people who live around here if I needed a ride, so I was assuming they were gearing up to roll down the window and ask if I needed a ride.
They never asked. I kept walking, got to the spot where the sidewalk ends because my road has a large chunk where there just isn’t one, so you’re forced to walk at the side of the road or the grass. We’re just barely at the edge of town.
The automobile – it was either a dark blue or black jeep – pulled over to the side of the road. Two men got out and began following me down the road.
If you’ve never experienced anything like this, I have no idea how universal this is, but all I can describe is a surge of adrenaline and some sort of primal instinct. One that just KNOWS things. I knew, somehow, that if I were to take off running, they would chase me. I don’t know how or why, but I knew, and I still know that’s how it would have went down. I was analyzing so much so quickly – the running and chasing wouldn’t work in my favor because the stretch of road back home was probably a good 50-100 feet. I thought about diving into the fenceline/field that is adjacent to my yard, but I realized that would hinder me more than help me. They’d catch me, probably before I made it that far.
I realized my only hope was to keep calm and keep an eye on them. I kept turning back to glance at them, and they just kept maintaining eye contact every time I turned to look. I kept walking. Kept calm. But terrified. My house was right there. I would have been snatched up basically right outside it.
I prayed for a car to come by. It almost felt like fate or divine intervention when, no sooner did I silently have the thought/prayer for a car, one came around the curve at the veeeeeery far end of the road from the direction I was walking.
The guys dove into the bushes at the edge of the neighbor’s driveway. They were SO obvious that they were up to no good. I remember having the thought that my situation was super similar to the scene in Twilight where Bella prays for a car to come or whatever and a car does, and she’s grateful. I know, weird thing to think when you’re in that situation, but that’s just how it goes.
So, the car passes, it leaves the area, and I’m wondering how the hell I’m going to manage, because I’m still a ways from my yard.
My uncle was just leaving my house on his bike at that exact moment. He rides up, and I flag him down. He starts to say bye, and I’m just like, “there are two guys in the bushes right now following me!” He looks, and they’re poking their heads out. He calmly tells me to hurry up and get home. I don’t need to be told, honestly. He sits there and keeps an eye on me until I’m in the yard and safe.
I go in and tell my mom, and she sees right as they pull out and drive through the cemetery nearby (which is closed and off-limts past dusk). They then take off.
My uncle calls as soon as he gets home and asks me if I noticed that there was a third guy coming up from behind on the sidewalk. I said no, I’d only seen the two guys. There had apparently been a third coming up, but I couldn’t see him because it was so dark, since there used to be a large gap between street lights right in that stretch of road.
My mom called the cops, and they came out. They told me I did an excellent job getting descriptions of the automobile and the people I did see, since normally people panic and can’t recall details. I was just frustrated I never saw a license plate, but the jeep was behind me and I didn’t get a chance to look long enough for that.
They agreed that the guys were definitely after me, but nothing ever came of it. They kept an eye out in the area and kept an eye out for a dark colored jeep, but I never saw it again.
I’m sitting here trembling now, haha. Can’t tell if it’s because the AC is on and I’m cold, or because recalling this story is always kind of nerve-wracking, because my mind wanders to a lot of what-ifs, but uh… it definitely felt like I had some guardian angel or some shit that kept throwing obstacles in the way for these creepy men. I was actually so afraid to walk down that stretch of road at night for a LONG time afterward, and sometimes I still can’t do it.
EDIT: To answer the question properly, I knew something was wrong as soon as they pulled over and got out of their automobile.”
12. Saved by the pie
“Raoul Moat gave me a cigarette aged 10, the winter before he killed.
I was 10 years old (duh) and walking past a pub with a few older mates. he approached us and asked if we wanted a cigarette. we said sure and he gave us one each. he said he could get us beer if we came with him but we said no partly bc have you seen the him? Hes a beefy guy and we knew better and secondly my mum does the best cottage pie and it was cottage pie night so i wasnt about to be kidnapped on the best night of the week.”
13. Truck ride
“Got a ride in a semi truck from a serial killer.. The smell was horrible. Like something I never smelled before.. Jumped out when I got close to where I lived. The guys face was crooked, and that smell. Come to find out Henry Lee Lucas enjoyed cadavers.. Saw the guy on Tv about a month later, then it all made sense…”
14. Mass shooter
“My family is Black. My mom grew up as his mom’s best friend and my mom was one of the only Black kids at her school (I think the first.) Fast forward and he becomes my cousin’s (mixed) friend growing up and they’re cool and all. Eventually, he moves away after his mom marries some weirdo racist guy. 2 years later, he becomes a super racist and shoots up a church.
I’ve briefly rubbed shoulders with him when I was younger and visiting my cousin and my little brother has hung out with him before. Pretty weird.”
“William Strader. From Canada; in Philly in the early 80s. Called himself Jack Snyder; said he had a sick relative there. My friend and I met him in a bar, where he bragged about “killing n*****s” on a train platform in NJ, and doing all kinds of drugs. I found him to be a lying racist asshole and left. She stayed.
A couple of days later, I got home from a work study job at about 11:30 at night. She and I and a couple of other punx were sharing a house. She was lying on the floor, and pretty fcked up on unknown substances. She said she’d gone out w him, done some downs and awakened to find herself naked and Strader next to her. Apparently, he’d roofied and raped her. She was crying.
For unknown reasons, she didn’t reject him right there. He came over another time when I was there. I flagrantly dissed him and left. Later, she said that the dis angered him and that he had threatened me, saying that I had better watch myself. I laughed, still finding him a racist lying braggadocious raping asshole.
My friend’s mental health was deteriorating, in some part due to drugs, in another to the emergent schizophrenia the drugs had set off. All of this was apparent in retrospect; not so much then.
Shortly afterward, I saw Strader’s face on the front page of the Phila Inquirer: he had been arrested for the murder of a stripper, was a suspect in the disappearance of several others, a college student in West Chester, PA, and two exotic dancers in Canada. Accordingly to the Inquirer, the two dancers had been dismembered.
I showed the article to my friend Su. Doing so may have tipped her into full blown psychosis. She never recovered; is still institutionalized today. In that way, she is another Snyder/Strader victim. I guess I got lucky. Until I tripped over this thread, I had not thought of that summer–83 or 84– in ages.
I still feel kind of guilty, and clueless, thinking all that time that Strader was a no delusional but harmless kook. The “killing n*****s” panned out too, with two men shot on a regional rail platform in Trenton.
Weird and sad at once”