From eerie hitchhiking spirits to opportunistic mass-murderers, we count fifteen terrifying tales that will remind you why thumbing a ride home with strangers is a terrible idea.
15 – The Orange Sock Murders,
- One sinister night in 1982, a brazen killer abducted and murdered two women in two separate incidents. The murder–abductions occurred in a safe Colorado community called Breckenridge, where hitchhiking occurred daily.
- On a January evening, twenty-nine-year-old Bobbie Oberholtzer told her husband she was out with friends at a local bar and would catch a ride home. Her body was later found, dumped and shot to death, in a remote field. Curiously, an orange sock that did not belong to her was found nearby.
- Six months on, the body of twenty-one-year-old Annette Schnee was found in woodlands not far from where Bobbie was discovered. Annette had been sexually assaulted and shot to death. She was also wearing the matching orange sock from Bobbie’s murder scene.
- It’s believed the same person picked up and murdered Bobbie and Annette at different points during the same night. Bobbie and Annette were believed to have been hitchhiking. Annette’s orange sock likely remained in the killer’s vehicle and somehow fell out at the spot Bobbie was murdered.
- Bobbie’s husband, Jeff, was an initial suspect. Miraculously, because hitchhiking was such a common and accepted form of travel, Jeff had actually picked up Annette on a previous occasion and given her his business card. The card was found on Annette’s deceased body. Jeff was eventually cleared as a suspect and the ‘Orange Sock Murders’ remain unsolved.
14 – Lydia, The Vanishing Lady,
- ‘Lydia, the Vanishing Lady’ is an urban legend about a phantom hitchhiker in North Carolina who mysteriously vanishes.
- The story goes that on a rainy night in 1923, a young woman named Lydia was returning from a dance with her boyfriend. The couple was driving on Highway 70 when they collided with another car at a narrow underpass. Lydia, who happened to be wearing a white gown that night, died instantly, and numerous sightings of a female hitchhiker matching this description have occurred at this location ever since.
- One notable sighting involved a motorist named Burke Hardison. While driving near the underpass one night, he saw a woman in a white gown signalling for help. Hardison picked her up and agreed to take her to her High Point home, since her mother would be worried. She provided an address, but when Hardison arrived the girl had vanished.
- After knocking on the door, Hardison learnt he was not the first person to show up at the house describing this experience.
- Researchers have uncovered a death certificate of a nineteen-year-old High Point girl named Lydia, who died in a car accident that year. Today, the legend of this mysterious vanishing girl lives on.
13 – The Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders,
- The Santa Rosa hitchhiker murders were a series of seven unsolved homicides involving female hitchhikers that took place in the North Bay area of California in 1972 and 1973. An eighth probable victim disappeared and her body was never located. The bodies of the seven victims were found naked in rural areas near steep embankments or in creek beds near roads. The victims, who were all known hitchhikers, were:
- Twelve-year-olds Maureen Sterling and Yvonne Weber, who vanished on their way home from an Ice Skating Rink and had their clothes and a single gold earring each stolen by the killer; Kim Allen, a nineteen-year-old college junior, who was found strangled with clothesline and bound at her wrists and ankles; Lori Kursa, who was found with a broken neck; Carolyn Davis, a runaway who’d been poisoned and was found in the exact same spot as Sterling and Weber; Therese Walsh, the oldest known victim, who’d been hog-tied with nylon and sexually assaulted; and Jeannette Kamahele, another college junior.
- The identity of the killer – or killers – remains unknown. Some believe the murders were committed by the infamous Zodiac Killer, while others believe Ted Bundy was responsible. The case of The Santa Rosa murders remains open.
12 – The Disappearance of Connie Smith,
- Ten-year-old Connie Smith was attending Camp Sloane in Salisbury, Connecticut in the summer of 1952. On a July morning, she had a violent altercation with some other campers and left with a bloody nose. Connie said she was returning an ice pack, but instead left the camp entirely. Several witnesses reported Connie asking for directions to the nearby town of Lakeville. She was last seen thumbing a ride up US Route 44. The super attentive camp counsellors didn’t notice Connie was missing until they found her melted ice pack in her tent that afternoon.
- Connie’s grandfather organised an extensive search campaign, but no trace of her was found. In 1958, hunters in Arizona found the bones of an unidentified young girl who became known as ‘Little Miss X’.
- Four years later, an anonymous letter received by the Connecticut State Police claimed that Little Miss X was Connie Smith. Little Miss X’s teeth were compared with Connie’s dental records, but the results were inconclusive. Connie’s surviving relatives have submitted their DNA for a comparison, but – whether by conspiracy or negligence – Little Miss X’s remains can no longer be found.
- After more than six decades, Connie Smith’s true fate remains shrouded in mystery.
11 – The Disappearance of Amy Billig,
- Seventeen-year-old Amy Billig spent a lot of her teen years hitchhiking through the Miami area. On a March afternoon in 1974, Amy left her Coconut Grove home to hitchhike to her father’s office. She never reached her destination.
- Amy’s mother, Susan Billig, spent many years embroiled in a desperate mission to find her daughter. A biker named Paul Branch approached Susan and told her Amy had been abducted by a biker gang called The Pagans.
- Susan searched all across the country for Amy, but was often led on wild goose chases by the people she encountered. Branch died in ’97, after giving a startling deathbed confession. He claimed Amy actually overdosed the day she disappeared while attending a party held by The Pagans. The bikers did the only respectful thing they could think: they fed Amy’s body to some Florida Everglades alligators.
- Susan also received harassing phone calls for over two decades. The caller was a man named Henry Blair, who claimed Amy was being held captive by a sex slavery ring. After his arrest in 1995, Blair claimed to know nothing about Amy’s disappearance. However, Amy’s diary did contain an entry about her wanting to run away with ‘Hank’, which was Blair’s nickname.
- Unfortunately, Susan Billig passed away in 2005 and never learnt the truth about what happened to her daughter.