Halloween in Florida can feel redundant since living in the Sunshine State is often inherently a horror story. All future slasher and disaster flicks should be filmed here. For one, the people are usually coated in sweat and tears (no makeup artists required), and the fauna includes sharks, alligators, and snakes (no animatronic creatures needed either). Florida has also been a bonanza for some of the world's most terrifying serial killers: Danny Rolling, Ted Bundy, and Aileen Wuornos all murdered here. The final nail in the proverbial coffin: The peninsula even looks like a gun shooting little island bullets. Though it's almost impossible to narrow down the strangest and scariest stories to come out of South Florida, we've given it our best shot. Here are the top six:
Key West's Corpse Bride (fictional equivalent: Psycho):
Carl Tanzler was an x-ray technician in Key West who frequently had visions of a dark-haired beauty. He became fixated on a local girl named Helen, who was a tuberculosis patient at the hospital where he worked. Tanzler was desperate to cure the object of his affections, but she died at the age of 22. Helen's body was laid to rest in a mausoleum commissioned by her former suitor, but it didn't remain there. Visiting Key West Cemetery every night eventually failed to satisfy Tanzler, who dug up the corpse and loaded it into a toy wagon that he pulled to his home. He fashioned his corpse bride into a doll made from wire coat hangers, wax, plaster of Paris, and a hunk of her hair. He slept with the body in his bed for almost a decade before getting nabbed by the cops in 1940.
Miami Zombie (see: Night of the Living Dead):
This is probably the scariest thing that has happened in the history of the world. In May 2012, Rudy Eugene approached Ronald Poppo near the MacArthur Causeway and complained about not being able to "score on the beach." He then accused the homeless Poppo of stealing his Bible before stripping naked and eating off 80 percent of the man's face. The attack was so disturbing that the CDC felt compelled to tell the public that a zombie apocalypse was not at hand and that there was no known virus that could reanimate the dead.
Robert the Doll (see: Child's Play):
Robert Eugene Otto grew up in Key West at the turn of the century with a Bahamian nanny who was fired for practicing voodoo on the family estate. Before departing, she gifted her young charge with a 40-inch-tall, wool-stuffed doll possessed with a wicked energy. Soon, Robert gave his name to the doll and began going by "Gene." The Ottos and their neighbors swore Robert the doll could make objects move, change his expression, and giggle. One newspaper reporter who met Robert totally bought the whole story. "There was some kind of intelligence there," he wrote. "The doll was listening to us." The doll terrified the Ottos and the next family to move into the home. (For some reason no one destroyed the doll even though multiple people have claimed the doll tried to murder them.) Now Robert resides in the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, where visitors are told to ask before taking a picture of him, lest the doll feel disrespected and curse them for life.
The I-4 Deadzone (see: Poltergeist)
Back in the 90s, an Orlando Sentinel reporter noticed a highly unusual number of accidents on a stretch of I-4 near Lake Monroe. After consulting local historians, she learned of some Floridian folklore surrounding a family of four immigrant settlers who had died of yellow fever in 1887 and were buried there. The graves were supposed to be moved during the construction of the interstate, but instead worker dumped fill dirt on them and called it a day. Strange happenings began almost immediately: On the same day the graves were buried, Hurricane Donna changed direction and started barreling toward I-4, eventually passing over the graves at midnight. Construction was halted for nearly a month due to damages from the storm. While accounts of static-y radios and mysterious balls of light in the Deadzone may be the products of some motorists' overactive imaginations, statistics don't lie. Between 1995 and 1997, the Sentinel reported 44 accidents had occurred over the gravesite.
Florida's Dozier School For Boys (See: Sleepers)
This century-old boarding school closed down last year after investigations revealed a history of terrible beatings there. Kids ended up at Dozier for car theft or more innocuous crimes, such as smoking in school. Some were sent there just for being orphans. Regardless of their reason for being there, all were subjected to terrible abuse at this state-run institution just west of Tallahassee. A clearing near the school holds more than 80 gravesites, and some contain multiple bodies. One pupil was killed after a school official put him in a large dryer, and another was beaten to death in a bathtub.
ValuJet Flight 592 (See: Snakes on a Plane)
Minutes after this plane took off from Miami International Airport in May of 1996, a fire broke out in the passenger cabin. The aircraft nose-dived into the Everglades, and all 105 of its passengers were killed on impact. What's strange, though, is that the vessel itself was never seen again. The Discovery Channel calls the incident one the America's most baffling airplane crashes.
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