Hitchhiking has always been a popular, cheap, and easy way to get from place to place. Of course, with it comes tremendous risk for both the driver and the rider. No one knows who they’ll find when they open that door. Through the experience, you might get a good story, a new friend, or like some, a tragic end. There’s no way to tell anyone’s intentions and everyone should travel wisely when they’re out on the road. With that said, here are 25 Crazy Hitchhiking Stories.
After college, Josh Delacy decided to get in on a little adventure. With nothing but a backpack, a little money, and a sign that read “Traveling on Trust,” Delacy hitchhiked 6,700 miles across America. He met all kinds of people from criminals to conservative Christians. Keeping a blog, he wrote about his significant stories and eventually wrote a memoir about the experience. While Delacy had a positive experience hitchhiking, as we’ll soon discover, not everyone does.
Don't hitchhike anymore tonight.
A woman on Reddit told a story about how she went hitchhiking one day. She was seventeen without a driver’s license and usually got rides from friends, would walk, or occasionally hitch. She made general rules for herself about hitchhiking, like only get in cars with women or men with kids. One night it was too cold outside, and she needed a ride home. A man pulled up and offered her a ride. She felt like she could take him if she needed to defend herself, so she took the risk. As they were driving, he didn’t say much which she was fine with. But at one point, as they went through the intersection, another car slid on the ice, looking like it might hit them. She yelled, “watch out!” He slammed on the gas, sped through the intersection, and burst out with, “Don’t you ever scream at me!” At that point, she wanted out, but he wouldn’t listen. He mumbled to himself, talking about how she never listens to him, and he isn’t going to listen to her. She was pretty freaked out at this point. He pulled into a gas station and said, “I think I better let you out.” She raced out the door and was almost at the convenience store when he rolled down his window and said he was sorry. Then, he held out her hat that she left behind. She warily approached him and grabbed it before saying, “Thanks.” When she went to put the hat on, there was a note that said he was sorry with a 100 dollar bill inside. The note also read, “Don’t hitchhike anymore tonight.”
The Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders
The Santa Rosa hitchhiker murders were a series of homicides involving female hitchhikers in the Sonoma County and Santa Rosa bay area in California from 1972 to 1973. In each case, the females were found completely naked in rural areas near roads. The victim’s ages ranged from 12 up to 23, and suspects of the murders include the Zodiac Killer, Ted Bundy, and Arthur Leigh Allen. The case has remained cold since 1980.
“Orange Socks” was an unidentified hitchhiker and drifter who was found dead on October 31, 1979 in Texas. She was strangled and found only hours after she died. Not much is known about her except what was told from her supposed killer, Henry Lee Lucas. Lucas confessed to her killing and said he picked her up in Oklahoma where they had sex. When he asked for sex again, she said no and tried to leave the car at which point he killed her and raped her corpse. While he made a full confession, much of his story didn’t match up and he was frequently inconsistent.
Highway of Death
In 1982, Tony Jones was hitchhiking down Flinders Highway in Australia when he mysteriously vanished forever. Authorities believed he was murdered and put on a full-scale manhunt and investigation. When nothing came up, his family continued, spending years trying to track down the killer. This wasn’t the first mysterious murder on Flinders Highway. Eleven others happened over the course of many years, giving the highway the nickname “Highway of Death.”
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Edmund Kemper the Co-ed Killer
Edmund Kemper had a troubled childhood and quickly became a paranoid schizophrenic. After he was hit by a car and received a $15,000 settlement, he bought a new car and pursued his own personal interests. Noticing a lot of women hitchhiking around the California area, he came up with a plan. He bought tools to help in his desires and started picking up women and letting them go peacefully. He said he picked up around 150 women before acting out on his murderous desires. After killing his victims, he dismembered them and disposed of them in different locations. Eventually caught, he was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder and was found guilty of all of them. He now is serving life in prison.
Why I will never hitchhike again.
This hitchhiking story was on the No Sleep sub-reddit. The writer talks about how he was walking down a lone road at night, hitchhiking. No one would pick him up, so he went into the woods to camp for the night. While he was sleeping, he only had nightmares and heard bizarre noises outside. Groaning and footsteps. One morning, he opened his tent and saw a fawn, but it was struggling. Hands from the ground had grabbed it by the throat and legs. Then hands started clawing up through his tent at him as well. He fought them off and ran as far away from it as possible. When he contacted the police, they said he merely imagined it from paranoia. They found the bodies and said they were lost hitchhikers.
The Disappearance of Connie Smith
Connie Smith was just 10-years-old when she attended Camp Sloane in Salisbury, Connecticut in the summer of 1952. While she seemed to have fun at the time, she had a fight with some girls at the camp, leading her to run away. She was seen twice hitchhiking down the road, picking flowers, and asking how to get to Lakeville. She has not been seen since. The police tried hard to find her but to no avail.
Robbed for everything he had.
After 10 years of hitchhiking and nearly 5,000 rides, a Redditor tells the story of how he was robbed in northern Peru for everything he had. Three guys picked him up and took $2,000 off of him, his phone, and anything else he was carrying, leaving him with nothing. But, if anything, he should look on the bright side and be happy he made it out alive.
Appearing along Archer Avenue and the occasional dance halls, Resurrection Mary is a popular apparition that starts as a vanishing hitchhiker story. The first story starts in 1939 when a young woman in white asked Jerry Palus for a ride home. He took her to a cemetery, where she got out and disappeared. Similar stories continued in the same vein. No one really knows who she is, but theories abound, including that she is the ghost of either Mary Bregovy or Anna ‘Marija’ Norkus. Both women died from hitchhiking rides after being at a ballroom before the first sighting.
The Disappearance of Amy Billig
In 1974, Amy Billing was a hitchhiker who disappeared around her neighborhood of Coconut Grove in Miami. Her mother, Susan Billing, went to extreme lengths to find her daughter after getting calls from bikers that they had her. Later, a man named Paul Branch told Susan that Amy was his “old lady” for a while until he was thrown in prison. She and Paul went out to find her; Paul almost died in pursuit. Susan visited all kinds of biker bars and strip clubs, looking for Amy, but to no avail.
One Redditor talked about his funny hitchhiking experience on a “Pirate Bus” going to Portland from Utah. The driver was a tweaker and there were couches inside. A bunch of people just hung out and talked. The gas leaked constantly and they put a pan underneath to catch what they could. They also asked for free diesel at gas stations and filled up a five-gallon tank to keep it going. At one point, on a downward slope, the brakes started smoking and the fire department talked to them. Plus, two of the passengers were drunk and got into a fight. They had to stop at a Wal-mart and ended up selling drugs to an employee in the parking lot. It took them 23 hours to get to Portland.
A hitchhiker in Africa was picked up by two men in a green Nissan. He was told he got in the wrong car, and they hit him in the face. After passing the drop-off point, the drivers tied up the victim, assaulted him, and shot him in the leg five times. Fortunately, the victim got the attention of a driver, and he was taken to a nearby hospital.
The Walhalla Hitchhiker
Similar to Resurrection Mary, in South Carolina near Walhalla on SC-107, many people have reported picking up a vanishing hitchhiker. He always seems to come out on foggy nights, looking like a stranded hitchhiker needing a ride. Once you pick him up, he’ll stay at certain points of the road before disappearing. Locals believe it’s the ghost of Larry Stevens, who crashed his plane in the area in the 1950’s.
Take Shia LeBeouf Anywhere
Hollywood actor turned performance artist Shia LeBeouf took to hitchhiking for an art project in the summer of 2016. Titled #TAKEMEANYWHERE, the project was the idea of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, the Finnish Institute in London, and was in collaboration with Vice. LeBeouf posted his GPS coordinates on Twitter with the hashtag, allowing anyone to come and get him and two of his partners. People took them all over the United States, including Alaska.
The Murder of Philip Fraser
In 1988, Philip Fraser lived in Anchorage, Alaska and left it to head to Evergreen College in Washington. While driving through Canada, he stopped at the 40 Mile Flat Cafe and checked for something in his car. A hitchhiker came out of the cafe and asked Philip for a ride. Philip refused and started to drive away but the hitchhiker chased after him. Philip had a change of heart and let him in.
Eight hours later, the hitchhiker met Eddie and Pauline Olsen when “his” car had trouble; they invited him into their home. He told them he was Philip Fraser and wanted to sell his car for a plane ticket. They refused to buy it and he drove off, never to be seen again. Philip’s car was found 300 miles (482 km) from the Olsen’s home and Philip’s body was found six weeks later in a gravel turnaround.
Regina Walter's Murder
14-year-old Regina Walters was from Pasadena, Texas and ran away from home, hitchhiking along the highway. She was picked up by Robert Ben Rhoades, a trucker from Houston. Taking her to a barn, he took a picture of her and then strangled her. He abandoned her body in the same barn. 5-months before her decomposed body was discovered, a police officer pulled Rhoades over, finding a badly tortured woman in his truck. He told her as they were driving he’d been torturing women for fifteen years as he traveled across the country. He’s currently serving life in prison.
While at a gas station in Indonesia, a Redditor explained he was about to go to the bathroom when his hitching partner called him back. He wished he’d just gone to the bathroom. They found a ride from a guy they called “Fatty” because they couldn’t remember his name. When he jumped into the back of the truck, his bladder was desperate to be emptied but he kept telling himself to hold it. But with how bumpy it was, it made it more difficult. He knocked on Fatty’s window to get his attention, but he didn’t reply. Not knowing how far away his destination was made things even more unbearable. Finally, he decided he couldn’t hold it any longer. He downed the water in his bottle and decided to pee in it. Just as he was going in the bottle, the doors were opened in the back of the cab and he was greeted by a smiling family. Panic-stricken, he tried to cover up, but with the sudden movements, he dropped the bottle of urine all over himself.
In the summer of 1982, Marty Shook left his Nevada home to go to Colorado. He planned to hitchhike the entire way. Unfortunately, later, a fly fisherman found his body washed up on shore with a gunshot wound to the head. Even more disturbing was that his genitals were removed. Over the years, authorities began connecting the dots of other hitchhikers ending up dead with the same wounds. However, only until recently have they found a potential suspect they believe is tied to a suburban sex cult.
A Redditor was hitchhiking in Ottawa, Ontario when a car pulled up to him. He asked where he was going and the driver of the car asked him the same thing. Hopping in the car, he tried to make small talk, but the driver wasn’t really having it. Eventually, the driver pulled out a pocket knife and pointed it at him, saying he wanted his wallet. Moving far away to the side of the car, he noticed the driver was still looking at the road and decided to reach for the knife. He grabbed it and wrenched it out of the driver’s hand. Demanding to be pulled over, the driver did as he asked. “And that’s how I got a free knife,” he said.
The Pendergrast Family Murders
In 1958, Thomas Pendergrast picked up a hitchhiker whose name was Carl Alfred Eder on the way to El Cajon, California. Taking pity on him, Pendergrast let him stay with him and his family until he could get up on his own feet. A month later, Eder killed Pendergrast’s wife and kids with a knife. He was serving two life terms but in 1974, he walked out of prison and hasn’t been seen since.
Kidnapping of Colleen Stan
Colleen Stan considered herself a professional hitchhiker, knowing how to read the signs. One day in 1977, she hitchhiked from Eugene, Oregon, hoping to get to Northern California. When Cameron Hooker pulled up to get her, she had passed up two other drivers before. She felt comfortable with Hooker because his wife and child were in the back of the van. However, later, she had a weird feeling and wanted to jump out of the window immediately, but calmed her fears. Eventually, Hooker put a knife to her throat. He and his wife kept her as a sex slave between 1977 and 1984.
Another Redditor described their hitchhiking experience in Virginia. They were sitting at a gas station at midnight, hoping to get a ride. A guy said he could take them an hour north. She sat in the front while her boyfriend and dog were in the bed of the pickup. While they were driving, the man showed her really inappropriate pictures on his flip phone. She tried to just ignore it until he asked her for sex. At that point, she demanded to be pulled over at the next gas station. Fortunately, she said, they got out okay.
The Albert Brust Abductions
Mary Ellen Jones, a runaway hitchhiking with her boyfriend, was picked up by a man who called himself “Eric.” Eric took the couple to his home and forced them to perform sex acts at gunpoint while he took pictures. Jones’s boyfriend went for the gun and was quickly shot multiple times. Mary was held for the next 24 hours in a torture chamber, repeatedly raped. However, Eric let her go but told her not to tell the police. Well, she went to the police anyway. When they found out she’d been known to be a pathological liar, they didn’t believe her. Two days later, neighbors found it odd that Brust was sitting on his porch for a long time through storms and all. They discovered he was dead, and when they searched his home, they found the torture chamber he kept Mary in, confirming her story.
The Triangle of Death
Pierre Chanal was a decorated French military officer considered by his superiors to be an outstanding soldier. But in the 1980’s, he began picking up male hitchhikers in an area of France called “The Triangle of Death,” taking them home, raping them, and murdering them. He murdered a total of 8 men; seven of the bodies have never been found. When he was finally caught, they had an FBI unit analyze his personality and discovered that under the steel mask was a disturbed person who takes pleasure in humiliating and torturing others.
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