When the strange and horrific intrude on our lives, it can be hard to convince anyone that they really happened. It used to be that the worst things that would happen in a person’s life would stay private, things known only by a small group of friends—or, if the stories spread, urban legends that no one knew whether to believe.
But today, it’s different. Since the invention of the Internet, pictures and movies of strange and terrifying things have been going up online. Killers have posted their thoughts for everyone to see. And the world has been able to watch true horror stories play out in real time, right on their computer screen.
10. Hotel ZaZa’s Room 322
A Reddit user called “joelikesmusic” posted a seemingly innocuous question on a Houston subreddit. He and some colleagues had stayed at the Hotel ZaZa, he explained, and after seeing his colleague’s room was different from his, he wanted to know: “What’s up with room 322?”
Room 322 was beyond strange. In an otherwise ritzy hotel, this room had a hard, concrete floor, and its bed had chains. The walls were decorated with skulls and eerie paintings of monstrous, deformed people; one showed two twin girls with giraffe-like necks, conjoined by the hair. And then, in the midst of the chaos, there was a strangely innocuous photograph of a smiling middle-aged man: Stanford Financial Group president Jay Comeaux.
Most troubling of all, the room was small, one-third the size of a normal room. The rest of the room was blocked off by a brick wall with what appeared to be a one-way mirror. The other two-thirds of the room, it seemed, were on the other side of the wall—a place where people could peer in and watch whatever it was that happened in room 322.
When Joe’s colleague asked the staff about his room, he was told it wasn’t meant to be booked and was quickly moved into another.
Hotel ZaZa changed their tune, however, when the story went viral. Now they insisted that this was one of their room’s “kooky” themes, modeled after a jail cell. Their other theme rooms, though, were luxurious places with chandeliers and couches. Room 322 was the only one with skulls and a concrete floor. And why was Jay Comeaux looking over it all?
A reporter asked the hotel. Their staff, he said, sounded nervous and would only reply, “I need to look into that a little bit further.”
9. 37.761962 N, 96.210194 W
On November 29, 2011, a 4chan user posted a picture of Emily Sander, an 18-year-old girl who had gone missing six days earlier. Next to the picture, he wrote one short sentence: “If anyone can correctly guess their own post number, I will tell you where she is buried.”
When somebody did, the user posted the coordinates “37.761962 N, 96.210194 W.” They pointed to a place on the side of a county road 80 kilometers (50 mi) east of El Dorado, Kansas. It was the exact place where the police found Sander’s body, one hour and ten minutes after the post was made.
Sander, it turned out, had been brutally raped, murdered, and then driven out into the wilderness and dumped on the side of the road. The police soon charged Israel Mireles with the crime. He’d fled to Mexico after Sander’s death and had hidden a bloody knife at his girlfriend’s grandmother’s home.
Mireles and the police have never mentioned the post on 4chan, but somebody, whether it was Mireles or someone who’d simply stumbled upon her body, knew where Sander was buried before the police did—and they might hold the secret to a missing piece of the story.