There’s a reason dirty secrets are called “skeletons in the closet”. When people do terrible things, they tend to try and hide them. Still, there’s terrible and there’s what these people did. Welcome to a carnival of hidden nightmares, worthy of horror movies, but all man made and all quite real.
5. Murder Castle
In 1893 Dr. H. H. Holmes opened his 60 room hotel in Chicago for the Worlds Fair. Did we mention it featured a number of windowless rooms and a secret dungeon? Yeah, you can guess where this is going.
The hotel’s “special” features meant a number of hotel patrons could check in, but never leave. These included sound proof chambers that could be sealed, asphyxiating the inhabitants and hidden body chutes, great for transporting remains to the basement. Down there, guests would find torture tools, surgical equipment and vats of acid.
Holmes only confessed to 27 murders, but its suspected he actually killed well over 170 people with his murder castle, making him one of the world’s most prolific serial killers.
4. Haut De La Garenne
Closed since 1986, the discover of skull fragments led to a sinister secret in this little house on the British Channel Islands. A 2008 police investigation exposed a hidden brick cellar. And inside? A pair of shackles below the former “Jersey Home for Boys”
The investigation eventually revealed that “naughty” children were sent down to the twelve square foot basement for bad behavior. Down below the children faced beatings, drugging, and abuse.
Traces of blood were found in a shallow concrete bath, and the serial killer “Beast of Jersey” is rumored to have carried out attacks in the space. Deep in the depths of the house from hell was a post carved with the words:
“I’ve been bad for years and years.”
3. The Miranda
After being arrested on weapons charges in 1985, Leonard Lake swallowed cyanide. Helpfully, he left a pre-mortem note leading police to his California cabin. On site, the investigators discovered a body striking out of the ground near a bunker, nicknamed “The Miranda”.
The Miranda was a secret room, with a two way mirror. Victims of Lake and Charles Ng tortured and murdered victims. Evidence at the location included a recording telling one victim “You can cry and stuff, like the rest of them, but it won’t do any good…We are pretty-ha, ha-cold-hearted, so to speak.”
Ng was tracked north to Canada and convicted of 11 murders. The toll might have been higher and some suspect Ng and Lake killed the very workers who built the bunker.
2.The Fritzl House
In 1984 Josef Fritzl lured his daughter Elisabeth into the basement of their home in Amstetten, Austria and had her help him install a door. A door that would be used to imprison her. Fritzl had been digging a secret extension to his basement and trapped Elisabeth behind a half-ton of steel and concrete.
With eight other locked doors between her and the world, she hopefully pretended that the fluorescent lighting was an awaiting dawn. Fritzl made Elisabeth write a letter saying she ran away, and kept her as a part of a hidden second family. Elisabeth was raped and abused by her own father
Unlike most of these stories, Fritzl was exposed while his victim was still alive. During an emergency hospital visit twenty four years later, Elisabeth exposed the dungeon. At age 50, Elisabeth and three of the seven children she gave birth to escaped into police custody.
1. Sowden House
Built in 1926, the Mayan temple-like Sowden House in Los Angeles is rumored to be the location of the 1947 murder of The Black Dahlia. The home’s owner, at the time, was abortion doctor George Hodel. Hodel was the primary suspect of the crime. Not helping his case was his son’s testimony
Hodel’s son recalled a secret room in the house that was hidden behind floor-to-wall bookcases. Family wasn’t allowed in the room, which by now ought to raise a hundred red flags. It’s believe that Hodel may have tortured, murdered, and dissected as many as eleven women in the mystery room.
If the last story had a happy ending, however, this one is the one that got away. Hodel fled to somewhere in Asia and was never charged. Recent investigation with a cadaver dog, however, do indicate the presence of human remains.