Small towns make for the best stories, don't they? The ability of a small group of people to close ranks and pretend nothing happened is mystifying. See, I grew up in Manhattan - where there was no way small town style secrets were happening. We may not snitch to any authorities, but we absolutely know and we absolutely talk about it while we're in line to get a slice. New Yorkers know, we just tend not to care. We don't have time to judge or keep secrets for generations - we're busy checking the MTA to see where the f*@! our train is at.
Small towns, though... that's where the secretive magic happens. One Reddit user asked:
Get your popcorn, folks. There's enough murder and mayhem in here for a Tarantino film; and Satan makes an appearance more than once! Here are some of the more popular responses.
Arson And The Town's ImageGiphy
When I was a firefighter we had an arsonist in the city. They would walk around at night until they found a garage door that was left open, and then they'd start a fire in the garage. It did not matter if the residents were home or not.
We had no leads other than it was a college student, as there was a discernible pattern of the fires stopping during winter and summer breaks.
The police, fire department, and the highest levels of local government worked to keep the nature of fires a secret as they were worried about how it would impact the town's image. So, instead of telling people to close their garage doors at night, nearly 20 families lost their homes. The arsonist was never caught, and presumably is still lighting fires in some other town.
The "Devil House."
Now, it had been around my hometown for decades. Enough different generations of kids had their own mythos. I had an English teacher that went to the same school in the late 80s. By then it was vacant but someone had painted a pentagram on the wall. You had to know where it was. Pull over on the old highway coming in to town at a certain point. There was no driveway or anything, but you could see a gate if you knew where to look. Then you go into the woods a bit and BAM, it almost appears out of nowhere on you. That's how well it was hidden. For the most part, every high school class would have a couple of people venture out to see it and leave their own small mark. Everyone was just sure Satanists or witches were meeting there occasionally.
But later, I found out the real story from my Dad. I'd asked him, but he didn't make the connection between that house's original purpose and the later myths until I showed him. The reason that hidden house was built was for a former wealthy farmer's lesbian daughter. Didn't have the heart to disown her, so he hid her away there in the late 60s. Because 60s, there were some wild parties out there and girls were "converted" to lesbianism (read, already knew damn well they were gay) so of course that small southern town assumed the devil was behind it.
The Makeout Mines
There are these old abandoned mines (as in mineral mines- think man-made caves in the side of a mountain) near my hometown town where kids used to go to smoke weed and make out before they put metal gates over them.
When I was in high school there was this huge thing where a cop went missing, car and all, while he was on-duty. He just didn't show up at shift change. (This was before gps and smart phones etc.) People thought he'd been killed by gang members or something (there were no gangs in the town but everyone was convinced that they came down from the nearest big city to do crimes).
Eventually they announced, they found him, accidental death, very sad. Wife & young kids etc.
What wasn't in the news, but everyone knew through word-of-mouth: he and another cop's wife were having an affair and they were found in his patrol car in one of the makeout mines, dead of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Famous Addict
My hometown has a "famous" drug addict - i.e. everyone knows who he is, he's lived there for ~70 years and his crimes are town gossip. Most of the time it's small stuff: Stolen bikes (and once a canoe) that he just leaves somewhere, living in a park when he doesn't feel like going home for a few days, shit like that. He's mostly seen as a harmless, funny character. His brain is seriously damaged after hard drug use since his early teens.
What is rarely mentioned is that when he still had a house he used to steal dogs and beat them to death in his basement.
This was in a small town, generally run by a half dozen big family names that almost act like redneck mafia families / cartels. If you're related to one of those families, you can figuratively get away with murder... and sometimes quite literally.
Years back, one of the locals "R", was supposedly out deer hunting & drinking, and noticed a "not from around here" guy out horse riding in the woods. R just shot him and left him out in the woods to die... either for shits and giggles, or because the guy was "from California", as R likes to claim. He tends to gets drunk and brags about it frequently, so it's more common knowledge than a secret... nothing has ever been done though, since he's from one of the "big families" in the area, and is related to several officers, a former judge, and a decent chunk of the town. The cops never bothered investigating - just said it was an accidental shooting, and there was no evidence or suspects.
Same story they gave when some kids found a couple dead migrant workers in a drainage ditch behind the high school my senior year - cops just said "we'll never know" and that was it.
God, I hate that town.
Attacking A PonyGiphy
A few months ago there was a brief media kerfuffle in the local papers about someone breaking into a barn and "attacking" a pony.
Sh*t In The Sink
I live in a super small town (see all the same people constantly). And back in the 80s there was a group of guys my mom went to high school with who were rumored to have killed this poor old man in town and rob his house blind of drugs and nice belongings. They got away clean except for one of the idiots decided to shit in the sink. The police collected the sample but at the time there wasn't the technology to find out who the shit belonged to. Well around 10-15 years later they finally had the technology and they tested that sample. They found out who it belonged to and the guy ended up in prison after getting away with it for so long.
Back in the 80s they'd closed down the old middle school in my town and built a new one fairly close to it. Because the building wasn't that run down, they'd let the little league (grades 2-6) teams practice in the old school and leave big kids alone at the new school. I'm not really sure how, but a rumor started that there was a satanist club underneath the gym. People claimed they could hear chanting and loud banging noises from under the floor and it freaked everyone tf out so the school mostly stopped using it.
I found out the truth recently from my friend's mom. Apparently some locals ran a swingers club down there and she knew because went once just to see what it was like.
"I Heard The Gunshot."
At my high school, years ago, we had a kid commit suicide with a gun in the annex bathroom during school. It was awful and everybody was distraught that something like this would happen.
What they didn't tell people, which I know now because my parents were administrators at the time, is that the suicide was an accident. He hid a shotgun in the ceiling over a toilet and the investigators determined that the gun shot would was not that of someone who was intentionally trying to kill themselves. He also had more ammo and homemade explosive devices in his locker.
Basically, he was about to go ape shit on my school but shot himself trying to retrieve his weapon from the bathroom ceiling.
All of the news reports and letters sent home said that he was disturbed and sadly killed himself at school. My parents waited a few years to tell me but it gives me goosebumps to this day. I was in gym class, which was the closest room with people in it. I heard the gunshot.
Technically Legal, Still Super Creepy
One of our high-school gym teachers does this thing where he sleeps with girls at their graduation parties (if they're of age).
A lot of people know about it. He's done nothing illegal that we know of, but it's super creepy considering he's their teacher from ~13-18.
The Cattle FortuneGiphy
In my small town, three men stole an incredibly large amount of cattle and sold them off, making a small fortune.
They bought some land and built three houses for their families on it. After the construction of the homes and a few months had gone by somehow the police got wind that they were the perpetrators of the crime.
When they got wind of the investigation one of them went to the police to take the fall for all of them. He went to jail for over a decade and when he got out, his family and friends were waiting for him. His other two partners had ensured that everything with his estate was taking care of, that his kids and wife had everything they needed, and that his home always stayed in perfect condition. He took care of them, so they took care of him and his.
Now that he has done the time for the crime, they all live out on the same property together, each guy raising his own family and with a common large swimming pool for all of their kids.
The Pastor And The Grieving Mother
Married man has affair, rumor mill starts churning, both cheaters leave their spouses and run off together, leaving young children behind. Not terribly uncommon, I know. Slightly more unusual was the cheating woman was a grieving mother in our church whose son had recently died and the philandering man in question was our pastor.
Kidnapping Grown Men
In the last few years grown men have been disappearing off the street where I live. They vanish at very odd times of night, usually bar hours. People always excuse their disappearances as them getting drunk and trying to stumble home, falling in the lake/river or snowbank and just never getting found.
There was one man that they did find though - 3 months after his disappearance, in a lake town 45 minutes away from where he was last spotted walking on foot looking really drunk. They found him face down in a lake in an area where supposedly he had no relatives or friends.
Recently, a 20-something-year-old came out with a post on Facebook about how he was roofied at a bar in town. He's a big guy who was hanging out with all of his friends. His friends were getting ready to leave and they noticed him acting weird so they called an ambulance for him.
Some motherf*cker is out there kidnapping grown ass men in my area.
The Right Supplier
Knew a small town that was ruled by a cop whose son dealt drugs. People who were found in possession were punished hard, but if they managed to identify the supplier with a certain truck and a certain description they got let off and told forcefully to shut the fuck up. Was a country town. Lots of open space...
Small Town Church
Used to go to a church in a small town. The pastor's son was a pedophile, there's no other way to say it. He was close to 30, and started dating a girl in the church when she was 13. They kept the relationship under wraps until she was about 17. They had sex in the church basement.
He got involved with the youth choir as a way to get friendly with the other underage girls. His parents knew about it the entire time. Pastor's son finally messed with the wrong girl and she got the law involved. When it got out, the pastor swept it under the rug and said that his son was very sorry and God had now made him a changed man, and begged the other churchgoers to forgive him.
He got caught two more times, each time the pastor insisting that he'd really changed this time. His son would put on this big show, crocodile tears at the alter, thanking everyone profusely for giving him another chance. Needless to say, our family hightailed it out of there quick.
I just caught word that he's in jail now for a probation violation. I'm sure he violated more than his probation.
No Electricity, Yes ChocolateGiphy
An autistic man in his 70s lives in the centre of the village with no electricity or running water. He lives off ice cream and chocolate, and spends his days collecting wood to burn in his fireplace. He has no caretaker. Nobody does anything to help him all that often. Although it's not really a secret, because everybody knows...
Scared For Him
One of the ladies in a neighboring town has had 3 husbands die... All under "mysterious" circumstances. She comes from a very... Italian family. She's collected multiple multi-million insurance payouts, as well as inheriting multiple millions.
She recently started dating a friend of mine, who is just getting separated from his wife.
I'm scared for him. (Yes, I've mentioned it to him - he knew already)
There's a statue in my town that made for a man named Richie when he died, who was well known in our town.
The sort of "unspoken secret" is that in life, everyone knew him, and tried to avoid him because he wouldn't leave anyone alone. People let him do whatever he wanted since he was a bit challenged. He didn't understand boundaries or social conventions very well. As an example, he would walk behind bank counters when transactions were being processed, and people wouldn't say anything to him. He just kept talking to everyone. People avoided him, and talked how annoying he was, but in death, they dedicated a statue to him because they felt bad.
A Foreign Minor
The year before I moved here a man, who lived in one of the nicest houses in town, was discovered to have kidnapped and kept a foreign (I can't remember where she was from) minor captive.
She was able to escape and knock on doors to save herself.
I was told this by multiple people but have not been able to find any media coverage which isn't unusual. It's a very conservative area and there are reporting laws that protect children in media coverage as well.