Everybody loves a good ghost story (alright, maybe not everybody).

With Halloween on the way, I went looking for some of the scariest ghost stories to come out of Minnesota. I didn't have to look far.


1. The Marshal County UFO Attack

Ranker.com -- a crowd-sourced ranking website that literally generates hundreds of millions of votes by millions of people -- ranked the UFO attack on Marshal County Sheriff's Deputy as the scariest story.

That story, as Ranker.com tells it, goes:

On August 26, 1979, Marshall County sheriff's deputy Val Johnson was on night patrol on a rural stretch of State Highway 20, just outside of Warren, MN, when a ball of light appeared on the road ahead of him.

Johnson drove his patrol car towards the light to investigate further when suddenly the ball of light was inside the car with him. And it attacked him, hitting him "like a 200-pound pillow."


The next thing Johnson knew, he woke up in a ditch a half-hour later with burns around his eyes, and both his wristwatch and dashboard clock had slowed by 14 minutes.  His windshield and one of his headlights had been smashed, and both of his car antennae were sharply bent out of place. A police investigation reached no conclusions, but the incident became one of the most well-known and influential cases in all of modern UFO lore.


2. The Palmer House Hotel

For years, people who have spent a night at the Palmer Hotel in Sauk Centre have told stories of eerie sights and sounds afterwards. Countless stories on TripAdvisor.com attest to it, The Travel Channel visited to find out for themselves, and even one of our listeners called in to share her own story of a spooky visit.

Minnesota Monthly shares the story behind the Palmer House Hotel's hauntings and ghosts this way:

The hotel’s most notorious “permanent, unregistered guest,” as [owner] Freese calls the ghosts, resides in Room 17.  Guests can sit in one of the two high-backed chairs facing the bed, but not both, not at the same time. Why? It forces Lucy to the mattress. And she doesn’t like that, says Freese, “because of what her employer made her do there.”

Legend has it that Lucy was a prostitute working at the Sauk Centre House, a grim frontier brothel that occupied the current site of the Palmer. The Sauk Centre House burned down in 1900, and the Palmer was erected in its place the following year. But the new joint couldn’t shake the legacy of abused and murdered women. Lucy is said to dislike men. She reacts to male guests by slamming the room door so hard it rattles the artwork on the wall and aggressively dropping the temperature. During a recent investigation, a Chicago ghost-hunting outfit allegedly recorded a temperature of negative-one-degrees Fahrenheit during their stay.
Other active areas include the bar and Room 22, home to a rancorous entity named Raymond—rumored to be Lucy’s pimp. “My favorite is when guests complain about how noisy the people above them were,” says Freese. “Then I remind them: you were on the top floor.”

3. The "Smiley Face Killings"

A popular conspiracy theory for years has led to the belief of a network of serial killers who prey on drunk frat boys. Dubbed "smiley face killers," they apparently only kill inebriated white males then dump their bodies into bodies of frigid water. The only evidence left behind is a smiley face. While many of these deaths have been confirmed as accidental drownings, one case out of Minnesota was proven to be an actual murder.

On Halloween night 2002, University of Minnesota student Chris Jenkins was kicked out of a bar in Minneapolis and vanished without a trace. His body was found months later, encased in ice in the Mississippi River, face up with his hands folded across his chest, and still wearing his Halloween costume. His death was initially ruled an accident, but persistence by his parents and a tip from a criminal informant got Jenkins's death ruled a homicide. And that's when NY-based private eyes Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, both former NYPD detectives, arrived, seeking connections to another case they'd been working on.


Similarities in the two MOs led them to uncover a pattern of mysterious drowning deaths involving college students all along the I-94 corridor in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. In many of those cases, a creepy smiley face had been painted on a tree or other surface near where the victims' bodies had been discovered. And so, the Smiley Face Killer theory was born; Gannon and Duarte believe that a group of highly organized killers are targeting college men across several states and have racked up a body count of more than 40 victims." - Ranker.com


4. Minneapolis' Soap Factory Art Gallery

Both Ranker.com and Minnesota Monthly have write-ups on the "demonic" forces residing at Minneapolis' Soap Factory. A modern-day art gallery, it was originally the scene of countless dead carcasses that were turned into soap.

The Soap Factory was, of course, an old soap factory, pumping out suds during the soap boom of the 1880s. And you know what soap’s made from, right? Animal carcasses. Thousands of them. The flow of bloody skins through the factory rivaled the current of the great river next door, and at the turn of the century, the building’s appetite for flesh made it a repository for stray dogs that the city paid to be rounded up and strangled. Not gruesome enough for you? Consider, then, that before the warehouse was built, the site was home to a small business that produced artificial limbs for soldiers wounded in the Civil War. That’s some creepy stuff." - Minnesota Monthly

Today, the haunted space is used as a hotspot for Halloween parties, though even those are so intense that a signed waiver is required.


5. First Avenue's Suicide Ghost

Everybody knows First Avenue as the renowned club and music venue in downtown Minneapolis. But a darker story from the building's past as a bus station lurks beneath the venue's reputation:

The story goes that a young woman went to the station to meet her boyfriend, who was returning home from World War II. When she was informed that he had died in combat, she lurched into the restroom and hanged herself. In recent years, multiple First Ave staffers have reported seeing a ghastly scene in the fifth stall of the women’s bathroom: a full-bodied apparition, throat wrenched to the side by a noose. The woman—always in a green army jacket—is sometimes seen dancing at the club, along with other legless ghosts." - Minnesota Monthly

HauntedRooms.com also reports of another ghost who staff have nicknamed "Slippy."

This particular entity is said to make a balloon appear from nowhere which then floats up and down the staircase on its own!"


So there you have it -- five of the scariest ghost/haunted stories to come out of Minnesota! Got one of your own? Share it in the comments section!

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