Superstition and Friday the 13th is synonymous with each other. People try to stave it off. Sometimes you have to knock on wood or throw salt over your shoulder. Somewhere along the way, Friday the 13th kept getting passed down from generation to generation as a bad, unlucky day. Many point to Christ, the 13 disciples, and Good Friday as the beginning, or the Knights Templar and their horrific torture, but the most likely explanation point to William Fowler.
The movie Friday the 13th, of course, probably helped reinvigorate interest for today’s modern sensibilities. I remember growing up always hearing from classmates about how “tomorrow was Friday the 13th. Better watch out! Something bad might happen.” I didn’t believe it, but kids love to play pretend. For the longest time, I always thought no one really bought into it. Apparently, I was wrong.
About 17 to 21 million people are fearful by Friday the 13th, and some are so afraid they don’t even get out of bed the entire day. If you think about it, that’s quite a lot of people sitting in bed and twiddling their thumbs. As you might imagine, business doesn’t exactly boom on Friday the 13th either with some estimations coming out to 800 million dollars lost on a single day.
This day is so prominently terrifying for people that there’s a scientific word for it: Paraskevidekatriaphobia.
Try saying that three times fast.
As it happens, bad things do happen on Friday the 13th. You know, like all the other days, but some true stories are especially chilling on this day.
1. Friday, September 13th, 1996
Lesane Parish Crooks died of internal bleeding. He also went by Makaveli or, you know, Tupac Shakur. Many know this story already so I won’t go on as if I’m telling something unknown. Days before, a sedan drove up beside Shakur’s vehicle, fired shots, hitting him four times. He was rushed to the hospital but the doctors couldn’t stop the hemorrhaging. His supposed last words were, “Fuck you.” An elegant way, I guess, to say, “A plague on both your houses.”
Whether you’re a fan of him or not, it’s hard to deny the legacy and myths that carried on about Tupac. Of them, dying on Friday the 13th turns out to be true.
2. Friday, March 13th, 1964
At the early morning hours of the morning, Kitty Genovese clocked out for the day from her job and drove home to Kew Gardens, Queens. After she parked and got out of her car to walk to her apartment, a man named Winston Moseley approached armed with a hunting knife. Like any normal human being, Kitty was scared by this sudden turn of events and ran, trying to get to safety. Unfortunately, Moseley caught up with her, overtook her, and stabbed her twice in the back. She cried out for help, being surrounded by plenty of windows and a plethora of potential witnesses, but only one man came to the window and said, “Let that girl alone!” Moseley ran away, but no one came to help Kitty despite her consistent cries for help. She tried to enter a building, but it was locked and she was nearly unconscious from the serious injuries.
Moseley wasn’t finished. He returned, but this time with a hat on to cover his face. He searched the area and eventually found her again, stabbed her, raped her, and took the money from her purse. Once he left, her friend came out and held her as she died. She was taken to the hospital but died en route.
A later police investigation indicated that there were 12 witnesses to the attack (but some said 38) that did nothing to stop it. Mosley confessed his motive was to “kill a woman.”
3. Friday, October 13th, 1972
Of all the things people may be scared about the most, I’d say a plane crash sits pretty high up on the list especially for sufferers of Paraskevidekatriaphobia. But the initial crash may not be the worst part but what comes afterward.
Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 carried 45 people that subsequently crashed into the Andes mountains. Twenty-seven people survived the crash (which is pretty miraculous) but then another eight were killed by an avalanche shortly afterward (which is pretty devastating). The survivors faced unspeakable odds. At a height of 11,800 feet, they had little food, were surrounded by freezing temperatures with no source of heat and couldn’t radio anyone for help. Using metal scraps from the wrecked fuselage, they melted snow from the sun and drank it. But their food sources quickly depleted. Faced with dying of starvation, they began to contemplate feeding on the preserved, frozen dead bodies of their friends and family. It was not a decision taken lightly, and many went days and days, starving themselves, before succumbing to cannibalism. But, they succumbed.
Part of me really wanted to just leave it on that note, but I feel it wouldn’t be honoring to the story. So, I’ll leave it on a kinda, sorta happy note. Realizing no rescue team would come to find them, they sent a few men to trek down the mountain in order to call for help. Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa took a ten-day walk through the cold, blustery mountains before finding someone.
By the time they secured rescue, the survivors inhabited the mountain for over two months. Naturally, the world wondered how they could have survived for that long.
If you liked these terrifying stories, you’ll like my book of short horror stories, Pocket Wilderness & Other Horrors. Click HERE and Get it Now!