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Creepy New Jersey

Ep. 94

Creepy Joisy

Today, my friends, we have another installment in our creepy places series. We are taking a trip to the east coast. We've covered probably the most known creepy story about this state already in a past episode, and now we're back for more creepiness! We know there are more than a few listeners from this particular state, so if we fuck up, we know we’ll hear about it. At the same time we would love to hear more stories about anything we cover from the people who are around it and may have visited these spots or encountered any of the crazy stuff we discuss. So without further ado...the train is pulling out of the station and heading east to none other than New Jersey. Keep your hands inside of the train and watch out for raccoons!

So a little less than a year ago, at the beginning of this whole covid plague, we did a quarantine mashup. We discussed Springheeled Jack, The Wendigo, and the one and only Leeds devil, aka The Jersey Devil! If you are looking for our take on the Jersey Devil Go back and listen to that episode, we will not be discussing him(it?) today. But we are going to head to a bunch of different creepy spots. First Up we head to Totowa (toe tuh wuh) NJ.

Totowa is a borough in Passaic County, New Jersey, United States. Totowa in its current iteration has been around since 1898, but the land that is Totowa has been occupied since the 1600’s. Its been around for a long time. Having been around for so long there are destined to be tons of creepy tales, like our first one!

First up is the legendary “Ghost Of Annie”. For more generations than anyone can seem to remember, Totowa’s Riverview Drive has been more commonly known to locals as “Annie’s Road.” And for just as long, it has played host to innumerable carloads of late night thrill seekers. What these adventurous night riders are looking for is the spectral figure of Annie herself, an other-worldly apparition that has long been associated with this snaking riverside byway. Running along the Totowa side of the Passaic River, Riverview Drive, or “Reefer Road” as it has been dubbed by many a partying teen, seems to be just brimming with the stuff from which local legends are made. At night it is a dark and treacherous drive that leaves little room for error between the steep hillside on one side, and the muddy slough of the Passaic on the other. It is a remote and wooded road, right in the heart of a densely populated area.

There are mythical places to be discovered here as well, or so many have alleged. The isolated community located on Norwood Terrace, an oxbow street found on one of Riverview’s many curves, has long had the reputation of being New Jersey’s much fabled “Midgetville.” We are not going to discuss midgetville here as it is one of the more famous Jersey legends.

But what really beckons people to Annie’s Road year after year, decade after decade, is the quest to see Annie herself. The lure of experiencing the supernatural first hand, has been the catalyst for countless late night adventures over the generations, and several notorious misadventures as well. In most cases, these ghost hunters and seekers of Midgetville are nothing more than carloads of bored suburban youth, looking for some harmless late night thrills. Annie’s Road has however, on more than one occasion led its nightriders down a pathway to danger, and even death. Riverview Drive is no stranger to severe auto accidents, and Annie is not the only soul who has been lost there. What better way to get to the heart of the legend than to hear it from the locals! This is the story of her death as recounted by a local who was young when it happened:

“As I have been a resident of Totowa all my life, I can tell you the actual story of this poor girl’s fate. Annie was walking home from her prom at school in Little Falls. The shortest and perhaps the easiest route to take was Riverview Drive. She was passing the Laurel Grove Cemetery when a large truck plowed her over and dragged her about 50 feet or so. Her blood can still be seen on the side of the road she had been dragged. If she is to be seen she is a short ways down the road from the blood. This is very close to the place where her tomb once is. My brother has been to the plot in the Laurel Grove Cemetery that was created for her. Though I was little, I do remember hearing that for no apparent reason at all, the tomb caved inward and looked somewhat like a cave”. —Court

Well Thanks Court for the info!!!

Another story we came across was that back in the 1960s, a couple was driving down the road in Totowa when they got into a huge fight which led the man to open the car door and throw out his partner. Ah, the 60’s! Alone, scared, and injured, the woman began wandering on the street only to be hit by a truck and die on the spot. Even worse, her dress got tangled in the car and she was dragged along the road, taking off her face. Sounds like a cannibal corpse song. While the stories may vary, they both have the same stories attached. The main one is that there is a trail of old blood on the road from where she was dragged and a splatter of blood on a guardrail as well. Here’s a story about the blood splatter from another local:

I have heard many stories about this road, and have been there numerous time. I was told roughly the same story that she was killed on her wedding night, and was killed on the road and dragged along it. The first time I went there my friends told me that there was a bloodstain on the road, and a splatter on the guardrail. It WAS there, whatever it was, and it scared the shit out of me. I have taken other friends there throughout the years, and have told them the same story. “Annie’s Lane,” as I have often heard it called, is a great place to bring people for a scary experience. —Marcus Freeman”

Sounds crazy right! So the cool part about researching all of these legends is finding different people recounting their stories and seeing all of the crazy variations on the legends. One story has her ghost appearing at midnight while another swears it's at 2am. There's the prom story, the couple story, then there was another that is positive that her cousin's uncle's brother's friend's grandpa was at the scene and that she was decapitated during a car accident. Then you have the tales of the blood on the asphalt and blood on the guardrail. There's a variation on that story that says that her deranged father would come back every year on the anniversary of her death and paint the guardrail red to keep the memory of his daughter alive and meet with her ghost. Regardless of what version you want to believe, it seems that overall the stretch of road is pretty creepy. There is a cemetery nearby where she is buried and supposedly is a hotspot for paranormal happenings as well. There are reports of video cameras being drained of their batteries, strange lights being caught on camera but not being seen by the naked eye, and some have reported seeing Annie's Ghost at the cemetery as well. Some people also have attributed the “hail mary murders” in NJ as having something to do with this story. We found this tale on another website. It goes as such : It was 1992, and six high school boys spent their days fixated by Annie’s tale. Believing she was run over by a car and that she now haunted the road, they spent their nights at Norwood Terrace, near the house she supposedly lived in, then they would drive up and down River View Dr, before ending up at the mausoleum where they thought she was buried.

Eventually though 5 of the boys felt that they no longer wanted to hang around with the 6th boy, and decided to make him leave. They made several botched attempts to burn his car, but they all failed. Eventually realizing that they couldn’t make him go away, they decided he needed to be eliminated. (and all this because they were bored with his company mind you)

They tried to stuff an aerosol can into his gas tank in the hopes of causing an explosion. It didn’t fit. They tried to convince him to be handcuffed to the steering wheel, after which they would stick a flaming rag into the gas tank. He refused. After so many botched attempts to scare him and even eliminate him, some of the boys wondered if he wasn’t protected by Annie herself…

They finally settled on a simpler method, and tragically it worked. One day they all drove out to the HS and parked in back. They all began to recite the Catholic “Hail Mary”, and then one of the boys in back took out an electrical cord and strangled the victim from behind, garrote style. Putting his feet on the headrest, the victim didn’t have a chance, and the other boys continued to recite the Hail Mary, until after nearly 10 minutes, he was dead.

They tried to cover up the crime by outing the body in the trunk and causing an explosion, but it didn’t work. They ditched the car, and predictably, were caught, arrested, and convicted.

Although this makes for a great story, after going through more than a few articles about the Hail Mary Murders, not one of them had any mention of the Annie legend in them. Doesnt mean its not true but we didn't come up with any proof!

Sounds fun...we’re there! Anyone out there experienced Annie’s ghost, or have you been there to check it out? Let us know!

There is, or once was, a legendary place off a dirt road called Disbrow Hill in Monroe Township (Middlesex County) known as Crematory Hill in local lore. As the stories go, back in the 1970s it was one of those scary places where at night anything could happen. The legend of this place was that it was a structure where bodies were cremated, with the remains either shipped out or buried in the graveyard adjacent to the building. It is said that it was abandoned long ago due to the presence of ghosts and spirits. We thought this would make a really cool story but it was hard to find a ton about this legend! There was a story that was on Weird NJ website that we found that has the most info and it came from a local so we are going to relay that story because it is pretty cool!

“Back when I was in East Brunswick High School, ’69-’72, it was a great place to go with friends or your date and get a good scare, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. It was considered a real rite of passage.

There was usually clothing and unrecognizable stuff hanging off the trees at the start of the road leading to Crematory Hill and sometimes further on down. On several trips, we saw a large wooden sign painted in red propped up on the side of the road with the warning: WELCOME TO HELL. That was the signal it was going to be a hell of a ride! Screaming sounds were often heard from the woods, but we drove on, excited and expecting anything!

On the way, there was one house close to the dirt road, always with the lights on, where it was rumored that you would see the family living there hitting each other with hammers in the windows. We never saw that, but even with the lights on, it really didn’t look like anyone lived there and it had a weird presence, stuck out there in the middle of nowhere.

After passing that landmark, we would look for the opening in the woods off the dirt road that would lead to the Crematory. It was on the right side. This is where the courage factor came into play. It was dark, real dark, and the woods were thick. Weird sounds startled you. You didn’t know what was out there. All we had were a flashlight and our nerve.

We walked the dirt path, adrenaline pumping, always aware that something was out there, and in the beams of the flashlights, the structure loomed. Covered with graffiti, it was imposing in the darkness, yet waiting for us to enter and explore. The large, empty building was built up on a dirt hill. It was made out of bricks, stone, and cement. There were openings for windows and doors; there was rubble in the basement. To get to the basement, you had to jump through a hole in the floor. There were some pipes through the floor, which were supposed to be part of the crematory equipment. The structure was probably built in the 19th century.

After exploring the Crematory, more courage was mustered to walk the grounds and find the cemetery. There was a low wall, which you followed to find the graveyard, taking you deeper into the woods, further away from your car, the only means to escape if anything happened. This took a lot more of your courage.

After locating the burial ground, the walk back seemed longer and scarier. When you got closer to the road and the car came into view in the flashlight beam, you breathed a sigh of relief, quickening your steps until the key was in the door and you were back in the car.

One time we got out of the car at the Crematory, started walking, and heard some rustling in the trees. All of a sudden from the dark came a combination of howling voices and figures, trying to attack us. We were close enough to the car and I had the key in hand fast enough for us to pile in and for me to spin my wheels in gear to get out of there like a bat out of hell. Luckily we escaped uninjured. One of my friends looked back and saw dark outlines of figures, but there were no cars around for them to follow us in. How and why they were there is a mystery.

I was told that the Crematory was used by Rutgers fraternities and Douglass sororities as part of the pledging/initiation processes since the 1940s. Crematory Hill provided lots of unpredictable excitement for us teenagers. The ride itself was scary enough, but you were always drawn to walk in the woods, to face the unknown.” –Lewis Sofman

There were other stories of people hearing howls and screams when they would travel through the woods to get to the site. There are stories of people being shot at while they were there. People claimed to have been chased but god knows what. It's odd cus there seems to be tons of local stories but there isn't much outside of that. Which is great for legends and myths though not so much for research. It does appear that the building was definitely there, there are old pictures of the building that you can see, we’ll definitely post them. Unfortunately for everyone the building has been demolished and condos now reside on the spot where the building used to be. We were unable to find any concrete evidence that the building was actually crematory either. If any of you folks from jersey can shed more light on this one we’d love to hear it, meanwhile we’ll keep digging!

Now we are gonna switch it up and talk cryptids. There are more cryptids than just the Jersey devil roaming and swimming around. First up we have the The Sandyhook Sea Serpent.

The North Shrewsbury (Navesink) River is one of the most scenic estuaries on the Eastern Coast of America. Known for luxury yachts, stately homes, and iceboating, it is hardly the place you would expect to find the legend of a sea serpent. But, in the late nineteenth century it was the location of one of many well-documented and unexplained sightings of mysterious sea creatures that plagued the waters of the North Atlantic.

The creature in question was seen by several people, all who were familiar with local sea life. While returning from a daylong outing, Marcus P. Sherman, Lloyd Eglinton, Stephen Allen and William Tinton, all of Red Bank, encountered the monster. The Red Bank Register reported the witnesses to be sober and respectable local merchants.

At around 10:00 P.M. the yacht Tillie S., owned by Sherman, was making its way back to Red Bank after a picnic at Highlands Beach. The men had enjoyed a pleasant Sunday evening escaping the warm early summer weather. The moon was shining bright, providing for high visibility as the yacht cut through the water. A stiff summer breeze was blowing and they rounded the Highlands and headed toward Red Bank. At the tiller of the Tillie S., Marcus Sherman steered through the familiar waters. At the bow was Lloyd Eglinton, who kept watch for debris in the water ahead.

Suddenly Eglinton yelled that there was something in the water dead ahead. Sherman steered “hard to port” to avoid the collision. As they looked to see what the obstacle was, they were shocked. There ahead of them was the Sandy Hook Sea Serpent that had been sighted many times over the preceding two years. So credible were the sightings of the Serpent two years earlier, that Scientific American had run an article issuing an opinion that the monster was in fact a Giant Squid. The article, complete with drawings, appeared in the December 27, 1887, edition of the prestigious scientific periodical.

The earlier sighting at Sandy Hook had been made by several credible witnesses. Most notably the members of the Sandy Hook Life Saving Service. The crew members had sighted a large monster in the cold waters just off Sandy Hook in November 1879. The sighting was so credible that scientists were dispatched to take statements. It is from these descriptive statements that it was determined the Sandy Hook Sea Monster was, in fact, a giant squid. For the next several years there were reports of all types of sea serpent sightings up and down the east Atlantic Coast.

What the Red Bank men saw was surely no giant squid. It was described as about 50-foot long and serpentine in shape. It swam with snakelike undulations slowly and steadily through the water. As it passed halfway past the bow, its head rose from the water giving forth a mighty roar. The head was described as small and somewhat resembling a bulldog’s in shape. It had two short rounded horns on its head just above its eyes. The eyes we said to be the size of silver dollars. Bristles adorned the upper lip of the monster, much like those that would be found on a cat. The beast’s nostrils were quite large and flattened. The serpent-like body tapered to a sword-like pointed tail. The frightened men stared in disbelief as it slowly and leisurely swam toward the shore of Hartshorne’s Cove. As the monster disappeared into the night, the men made their way back to Red Bank with a monster of a story to tell.

The men of the Tillie S. were not the only ones to see the creature. Other boaters on the water saw the serpent and gave near identical descriptions. In all over a dozen boaters had seen the strange creature on his nocturnal swim. Over the next months and years there would be other sightings of the monster in the Navesink. In time it came to be known as the Shrewsbury Sea Serpent. No scientific explanation was ever given for the sightings, as had been done for the so-called Sandy Hook Sea Serpent, however the description is not totally without merit. Other than the size, the description is very similar to that of the Oarfish. In any case the mystery remains as to the true identity and fate of the Sea Serpent.

Next up we have the blobs….yes the blobs. On August 6 a large mysterious blob appeared in a Little Egg Harbor tributary in 2003. The Jersey State Police’s marine unit was called in and the Department of Environmental Protection poked and probed the blob and determined that it was not hazardous, though they could not say for sure just what it was. The gooey mass was eventually towed out into the Great Bay using a 50-foot rope and then released.

The following year in May of 2004 another gooey, putrid mass surfaced in another waterway in the lagoon community of Beach Haven West, miles away from the original Blob encounter. This smaller “Son of Blob” was only about 10 feet in diameter, but terrorized the beach community nevertheless.

“It’s miserable, ugly and disgusting,” said resident Nancy Olivia in the Press of Atlantic City. Olivia called Ocean County officials to say “I went to work today, and I have a Blob in my backyard!”

The NJ Department of Environmental Protection, the NJ State Police and Ocean County Health Department were called in to inspect the mass, and samples were taken. The inspectors believed that it was not the same blob that appeared in Little Egg Harbor the prior year, but still didn’t have a clue as to what it consisted of. It smelled like rotten eggs and measured about 8ft.x10ft. Most scientists think it was just a mass of algae or plant waste. We like to think its something creepier.

The blob might just be the most disgusting and frightening thing ever encountered at the Jersey Shore, with the possible exception of some cast members from the TV show of the same name. The blob may still be at large, lurking in the depths––so BEWARE!

On top of those there are the numerous bigfoot sightings! These are my people. They are out there and we know they are! In some areas of Jersey they use the nickname Big Red Eye as many reports state he has glowing red eyes! Sussex and Burlington counties seem to be hotspots as they are the top counties for sightings. Here are a few sightings, just cus we love bigfoot sightings.

In 1975, five people reported in a local Sussex County newspaper that a large creature, about nine-feet-tall, was spotted near the Bear Swamp, south of Lake Owassa in the farthest reaches of Sussex County. The creature walked upright, and was covered with shaggy gray hair. Locals who hunt and fish in the surrounding forest said that it’s possible that something like that could exist because of the remoteness of the area.

In May of 1977, a Sussex County farmer in the town of Wantage reported that a large brown, hairy, Bigfoot-like creature with no neck and glowing red eyes had broken down a one-inch thick oak door and killed his rabbits. Some of the bunnies’ heads were torn off, while other hares were crushed and twisted. The man said there was an unusual absence of blood at the scene. Four men waited with loaded guns the following night for the creature to return. It reappeared at dusk, was shot at, and reportedly hit at least three or four times before running away growling. Although there was an account of the wounded beast re-emerging a few days later, no carcass was ever found.

Bob Warth, a member of S.I.T.U. (The Society for the Investigation of The Unexplained based in Little Silver, NJ), claims these Bigfoot-like entities may be UFO related.

“We know what robots are,” says Warth. “Is there a possibility that these bigfoots with super-human strength are an extraterrestrial biological robot up in North Jersey? These farmers encountered a bigfoot stealing animals from their barn, they shot at it, hit it right in the body cavity, but there was no blood. It then ran away. When you witness something like that, the first thing you do is relate it to yourself—physically and mentally. If you shoot it, you’re going to shoot where you know the heart is, or whatever, to be to bring it down. First of all, you don’t know what kind of armor it has, and secondly the brain (or control system) may be in his feet for that very purpose…if it is a biological robot.”

According to the report on The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization website, this witness and his brother-in-law were hunting in an area that they had frequented for several years and heard a sound that neither of them could explain. The sighting,which took place in 2006, was recounted as follows:

The deer stood there for about a minute or two mostly looking to the north and east, then turned directly south and walked away. Shortly after this moment I heard a screaming sound coming from the east. The sound had a human quality to it and sounded more angry than distressed. I immediately thought my brother-in-law was hollering for some reason as he was in that direction but chose not to contact him via radio. There were several short 10 second screams lasting a little over a minute and then stopped. I sat there completely perplexed having never heard a sound like that before. After this I noticed the conspicuous absence of any sound or movement in the forest. Prior to this the woods had been filled with the sound of twittering birds and chattering squirrels. After this, the forest was dead quiet. This was the most eerie part of the whole event.

After this incident, the witness found a sound file from another website dedicated to Bigfoot encounters. He and his brother-in-law agreed that it was similar to what they had heard.

And then there are the stories of “the big hairy man”. No it's not Moody either, he's only been to Jersey a couple of times and we're pretty sure the timelines don't match up to any sightings, well maybe 1 or 2. A Bigfoot-like entity has been seen in the regions of Somerset County, including the Great Swamp area and the Somerset Hills. The locals call it “The Big Hairy Man,” and he has even been spotted as far away as Hillside. According to eyewitness reports The Big Hairy Man stands about eight-feet tall and is covered with hair the color of a deer’s. He walks upright with a human gait, according to a bone specialist and a physical therapist who encountered the Big Hairy Man while taking a shortcut through the Great Swamp on Lord Stirling Road in a hurry to reach the airport.

They claimed the Big Hairy Man walked in front of their car and hopped the fence alongside the road. They could not see his face because he (or it) was looking down. These sightings, according to the Folklore Project in Bernardsville, have occurred for many years.

We’ll finish up with a story about Big Red Eye:

Not that I’m a big believer of urban legend and folklore, but I must tell you this story because after reading about The Big Red Eye in a recent issue, I got the chills!

My wife and I live in Westwood now, but we’re formerly from Mahwah. One night, early last summer, we were walking our dog in our condo development (Paddington Square in Mahwah) and heard this guttural sound that scared us so much that we called the police. I’ve heard just about every animal noise imaginable and I’ve got to tell you this was the strangest thing I’ve ever heard. It wasn’t a dog, or bear, but it was big and angry, and had red eyes. I estimate it was roughly 30 yards from us. We were standing by a street light on the sidewalk.

I told my wife to pick up the dog and go into the street and walk home slowly. I was shaking in my boots as I slowly backed up, keeping my eyes on the brush. We made it home and called the police, not once, but twice, to find out what the hell that thing was. They investigated but found nothing. To this day my wife and I wonder what it was. –Mike V.

So now with some cryptids out of the way, we have another creepy haunted road. Texas has shitloads of haunted bridges...Jersey has haunted roads, there's always something. This may be the greatest road name ever though. It is called Shades Of Death Road. Yes that's the real name. It’s a two-lane rural road of about 7 miles (11.2 km) in length weaving from farm country just off I-80 along a portion of Jenny Jump State Forest, riding the edge of the unofficially-but-aptly-named Ghost Lake. The road is the subject of folklore and numerous local legends.

One tale relating to murder says that the original inhabitants of the area surrounding Shades of Death were an unruly band of squatters. Often, men from this vile gang would get into fights over women, and the squabbles would result in the death of one of the participants. As the reputation of these murderous bandits grew, the area they inhabited was named “Shades of Death.” When the civilized world encroached on and disbanded the bandits, the last remnant of their control over the meadows was restricted to one road that retained the name they made famous.

Another murder theory says that the road was originally known as “The Shades,” because of the low hanging trees which formed a canopy over the length of the street. Legend says that over time, many murders occurred there, and many stayed unsolved, causing local residents to add the sinister “of Death” twist to the formerly pleasant “Shades” name.

One of those legends is that many years ago, a car of teenagers was driving down a country road in Hackettstown, NJ after the prom. The road was slippery that night and it curved sharply to the left and right, winding into the dark. The driver lost control and the car crashed into a ditch killing one of the passengers. To this day, on dark and slippery nights, you can still see the girl who died wandering that murderous curve wearing her prom dress.