Our culture has an obsession with serial killers and murderers — but personally, I prefer stories where the victims got away.
So when Reddit user u/throwaway_district9 asked, "What has been your most bone-chilling, hair-raising, "Let's get the hell out of here" experience?" I couldn't look away — especially when it came to stories of people who narrowly escaped being murdered.
NOTE: This post contains mentions of sexual assault and violence.
Here are 19 bone-chilling stories about people who had run-ins with murderers or just barely escaped being killed.
1. "I accidentally met Jeffery Dahmer in Milwaukee the summer before he was caught. ... It was late at night, and I was drunk and lost. My friends were going to school in Milwaukee, and I came up to visit. He pulled up and offered a ride, and a telephone back at his apartment to give them a call. I jumped in, and started having a super-creepy vibe from him. I got to his apartment and he offered a beer before the phone. It just all felt as creepy as could be. I literally ran out the door, and down the street as soon as fast as I could. He chased me for about half a block, but he couldn't keep up."
2. "My wife and I were camping on the Oregon coast and jogged through a guy's campsite that he'd set up on the trail down to the beach. On the way back to our campsite, I jogged a little bit ahead of my wife and she was really upset that I didn't stay with her. She said the guy looked really creepy. We got back to Eugene and got a call from the state police asking if we saw anything strange. We gave an update about the guy camping above the beach and asked why they were calling. They said someone had drowned an off-duty policewoman in a tidal pool, cut their tent lines, and stolen her car. Turned out to be a serial killer who'd been killing people while traveling across the country."
"They caught him in southern California a few weeks later. We definitely got the 'dodged a bullet' feeling."
3. "I’m a criminal defense investigator. I had a murder case involving two brothers. The one accused of the murders ... and his brother, [who] had schizophrenia ... [and] lived in a potato shack in the middle of the desert. I needed to talk to him several times throughout the course of the investigation, and since he didn’t have a phone or electricity, I had to drive several hours out to his house and yell his name from the fence line until he came out of the shack. This investigation lasted for several years, and over time I developed a rapport with [the] brother with schizophrenia, and I kind of got to like him."
" ... [He] eventually gets a girlfriend; she’s a woman taking meth who has mistaken his schizophrenia for meth-induced psychosis. I talked to her a few times in jail when she was sober, and she was surprisingly charming and insightful.
The last time I go to see him, it’s a dark winter night and his girlfriend is there; she’s lurking in the shadows and staring daggers at me the entire time I’m talking to him. I cut off his conversation about the speakers in his fillings and walk back to my truck to leave.
A minute later, he comes running out and tells me that he wants to show me something in his shack. He’s never invited me inside before, and I’m not thrilled by the prospect. The whole thing feels off to me, so I tell him I have to get going, and start the truck.
The look of relief on his face when I declined to go inside convinced me that his girlfriend was waiting behind the door with a hammer or something. A few months later I learned that she shot him in his sleep and stashed his body in an old refrigerator. She has since plead guilty to his murder."
4. "Back in college I used to drive up the Oregon coast on weekends, then just crash in my car when I got tired. I woke from a nap in the driver's seat and something just didn't feel quite right. It was just dusk and the light was fading pretty fast. I yawned and stretched and as I did so I turned my head to the side and just caught a face ducking down below my rear passenger window. I went to hit the lock button just to make sure and in my panic I accidentally unlocked the doors briefly and then locked them again. I stared at the window for a few minutes, knowing that someone was crouching just out of sight."
"Eventually, I started the car and thought I heard a scuffing sound. Whoever it was didn't reappear, but that was enough for me. As I noped out of there and pulled out back onto Highway 101, I glanced back and a bald figure in a red t-shirt with something wrapped around his face booked it into the woods on the side of the road. That was the end of that weekend trip. I drove the two hours back to my dorm room, white-knuckled hands locked on the steering wheel. I had to pull over a few miles down the road though to deal with the adrenaline shakes."
5. "I was in an upstairs lab in med school, just a friend and I practicing surgical skills. There was a main enclosed staircase down to the lobby/classrooms and a weird outdoor stairwell that nobody ever used except in fire drills. It wasn't a fire escape, but the old main entrance to the lab classroom. When I put my hand on the door handle to the main stairs, I was FILLED with a weird sense of 'Get out! Not that way!' Just absolute fear; I felt trapped and anxious. For the first time in 3 years, I said 'Let's take the outdoor stairs...' My friend had literally no idea there even WAS another exit."
"The next day we found out that at the exact time we were taking the outside stairs, one of our classmates was pulling a gun on the admin and students in the lobby at the base of the main stairs. He'd been kicked out of the program for his grades and snapped. My friend still talks about it and tells people to always trust my instincts."
6. "This was a few years ago now, maybe 2019? I worked in a bar and there was this guy who’d come in occasionally with his family (parents and siblings), I think he was about 25. Really nice guy — we had immediate chemistry. He was in the army and he was home and visited my work and I was just finishing my shift. He asks if I felt like going for a few drinks. He wasn’t a complete stranger and the other staff knew him, so I agreed. We went to a cocktail bar nearby and then he suggested going to his for a few drinks — he had a bar in his house. My first mistake was agreeing, but when I was 19 I was just happy to go along with things."
"Anyway, all's going good. We’re getting along fine and having a good night. but the more he drank, things began to change. He was telling me horrific stories about things he’d seen while serving. Through the night, the look in his eyes began to change. I suppose it sounds cliché, but there’s no other way to describe it. He had a bit of madness in them which he previously didn’t have. He was giving me loads of drinks and started offering to buy me drugs (I declined). i started to feel uneasy and texted my best friend saying I didn’t feel right. He lived around the corner and said if I needed to leave he’d meet me.
I’m timing when I’m going to leave. It's, like, 5 a.m. at this point. I was going to be polite and finish my drink then thank him and head out, meet my friend then go home. Then he starts talking about killing people, and how he would go about it.
He tells me that he would meet a girl, get to know her, and make her feel comfortable and like he wasn’t a threat. Then he’d take her out for drinks and back to his for more, and get her really drunk. Something clicked for me at this point that this was EXACTLY the things he’d done with me thus far — except I (thankfully) can handle my drink so I wasn’t drunk. At this point, he looked completely different. Like, his face had changed completely. He looked so sinister. He told me about how he’d do the deed (the knife he specifically showed me when we first got to his, his favorite cooking knife apparently) and how he’d cover the room we were in with plastic so that nothing had evidence on when he went to work dismembering. When I asked what he’d do with the body parts, he pointed out the oil drum he had in the back garden and smiled smugly.
"Everything in my body was screaming at me that I needed to leave, so I texted my best friend and literally sprinted out. he cussed me out as I did and slammed the door so hard it shook. My friend held me while I sobbed. I got in at about 6:30, and blocked him on everything."
7. "There was a supposed haunted house that a bunch of us in high school would go to occasionally. It was about a half mile down a gravel road on what used to be a farm. There were two ways to get there going down the gravel road of a main road. Or a long meandering path to a dead-end road in a neighborhood that backed up to the farm. One time we had a large group of people going out there and we chose to use the longer path so there was more parking for the probably six cars worth of people going."
"My best friend had his foot in a walking boot due to an injury (forget what). Anyway, we did our screwing around and we’re leaving. Everyone else left relatively quickly, but I chose to hang with my friend who was moving much slower. About halfway back we looked over to our right and about 20–30 yards away in the field were four guys all with what looked like rifles or shotguns just standing in the field. It was a bright moon and we could see them clearly.
We both stopped and crouched down. 'What the hell?'
We picked up over the high grass and they were just standing there pointing the guns towards us.
We just fucking ran. My friend suddenly was able to run so incredibly fast with that boot. It was so freaky. When we caught up to everyone they said they hadn’t seen a thing. Still not sure what the hell was going on"
8. "Found a piece of furniture on Craigslist that I wanted to buy. Agreed to meet the guy outside of his house to inspect/pickup. When I arrived, he wasn't outside. Rung the doorbell, he answers and invites me in. Tells me the furniture is in his basement. Without leading me to it, he points to the door to his basement and tells me to go have a look. I notice the basement door has a lock and deadbolt. My internal subconscious alarm bells immediately being screaming at me to leave. I'm a 5'10" male in good shape, but I still wouldn't be able to bust down a deadbolted door. I thanked him for his time and promptly left (fled)."
9. "A friend and I were exploring an abandoned factory in North Philadelphia about eight years ago, and when we got to about the third floor, I discovered a booby trap in the stairwell. Basically, it was a trip wire that swung an axe down from the ceiling. Right as that fully set in, we heard someone from up above shout 'YO!' Time to go. I've never covered that much ground so fast. I think we were two or three blocks away before we realized we were riding each other's bikes."
"I've seen urban explorers find these. I won't say 'a lot' but enough that I get two impressions: 1) people set this more than you'd think, 2) these places are really very abandoned because you never hear about someone getting booby trapped in the face."
10. "I used to be a Jehovah’s Witness as a kid. That thing where they go around knocking on doors to preach to you, I was doing that with my mom and a few others. We walked up this slanted driveway with trees around each side, they couldn’t see my mom and me from the street in the car. We knocked on the door; everything very normal. Except this time I got hit by something I couldn’t see. My ears started ringing and buzzing like crazy — it felt like a helmet had been put on. My body was screaming at me to leave. The man listened to my mom’s intro, then said he was interested in hearing more, and invited us in like some do."
"All those things got so much stronger. The air felt like it got dense to keep me from moving. My mom looked at me and she said I looked off. Pale and distant. She told him that I seemed to be ill and that we should just leave. As soon as we stepped onto the ground in view of the car, I was completely fine. My mom decided to take me home anyway. We lived 2 blocks away, luckily.
Few days later we read in the paper about how that man was arrested for rape and murder of a few women. I think one of them was as young as 16. I was 12 at the time.
My mom, dutiful witness she was at the time, was convinced the angels stepped in to protect us."
11. "2019 summer — I was house-sitting for my dad while he was away for work. The house is in the middle of nowhere and barely even on google maps. ... I had had a few drinks with friends and been dropped off by a friend that lived close by. He dropped me at the side of the house because it was easier for him to turn around there, so I walked up the stairs and entered with my key through the side door that led to the kitchen. The kitchen overlooked the front garden but the front door was nestled into a small porch and wasn’t visible to me. I saw a movement in the front garden while I was making tea in the kitchen and immediately turned off the lights. There was a man trying to look into the kitchen windows from the garden."
"He ended up walking around to the wall-to-ceiling glass doors around the back of the house, cupping his hands to the glass and trying to look in. ... He couldn’t see me in the dark but I was hiding behind the wall that separated the kitchen from the dining/lounge area (open floor plan). I had stupidly not locked one of the glass doors closer to the front door and he started entering the house, in the pitch black, not realising I was maybe 10 feet away from him. I had already called the friend who had dropped me off as I knew he was still nearby (cops would have taken at least 30 minutes to get to me), knowing his parents (ex-military) kept a gun in a safe in the truck. I remember just wanting to RUN, get out of the house ASAP. ... But if I ran, I'd be alone in the middle of nowhere with a deranged man chasing after me.
As the guy walked further into the house, I stepped out and pulled a knife on him (again, I was NOT sober. It was a very stupid thing to do). He tried to incoherently make conversation, but I got him out of the door just as my friend pulled up with his gun. The dude bolted to his car that was parked in an area concealed by trees on the property.
Turns out he was the gardener. He had been keeping tabs on me, knew I was house-sitting alone for my dad while he was out of town, was VERY high on meth (he admitted to me while I had the knife out), and had been waiting on the front porch for me to come home. Except I had used the side door that night, something I NEVER usually did.
If I hadn’t used the side door that night, I have no idea what would have happened. i also have no idea what would have happened if my friend hadn’t come back when I called him, because the guy was starting to get aggressive and trying to come towards me right when my friend got there with his gun out."
12. "A few years ago I lived in a controlled environment with my Muslim parents. A year prior, I met my boyfriend and made plans to move out with him (without my parents' knowledge otherwise I would've ended up dead). My parents booked tickets overseas to force me into a marriage with an older guy in his fifties. I told them I didn't consent but they didn't care. They told me I wouldn't be coming back. I had under a week to get out. I was 18 at the time and I was petrified. Anyways, I packed up and moved everything to his apartment while they were at work. I realized once we got to his, I accidentally left my passport and other paperwork that I needed for work. I had to go back and had a time frame of 30 minutes before they came home."
"I went in the house as quietly as I could. Got to my bedroom, when I heard the front door open. My mother had finished work early. She didn't know I was in the house and I was shaking in panic. My brother had also realized I was home and locked my bedroom door as he knew I was up to something. My boyfriend was watching the house from the corner of the street. He called me to tell me to get out ASAP as there was a van waiting outside with my dad inside...my dad did not own a van. I barricaded the door so they weren't able to get into my room. I had to jump from the window into my neighbor's house and jump another fence to get onto the side street and ran for the hills with my boyfriend. I thought my boyfriend and I were going to die. All I had running through my mind was to get the fuck out lol. I have never been so scared in my entire life. I found out shortly after that they knew I was planning to escape with my boyfriend. So they planned on getting me kidnapped, raped, and killed. I wouldn't be here if I didn't get out while I could."
13. "I was installing a camera in a customer's home with another guy at work. The wife of the couple we were installing for began the appointment by ranting [about the white house.] ... It was her husband, though — the way he looked at both my coworker and I was like a person staring through me, like he knew he was looking at me but didn't 'see' me. In his garage, where we were mounting the camera, this guy with the dead eyes closes the garage door, looks at me for a long five-second stretch, then says 'yep, over there is where we let them suffer before we gotta cut the heads off. Gotta let them suffer before cutting the heads off.'"
"He locked the outside garage door, turns around and just starts murmuring about cutting off heads again. He must have brought up murder five to eight times in a 10 minute stretch. 'They call me Sergeant (something, I forget).' I reply: 'Thank you for your service! I really admire veterans!' He looked at me with those dead eyes: 'I was never in the military.' Long stretch of silence. His wife called him on his iWatch: 'Everything ok down there? Anybody up to something?' Long stretch before he replies. 'Everything's fine. We're just in the garage. Everybody is here and we're fine. I'll call you if I need you.' It was like they were talking about something they didn't want us to hear.
My coworker and I kept our scissors and razors in our hands from about five minutes into that service call for the rest of the way, neither of us letting him be behind us where we couldn't see him. We were bracing for him to try to get us. After we mounted the camera he asked us to go through the house back to the panel to learn it in. There was no way in hell I was doing that, so I said 'we need to take the ladder back out to the car.' He said we could take it through the house (remember, he had closed and locked the outside garage door earlier). I said it was a safety hazard and needed to go out the big garage door. Once more he asked us to go through the house, to which I replied we couldn't do that because of company policy with the outdoor ladder. He stared at me for roughly five to ten seconds in silence, then went and opened the garage door. Both of us split out of there and didn't look back. Told the company, locked the account, and wondered if we should have called the cops.
I have no idea what would have happened to my coworker had he showed up alone there. He was supposed to be alone, I randomly picked that day to audit him. Both of us swear up and down he felt like he was looking at something less than human and worthy of killing when he looked at us. Creepiest thing I've ever been around."
14. "When I was 27, my girlfriend lived in a crappy part of Hollywood, FL near US1. She had a kid pretty young, but the dad ended up going to jail for assault. The place she could afford was run down AF, with all sorts of ... low-lifes living in the units around her. She hated the place. She couldn't move in with me because I was just renting a room where I lived. ... I went to visit her after my shift ended at 9PM. Picked up some food and planned to cook for her. We were there for about an hour just sitting on the couch watching her kid play with a box. Then the banging started on the door."
"She looks terrified thinking it's her ex. I'm kind of freaked out also because I heard all these stories about him. Some guy is cursing, hitting something against the door hard. We don't even want to peek through the window or peephole, thinking he's got a gun. We call the police, but the operator is having a tough time hearing.
Then we hear some other woman screaming and cursing. He had the wrong door. We hear them start fighting. Smashing, more screaming. Sounds like she's spitting and we hear punches. We're not sure if it's her or him but it's loud.
911 operator says police are on their way. The kid starts screaming because he's scared. The man outside starts banging on the door again. He thinks his kid is with us and shouts he's going to kill us for taking his kid. My girlfriend just breaks down at this point and starts crying.
Maybe 10 minutes later the police arrive. They arrest both of them then took our statements. She moved out a couple days later and we ended up renting another crappy apartment but in a much better area."
15. "When I was a teenager I was awoken to a sudden chaos in my house. I come out of my room to see my dad butt naked ... with a pistol in his hand absolutely tearing through the house towards the front door. My mother swoops me out of the way and locks me in and herself into my sister's room."
"Apparently someone was trying to break into my window and had not realized my parents' window was right by mine (small craftsman-style home) my dad woke up, grabbed the gun, and chased the dude down the street NAKED with a gun at 3 a.m. Screaming, 'I’m going to find you mother fucker.' Pretty sure every neighbor called 911. Cops come, police helicopter involved the whole 9 yards. Turns out the dude was some wanted person who had been outside my window long enough to have smoked a half a pack of cigarettes. Probably the only reason he didn’t get in was that we had storm windows. Which is what he was trying to pry off when my dad woke up. They did end up getting him hiding in a neighbors shed.
Now I was born when my dad was only 21 and I was prob under 15 at the time so he’s only mid-thirties. My dad was a construction worker who was like 6’2 and he started going bald young so he shaved his head and had a huge goatee. He was very menacing looking when he wanted to be. Thank god no one had security cameras at the time because the image of that angry naked man with work boots on running down the middle of the road kept the neighbors tongues wagging for MONTHS as it was. This was the mid-'90s."
16. "I worked a lot in remote areas of west Texas, servicing oilfield-related equipment. One time I was out in the middle of nowhere as usual and to the northeast was a butte (an isolated hill that's bigger than a regular hill but smaller than a mountain) but everywhere else around was pretty flat. There was one road in and out of the site I was at. At some point when I was working on a control box, I had the overwhelming feeling that I was being watched. I scanned the horizon, looked all around the butte, and went back to work. This happened a few more times within several minutes until I finally saw something move on the side of one of the rock outcroppings on the butte."
"I went to my truck, grabbed my binoculars, and the figure hid behind that outcropping. It was definitely a human. I glassed him for a good 20 minutes and I could see him peek around every couple of minutes. Eventually he leaned out so far that I could see the silhouette of the barrel of a rifle slung around his back. At some point he was hidden behind his rock for a while and the next time he peeked out, I couldn't see the rifle. He had either put it down somewhere or he was now holding it.
I immediately felt a sense of impending doom. The hair on my arms and neck was standing straight up. I very quickly collected my tools, got my AR-15 from behind the driver's seat and sat it on the passenger seat, and tore out of there. I sped down the dirt road, almost clipped the cattleguard, and started cruising down the highway just as the adrenaline started to wear off. I remember the metal taste in my mouth and having to grip the steering wheel to keep my fingers from twitching.
A few miles down the road, a maroon suburban full of guys was pulled over on the oncoming side of the road. They definitely weren't oilfield workers: shades all around, buzzed heads, all intently looking at me. I expected them to pull a U-turn and pursue me, but they didn't. I can't prove that this is what was happening, but I do know that cartel guys run operations where one scouts for guys working alone and calls in a group of guys to rob them of their truck and tools."
17. "[My friend and I] thought we were cool and lived in a town of 13,000 people in the midwest. ... I was 13 and partying, drinking, smoking weed. Decided I wanted to be 'like Mike' and move weight (ed. note: 'move weight' is slang for dealing cocaine). The absolute first time we tried to do a big buy, we rode our bikes out of town to where my buddy had talked to our dealer and said we wanted a bigger buy. Literally biking on a gravel road out in bum-fuck North Dakota. We get to this shop (for reference, especially in the midwest, people purchase land and build a big storage shed aka shop and literally sometimes it's just a shop with a yard light out in the middle of nowhere). We got to the shop at like five. I told my dad I was going to the fair which led us to leaving early for the 'pickup' which was out on the edge of town. My dad would've been like, 'No, you aren't going to the fair at 9 p.m.'"
"We were there and waited for hours, and it's pitch black besides the yard light — no stars, cloudy night. Well, my buddy suggested we put our bikes on the side of the building so we walked them over, and as we got around the edge of the building we noticed headlights coming from the north.
... To this day I don't know why my buddy told me to lie down. He said lie down and I didn't question it. Three seconds later we hear people talking and crunching through the prairie. These guys have to be less than 20 feet away. I remember I could hear one breathing. At this point, I'm confused as fuck as to why I'm lying on the ground and two dudes parked in a weird spot. It didn't hit me until they didn't go into the yard light. From where we were these guys were posted to the east side of the yard light and we were on the east side of the shop.
Then another car is coming from the west and turns into the yard directly into the light. It's our dealer; he got out of the car. Kind of posts up on the tailgate and checks his phone. Hops off the car and goes...'you guys here?' Two other dude come walking out into the yardlight with weapons in their hands. I'd be a liar if I told you I knew exactly what they had but we could see them holding objects long in their hands. That's when it hit me...up until then I thought maybe because we were doing a nefarious deal that they were being cautious. Nope; they wanted to ... take our money. When he said 'you guys here?' I grabbed my friend and kind of tugged him to say [yes] like he's talking to us let's go but he grabbed my arm so hard his nails made me bleed. Something was screaming to him to stay hidden and my alarm was not working. But for that 45 minutes we lay dead still ... and waited until they left. ...I was worried that because we didn't show that our dealer was gonna come find us. But that weekend he got arrested for beating a 13 year-old-so badly he had to go to Mayo [clinic] to get his face reconstructed.
The worst part is he was super nice to us when we bought weed from him. Like he was cool and would even buy us Taco Bell.
Found out from some old cronies he's in prison for life because he was connected to the cartel and they skinned some guy alive in Bismarck.
... That night I found out I didn't have what it took to be a real drug dealer, so I kind of just stopped. I'm sure they would've killed us. Or worse."
18. "I swear I was almost murdered in college. ... Some buddies of mine and I developed the habit of walking the train tracks at night. It was peaceful and usually quiet, a good way to get away from campus and its baggage and talk. One night me and one friend were walking [and] went further down the line than usual. Without realizing it we’d gotten well out of the city and into the woods. We continue on for a little while, most of the lights were gone, and there was brush and trees all around us, with a small trailer home just visible ahead. Suddenly, without a word we both stopped dead in our tracks, overwhelmed with a completely unspoken feeling of being both watched and in extreme danger."
"We wait and listen, and hearing nothing but the wind in the tall grass around us, we both hurriedly agree it’s time to turn back. We keep a quick pace for about 10 minutes, hyper-alert, and constantly listening for any strange sounds or movement. The whole trip still engulfed in a pervasive sense of near panic at this unseen sense of danger. Bear in mind that we are both typically very difficult to rattle.
Finally, we clear the trees and get back to what we called the junction, an intersection of two tracks with a switcher near some warehouses, and also where there is significant light again. We make it about 100 yards into this area after our 10 minutes or so of speed walking and, feeling no less in danger, but a need to investigate, we paused to assess the situation on open and reasonably well-lit ground.
To this day I can see the silhouette just barely visible, standing barely beyond the edge of the light in the gap between the two tracks, staring directly at us. We walked those tracks many times, so what I saw wasn’t the trick of unfamiliar terrain. To this day it still gives me chills. We moved very quickly the remainder of the way back to campus, the feeling of extreme danger only slowly fading once we got well back onto campus. I’ve never been able to shake that sight, or the strangeness of the unspoken but simultaneous sense of extreme danger we were both overwhelmed by."