Claim: The clanging of rock on metal leads a work crew to discover a decades-old wrecked car — with four skeletons inside — a few hundred feet off the road.
Origins: As Brunvand notes in Curses! Broiled Again!, this legend appears to be an updated version of a much
older Norwegian legend (set in the Middle Ages and first collected in the nineteenth century) involving a hunter led by the sound of his arrow striking a bell to discover an abandoned church. (The inhabitants of the town in which the church stood had long since been wiped out by the Black Death.)
Many true instances of long-dead bodies discovered in wrecked automobiles have been reported over the years, the most notable being the case of Susie Roberts from Gainesville, Georgia. Roberts and a friend disappeared on their way home from a dance in the nearby town of Dawsonvile one day in 1958. Although the friend's body turned up a year later, Roberts' body remained undiscovered until workers building a bridge found and pulled the car containing her remains from the bottom of Lake Lanier thirty-two years later. The most similar real-life version of "car filled with skeletons discovered by happenstance" would probably be the case of Kimberly Marie Barnes and her four friends, who disappeared from Palm Beach in a van one summer evening in 1979. Their fate remained unknown until a mud-filled van was spotted in Palm Beach County canal by a fisherman eighteen years later; the automobile was dragged out and came within seconds of being shredded for scrap when a Miami salvage yard manager noticed a shin bone fall from the van. Investigators later found a total of five skulls
This legend is similar in structure to Crushin' Roulette, both of them involving the discovery of long-wrecked automobiles with human remains inside.
Sightings: In an episode of TV's Law and Order ("Ramparts," original air date 13 January 1999) opens with a van containing the skeleton of a decades-old murder victim being dredged from the Hudson River.