Example: [Smith, 1983]
Getting rather frightened she called the operator and was advised they would notify the police and, should he phone again, could she keep him talking in order to give them time to trace the call and have him arrested. Minutes after she replaced the receiver the phone rang again and, when the voice said, "I'm upstairs with the children, you'd better come up," she tried to keep him talking. However, he must have guessed what she was trying to do and he put the phone down.
Only seconds later the phone rang again, this time it was the operator who said, "Get out of the house straight away, the man is on the extension." The baby-sitter put down the phone and just then heard someone coming down the stairs. She fled from the house and ran straight into the arms of the police. They burst into the house and found a man brandishing a large butcher's knife. He had entered the house through an upstairs window, murdered both the children and was just about to do the same to the poor baby-sitter.
- In some versions the mysterious caller just laughs maniacally instead of making threatening statements.
- The number of murdered children (one, two, or three) varies.
- Sometimes the girl sees the killer first, then runs from the house and summons the police herself.
- In an alternate humorous version (in which the babysitter runs out of the house without first seeing the murderer) the police discover one of the children upstairs has been making the threatening calls as a prank.
- Another variation (combined with elements from The Roommate's Death) involves two babysitters. After the first girl learns from the operator that the calls are originating from the upstairs extension, she runs to the stairway to summon her friend. As she approaches the stairway she hears a thumping sound coming from the stairs — the sound of the friend, her limbs severed, dragging herself down the stairway. (In some versions the mutilated friend warns the first babysitter that the children have all been murdered and urges her to flee the house.)
Sightings: The plot of the 1979 movie When A Stranger Calls is based on this legend. The 1974 film Black Christmas features a murdering maniac hiding in a sorority's attic who telephones after every killing. In the 1998 film Urban Legend, the folklore professor regales his class with this legend.
Last updated: 20 May 2014
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