Claim: A good samaritan warns a female driver about the armed and dangerous man hiding in the back seat of her car.
She became frightened and looked out in time to see her car door open and the guy slip out. The report is that the new gang initiation thing is to bring back a woman and/or her car. One way they are doing this is crawling under women's cars while they're pumping gas or at grocery stores in the nighttime. The other way is slipping into unattended cars and kidnapping the women.
Please pass this on to other women, young and old alike. Be extra careful going to and from your car at night. If at all possible, don't go alone! This is real!!
1. ALWAYS lock your car doors, even if you're gone for just a second!
2. Check underneath your car when approaching it for reentry, and check in the back before getting in.
3. Always be aware of your surroundings and of other individuals in your general vicinity, particularly at night!
Send this to everyone so your friends can take precaution.
AND GUYS...YOU TELL ANY WOMEN YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS Thanks,
Barbara Baker, Secretary Directorate of Training U.S. Army Military Police School
Origins: This legend first appeared at least as far back as 1967 and quickly caught on, becoming one of the favorite scary legends of that period. In addition to circulating orally, it showed up in Ann Landers' column in 1982, presented as a harrowing experience that had befallen the letter writer's friend.
Despite the legend's many incarnations and long history, there's little or no record of its ever playing out in real life. It's merely a cautionary tale warning us to be vigilant of our surroundings — there just aren't that many bad guys lurking in backseats to get worried about.
Though there have been rapes wherein the attacker hid in the back seat of an automobile, they are rather rare occurrences (one example of which took place in the Chicago area in March 2013). As for carjackings, in the overwhelming majority of them the assailant opens the door and gets into the car while the driver is behind the wheel; there's little of this "lurking in the backseat" bit.
The legend might originally have been prompted by a real news story:
In those recountings where anyone's race is mentioned, the man hiding in the car or the rescuer is invariably black. It's easy to see those versions as a racist reaction to anxiety about being attacked by a member of a feared group: the lurking black man represents the perceived menace of his race, waiting for the proper moment when a back is turned to strike; the rescuer's attempt to warn the victim is ignored because his color marks him as more likely to be an attacker than a protector.
Update: In late 1999 through early 2002, versions circulating on the Internet which involved prospective gang members looking to kidnap a woman for rape reappeared with surprising frequency. These morphing
Barbara "backseat diver" Mikkelson
Sightings: This legend shows up in the 1983 film Nightmares, the 1984 film Mr. Wrong and the 1998 film Urban Legend. You'll also spot the "gas station" version worked into the plot of an episode of TV's Homicide ("Thrill of the Kill"; originally aired
Last updated: 21 May 2015
Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Choking Doberman. New York: W. W. Norton, 1984. ISBN 0-393-30321-7 (p. 214). Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Mexican Pet. New York: W. W. Norton, 1986. ISBN 0-393-30542-2 (pp. 58-59). Brunvand, Jan Harold. Too Good to Be True. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999. ISBN 0-393-04734-2 (pp. 97-100). Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Vanishing Hitchhiker. New York: W. W. Norton, 1981. ISBN 0-393-95169-3 (pp. 52-53). Campbell, Don. "Bodysnatcher Myth Gets Boost." Ottawa Citizen. 26 September 2003. de Vos, Gail. Tales, Rumors and Gossip. Englewood: Libraries Unlimited, 1996. ISBN 1-56308-190-3 (pp. 289, 311-313). Drake, Carlos. "The Killer in the Back Seat." Indiana Folklore. No. 1; 1968 (pp. 107-109). Emrich, Duncan. Folklore on the American Land. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1972 (p. 338). Smith, Jack. "Modern-Day Fables Never Die." Los Angeles Times. 15 October 1986 (p. E1). Smith, Paul. The Book of Nasty Legends. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983. ISBN 0-00-636856-5 (pp. 95-96). Thalji, Jamal. "Accused Rapist Retrial Starts." St. Petersburg Times. 19 August 1997 (p. 5). FOAFTale News. "The Killer in the Backseat." November 1993 (p. 6).
Also told in:
Healey, Phil and Rick Glanvill. Now! That's What I Call Urban Myths. London: Virgin Books, 1996. ISBN 0-86369-969-3 (p. 6). Holt, David and Bill Mooney. Spiders in the Hairdo. Little Rock: August House, 1999. ISBN 0-87483-525-9 (pp. 65-66). Schwartz, Alvin. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. New York: HarperCollins, 1981. ISBN 0-397-31927-4 (pp. 66-68). The Big Book of Urban Legends. New York: Paradox Press, 1994. ISBN 1-56389-165-4 (p. 11).