Fact Check

Accidental Kidnapping

Gnome captured in the woods by drug-tripping teens turns out to be lost child?

Published July 23, 2006


Legend:   Gnome captured by drug-tripping teens and stashed in their closet overnight is discovered in the morning to be a lost child.


Collected via e-mail, 2006]

A couple of guys are out one night in Indiana on a drinking/drugging binge. They're driving their car on a deserted country road in the middle of the night, when something runs in front of their path and onto the
other side of the road. For whatever reason and whatever intoxicant they are all under, they all agree that it was a goblin, and they pull over and attempt to aprehend said goblin in the interest of science. They manage to catch the goblin and put it in the trunk of the car. They get home to one of their houses and put the goblin into a closet, and then pass out. When they awake, they wonder if the evening's events were just a dream, a hard drug trip, or if there is in fact a goblin in the closet. They open the closet to find a frightened 5 year old boy who has Down's Syndrome. They call local police to report the boy, and end up being heros because the boy had been missing from home for days. They ended up receiving a considerable cash reward for his safe return.

[Collected via e-mail, 2005]

I met this girl last night, and she told one of the best urban legends one I've heard in a long time.

Anyway, she said some guys one of her friends knows went to Amsterdam and they were all tripping acid, and while they were walking around tripping, they found this gnome. They thought that gnome was the funniest thing in the world, and after taking some pictures with it, decided to steal it. They took it back to their hotel room and put it in the closet.

The next morning, they were going back over the previous night's events, and when someone went to the closet to get the gnome, there wasn't a gnome in there, but an extremely frightened 8 year old girl!

Origins:   In 2004,


we encountered this story about a lost child happened upon by drugged-out teenagers, mistaken for a living fantasy creature (dwarf, hobgoblin, gnome) or statue version thereof, brought to the teens' home, and stashed in a wardrobe overnight. It has subsequently come to us a number of times, its details slightly changed from telling to telling. While little boys can be featured in this tale, usually the tot is said to be a girl of 5, 6, or 8 years. He or she is sometimes described as a Down Syndrome child, possibly with that detail added as an attempt to make the tale sound a bit more plausible. As for the teens, they are typically said to have been under the influence of LSD, a hallucinogenic drug that would somewhat explain their mistaking a child for a living fairy creature or a man-made garden decoration.

The story generally concludes with the youngster's being recognized by her captors for what she is only after having passed a night in their closet, while they slept off the effects of the drugs that had befuddled them. Her sobs get them to investigate the contents of their closet, where they discover their previous night's trophy is in fact a terrified


Most often, the story ends there, with no additional details given about what might have happened next. However, two versions we encountered described opposite finales: in one, the teens were said to be going to jail (presumably for holding the child captive overnight); in the other, they were hailed as heroes and given a cash reward (for finding and rescuing a lost child).

The tale has much in common with a far older urban legend about a stoned babysitter whose drug-addled state prompts her to cook the infant in her care because she thinks it a pot roast or turkey. In both stories, small children are misperceived as something else by drugged-out teens whose chemical pursuits have rendered them incapable of making sense of reality. These legends are cautionary tales meant to impart strong "Don't do this to yourself!" warnings about the powerful effects illegal drugs can have on the human brain.

The yarn is even more closely related to another legend in which a mentally less-abled adult mistakes a midget who comes to his door (salesperson, delivery person, Jehovah's Witness) for a troll, overpowers him, and holds him captive.

Barbara "finders creepers" Mikkelson

Last updated:   28 February 2010

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