19 People Who Encountered Serial Killers And Lived To Tell The Tale

A while ago, Reddit user u/throwaway_district9 asked, "What has been your most bone-chilling, hair-raising, "Let's get the hell out of here" experience?" and a surprising number of people reported having met or almost become the victim of a serial killer. Here are their stories, along with some from the BuzzFeed Community.

1."During my second year of teaching, there was a long-term sub across the hallway from me that I had a good relationship with, and he always came to me for help when he needed it. He was a former college football star at out local university and was a volunteer coach for the football program at a nearby high school. On the last day of school, the day after students left and we were all wrapping things up before leaving for summer, we walked past each other in the hallway and I greeted him simply by saying, 'What's up Mr. Johnson!' Not a word back from him; he didn't even look at me, just had a thousand-yard stare down the other end of the hallway. Two days later, I turn on the news and the headlining story was, 'Local substitute teacher arrested for triple-murder.' He had killed his own son, niece, and brother later that day that I last saw him in that hallway."


2."My dad believed he had The Zodiac Killer as a patient WAY back in the very early '70s when he was an active killer. My dad's practice was in Richmond, CA, in the eastern half of the San Francisco Bay Area. This patient was always the last patient of the day. He was always talking about the case. bragging about all the weapons he had, and he even resembled the sketch of him. Dad was a first lieutenant, infantry, tail end of WW2 and did not scare. This patient though gave my dad the creeps. Finally, my dad gave the cops a sample of this patients handwriting. Shortly after this, he stopped being seen by my dad."


wanted poster with drawing of the serial killer
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive via Getty Images

3."When I was a teen (from 16 years old to 18) I worked at a local grocery store on the front end. There was this incredibly creepy guy who was about my dad’s age (so almost 30 years older than me), who used to come in everyday to get cigarettes and lotto. He was constantly asking me (and every other young female working) if we wanted to come to his house and party. He said he had weed, and would get whatever booze we wanted. Nobody ever took him up on it. He had this gaze that you could feel even if your back was turned, and would make really sleazy comments to/about us, and act as if we should have been flattered by the attention. This was in the late nineties."

"Turns out, he was arrested about five years ago for the murder of 15-year-old Tracy Gilpin in 1986, when he was close to 30 years old. Look him up. Michael Hand. You’ll see exactly how creepy he still looks."


4."I was in Denver with my ex a few years back. We had just gotten off the light rail maybe five or six blocks from our Airbnb, and there was a guy trying to get a ticket for the train. As we were walking past, he explained he was like 50 cents short and asked if we could spare some change. All I had was a $5. I hand it to him and realize as he's grabbing the cash that he has blood splattered on his hand. I look up and make eye contact and he had more blood splattered on his face, and a huge grin."

"Time stopped for a second, and then he asked me if I wanted my change. I told him no, grabbed my ex by the hand, and started hurrying away looking over my shoulder every few seconds. He stood still as a statue watching us walk away until we turned a corner. We found a church and hunkered down in the doorway and called an Uber for the remaining four block walk to our room.

The next day we were flying out and saw a news story about a murder that happened in the neighborhood we were staying in that night. Someone was stabbed to death near the train tracks at around 10:00 PM. We got off the train at around 11:00 PM. Can't confirm, but I may have met a murderer and given him five bucks to help evade the scene."


5."Basically, back in the '80s my mum lived in a bedsit, which is basically shared accommodation for those who don't know, and had some guy knock on the door around 11 p.m. All the other young women she lived with had went out earlier in the evening to go drinking, but my mum had stayed back due to work the next day. My mum, being the wise person she is (thank god — otherwise I probably wouldn't be here today and typing this), didn't open the door to him but opted to shout out the window asking who it was. Some dude was stood there with a baseball cap on, briefcase in hand and insisted he had a business meeting with the business below the bedsit. Throughout the conversation he refused to look directly up at her and didn't want to leave. My mum thought this was strange, especially at 11 p.m. at night, so effectively told him to go away and contact whoever he was supposed to be meeting. She reported it to the police."

"Turns out it was the 'bedsit killer,' and my mum could've potentially been his next victim that night. She got a call back in 2021 from detectives saying they'd remanded a man on suspicion of the rapes and killings of two women back in the '80s through DNA (someone in his family I believe got put on file, and that's how they eventually made that crucial link) and they highly suspected he was the man on the doorstep that night from descriptions in her report, and wanted to use this as evidence in court. My mum lived one road over from one of the victims, who coincidentally shared the same name as her, and looked really similar. We got invited to the sentencing at court and managed to see him in the dock, and my mum thought it was definitely the man from that night. He got a whole life sentence for the murders and other crimes (won't go into it, but when they arrested him for the murders and searched his property back in 2021, they unveiled evidence that he'd been abusing bodies in a mortuary in the hospital he worked at, for years)."


6."My grandparents bought their house in Tacoma, Wash., from Ted Bundy’s great-uncle. They were apparently super close and Ted spent a lot of time at their house when he was a kid. I only found this out recently and it’s a little disconcerting to think that around the same time Ted Bundy was killing dozens of women, I was a toddler spending weekends with my grandma in his old house."


ted bundy's wanted poster
Bettmann/Corbis / Getty Images

7."I had a run-in not to long ago. A man almost ran into me and looked me dead in the eyes then suddenly laid down on the sidewalk directly infront of me. My initial reaction was trying to help him, but someting was holding me back. I had a real bad feeling about him, so I was stuck in a dilemma of wanting to help him but also having a bad gut feeling about it. Eventually I went my way and felt horrible. But a week later this man randomly killed three woman and injured nine — including a child."

"He just snapped and stabbed them out of nothing, they also say he had a misogynistic motive. So to this day I am grateful I for once didn’t try to help, God knows what he would have done."


8."My mom went on a blind date and got a weird vibe so she ghosted. A few years later he was on the news for killing eight people (his ex-girlfriend and her whole family) before dying himself. She still remembers him talking about this canoe that he made and was proud of and then seeing it his front lawn in the news coverage."


9."My sister used to work as a security guard at a mall in Colorado. When she was just leaving work at 3 p.m. in the afternoon one day, a strange man comes up to her, asking if he can use her phone. She points over to a public phone and tells him he can use that one. He insists on using her phone and when she denied him a second time, he pulls out a gun at her and tells her to drive him somewhere. She immediately gets into the vehicle and drives with him in the passenger seat, having no idea where he is going to direct her. After driving 15ish minutes he then tells her to pull over to the side of the road and proceeds to take her purse, wedding ring, and key to the car and tells her to get in the trunk."

"So she does what he asks. For whatever reason, the trunk was not locked and so while he’s just barely hitting the gas to go, she manages to jump out of the car going about 20 mph. Later, after finding that they guy had smashed the car into the side of the road, the police find him and also find out that he had just killed a 70-year-old man after stealing his money. I don’t know what I would do without my big sister. She’s the light of my life as well as her two beautiful children."


10."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."


closeup of him in court
EUGENE GARCIA/AFP via Getty Images

11."My cousin was at his wife’s (then girlfriend’s) house watching movies one night while her parents were out of town, when suddenly the phone starts ringing. My cousin’s girlfriend goes over and answers it and it’s her uncle asking to talk to her parents. He sounds super freaked out, so she’s asking him what’s wrong. He tells her the police had just left his house. She starts worrying, and pushes a little further. Turns out, her uncle lived in Jeffrey Dahmer’s old home, and he had told the police he had buried some bodies there. So the police go a-knockin’ on his door, and tell him they have to dig in his backyard, and explain why. Of course, he’s already freaked out enough by the idea that he’s living in Jeffrey Dahmer’s old house (he had just recently been arrested at this point), but it was made much worse by the fact that the police really did find some bodies back there."

"My cousin went on to work with some kind of church program, and part of his job was to send bibles to repenting prisoners, and he ended up sending Jeffrey Dahmer a bible because he wished to repent for his sins so that he could go to heaven after he was given the death penalty."


12."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 two 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."


13."Way back when, my boyfriend at the time, myself and a few friends hung out one Saturday. One friend didn’t speak much, just a pretty nondescript 20 year old guy. It turned out that he went to his ex-GF’s house the following Friday on Halloween, stabbed her 34 times and then disappeared. They found his body two weeks later in a forest where he had hung himself. Still in his costume."


14."My grandpa once bought shoes from John Wayne Gacy."


his mug shot
Bureau of Prisons / Getty Images

15."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."


And finally, let's end on a handful of stories where we don't know for sure if these people encountered killers, but it sure sounds like it.

16."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."


17."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."


person saying, let me out get me out of here get me the hell out of here
20th Century Fox

18."I got into an Uber in Florida driven by a really old really big burly guy. Chat starts off normal but then he quickly starts talking about his time in the military. I asked him 'what did you do' and he says ‘I used to jump out of planes and kill people’. Fine, just classic veteran talk right? He then starts talking about in his later years of service he got a degree in psychology and started to do forensic work for the military…AND that he’s always been fascinated in serial killers. He goes on to say he would go back to do a PhD in what makes a serial killer."

"Again, this could all be normal, but he then starts mumbling about how if they had known what makes a serial killer when he was young, that might have helped someone like him…He also dropped a bunch of lines like 'you should know how to kill anyone you meet within 10 seconds' whilst staring at me in the mirror.

He pulled out this huge knife from his glove box whilst driving. It was his ‘alligator skinning knife’. He also made quite a few unsettling comments about women we passed on the road, as if he was fantasizing about them.

I started to get this real fear that he genuinely was a serial killer in his younger days. Florida has quite a few cold cases dating back to the '80s. He was immensely strong for his age, I’m a large guy and I could feel his strength in his hand shake. That plus all the weird fascinations with serial killers...it could all have been PTSD, but I couldn’t wait to get out of that car even though it was broad daylight with plenty of traffic."


19.Last one..."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)."


Have you ever had a run-in with a murderer or serial killer? Let us know in the comments.

Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.