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Backseat Killers & Ankle-Slashing Gangs


Netlore Archive: Viral warnings about escaped murderers hiding in the back seats of cars and ankle-slashing gang members lying in wait underneath cars for unsuspecting shoppers.

Description: Urban legends
Circulating since: 1999 (Internet version) / 1960s (word of mouth)
Status: False (see details below)

Example #1:
Email text contributed by Karen, Feb. 9, 2000:


A friend stopped at a pay-at-the-pump gas station to get gas. Once she filled her gas tank after paying at the pump and started to leave the attendant inside came over the speaker. He told her that something happened with her card and that she needed to come inside to pay. The lady was confused because the transaction showed complete and approved.

She told him that and was getting ready to leave but the attendant once again urged her to come in to pay or else. She proceeded to go inside and started arguing with the attendant about his threat. He told her to calm down and listen carefully: He told her that while she was pumping gas, a guy slipped into the back-seat of her car on the other side and he had called the police. She immediately became scared and looked out there in time to see her car door open and the guy slip out. (Whew)

The report is that the new gang initiation thing is to bring back a woman's body part. One way they are doing this is crawling under girls/women's cars while they're pumping gas or at grocery stores in the night time. Then they are cutting the lady's ankles to disable them in order to kidnap them, kill and dismember them. The other way is slipping into unattended cars and kidnapping the women to kill and dismember them.

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!!

The message:

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 other individuals in your general vicinity, particularly at night!

Send this to as many girls as you can so your friend will not be the next one.

Ida Williams
LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport, La.
Computer Services Dept.

Example #2:
Email text contributed by C. Downing, Nov. 5, 1999:

I actually saw this on 20/20! Pretty scary.


Subject: Be Careful

I am passing along because I know of a incident similar to this. My girlfriend was getting some gas and when she attempted to return to her car the gas station attendant starting yelling at her and telling her she did not pay yet. When she went back in to argue about having already paid the attendant told her he just wanted to get her back in because he saw someone crawl in the backseat of her car, and that he had already called the police. So it's worth taking to heart.

This is a true story. it has been "ritual" of gang members to take one body part from women as an initiation into gangs. The rule is that is has to be in a well lit area and at a gas station, so be careful. They tend to lay under the car, and slash the female's ankles when she goes to get into her car, causing her to fall and then they cut off a body part and roll and run. They are known to hide behind the gas pumps too, so be careful. It might sound bizarre and gross, but the bigger the body part the higher the initiation they receive.

This information was communicated by a female law enforcement person that works in the South. She has investigated and been called to a number of these scenes. She has also confirmed the following statement below as true and not an internet "hoax."

Please pass these on to as many people you know, mothers, sisters, grandparents, daughters, nieces and friends. The world it seems has become a crazy place to live in, but let's be careful out there and make stuff like this known so we are better protected.

Here is an example of a true case: A gas station attendant yelled at a lady to come back and pay for her gas. If she did not he would call the cops if she tried to drive away (this was right after she had been in and paid for the gas). She returned into the station upset and angry at the attendant, only to realize that he had called the cops after spotting a man roll under her car. She was about be a victim of the above initiation.


It sounds like many gas stations have been informed of this as well and the attendants are on the watch for such activity. You might want to make a copy of this and hand it to the gas stations you frequent.

Analysis: If you saw the 1998 horror film Urban Legend, you ought to recognize both of these tall tales even though they're much less impactful in text form.

"The Killer in the Backseat" is at least three decades old. Folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand reported a variant of it in his first volume of urban legends, The Vanishing Hitchhiker (W.W. Norton, 1981), in which he classified the story as "a teenage horror fiction." As it's typically told, the would-be victim is horrified to find herself being chased by an unknown motorist who, unbeknownst to her, has glimpsed a madman with a knife hiding in the backseat of her car and is actually trying to rescue her.

The "ankle slasher" legend has been grossly embellished in the email version above. To my knowledge, the bit about gang members cutting off women's body parts as an "initiation rite" was never associated with this story until it began circulating on the Internet during the late '90s. Folklorists have tracked the basic scenario — criminals hiding under cars and slashing the legs of female shoppers before robbing them — back to the 1950s. Until recently, the story was usually set in a shopping mall parking lot.

Like most online versions of urban legends, both tales lack the immediacy of a personal recounting while benefiting from the urgency of a "WARNING TO ALL WOMEN, SEND THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!" format.

See also:
The 13 SCARIEST Urban Legends We Know!

Current Hoaxes / Netlore
The Urban Legends Top 25

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