Even if you don’t have a full-blown phobia of mannequins, most people can all agree these life-sized dolls are just a tad bit creepy. Maybe you have even experienced seeing a life-like mannequin in a shopping mall and mistaking it for a real person. Maybe the reason why it feels so unsettling is that fact that it almost seems as though these mannequins could come to life at any moment.
But they are, of course, just big dolls made of wood or plastic. That doesn’t meant people haven’t used them for their own sinister motives.
10. The Mannequin Manhunt
In Louisville, Kentucky, a man named Joe Blades decided that instead of using a traditional scarecrow in his yard, he would dress up a one-armed male mannequin, named “George” with a cowboy hat and and clothes. Blades’ home was on a busy street, so people in the town took notice to the fact that every couple weeks, George the mannequin’s clothes would change, and he would be standing in different poses doing various activities, like beekeeping, weeding the garden, playing the guitar, or painting a picture.
After 25 years of standing in the front yard, someone decided to steal George in June 2018. The citizens of Louisville were devastated. After searching for weeks, and public pleas for George’s return played on the local news, the police finally found George thrown in a ditch. He was returned in Joe Blades, and returned to his post as the unofficial mascot of the town.
9. The Mannequin Murders
In 1980 in Elkridge, Maryland, someone had taken the top half of a female mannequin and covered it in red paint on the navel and breasts to signify slashing wounds. There was a knife lodged in its chest, and someone hung it from a tree 20 feet off the ground in a residential neighborhood. It was the middle of January, so it’s not like this was a gruesome Halloween decoration. Someone took it down after a few days, and no one thought anything of it.
One month later, the body of a 70-year-old woman named Rebecca Davis was found murdered on that same street where the mannequin had been hanged. She was stabbed in the neck several times, and partially buried in her own backyard. Many people believe that her killer hung the mannequin as a symbol of his accomplishment. Later, the same mannequin reappeared on another street nearby. This time, the knife was in the mannequin’s back. Police searched the surrounding woods for evidence of a disposed body, but they only found mannequin legs. They searched for fingerprints, and found nothing.
Since police failed to find the killer right away, they tried to claim that the hanging mannequins had nothing to do with the murders, and that it was just a strange coincidence. Of course, local residents weren’t convinced. Between 1979 and 1989, a total of six women were killed. These earned the nickname “The Mannequin Murders.”
In 1999, police finally believe they found a suspect. A man named Vernon L. Clark worked at a meat processing plant, and would go to bars almost every evening. Everyone knew Clark, because he always stank of rotting flesh from his job, so no one suspected anything when they saw him covered in blood. On the weekends, he made some extra income by doing yard work for elderly women, and he targeted women who lived alone.
8. Love, Hollywood
A woman named Kim Gapol owned a clothing boutique in the center of Pleasanton, California called KJ Couture. Her store window had a blonde mannequin woman displaying her clothes. Someone broke into the store and stole this mannequin from the front window. They left Gapol $200 in cash, along with a note explaining their motives. The note said, “Sorry for stealing your statue. She needs a better home. You should consider better security. Love, Hollywood.”
Gapol figured out that this note was a reference to the 1987 movie Mannequin, where a female mannequin comes to life and falls in love with a young man. In the movie, a character named “Hollywood” is in charge of dressing the mannequins in the department store.
Kim posted a note on the window of her store, asking for the mannequin to be returned. It would seem that whoever stole the dummy decided to end the relationship with the inanimate object, because it was returned back to the courtyard near the store five days later, with a note saying, “Don’t worry. Hollywood was a perfect gentleman.”
Gapol couldn’t figure out if this was some elaborate joke, or if the thief truly did steal the mannequin hoping it would come to life. Either way, she got $200 and her mannequin back, so there was relatively little harm done, aside from the money she spent on improving her security system. However, the police still took this case seriously, and claimed that they were still hunting for the mannequin thief.
7. Killer Instinct
In February 2017, the Las Vegas police discovered two dead bodies of homeless men, and a third who was severely injured in the same vacant lot. They believed that this was the work of a serial killer who targeted homeless people. The police set up security cameras, and dressed up a mannequin in clothes and blankets in the exact spot where the other attacks happened, hoping that it would serve as bait to find the killer. It worked like a charm.
The security cameras captured video of a 30-year-old man named Shane Schindler approaching the mannequin and beating its head with a hammer. He walked away, wiping the hammer with his shirt, expecting it to be covered in blood. Within seconds, the police pulled up and arrested Schindler as he was walking away from the scene. Since they could not prove his previous murders without a confession, he was convicted of attempting to murder the mannequin.
6. Window Shopping
Now, we don’t want to judge anyone for their… unique fetishes, but there is a fine line between acting out your fantasies in a safe space, and breaking the law. A 39-year-old man named Ronald Dotson was sexually attracted to female mannequins. When he saw them in store windows, he just couldn’t help himself. On several occasions, he went back to the store windows at night, broke the glass, and stole the mannequin to bring home with him. He did this over the course of 13 years.
The first time he was caught, police found him in an alleyway behind a bowling alley surrounded by three mannequins dressed in lingerie. The most recent arrest, in 2007, came after he stole a mannequin that was wearing a French maid outfit. He was arrested for breaking and entering, and sentenced to prison for a term that spanned anywhere from 18 months to 30 years.
5. Challenge Accepted
You may or may not have seen “mannequin challenge” videos on YouTube. It was a trend in 2016 that challenged people have to pretend to be mannequins while the song “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane played in the background. Most people do this with large groups of friends during a party. The larger the group, or the stranger the scenario, the more popular their video would become online.
In 2016, a group of young men in Madison County, Alabama decided to do the mannequin challenge in front of a house, staging a gang war. Nearly a dozen men were holding guns and pointing at one another, frozen in the middle of a shootout. Instead of going viral for the reasons they wanted, the police used the video as evidence to get a search warrant to enter the house.
Local law enforcement believed that those guns could have been obtained illegally, or that the video prove that they had violent intent. They arrested a 23-year-old who lived in the home named Terry Brown. They also confiscated an arsenal of weapons, including an assault rifle, two handguns, shotguns, and a bulletproof vest. It turns out that all of these weapons were perfectly legal, and Brown had a license to purchase them all. However, the one thing that did him in was a huge amount of marijuana he kept in the home.
4. The Abandoned White Bodies
The Hsinchu Police force in Taiwan were given a very strange case in April 2018. They had to track down the identities of someone who dumped more than a dozen white mannequins of men, women, and children on the side of the road. To people driving or walking by, they would have seen the frightening sight of human-like limbs scattered on the side of the road.
It turns out that the motive behind this crime was far less creepy than it seems. Their owner was too lazy to dispose of them properly, and decided to dump his unwanted store mannequins on the side of the road. In Taiwan, each mannequin is manufactured with a barcode, so they were able to track down the business owner who purchased the mannequins, and fine him for littering.
3. Nazis on Campus
In recent years, there has been a frightening resurgence of Nazi activity in the United States, and not even college campuses are safe from bigotry and racial violence. Security guards at Colorado State University received an email in 2017 that informed them of a strange object that was thrown in a campus dumpster. It was a mannequin that had been covered in Nazi symbols, but this was far from the first time that evidence of Nazis showed up on campus.
A few months earlier, a Jewish student found an anti-semitic slur written on her dorm room door. The wireless network’s name in the building had been renamed to “Hail Hitler.” Soon after, a noose was hung in the hallway of one of the only black students who lived in one of the dorms, Newsom Hall. Around that same time, a female student posted a photo of herself on Snapchat with a swastika painted on her arm while giving the Nazi salute.
2. Drug Smuggling in Head
A 44-year-old man named Paxton Davis from Bloomington, Indiana was receiving multiple packages in the mail that were sent rushed overnight delivery from Southern California. Each package contained a mannequin head – the type you typically see at a hairdresser’s shop to hold a wig. But inside of these plastic heads were bags of methamphetamine. The meth was worth approximately $75,000 in total.
The criminal should have known that the United States Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS all use drug-sniffing dogs in their warehouses. Police got his address while doing a routine search of the mail, and obtained a warrant to search his property after the packages arrived.
1. Bullying The Dummies
Being a police officer can be stressful, but for one New York officer named Joshua Castro, he took out his frustrations in a very strange way. On one of his days off from work, he found a bunch of plastic mannequins standing in an alleyway.
He began to punch and beat these dummies, making such a scene that the police were called to arrest him. He was charged with criminal mischief, and he didn’t give any rational explanation as to what triggered him to beat up on the dummies in the first place.