They say only two things in life are certain, death and taxes – New Jersey has plenty of both. Sure, we’re a spectacular state with so much to offer, but we have a few dark spots in our history. Some are slightly spooky while others are truly terrifying. Here are a few New Jersey tales and truths that will give you the chills:
1. We're the birthplace of the Jersey Devil.
VIDEO The infamous Jersey Devil is one of the most well-known mythical (or is it?) creatures in the United States. The legend dates back to the Lenape tribe, but more modern retellings often focus on the Leeds family. (The Leeds home in Leeds Point is pictured.) It is said that the creature was the 13th child of Mrs. Leeds, conceived by the Devil in 1735. Even Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, claimed to have spotted the beast near his Bordentown home in 1820.
2. We're host to the haunted Hindenburg hangar...
The tragic explosion of the Hindenburg in 1937 resulted in the death of 36 passengers and crew. Hangar 1 was used as a temporary morgue and many say it is now haunted. Strange footprints have been reported along with numerous shapes in the sky. The ghost of the Hindenburg itself, perhaps? This tragedy was the most deadly airship disaster in history.
3. The most haunted home in America...
The Seabrook-Wilson House, also known as "Spy House" for its role in the Revolutionary War, has been called the most haunted house in America. Paranormal experts have studied the site and several spirit signatures were detected. A ghost boy and moving rocking chair have been reported, among other haunted happenings.
The information passed along at this former tavern kept Colonial troops in the loop and helped lead to many American victories. Another haunted Revolutionary-era home is Ringwood Manor. French troops were buried on the property and some say you can hear foreign whispers at night.
4. And the infamous Clinton Road.
Another New Jersey spot deemed by paranormal experts as the "most haunted in America" is Clinton Road. Many legends surround the stretch of road including secret KKK meetings, devil worshipers, hellhound sightings, and several ghost stories.
The terror related to this spot isn't all supernatural however. A very real body was found here in 1983, leading to the conviction of Richard "Iceman" Kuklinski, a notorious mob hitman. For more on Clinton Road along with some spooky tales surrounding Shades of Death Road, click
5. Along with dozens more haunted homes, hotels and highways.
The historic Flanders Hotel in Ocean City is possibly the most famous. The hotel's catacombs once hosted covert meetings for crime bosses and there are several spirits said to haunt the premises. Emily, a young red-haired woman, is the most well-known ghost. She supposedly haunts the second floor, and even has a restaurant named after her.
Possibly the coolest thing about this luxury beachfront hotel? You can actually live here! There are several condo units, some priced under $250,000. To learn more about the haunted history of this hotel and others in New Jersey, click
6. The trial of the century.
Before the O.J. Simpson trial, there was the Lindbergh kidnapping. The son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Lindbergh, Jr. was abducted from his family's East Amwell home on the evening of March 1st, 1932. His body was found nearby 2 months later. Bruno Hauptmann was convicted and executed but maintained his innocence.
There are several theories suggesting another man, John Condon, was involved but this has never been proven. The details surrounding the crime are suspicious - there were three ransom notes and a ransom payment made, ties to organized crime were suspected. This disturbing murder led to kidnapping being made a federal crime.
7. The murder of Sigrid Stevenson.
On September 4, 1977, the body of 25-year-old Sigrid Stevenson was found on the main stage of the music hall at TCNJ (formerly Trenton State, shown above), beaten and bloody. It is believed that she attended a show the night before her body was found and she had stayed after to practice the piano. She never left and, according to some, she is still there today. There have been no suspects or leads in her murder and it remains a cold case.
Other horrific murders in New Jersey include the John List murders (he killed his whole family in their Westfield home) and the murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka in Hamilton. This disturbing crime led to the development of Megan's Law and the creation of a sex offender registry.
8. The Devil's Tree.
One of New Jersey's more popular urban legends, the Devil's Tree can be found in Bernards Township. Stories surrounding the tree involve either numerous lynchings or the hanging of a farmer who had killed his whole family. While there is no evidence for either story, the spot is said to be cursed.
It is believed that harm will come to those who disrespect it and, allegedly, snow does not fall around the tree, or melts instantly upon touching it. To learn more about New Jersey's urban legends (some based in fact!) click
9. Our bloodied battlefields.
Many major battles of the Revolutionary War happened here. Hundreds and thousands of soldiers died... but some never left. Pictured is the Old Tennent Cemetery in Manalapan. This historic cemetery was once the host of the bloody Battle of Monmouth. The church acted as a makeshift hospital and both the building and grounds are said to be haunted. As of 2014, blood-stained spots could still be seen on the pews. Some who visit say they can hear screams or smell gunpowder.
10. Our mob murders.
Though we often joke about Jersey's mafia past, our mob murders are far from funny. Our state has seen more than just hitman Richard Kuklinski's crimes (pictured above and mentioned earlier). Abner Zwillman, often called the "Al Capone of New Jersey," mysteriously hanged himself after being called to testify in a mob trial. Though ruled a suicide, defensive wounds cast doubt on this cause of death.
Another murder involves Genovese Family solider Anthony Russo. In 1979, he was shot 3 times inside of his luxury Long Branch apartment, supposedly for having loose lips. Anthony was the inspiration for Sopranos character Salvatore Bompenserio. Prohibition-era mobster Dutch Schultz and several henchmen were murdered at the Palace Chop House in Newark in 1935. The murders mentioned are only just the beginning.
11. The death of a president.
James A. Garfield was shot at Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, DC. What many people don't know is that he survived for 11 weeks after the shooting. During his treatment, he was transported to Elberon, in Long Branch. It was believed that the fresh air at the shore resort would aid in his recovery, but he succumbed to infection.
12. New Jersey's 1916 tragedy inspired the movie "Jaws."
The Jersey Shore shark attacks that summer led to 4 deaths and 1 injury in less than two weeks. A massive shark hunt followed and the widespread coverage of the event led to national interest in sharks, along with their portrayal as menacing creatures. They were previously thought to be fairly harmless. To learn more, click
13. Our asylums are the stuff nightmares are made of.
Every state has asylums, but ours have been the subject of films, television shows and novels. Dr. Henry Cotton, lead psychiatrist at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, was portrayed by actor John Hodgman in the Cinemax drama "The Knick" in 2014.
He was known for incredibly inhumane practices due to his theory that infection caused insanity. He would remove organs without anesthesia and was responsible for dozens (possibly hundreds) of deaths. To learn more about Trenton Psychiatric Hospital's chilling history, click
Which of these stories did you find most terrifying? What other true tales or local legends would you add to this list?