A recurring fear throughout childhood is that of the monster in the closet and the thing under the bed. What kid hasn't ever had a Boogieman lurking there in the confines of their bedroom closet, peering out at them to scare and torment? While this may seem to lie firmly in the realm of overactive imaginations and dark child fantasies, what if there is something more to it? What if the closet monsters are real? Some scattered accounts seem to suggest that there may just be more to this all than childhood fears and imagination, and show that maybe something is in there after all.

Stories of strange things in the closet come from all over and take many forms. One account from 1952 seems to involve some sort of imp or gnome, which would come out of the closet at night to terrorize a young boy named Dan Bortko, of Wyandotte County, Kansas, in the United States. The family had moved to a two-story home on a rural farm property in Liberty, Mo. complete with a barn, and from a very young age Bortko claims he frequently saw a small humanoid about 3 feet tall and fully decked out in German lederhosen and with a smoking pipe, lurking about their house, often appearing in his room at night, and frequently stepping out of the closet. The creature would often stand there looking at him before smiling or winking and disappearing through the closet. Bortko also said that he would often look outside his window at night to see “little people” congregating out around the barn. He once drew a picture of the one he had seen up close, and it was so frightening to his little brother that he would cry whenever he saw it. Bortko would say of his first encounter with the creature:

I had just awakened form a nap and was rubbing my eyes and saw what you would call a troll. I’ll call him a troll because that’s what he reminded me of. It was an old man with a long beard, large nose, about three feet tall standing at the foot of my bed. And I was astounded.

It is unclear whether this thing was merely hiding in the closet or using it as some sort of doorway into this world, or even whether this was all just the figment of a young boy’s overactive imagination, but it is quite creepy nevertheless. If it was real, then what was it? Could it have been some inter-dimensional anomaly, some being from another reality? It is hard to say, but there are other reports of strange entities that seem to defy categorization that have been reported lurking in closets as well.

One account comes from True Ghost Tales, and concerns a creature that really defies easy classification. The witness claims that when she was just a girl she had been watching TV in the living room with her mother when they heard her father start frantically screaming for help from elsewhere in the house. They tracked the source of the screaming to the witnesses’ own bedroom and found that the door was locked tight, which was odd considering it was just a plain doorknob with no lock to begin with. They stood there struggling with the mysteriously jammed doorknob while the father shrieked and shouted from within. At the time they thought he was having some sort of breakdown, as he was an alcoholic and had been drinking heavily that night, however, when they finally forced the door open they were to find it was something altogether more bizarre. The witness says of what they saw in that room thus:

My mom struggled for a few minutes trying to open the door. Finally she managed to open the door and we saw my father up in the air like if he was hanging from something then a few seconds later fell feel down. He was so scared that he sounded sober, he told us to get away from there and he ran as far away from my room, when we saw my dad he seemed almost pale looking, he had scratches on his chest as if he got into a fight or something. My mom asked him “What happened to you”? Are you Ok? The only thing that came out of my father’s mouth was, “THE DEVIL, the devil was trying to take me away with him.” At first I thought my dad was only saying that to scare me but he was serious about it, he said that the devil wanted him and was trying to bite his neck. I thought to my self, it sounds more like a vampire than the devil to me, why would the devil want to bite his neck anyways?

The scared family retreated to the living room, where they eventually fell asleep, and the next day the father explained that when he had been in the girl’s room he had seen the closet door open by itself and heard a man’s voice issue forth from the darkness beyond before the incident, after which something dark had emerged and he blacked out. He took them to the room so that they could take a look at the closet, and this is where things get even stranger still. The witness says:

We all went to my room then my dad opened my closet door and we saw this figure of a man standing inside my closet as if it was asleep, its arms were on his chest and he was all black, with long finger nails and he had wings. The weird thing about all this is that a few day later I saw it in my room. I was watching TV in the living room. We had the hall light on so that way it could reflect light into my room, but that night the light only reflected half way. I saw a dark shadow standing in the middle of my room, then he took his hand out and started moving his index finger asking me to come to him with his reddish yellow eyes. I was so scared that I couldn’t move at all. I was screaming for my parents but they couldn’t hear me at all, how could this be they were ten feet away from me? Anyway when I turned my head back to see him he was already next to me. All he did to me was he had lifted me up and he kissed my forehead and my neck, then he left, just like that. We never say IT again, but sometimes when I’m in the dark I feel like someone is there with me.

What could this thing have possibly been? Was it a vampire, a demon, a ghost, something else? It is interesting that the whole family seems to have witnessed it, so it seems beyond just a hallucination or overactive imagination. On the site Phantoms and Monsters there is another account from 2009 of some sort of menacing beast in a closet. The witness claims that he woke up one night suddenly at around 3 AM, and found that he was covered in sweat and overcome with an inexplicable cold fear that was overwhelming in its intensity, although his brother was still sleeping soundly. There also seemed to be a heavy sense of someone there looming near the bedroom’s rather large walk-in closet, and the witness would say of what happened next:

I looked around in my room hoping to see my mom watching over us from the door way of the closet (I don't know why I thought it would be her but I did). Since our nightlight was on I could see things pretty clearly. I looked to my left to see a tall figure in our closet, it had an oval like head with small eyes and appendages hanging from it's face almost like a scruffy beard but it made more sense that it would be some type of structure. It looked over the both of us up and down. At first I thought it was my mind playing tricks on me, since I could be very imaginative but what snapped me out of this is when it pushed some of the clothes hangers out the way and the fact that the window was open. It's skin looked rough and pasty almost like it was in a sauna for two years. It caught a whiff of me being awake and almost immediately I lost consciousness and control over my body. All accounts that were had from that night had not been fully remembered the following morning. Besides the fact that my sheets were in my closet instead of on my bed.

Again, we are left here with a case that seems to be so bonkers that it is beyond an easy explanation. Just what was this thing and why would it be in that closet? Outdoing even these outlandish encounters is another one reported on Phantoms and Monsters, this time by a witness who had just about the strangest thing you could imagine come out of his closet when he was a boy, in around the year 1980. The witness, who claims he is now a paranormal researcher, says that when he was very young he had been trying to get to sleep in the room he shared with his brother, and again this was a room with a big walk-in closet. As he was lying there the closet door began to open by itself, and the witness claims:

One night as I was trying to get to sleep (my brother was already asleep), the door opened and I know this sounds crazy, but out came Big Bird (of the children’s show Sesame Street). I remember being frightened at first, but others came out too and they were very friendly and led me into the closet with them. All I remember at this point is that Big Bird gave me a flavored chap stick (most likely to ease my fear because I loved chap stick), and they brought me back to my bed. I went to sleep very happy over the whole experience and was not afraid anymore. I put the chap stick under my pillow after taking a tiny nibble leaving my teeth marks just to see if it was still there in the morning. The next morning, I checked and low and behold the chap stick WAS there, JUST like I remembered, and at that moment I knew for a fact it was not a dream. If it were not for that chap stick the experience probably would not have stayed with me all these years. I tried to tell my brother, but he laughed it off, as anyone would, it sounds totally crazy. Now, after reading the other accounts of similar experiences, I am wondering if it was an abduction disguised as a friendly interaction.

What in the world? Big Bird? The witness gives an interesting observation, in that he believes it might have been an alien abduction, with the entities taking a form that would seem nonthreatening to a child. This is a feature of some abduction cases, with the beings allegedly able to either shape shift or manipulate perceptions in order to take the form of whatever will best serve their purposes in the eyes of the abductee. Is that what was going on here? How else could we explain an actual character from a children’s show emerging from a darkened closet? It could have been just the imagination of a child, but the fact that the witness remembers it so vividly all of these years later is notable.

Other reports seem to follow a pattern more akin to a traditional haunting, although focused on closets. From Your Ghost Stories comes a reports of just such an experience, from the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The witness claims that as soon as she moved out of her grandmother’s house, where she had lived for some time, she began having extremely vivid dreams of a “spirit or demon” in the closet of the room in which she had stayed. She says that she had never had these menacing dreams while she had lived there, and that they had only started after she left, as well as growing steadily in intensity. She claims that the house had always been haunted, and says of what happened next:

We just recently moved back in October. Now, I've always known this house was haunted. Everyone has. I have had so many different experiences. (For another story I assure you.) Everything seemed fine and normal. The house is old, it creeks all night long. You hear someone calling your name. For me, it is "Belle..." Nothing unusual. I walked passed the room I used to sleep in, now my uncle's room, the other day, and I instantly felt watched. Chills ran down my spine. I felt in so much danger. I quickly scurried down the stairs and forgot about it not to long after.


I would walk by all the time (it's en route to my room). Every time I walk by, the door creeks open. Even if it is shut the whole ways, it takes force to open that door. I was carrying my cat from my room to the living room with me one morning last week. As we walked passed my uncle's room, a deep, low, frightening growl came from my cat, then she hissed the meanest hiss, as she kept her eyes locked on the room (the door was wide open, nobody was inside). Recently, my mom has been feeling it too. The door opens slowly when she walks by, and she feels cold eyes watching her.

Another report from the same site is similar in nature, and just as spooky. This report comes from the state of Virginia, from a witness who believes an actual demon inhabited the closet of their master bedroom. The witness claims that odd activity near the closet, including loud bangs and murmuring voices at night, was so intense that he actually put a crucifix up by the closet to try and keep whatever it was at bay and contained. There was even an incident when he says the entity pushed over his young daughter, and it would later lash out at his wife. The witness says of his experiences with the terrifying demonic force in the closet:

It did not take long to figure out that the presence was in a large closet area which adjoined the bathroom and faced directly towards the bed in the master bedroom. The closet area never got natural sunlight and was extremely dark at night. I could feel that something was watching. The crucifix seemed to keep it out of the room but it still stared from the closet. So I did the usual "get out, this is my house," "I command you to leave." I felt that this thing was not going anywhere, that it was not scared at all, it was not moving. Not long after that we found a picture of our children on the floor and it had been smashed in the middle of the frame like something was thrown at it. One night while watching TV my wife left for work and I saw a rather large shadow fly out of the bedroom and out towards the car as she was leaving, almost as if it was chasing her. Not long after that she suffered a stroke and a major car accident, both of which left no lasting injuries.

Was this a demon or just a very powerful spirit? It seems like an interesting detail that the crucifix seems to have had some influence on it, but other than that it is hard to know what to make of this account. In another account from Queenies Paranormal Playhouse, is a report from 2005 from a frightened single mother who had just moved into a duplex in the United States with her young son and niece. Almost immediately, on the very first night, they began experiencing paranormal phenomena, such as the bedroom door opening on its own and the children complaining that “something” had touched their legs as they slept. The witness explains:

The second night of our stay, my son and I were lying down shootin' the breeze in my room. The bedroom door that was cracked half way open had closed, then re-opened. This happened a couple of times, until we finally worked up the nerve to get up and turn on the light. The next night, my son blacked out after having (what seemed to be) a nervous break down about the ghost living in his room and closet. Now, the thing about it, is my son is a big 15 year old, and he does not scare easily! After 20 minutes, he went back to his normal self and cannot remember the incident.That same night, he went to sleep with me, and I woke up to something pulling back and forth on the door knob of my closet.  I screamed, but my son never woke up!


Relatives have said that this place gives them bad vibes, and that sometimes, they can hear people talking. Now it is day 28, and last night, my young nephew and I were sleeping, when suddenly, he woke up screaming. He had jumped off the bed, and the bedroom closet swung open in front of him! But this morning, he can only remember standing in front of the open closet... hearing the high pitched scream of a female. I talked to the people who lived in this duplex before me, and they also lived with this ghost. Even after saying prayers and using holy water, the ghost will not leave! I'm a single mother and it took my savings to move into this place. Unfortunately, it seems we're stuck here for a long time...but this ghost is going to drive us insane!

The United States is not the only place where such encounters have allegedly occurred, and a scary report on Phantoms and Monsters, comes to us from Newfoundland, where the witness claims he lived in the late 1960s at an apartment along a place called Blackmarsh Road. He says that he was 9 or 10 years old at the time, and that he had been living there with his mother, grandparents, and three sisters at the time, and that the road had been rather well known in the area as a place pervaded by ghostly phenomena. He says that although he never actually saw anything ghostly, he sure did hear it, and it seemed to originate from a coat closet in the living room. He says:

Sometimes, due to limited space, I slept on the sofa in the living room. In the living room was a small stove and coat closet. I remember the chimney ran next to the closet. I remember so vividly being woken up between 3-4 a.m. every morning to the sounds of a group of people conversing in the closet. To the best of my knowledge, there were six or seven people. I could not pick out what they were saying, though at the moment I could hear them very clearly. This went on until we moved. I told my mother about this at the time it was happening but, of course, it was dismissed as a child's imagination until many years later.

He says that after he had moved away and grown up, he heard that his grandmother had also had weird experiences with the voices from the closet, and that she had finally managed to banish them by reciting the Lord’s Prayer aloud. This is an intriguing detail, as like the crucifix in the other account it seems to suggest that religious belief has some effect, whether that is from some higher power or because it helps to focus a person’s will against these forces, that is if these forces even exist at all and this is not all tall tales. And this is a question we are left with, are these just tall tales or something more? What are we to make of real reports of our childhood nightmares of Boogiemen in the closet? Are these just delusions or the effects of sleep paralysis? Are they aliens, ghosts, demons, or something else? It is hard to say, but it perhaps gives you something to think about next time you are in your darkened room alone and the closet is open just a crack.

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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