Friday, October 17, 2008
Phantom Clowns Are Back!
They have returned.
In Mysterious America, I detailed the national wave of shadowy 1981 sightings of clowns in vans, trying to kidnap children, from Boston to Kansas City.
The encounters began in May of 1981, in Boston, Brookline, and other Massachusetts communities. By the end of the month, the local newspapers in Kansas City were publishing warnings about "Killer Clowns" said to be after children at bus stops there.
During an era before emails and the Internet, I was able to discover, via my network of correspondents, that a rash of local news articles were appearing across the USA, describing similar abduction scenarios. Although the national newspapers and wire services were totally unaware of the widespread nature of such accounts, the stories were remarkably alike. I called them the "Phantom Clowns."
Repeats of almost identical Phantom Clown encounters have been recorded since 1981. The latest one is now developing in Illinois.
The reports coming from Chicago have even been tied to a Wicker Park, which has a symbolic name linked to New York City's Son of Sam killings of 1976-1977. In letters to the media, the serial killer signed himself as "The Wicked King Wicker" and allegedly shoot a Wicker Street German shepherd.
In the October 2008 incidents, a man wearing clown make-up and a wig is using balloons in an attempt to lure children into his vehicle on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. Police issued an alert about a week after a man with a similar description was spotted on the West Side.
The near abductions were reported in the 8300 block of South Mackinaw and the 10000 block of South Normal, according to a community alert by Calumet Area detectives.
The man, who wears clown make-up and a wig, approached children with balloons attempting to lure them into his vehicle, but the children ran and called 911, the alert said.
The man, who wears a clown mask or white face paint with teardrops on the cheek, has approached children walking to and from school, police said. Witnesses told police he was seen driving a white or brown van with the windows broken out.
The attempted kidnapping/child abduction occurred on October 7, 2008, at 5:55 p.m. and October 10, 2008, at 8:55 a.m.
Police on Sunday morning, October 12th, said the sightings have not been concentrated to one specific area and there have been multiple sightings of clowns across the city, according to a Harrison Area Special Victims Unit detective.
One suspect was seen on foot in the Garfield Park neighborhood and near Beidler Elementary School, 3151 W. Walnut St., and Polaris Charter Academy, 620 N. Sawyer Avenue.
Dressed in a multi-colored clown suit with a mask or white face paint, a red nose and a teardrop on his cheek, the man escaped in a van after the failed attempts.
Police elaborated that there have been multiple sightings of clowns across the city, including one sighting in Wicker Park, but there has been no hard evidence leading to a suspect. No arrests have been made.
(Thanks to Christopher Balzano and Richard D. Hendricks for their news tips on the developing Chicago story.)
To undermine any incorrect misunderstandings regarding the rumored origins of the Phantom Clown stories, they cannot be referenced as being "caused" by Stephen King, as is sometimes written.
Stephen King's It (below) terrorized children (as a novel in 1986 and a TV movie in 1990), after I published my notes on the discovery of the "Phantom Clown" wave of 1981 (first in magazine articles and later in my 1983 first edition of Mysterious America).