The Scariest Real-Life Things That Have Happened On Friday The 13th

Illustrated by: Norah Stone.
This story was originally published on Friday March 13, 2016.

Did you know that Friday the 13th all started with one man, William Fowler?

Fowler was your stereotypical superstitious 19th-century man. He was transfixed with the number 13. He attended P.S. 13, fought in 13 battles during the Civil War, built 13 structures in New York City, belonged to 13 secret clubs, and tried to coordinate all other significant events with the 13th date of each month. Then, one cold Friday the 13th in January of 1882 — at 8:13 p.m. — Fowler rented out room 13 of Knickerbocker Cottage and made his personal obsession public. This would be the first meeting of The Thirteen Club.

The New York Historical Society reports that the event included 13 courses eaten underneath a banner reading “Morituri te Salutamus.” The dark message translates to, “We who are about to die salute you.” What would become a regularly scheduled supper club was headed by Fowler until his death in 1897. He believed that 13 was not just a significant number in his life, but that it was his own lucky number. The mysterious cult eventually dismantled, but the legacy of Friday the 13th lives on.

Fowler loved the number 13 because it brought him unparalleled and unexplainable luck. Today, his fondness of the number has been reimagined as fear. Most people believe the number is haunted and can only result in adverse happenings, not supper clubs. That fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia.

Whether Friday the 13th makes you want to hide under the covers or have your friends over for dinner, like Fowler, these freaky events may prove that there is some truth to those Friday the 13th superstitions.
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Illustrated by: Norah Stone.
Andes Flight Disaster

Many people are reluctant to fly on Friday the 13th, but the Aviation Safety Network (ASN) debunked the superstition by researching the rate of fatal plane crashes on the date and found it was actually lower than the average of the other days of the month. Still, a number of mysterious and tragic plane crashes have occurred on the infamous date.

On Friday, October 13th, 1972, two major plane crashes occurred. One was a large plane was carrying a Uruguayan rugby team. The other, a larger plane flying from Paris to Moscow. The death toll from both crashes was more than 200.

While the Moscow-bound plane resulted in the death of everyone on board, 28 people survived the initial plane crash in the Andes. But they truly had to survive. The plane went down October 13, but the sole 16 survivors were rescued 72 days after the crash. To endure the harsh climate of the mountains, the men did everything they could to survive. This included turning to cannibalism and eating the bodies of the their dead teammates. Their tragic and harrowing story was eventually retold in a book and film, Alive.
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Illustrated by: Norah Stone.
The Black Friday Bush Fires

Weird natural disasters are also known to occur on the 13th. In October of 2006, a blizzard hit Buffalo, NY, leaving 22 inches of snow on the ground. In 1970, a deadly cyclone struck Bangladesh and killed at least 300,000 people.

One particular disaster is remembered in Australia as Black Friday. Over a dozen towns were destroyed and 71 people died from an uncontrollable bush fire in Victoria on Friday, January 13, 1939. The day is memorialized as Black Friday to honor those who died. It is considered the worst bush fire in Australia's history. Over 4 million acres of land in Victoria was burnt.
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Illustrated by: Norah Stone.
Friday The 13th Saga

Our manifested fear of Friday the 13th could easily be traced back to a movie of the same name, which was first released in 1980.

Today, the film franchise has a near cult following dedicated to the murderous plot lines which take place over the course of 24 hours on a fictionalized Friday. A dozen films later, the series is worth $465 million, which can also be converted to an infinite amount of screams and gasps.
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Illustrated by: Norah Stone.
38 Witnesses

The murder of Susan "Kitty" Genovese has gone down as one of the most shocking crimes in history, not only cause it involved the rape and murder of a young girl, but because there were a lot of witnesses. The New York Times reported a total of 38. The crime occurred on March 13, 1964, in Kew Gardens, Brooklyn.

Genovese, 28, was attacked by Winston Moseley, 29, in the middle of a road that was surrounded by apartment buildings with windows overlooking the area. No one called the police or intervened. Interviewed after the fact, the neighbors gave a myriad of excuses as to why they didn't call the police or try to stop the attacker.

These included "I was tired," "I didn't want to get involved," and, "We thought it was a lover's quarrel." The police said that based on the timeline of Genovese's attack (she escaped from him twice, but he returned to stab her twice), there was a chance for her to have been saved.

Moseley recently died in prison at age 81, creating a sort of closure to a case that would later become the center of many psychology classes regarding the perplexing idea of the “bystander effect.”
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Illustrated by: Norah Stone.
Death Of Tupac Shakur

On September 7, 1996, a white Cadillac pulled up alongside rapper Tupac Shakur's car and opened fire into it. He was shot four times and was immediately taken to the hospital, where he quickly lost consciousness. He underwent a few surgeries and was placed in a medically induced coma.

He died on Friday, September 13, 1996.

The last words he said, according to the cop sitting next to him, were, "Fuck you."
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Illustrated by: Norah Stone.
Wall Street Mini Crash

Another freaky Friday in October. In 1989, Wall Street had a mini freak-out following a mini crash. Referred to as Black Friday (again), the Dow Jones market fell nearly 7% in one afternoon.

This particular Black Friday crash is often seen as the start of the recession of that occurred in the early 1990s. The market seems to have had an adverse reactions to Friday the 13th for multiple years, however.

CNBC reports, "There have been five Friday [the] 13ths in March and they have been pretty negative for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index, according to Kensho, a quantitative analysis tool used by hedge funds."
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Illustrated by: Norah Stone.
Freaky Friday

Never forget that the idea of spooky things happening on Friday the 13th also gave us Freaky Friday. Since the others were actually freaky, I thought it best to end this on a positive note.

Freaky Friday, starring none other than Lindsay Lohan, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Chad Michael Murray on a motorcycle, was a pretty terrifying portrayal of the freakiness of Friday the 13th (Who wants to be their mom at 13?!), but also pretty uplifting. (Appreciate your family, y'all.) A quick synopsis for anyone who hasn't seen it: Mother and daughter are polar opposites, until they switch bodies and lives. They walk a mile in each other's shoes and gather a newfound appreciation for one another.

The original Freaky Friday was released in 1976 and starred a young Jodie Foster as the daughter and Barbara Harris as the mother. The takeaway? Don't get in a fight with your mom on Friday the 13th and say, "I wish I could switch places with her for just one day."
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