The Red Truck

Informant: The subject in question is a 20 year old girl studying screenwriting at USC. She hails from Phoenix, Arizona, while most of her extended family comes from Western Kansas.


This is kind of a story in my family. My dad told me this about my aunt. And uh, I don’t know. It’s weird to know someone who’s had this experience. Especially because I’m fascinated by serial killers. And I have a very personal connection. Okay, anyways. In Kansas in the 1980s there was this serial killer. And he typically strangled… young, to older women who were typically brunette and leaving them out in fields. And there was this one instance where a woman was strangled out in a field and umm her son was found a few, a few, a ways away, frozen to death, and it was assumed that the serial killer took him alongside her. Uh, so my aunt’s husband worked tirelessly on this case. He was a police officer in West Kansas. So my aunt is pregnant. She has a son, her second child. And she goes to Haze, Kansas, to see friends or get shopping done. It’s the metropolis of West Kansas because there’s nothing else. She’s getting ready to leave, 8 or 9 at night. And there’s a gas station right the edge of town. And she’s filling up her car and she notices this red truck out of the corner of her eye. And she pays for her gas and goes on her way. And she’s going down this two-lane freeway, no headlights or anything in complete darkness. And she notices one of her tires is flat and she pulls out to the side of the road and sees her tire, which was fine a few minutes ago is completely flat. And a car comes by, going the same direction as her. She sees it’s the same truck as the gas station. And my aunt gets this weird feeling in the pit of her stomach. And the guy gets out and the feeling gets worse. And then the feeling kept getting worse as he took another step closer. Her son’s next to her. She puts a hand on him, and a hand on her pregnant stomach and starts to play. And all of a sudden, another car comes from the same direction as her. And pulls up. And just as it does. The guy goes back in his truck and drives back the way he came. The car pulls up and it’s her husband. She had no idea that they were in the same town. He was in town on assignment for police work, and he was just heading back and when he saw this red truck, he got a weird feeling of his own and slowed down and they talked about it. And everything was fine, everyone okay but they agreed it was weird. Fast forward a few months and my uncle gets a call, saying we caught this serial killer. Do you want to come in and see him? We’re celebrating. And my uncle comes in and he sees that it’s the same guy from this red truck that he had seen across the highway with my aunt. And who knows what would have happened that night? She did match the profile of the women that had been killed and her son was like the young boy they found. But who knows? That story’s pretty familiar in my family but only when you’re a little older. I didn’t know it till I was older, 16 or so. And I heard it from my dad, who heard it from my sister.
Why did this story resonate with you?
I’m really interested in serial killers and serial killer lore but in a distant way, like that only happens to people I don’t know. And here it was, happening to someone I knew, or might not have known.


This story, a family tale, sits in a very interesting place. Textually, it reads like a classic American urban legend in the vain of “The Hitchhiker”. However, its status as a memorate and its basis in fact give it a chilling degree of realism. As the speaker points out, stories of serial killers can be quite scary but the distant nature of such events makes them seem less likely. However, a story like this proves that these events can and do happen to real people.

Particular notice must be paid to the story’s status as a family story “but only for those of a certain age”. In a way, learning this story comes as a rite of passage. A sense of maturity is bestowed upon any child deemed worthy of hearing this story. To some extent, this story could remove a sense of innocence from a child and show them that terrible, horrible things and people lie a hair’s breadth away from happening at any given point, a valuable lesson for anyone to learn.