The Legend of the Babysitter and the Phone Call

We’ve all heard that overdramaticblack-and-white-crime-1-1306106 line given in horror movies: “The call is coming from inside the house!” But where did it come from originally?

That trope, seemingly overused today, dates back to the 1950s.

What’s the story?
A teenage girl was babysitting two children. She fed them, tucked them in and left them to sleep in their beds upstairs. While waiting for the parents to come home, the phone rang. Thinking it was them, the babysitter answered it, only to be greeted by nothing but heavy breathing.

She hung up the phone, obviously disconcerted, but it rang again a moment later. She answered it, heard the heavy breathing, then laughter. She hung up again and called the operator, requesting the call to be traced in case he called again.

He did.

After the same heavy breathing and laughter, the call disconnected. A moment later, the operator called to inform the babysitter that the call was coming from inside the house. The babysitter ran outside as the operator called the police.

When they arrived, they found that the children had been murdered in their beds and a man had been waiting for the babysitter to come upstairs so he could attack her, too.

Where did it come from?
On March 18, 1950, 13-year-old Janett Christman was watching 3-year-old Gregory Romack in Missouri. Around 10:30pm, the police received a call from (who they later assumed to be) Christman, screaming hysterically. The connection broke off, however, before they could trace the call.

When the Romacks got home around 1:30am, they found Christman in a pool of blood in their living room. She had been hit over the head with a blunt object, raped and strangled. The coroner also found several punctures in the back of her head, where she had been stabbed repeatedly with an object resembling a pencil.

The main suspect was next-door neighbor Robert Mueller. According to Mrs. Romack, he had expressed an attraction to the teenager and made comments in regards to her mature figure and virginity. Mueller was never charged with the crime, however. It remains unsolved to this day.

How’s it used today?
This is a very common trope in slasher movies today. It is a popular urban legend that can be seen in movies such as When a Stranger Calls (and sequels), Urban LegendScreamThe Ring and so many more.

Whether you’ve heard this story by word of mouth, read it online or saw it in a horror movie, it’s still a terrifying urban legend. The crime on which it’s based is even scarier still.

Let us know what you think in the comments!


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