Killer Clowns: The Facts and the Fiction


Ruth Kramer

By Ruth Kramer ’18, Co-Editor-In-Chief

It’s the latest phenomenon terrifying the country. Killer Clowns. As more and more sightings occur across the nation, people are becoming increasingly aware of the scary-faced strangers that could be lurking around their neighborhoods. Unfortunately, these sightings haven’t been just to give people a good scare, but have turned violent and threatening. With one of the latest sightings (and attacks) occurring in Cincinnati, it’s time for the Queen City to address the facts and the fiction of this frightening matter.

In Cincinnati, a woman named Kim Youngblood claims she was outside smoking a cigarette when a man in a clown mask and outfit suddenly grabbed her by the neck. Youngblood goes on to say that this mystery clown threatened not only Youngblood’s life, but also the students at Reading Schools and their teachers; the “killer clown” said that the students and teachers will “wish they were never born.” An alarm went on off in a nearby apartment when the clown fled the scene. Due to the threats, Reading Schools and Mount Notre Dame (which shares a parking lot with Reading High School) were both off the next day. On September 29th, however, an adolescent was arrested in Colerain for threatening the students at Colerain High School the next day. The juvenile used the “killer clown” craze to threaten the school.

These incidences in the Cincinnati area are only the latest occurrences in the killer clown sightings. There have been sightings in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Alabama, New York, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Florida, just to name a few. The sightings of these “killer clowns” seems to have begun in Greenville County, South Carolina. There have been numerous reports about clowns out in the middle of night and creepily staring at the town locals. One women claims that there was a clown standing by a dumpster at 2:30 in the morning and quite a few children have also stated that there were clowns trying to entice them into going into the woods with money. Police have been unable to arrest or even find a single clown in the area, which has left residents of Greenville wondering if these kids and adults were simply making up these frightening run-ins or if creepy clowns were actually stalking the town.

The first visual evidence of these clowns surfaced in Florida, specifically in Marion County. While on a dirt road, a man named Caden Parmelee took a video of a clown that was hiding in the bushes and began to approach Parmelee’s vehicle. The video is cut off before the clown gets too close, as Parmelee quickly rushed to get away from this scary and mysterious individual. Further down the Sunshine State, in Palm Bay, Kelly Reynolds was walking her dog one night when she claims she saw two clowns; Reynolds quickly ran back to her house for safety and reported the sighting. Florida has also seen clowns in Pensacola and Gainesville.

There is no doubt that these sightings have occurred all over the country, but the real question is why? Or how did this trend even begin? This “killer clown” craze actually goes back to New England more than 30 years ago in 1981 when so-called “sinister” clowns started terrorizing the communities, specifically children. These clowns would attempt to bring children into vans using the method of offering them candy. The clown sightings eventually spread west to cities such as Kansas City, Denver, and Omaha. Clown sightings have occurred, seemingly leading up to Halloween, ever since the 80’s. Cryptozoologist (a scientist who studies beings from folklore, such as Bigfoot) Loren Coleman calls this clown craze “The Phantom Clowns” and credits its rise to the fear of clowns that many people, especially children, suffer from. The fear of clowns, professionally called Coulrophobia, affects over 29 million American adults. These “killer clowns” are preying on this fear and there is no better time than right before Halloween. Other reasons that people fear clowns is because of the John Wayne Gacy, otherwise known as the “Clown Killer”, which has left some with an uneasy feeling towards these face-painted individuals. In 1979, John Wayne Gacy was arrested and charged with 33 counts of murder. Gacy would dress up as what he called “Pogo the Clown” and go to parades, parties for kids, and various events. This is one of the ways that Gacy would meet and create relationships his victims. Clowns (and killer clowns, for that matter) have always been feared; various authors and filmmakers have also played upon it. Stephan King wrote It, a book in which a clown named Pennywise terrifies a town and victimizes children by targeting their fears. This book was eventually made into a film in 1990. In 1982, another creepy clown took to the big screen in the movie Poltergeist in which a creepy clown doll, along with other strange beasts, frightens a family and attempts to kidnap the children. All in all, clowns used to be good entertainment for children’s birthday parties, but are now considered by many to be frightening and forbidding characters straight out of childhood nightmares.

But back to the real issue at hand: what to do about all these clowns? While it’s all fun and games to dress up and scare someone, this trend of “killer clowns” stalking towns is becoming a real, national issue. People are scared, not only for themselves, but also for the children in the communities where clowns have been sighted. Due to the fact that children seem to be harassed more than adults, many parents are fearful that if their kids are out to late, they will meet a dangerous circus character. The fear of not only the clowns, but also of not knowing who these clowns are is gnawing at communities. Is it a coworker, a neighbor, a friend? No one knows, only adding to the terror. The main concern with the “killer clowns” is that eventually someone will get hurt–whether it be a clown or a frightened passerby, it’s impossible to foretell, but many believe that this matter is reaching the breaking point. This scare tactic isn’t a game, it isn’t funny. It’s a terrifying phenomenon that can not end well.