Local social media "community watch" pages were blowing up this week when a post was shared that made some frightening claims. The gist of the post (that allegedly happened in Laurel) goes like this:

A elderly woman hears what sounds like a little kid crying outside her door, saying something like, "Mommy, mommy, please let me in. I'm cold, why did you leave me out her, please help." The lady - who doesn't have young children - feels like something is off, so she goes to her upstairs window to look outside her door. There, she sees a man at her door holding a cell phone, playing a recording of the distraught child's voice.

Oh no! It's a trick to get you to open the door and let the bad guy in!

path in a dark and scary forest

Hold on just a minute... something seems off.

Whoa! Scary, right?! People were tagging their friends and neighbors left and right. When I came home from work yesterday, my kids were freaked out and couldn't stop talking about it. Obviously, if this were real, it would be quite concerning.

HOWEVER. A quick call to the Laurel Police Department this morning (9/9) confirmed that they have received no reports of anything bearing any resemblance to the alleged incident. Nor have they received reports from any neighboring police agencies. A LPD detective said that he saw a similar post earlier this week, with the spooky scenario supposedly taking place in Billings.

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Photo by Aimee Vogelsang on Unsplash
Photo by Aimee Vogelsang on Unsplash

The crying baby ruse is an urban legend.

When I first read the scary post, I felt something was just a little... off. It turns out the crying child trick is an urban legend that has been circling the internet in various forms since at least 2003, according to Snopes. The Conservationist wrote a great article on why these creepy legends thrive and why they seem so believable. A study noted,

First, people were attracted to stories that contained survival threats and social relationships. They were also likely to pass them both on to another person. Second, and this is more important, urban legends which contained social information, such as that in the cybersex legend, or combined survival information with social information, such as that in the baby-crying legend, were more successfully remembered than those that only involved survival information, such as that in the spider-in-the-hair legend.

Are there creeps out there? Absolutely. We should all be cautious. However, there is absolutely no proof of the crying child trick actually happening anywhere in Yellowstone County.

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