When Tracy heard mysterious sounds from her attic, she worried an animal or even a ghost was up there. After discovering the reason behind the noise, it was worse than she could have ever imagined…
Home Sweet Home
For most people, their homes are a safe haven. Locking the doors, it often feels like we are untouchable from the world around us. It's our private space where we can be away from everyone and everything.
One woman, however, had no idea that when she was locking her door each night, she was closing in her biggest fear alongside her. The place she believed to be her safest spot turned out to be the complete opposite, causing her sleepless nights for years to come. This is her shocking story...
Meet the protagonist of our story: Tracy, her last name unknown for privacy reasons. Life had never come easy for Tracy, as she constantly battled the challenge of being a single working mom. With five children to care for on her limited nurse's paycheque, she struggled to make ends meet.
Tracy lived with her family in Rock Hill, South Carolina. While her children were adults at this point, they had decided to move back in with their mother in an attempt to share the living costs and home tasks between them. As chaotic as this living arrangement was, they lived a happy, relatively peaceful life - for now...
Where It All Began
One day, as if out of nowhere, a noise from the attic interrupted Tracy while she was enjoying a relaxing afternoon at home. Instantly, the mother of five began to panic, immediately fearing the house had been broken into. She was alone in the house and worried she would be unable to defend herself against an intruder.
Tracy's family lived in a poor area, and there were many incidences of burglaries and petty crimes. For this reason, residents were encouraged to lock their windows and doors at night to keep safe. Tracy searched her home thoroughly and was relieved to see no signs of a break-in. So what was causing the noise?
As happy as Tracy had been to see no signs of a break-in, she was still concerned about the cause of the noise. While she tried to tell herself it was just regular house noises, wear and tear of age, the sounds continued to get louder and more frequent. There was no doubt something was up there.
Recalling the situation to her children, they did not believe her. "You're getting old. You're hearing things. You're crazy," they would tell her. But Tracy was convinced she did not imagine it. "I kept hearing a bumpin', thumpin' noise. It was either something or somebody was in the attic," she told ABC News.
A Dark, Empty Room
For Tracy's family, the attic was not a place they frequently visited. Used predominantly as a storage room, they kept things in there they had long forgotten about. It was a dark and cold place, so Tracy was confident that it wasn't a member of her family playing around up there.
Telling herself that going to the attic to explore herself was the last resort plan, Tracy began drawing up as many theories as possible. Perhaps it was an animal or maybe a supernatural force of some kind. There was no path she was unwilling to go down. She needed answers.
Finding the Source
More motivated than ever to find the noise source, Tracy began monitoring the sounds. One thing she had not noticed before was that the sounds seemed to be dynamic, moving in line with her movements through the rooms. Something was alive up there - that she knew for sure.
Realistically, considering the area, there were only a few animals it could be - a possum or a raccoon. Tracy knew she would need animal control to take care of it. But as it was Saturday, she would have to wait till Monday to give them a call. Until then, she would wait it out…
A Turn for the Worse
Tracy was confident she could handle having the suspicious animal up there for just two more days. After all, she had survived up until that point. However, later that night, while the woman lay in bed, things took a turn for the worse - and Tracy began to fear the worst.
Now 2:30 in the morning, the noise had grown stronger and was definitely coming from directly above her bedroom. She tried to get back to sleep, telling herself it was just a disturbed animal, but the mysterious creature had other plans. It was not looking to be ignored any longer.
For the past few days, the sounds had been a soft tapping. On this night, while Tracy lay in bed, she heard a new sound - something that resembled things clattering onto the floor of her room. Fighting every alternative instinct in her body, she reached out of bed to look around.
As soon as she peered over, she gasped. Despite the darkness, there was no doubt that it was nails there all over the floor. She was sure they had fallen from the ceiling, which meant they had come from the attic. What had caused it to dislodge? It was unlikely a raccoon could have done so.
With the wild animal theory seemingly out of the question, Tracy grew increasingly paranoid. She let her mind wander to the scariest of places, believing it could be a supernatural force causing the disruptions. "I believed there was some poltergeist stuff going on," she told ABC News.
She knew she sounded crazy, but she had exhausted all other options by this point. Until this incident, Tracy hadn't thought she believed in ghosts and supernatural creatures, but now she had convinced herself they were as real as ever. She felt like she was losing her mind.
Planning an Investigation
Lying under her bed covers and fearing an imminent attack from the mysterious force, Tracy knew she had reached her limit. It was time for her to find some inner strength and investigate the matter seriously. There was no way she could continue to live her life in fear.
Giving herself a reassuring pep talk, she made a promise to head up to the attic as soon as the light of day shone through. Going up into the dark, gloomy attic was scary enough as it was; she didn't need the darkness of night to add to the spookiness.
By this point, Tracy's adult kids had been around the house enough to bare witness to some of the noises. While they weren't necessarily that concerned, they were not going to let their mother venture into the attic alone. They were going in on her behalf...
Before they climbed into the unknown, Tracy briefed her sons and nephew on her theories. There was no evidence of a human intruder, but the sound also seemed too strong to be coming from an animal. Her children laughed when she suggested a poltergeist, but deep down, they feared what they would find.
The Suspicious Smell
Tracy held her breath as the men carefully climbed the ladder into the attic. She stood below, observing them and inquiring what they could see. Within seconds of being in eye view of the attic, the boys were stunned into silence. What was it they had found?
But it wasn't something they had seen that had stopped the men in their tracks; it was an overwhelming stench that had hit them upon entry. Once they regained themselves, they were able to look around at the situation around them. What they saw made them audibly gasp.
Garbage lay scattered all over the attic, releasing a toxic smell Tracy's sons had never smelt before. Crawling around, they were shocked by what they found. Why were there old jackets piled up in the corner by the heater? Tracy had stored her unworn clothing there, but she was confident she had left them neatly in a box.
Following the jackets and garbage like a trail of crumbs, the men were confident it would lead them to something more. Something or someone had to be behind all of this mess; they were sure of it. Walking towards the corner of the attic, they jumped in shock when their greatest fears were confirmed. They were not alone.
The Startled Intruder
A man was sound asleep among the pile of jackets and blankets alongside the heater. At this point, Tracy's sons were unable to identify the unwelcome attic resident, and they had no idea if he would be armed or dangerous. They tread carefully around the stranger, trying to find out more without waking him.
Unfortunately, their footsteps woke the man, who jumped up instantly and stared at the shocked men. After a one-minute stand-off, the attic visitor bounced into action, running off toward the attic door. Tracy's sons had missed their chance to pin the man down due to his speed. Who was he, and what was he up to?
Nowhere To Hide
For the duration of this mysterious reaction, Tracy had remained in the hallway below the attic door. She had received no updates from her sons so far, and she was beginning to grow concerned for their wellbeing. Just when she decided to go up and check on them, she screamed out in shock.
In a flash, the mysterious attic man ran out of the attic, straight past her, and out of the house. Shoving her out of his way, Tracy very briefly looked into the eyes of her unwanted guest. To her utter surprise, she realized this man was not, in fact, a stranger - she knew exactly who he was.
Alerting the Police
Going into fight mode, Tracy frantically called the police for help. The man had run off so fast, the family knew they wouldn't be able to catch him on their own. When the police arrived, she told them what she knew. Most importantly, she was able to report the man's name...
Tracy and her intruder went back twelve years to the day Tracy hired him as a handyman in the house. What started out as a professional relationship soon developed into something more, and the pair began to date. After a year, things came to a crushing end when Tracy discovered some horrifying details about her boyfriend.
A Dark Past
After learning about her partner's dangerous past, Tracy felt it was no longer safe for her to be with him and decided to let him go. The man was not happy with this decision, attempting to win her back with a range of romantic gestures. Repeatedly, she told him it was "a lost cause."
Tracy enjoyed the man's company, but once she became aware of his criminal past, she could not let him be around her then-young children. He had started out using illegal substances, and this had led him into a dangerous crowd who encouraged him to rob a flower shop. He wasn't the man for her.
As content as Tracy was with her decision to end the relationship, her ex-boyfriend was unwilling to give up. However, rather than use the separation as an opportunity to work on himself and improve his behaviors, the man fell deeper into a life of crime.
Eventually, his actions caught up with him, and Tracy's ex-boyfriend landed himself in jail. Hearing this news, Tracy breathed a sigh of relief as a physical barrier had been set between them. She was free to live her life, unfearful of his sudden reappearance. Or so she thought...
Out for Revenge
As soon as the man was set free, it was clear he had not used his time behind bars to repent for his sins. On the contrary, he had used his spare time to draw up a new plan to exact his revenge on Tracy - the woman who broke his heart. He headed straight over to his ex-girlfriend's house and stole her car.
Despite the uninterrupted hours at his disposal, the man's plan was not foolproof. Immediately after the car disappeared, Tracy reported the incident, and her ex-boyfriend was caught. Landing himself back in jail, he chose to spend this time writing and sending apology letters to Tracy. "I'm a changed man," he assured her.
The Perfect Hiding Spot
With the man behind bars, Tracy felt no calmer. His crimes would not lock him up for a long time, and it was a matter of time until he returned to her home. When she heard a rumor that he was moving to another town 40 minutes away, she couldn't believe her good fortune.
Unfortunately, that rumor was nothing more than a fabricated lie by Tracy's ex-boyfriend, an attempt to throw her off the scent. While Tracy let her guard down, the man attempted to win her back one last time. This time he moved closer to her than she could have imagined - he had moved into her attic.
After the police had visited Tracy's home and heard her story, a mass search began in an attempt to pin down the criminal. With the descriptions she had provided, they were hopeful it would be an easy task. The man, however, was familiar with the area, and he was able to outsmart his hunters by hiding.
To Tracy's disbelief and horror, the police returned to her home empty-handed. They had been unable to find him and decided they would focus their efforts on the evidence at the scene for now. There were many questions that needed to be answered. How long was he living there, and how did he get in?
The Crime Scene
Walking around the attic and looking at each item closely, the police were able to draw some sensible conclusions about the man and his crimes. According to their predictions, he had been living there since his jail release, around two weeks before the discovery.
What shocked them the most was the extensive build-up of plastic cups scattered around the man's temporary attic home. The smell alone made it abundantly clear he had been using them as a makeshift bathroom. But all of this was nothing in comparison to what they found next...
To the police's utter surprise, they discovered that the man had not just been using the attic to live close to Tracy. It was no coincidence that the spot on which he was sleeping lay directly above Tracy's bedroom. It was all part of his plan to keep tabs on Tracy at all times.
After examining the floorboards and air vents, the police understood that the man had moved them around to give him the perfect view of Tracy in her bedroom. Unbeknownst to her, he had been up there peeking through and watching her sleep, dress, and relax.
Processing the News
It was a horrifying reality for Tracy to deal with. Yes, it was slightly comforting they finally had some answers, but they were not the most comforting findings to process. This man had been so obsessed with her that he had taken up residence in her home, stalking her all this time.
"It's got me flabbergasted. How can you look at someone through an air vent?" she told ABC News. Tracy also blamed herself for the entire incident, knowing she had been the one to invite the man into her home all those years ago. In her mind, she was the one who had put her family in danger.
Through all of these revelations, one question remained on everyone's mind: how had the man entered the attic? As far as Tracy knew, the only way to enter the attic was through a door that was located between her children's bedrooms. She hated the thought he had been so close to them.
To confirm what Tracy had told them about the attic entrance, the police searched the entire house, looking for alternative ways he could have entered. Unfortunately, she had been right - there was no other entry point. She prayed he had walked through when they were out and not while they were sleeping.
In reality, it would not have been hard for the man to enter Tracy's home undetected. Her job as a nurse meant she worked long hours at the hospital, sometimes even twelve hours at a time. Her adult children were also out most of the day at college or work.
However, while no one would have been home to report his entry, Tracy and the police were still confused about how none of the neighbors saw him enter in broad daylight. They all confirmed with the officers that they had seen no suspicious activity over the past few weeks.
Race Against Time
The fact that Tracy knew her intruder was a double-edged sword. While it felt awful to be betrayed in this way by someone she already knew, it also meant she had more accurate details to hand over to the police. With his name and description in their records, there was much hope he would be found.
Despite the police's optimism, Tracy felt highly anxious, desperately wanting her intruder to be found and locked away. "I want him to be charged with it," Tracy insisted. "It could be somebody else he does the same thing to, but she might not be so lucky."
Until he was officially charged, Tracy believed she and her family would not get a good night's sleep. Knowing they had unknowingly had an intruder in their attic, they were left shaken and paranoid. Every time they heard a noise, they worried that he had returned and feared for their safety.
The place that used to be their home, their haven, now felt cold and dangerous. Tracy's children no longer felt comfortable sleeping in their beds, given their proximity to the attic, and moved their mattresses out into the hallway. There were many sleepless nights in Tracy's home.
Making His Return?
The fact that Tracy's ex-boyfriend had successfully entered the home undetected greatly concerned the family. If he had done it once, who's to say he couldn't do it again? After all, they all knew it was a matter of time until the police began to give up on finding him.
On the other hand, the police comforted Tracy's family by telling them the unlikeliness of this happening. In their experience, criminals rarely return to the site of the crime, in fear of being caught and taken to jail. With the man still not found, Tracy clings onto this comforting theory.
As demonstrated, the effects of this man's intrusion had long-term psychological impacts on Tracy's family. Although they try to get on with their lives and push it to the back of their minds, the trauma will understandably stay will them for years to come.
For them, their only hope of really moving on lies in the capture of their intruder. As for the rest of us? We'll be locking our doors extra tight and investigating closely every noise our house makes. After this story, we've learned that perhaps one can never be too cautious...