Real StoryUnsolved Crime

Ruthie Mae McCoy – TERRIFYING TRUE story that inspired Candyman

Secret Room Behind Bathroom Mirror: Ruthie Mae McCoy’s Murder

Amidst the tranquil enclaves of Chicago’s public housing during the late 1980s, Ruthie Mae McCoy grappled with adversities unfamiliar to many. Regrettably, her narrative, abbreviated prematurely, emerged as an unforeseen catalyst sparking vital discussions surrounding public housing and mental health.

Today’s story inspired a popular horror movie, and when you get to the reveal in this story, you’ll understand why it is literal nightmare fuel.

On a day in early January of 1987, a very strange 52-year-old woman named Ruthie Mae McCoy walked out of her 11th-floor apartment in Chicago, Illinois. Today was the day that Ruthie was going to be doing one of her self-appointed public duties.

Ruthie's Neighborhood in Chicago
Ruthie’s Neighborhood in Chicago

Ruthie was quite tall, and this particular day she had on two pairs of pants with a dress over them. She also had her favorite long stick she was carrying. And as Ruthie marched down the hallway, she began jiggling each of her neighbor’s doorknobs to see if they were unlocked. And then, in between each doorknob check, she would suddenly stop and wave her stick around like it was a sword, and she was fighting off some unseen attacker.

Ruthie Mae McCoy
Ruthie Mae McCoy

And so, after Ruthie Mae McCoy had checked four doors in a row that were all locked, she reached the fifth door. And when she tried the doorknob, it was unlocked. And so, without any hesitation, Ruthie pushed the door open. She stepped inside and began yelling, ‘Hey, look at me, I’m inside of your apartment!’

The woman who lived in this fifth apartment was in her kitchen making dinner at the time. And when she looked up and saw Ruthie barging into her apartment, she wasn’t scared; she was just totally annoyed. She rolled her eyes and then began yelling at Ruthie to get out now.

But as always, Ruthie didn’t listen. And before long, Ruthie had moved from the door frame into the apartment, into the kitchen, where she was waving her stick around wildly and berating this young woman for leaving her front door unlocked in this very dangerous apartment building.

The young woman yelled at Ruthie Mae McCoy a few more times to try to get her to just leave. But Ruthie didn’t budge. And so, eventually, this young woman picked up the phone and called 911. It would turn out the 15-story apartment building that Ruthie and this young woman and all of their neighbors lived in was indeed a very dangerous place to leave your front door unlocked.

Ruthie's Apartment Building
Ruthie’s Apartment Building

In fact, at the time, in the late 1980s, this particular apartment building was considered to be one of the most dangerous places in all of Chicago, with a murder occurring there nearly every week. Gangs basically ruled the building, which was totally falling apart and totally decrepit and had these long dark hallways that thieves and killers could hide in.

The Building's Hallway
The Building’s Hallway

And so, Ruthie wasn’t wrong in trying to get her neighbors to keep their doors locked. But her very hands-on approach to delivering this message was never met with appreciation from the people who lived on her floor. Instead, her neighbors viewed Ruthie as potentially more hazardous than anything Ruthie was trying to protect them from.

However, in reality, Ruthie Mae McCoy was not a threat to her neighbors. She was just totally mentally unstable and basically afraid of everything. For example, whenever Ruthie got mail, she would just assume that it was terrible news and most likely about someone coming to take all of her money.

And when Ruthie was out in public, which was quite rare, she was so scared of strangers that whenever she passed them, she would just yell out obscenities at them to keep them away.

Ruthie Mae McCoy
Ruthie Mae McCoy

And then also, when Ruthie Mae McCoy was in public, she never ate because she was afraid strangers were going to literally run up and take her food. So, back inside of this fifth apartment that Ruthie has barged into, Ruthie was busy berating this young woman about her unlocked door when the police did finally show up. And they dragged Ruthie out of the apartment into the hall.

The police, by this point, knew Ruthie really, really well, and they were not about to arrest her. They knew she was harmless but just kind of out of her mind. And so, like they always did in this situation, they told Ruthie to leave her neighbors alone and just go back into your apartment and mind your own business.

And Ruthie Mae McCoy usually would mutter something under her breath about needing to increase the security in this building. But she would eventually do as she was told, and she would go back home. And that was basically Ruthie’s life in a nutshell: constant fear and paranoia from living in this totally dangerous apartment building, exacerbated tenfold by her very poor mental health.

But Ruthie Mae McCoy was not content with her life. She, like virtually everybody else in this high-rise apartment building, wanted to get out and live somewhere else and have a better life. But Ruthie, like virtually everybody else living in this high-rise apartment building, did not have enough money. And so, she was trapped there.

An Apartment Unit In The Building
An Apartment Unit In The Building

But then, in February of 1987, so one month after busting into that woman’s apartment, Ruthie got incredible news. She had recently begun going to a day program for psychiatric care at a local hospital, and the staff there had really taken a liking to her. And they were going above and beyond trying to help Ruthie kind of get her life together beyond just her mental health.

And so, one of the things they were doing with her was helping her apply for various government programs like disability payments. And so, that month in February, Ruthie found out that the application they had sent off for her was approved.

And so, Ruthie was entitled to disability payments, which meant right away she would get a check for two thousand dollars. And then every month going forward indefinitely, she would get a payment. It wouldn’t be two thousand dollars, but it would be a lot of money.

Ruthie Mae McCoy was beside herself; she could not believe her luck. And she now knew that with this money, she would finally be able to move out of that terrible apartment. Even before the money began coming into Ruthie, she was already looking for a new place to live.

And as she did this, all she could think about were her two beloved grandchildren, a little boy and a little girl. They were the only people in the world, it seemed to Ruthie, that really accepted her and just loved her unconditionally.

Ruthie's Apartment Building
Ruthie’s Apartment Building

And so, whenever Ruthie Mae McCoy would go visit her grandkids, the three of them would sit on the ground and just play together for hours and hours. But to that point, Ruthie’s grandkids had not been allowed to visit Ruthie at her apartment because it was too dangerous. But now that Ruthie was going to move into someplace much, much safer, she knew that was going to change. She was going to see her grandkids so much more often. And this made Ruthie so happy.

Ruthie's Apartment Building2
Ruthie’s Apartment Building

And this newfound happiness inside of Ruthie Mae McCoy really motivated her to start looking at other aspects of her life and see if she could improve them. As Ruthie is doing this new apartment search, she began taking classes to finally get her High School degree. She began picking up these old art projects she had kind of blown off. Also, most importantly to the story, she really began leaning into her religion, something she had not been doing for a long time. Specifically, she became tuning in to these very animated preachers that she would find on TV.

A 1980s Televangelist
A 1980s Televangelist

When she really liked one of them, she would write them a letter. In this letter, she would praise them for their sermons and how incredible they were. She would ask them to bless her with Miracles, and these Miracles were often just centered on her health.

She wanted to look and feel young again. Some of these TV preachers, who were actually just running scams, would write back to Ruthie and say, “Of course, we can bless you with your Miracles, but first, send us some money.”

And so, when Ruthie’s disability payments began coming in, even though she needed to save every penny to be able to afford moving out to start this beautiful new life with her grandkids, she still found a way to set aside some of that money and sent it off to these TV preachers.

Soon, these preachers were sending things back to Ruthie, things like a blessed piece of wood for her to sleep on or bottles of water said to be from the holy River Jordan. These spiritual items were often accompanied with a letter from these preachers telling Ruthie that in order for them to fulfill her Miracles request, she would need to keep these spiritual items close to her and also send us some more money.

So Ruthie Mae McCoy did as she was told, and after sending off all this money, she would excitedly wait inside of her apartment for her miracles to come true. And while she waited, she began tacking up all these newspaper articles all over her apartment of these people who Miracles had happened to them, that supposedly God had fixed their teeth or eradicated a tumor in their brain or cured them of cancer.

In all of these stories, the person who the miracle happened to would describe looking in the mirror one day and just looking different, and that was the moment they knew that this miracle had occurred. And so, Ruthie Mae McCoy, believing this was bound to happen to her any day because she was working with these TV preachers, began going to her bathroom mirror all the time and just looking at herself, looking for some visible change in her appearance that would indicate one of her miracles had come true.

But by April 22nd, roughly a month after finding out she was going to be receiving these payments and about two weeks before she was set to actually move out into her new place, Ruthie had still not seen any sign in the mirror that she had changed. And so, she believed these miracles had not happened yet.

But something else had begun happening when Ruthie was in the bathroom looking at herself in the mirror, and that was she would hear somewhere off in the distance the sound of someone talking to her. It was almost like they were whispering to her, but she couldn’t quite tell what they were saying.

Now Ruthie Mae McCoy wanted to believe that these disembodied voices had something to do with her miracles coming to fruition, but Ruthie was naturally a very paranoid and scared person. She couldn’t help but be a little bit scared of these voices.

And so, that afternoon when Ruthie was on the bus headed back home after a doctor’s appointment, she told a friend on the bus about these strange whispers she was hearing. Ruthie would also say that she felt like these whispers meant that somebody was out to get her.

Now Ruthie’s friend knew Ruthie really well, and this just wasn’t unusual behavior for Ruthie. Ruthie routinely thought people were out to get her and she talked about hearing voices before in the past. And so, this friend told Ruthie that, “You know, you really should tell someone about this.”

But deep down, this friend was not that concerned. This was kind of normal Ruthie behavior, and this couldn’t be a big deal. However, it would turn out to be a huge deal.

That night around 8:45 PM when Ruthie Mae McCoy was back home at her apartment, she called 9-1-1. When the dispatcher answered her call, Ruthie was in a total panic. She was talking about something to do with the cabinets and with her bathroom and how her neighbors wanted to use her bathroom. The dispatcher just did not understand, and they tried to ask Ruthie some clarifying questions, but Ruthie just could not put together a coherent sentence.

Ruthie's Apartment Building
Ruthie’s Apartment Building

So the dispatcher told Ruthie Mae McCoy that they would send police over right away. Afterward, the dispatcher would put out to the officers in the area that, “Hey, Ruthie McCoy seems to be having some sort of argument with her neighbors over cabinets. I don’t really know, but someone needs to go check it out.”

When the officers got that call, they were not quick to respond. They knew Ruthie; they knew that this was likely nonsense. But 15 minutes after Ruthie Mae McCoy called 9-1-1, 9-1-1 got another call from somebody else inside of Ruthie’s apartment building. They were calling to report hearing loud noises coming from inside of Ruthie’s apartment.

At this, the police did act quickly. They rushed over to the apartment building, went to the 11th floor, went to Ruthie’s door, and they began pounding on her door because it was locked. But Ruthie didn’t come to the door, and it was totally silent inside of her apartment.

So, at some point, the police called back to dispatch and asked them to call Ruthie on the phone she had just used 15 minutes earlier to call 9-1-1.

So these police officers are standing right outside of Ruthie’s door, and they’re listening to the sound of Ruthie’s phone ringing inside of her house, but Ruthie didn’t answer it, and again the apartment stayed totally quiet.

The responding officers turned around and began walking down the hall, knocking on other people’s doors and asking them, “Hey, did you hear any loud sounds coming out of Ruthie’s apartment?” Everybody said no. So the police eventually just kind of gave up and left.

Ruthie Mae McCoy - The TERRIFYING TRUE story that inspired Candyman
Ruthie Mae McCoy – The TERRIFYING TRUE story that inspired Candyman

Despite not seeing Ruthie Mae McCoy, not talking to Ruthie, not seeing what’s going on inside of her apartment, the next day when one of Ruthie’s friends on her floor noticed that Ruthie had not come out of her apartment all day, and when she knocked on the door, Ruthie didn’t answer, this friend called the police.

The police came out again; they knocked on Ruthie’s door, and after a while when she didn’t answer, the police again just left. Ruthie’s friend who had called the police was furious that the police were not taking this seriously.

So she wound up contacting maintenance of the building, and a janitor went up to the 11th floor, went to Ruthie’s door, drilled through the lock, and pushed her door open. The janitor immediately yelled out for Ruthie, but there was no response.

He stepped inside and looked around. Right away, he was struck by two things: one, it was a total mess inside of her apartment, religious books and pamphlets all over the ground. As messy as the apartment looked, it also seemed weirdly empty.

Like there was no TV, no furniture, nowhere to sit. It was almost like this apartment had been half moved out and then whoever was moving it out had just kind of stopped.

The janitor started to get a really bad feeling about being inside of this apartment, but he mustered the courage to walk a little farther into the apartment to look into the bedroom. When he turned the corner and looked into that bedroom, he froze.

There on the ground was Ruthie McCoy. She was lying on the ground in a pool of her own blood; she was dead. The police were called; they came out, walked around to her apartment, and they concluded that this was kind of an open and shut case.

Ruthie Mae McCoy - The TERRIFYING TRUE story that inspired Candyman
Ruthie Mae McCoy – The TERRIFYING TRUE story that inspired Candyman

Ruthie Mae McCoy must have opened her door for the wrong person who came inside and killed her. Remember, this apartment building saw one murder nearly every week, so this really was kind of routine. And just a couple of days later, the police would arrest a 19-year-old living in this apartment building named Edward Turner because he was found to be in possession of Ruthie’s TV.

Edward did not admit to doing anything, but the police assumed that he must have tried to rob Ruthie, and in the course of this robbery, perhaps Ruthie had tried to fight back, at which point Edward had overpowered her and killed her. But the police did suspect that there was at least one other person involved in Ruthie’s murder, so they did keep investigating.

And then in June, about a month and a half after Edward was arrested, the police began hearing this very disturbing rumor about the building where Ruthie had lived. At first, the police completely dismissed it because it sounded totally made up.

Ruthie Mae McCoy - The TERRIFYING TRUE story that inspired Candyman
Ruthie Mae McCoy – The TERRIFYING TRUE story that inspired Candyman

But when it kept coming up over and over again whenever they interviewed anybody in this building about Ruthie’s murder, the police finally decided they had to at least look into it in order to confirm that it was not true. However, when the police looked into this rumor, they would discover that it was true and it absolutely played a role in Ruthie’s murder.

Back on the night of April 22nd, 1987, the night that Ruthie Mae McCoy called 9-1-1 in a panic saying something about her cabinets and her neighbors and her bathroom. Well, what had really happened is Ruth was home around 8:45 when she heard this loud banging sound coming from her bathroom.

Then before she could go over and inspect the bathroom, her bathroom door flung open, and standing in the doorway was this dark tall figure who just suddenly took off running through her apartment, out her front door, out into the hallway.

Ruthie Mae McCoy was so startled she had no idea what to make of it. She knew that sometimes she saw things that weren’t real, and so she likely struggled to figure out: did that really happen? Am I dreaming? Am I hallucinating? What’s going on?

With all these thoughts going through her head, she called 9-1-1 to get help, but she couldn’t quite describe what had even happened. So that’s why she began rambling about how her neighbors wanted to use her bathroom and the cabinets were somehow involved. It was all very confusing.

The dispatcher obviously didn’t understand what was going on, but they told Ruthie, “Okay, I’ll pass this along and the police will be out soon.” So as Ruthie is waiting for the police to show up, she wanders over to the bathroom where this dark figure has appeared. She walks inside and looks at where her mirror had been above her sink.

The mirror that she had spent so many hours looking into hoping for signs of a miracle. The mirror was gone, and in its place was this big dark hole on the wall, almost like an entrance to a dark tunnel. As Ruthie is staring at this void, she sees these two dark hands emerge from underneath that come out of the hole and grip onto her sink.

Ruthie Mae McCoy - The TERRIFYING TRUE story that inspired Candyman
Ruthie Mae McCoy – The TERRIFYING TRUE story that inspired Candyman

Then eyes pop up and a man’s head pops up. He uses his arms, which are clutched onto the sink, to pull himself up and out of the hole in her wall where he plopped down on the bathroom floor and then stood up and stared at Ruthie. Everything after that point would have happened really fast.

Ruthie Mae McCoy likely began screaming. At which point the first man, the dark figure that had run out into the hallway and prompted Ruthie to call 9-1-1, he must have heard Ruthie screaming. So he came running back in through the front door into Ruthie’s apartment with a jacket over his head.

At some point, he or the other man who had come out of the hole in the wall yelled at Ruthie to get down on the ground. Maybe she didn’t comply; maybe she did. But after that, four gunshots rang out. All four shots hit Ruthie; however, these four shots did not kill Ruthie right away.

So Ruthie Mae McCoy was very alive as these two men stole her TV, her rocking chair, and some other things. Ruthie was almost certainly still alive when the police did finally show up and began knocking on her door and calling her phone. But she was bleeding to death; she couldn’t move; she couldn’t make a sound.

The police just abandoned her at which point she did die. It would turn out that disturbing rumor that the police heard about this apartment building was that apparently people in this building had learned that you could pull off your mirror inside of your bathroom and literally climb into the walls.

Ruthie Mae McCoy - The TERRIFYING TRUE story that inspired Candyman
Ruthie Mae McCoy – The TERRIFYING TRUE story that inspired Candyman

From that point, you could basically wander all over this building and then punch other people’s mirrors in their bathrooms in and then climb through that hole and do whatever you wanted to the people inside of that apartment. So when Ruthie Mae McCoy began hearing those whispers when she was in her bathroom looking at the mirror hoping for a miracle, those were the sounds of thieves and killers and criminals slinking about her wall.

Detectives speculated that the two men who killed Ruthie likely found out about her disability payments and decided to rob her. However, the two men that police arrested, the 19-year-old Edward Turner who was found in possession of her TV, and this other man who was also arrested, were ultimately acquitted.

Because there were so many people crawling through the walls all day and night inside of this building that there was no way to prove that those two were the ones who actually went in and killed Ruthie. To this day, no one else has ever been charged with Ruthie’s murder.

What happened to Ruthie Mae McCoy became the basis for the very popular horror movie called The Candyman starring Tony Todd.

Real Stills From The Movie CandyMan
Real Stills From The Movie CandyMan

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
error: Content is protected !!

Adblock Detected