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Friday, December 22, 2023

Decemystery (2022.3) 22: That Time Someone Saw the Joker in Their Closet


I remember as a child that I, for whatever reason, never had a real fear of monsters under my bed or in my closet. I guess that’s because I slept on a couch (I still do—old habits die hard) and because my duodenal ulcers hurt too much for me to be afraid of the dark.

That said, I will admit that closets can be pretty dang scary. Tight, enclosed spaces with little-to-no light are unsettling. For me, though, my fear isn’t some monster leaping out to attack me while in them. No, it’s if there’s a spider in there with me. That chick from The Grudge could be in there, ready to kill me, and I’ll still be more terrified of the spider that’s as big as the tip of my pinky finger. 

Although I never got to experience the fear of monsters in the closet, though, plenty have. In today’s story, someone found that fear to be all too real; our eyewitness insists that it was neither a dream nor her imagination. Indeed, this lady believes that one of the most iconic villains in comic book history was peering out from her closet. So come along, dear reader, let us dive into the story of That Time Someone Saw the Joker in Their Closet!

Now I Know That Life’s A Tragic Comedy

There, I got my reference to Joker out of the way. Now, I don’t have to think about where to slot one in.

Like plenty of stories before it and plenty after it, this comes to us courteous sustained_disgust’s Obscure Unsolved Mysteries Iceberg. That links us to a site that we’ve visited plenty of times in the past: the Paranormal World Wiki, which is a terrific site if you want some really obscure Fortean goodness. I also found another story on there earlier this month, which featured a creepy clown; what a coincidence that was totally not planned by me! Anyway, that site cites the source of this story as Phantoms and Monsters, which has been the source of a few stories for this month’s Decemystery duology. Wow, a trifecta of sources that I’ve used in the past; maybe one day, I can have a quadfecta of sources I’ve used. Unfortunately, today is not that day, as Phantoms and Monsters’ Lon Strickler cites the original source of this story as Darkness Radio, which I have never listened to but I’m vaguely familiar with. According to the site, they’re associated with The Hozler Files, which I’ve seen a few times when watching the Travel Channel.

Anyways, let’s move on. The eyewitness of today’s story is given two names; Paranormal World refers to her as “Corinne,” while the article on Phantoms and Monsters names her Karen. I have no idea which is correct, as I cannot find the episode that this is from. Don’t get me wrong, the podcast has a backlog. It’s just that scrolling from 2023 all the way back to 2016 (this story apparently comes from an episode posted on August 29, 2016) is not on my “to-do” list for a July morning after I slept like garbage, and while I feel sick. Feel free to lambaste me, but I’m not about to find out something as innocuous as a name, especially when these are the only two websites I can find this story on. Or maybe three if you count Urban-Legendpedia copying and pasting the write-up on Paranormal World, but that could be the author of that Wiki posting their work to another site.

I digress, though. Personally, I prefer the name Corinne, so I’m going to use that. My sincerest apologies to anyone named Karen who’s reading this. Nothing personal, I promise. Now, our story takes place when Corinne was 6 or 7 years old. Exactly when this took place isn’t stated in Lon’s article, but Paranormal World says it was in the early 2000s, so we’ll go with that.

At that time, Corinne resided in La Puente, California, and lived with her parents and two sisters. For those curious, La Puente is in Los Angeles County, so for once, we have a story that doesn’t take place somewhere in the middle of nowhere! On the downside, it’s in Los Angeles. Truly one of the worst fates an American can be met with.

Anyways, in this humble abode, Corinne’s room was shared by her and her two sisters. In it were “sliding closet doors,” which, more often than not, didn’t close all the way. It would be this closet where Corinne would see the scariest thing since Jared Leto portrayed The Joker in that awful Suicide Squad movie in 2016. Only now do I realize that this story was posted the same month that that movie was released; an interesting coincidence (in my eyes).

One night, Corinne woke up; she didn’t know the time, but everyone was sound asleep. As she looked around, her eyes caught sight of something. Peering out around the closet door, his fingers “wrapped around the frame of the door,” was “an orange glowing man.” Given Corinne’s bed faced the closet doors, this man was staring directly at her—and he had a devilish smile. To me, it sounds like this fellow had one wicked tan and was unnecessarily happy about it.

According to Corinne, outside of the orange glow (that she said came from within), the figure resembled Batman’s archenemy: The Joker. Specifically, Cesar Romero’s Joker from the 1960s television series. If you’re curious, here’s a picture of Romero, plus an image from the Paranormal World article.

Fun fact:
Romero refused to shave his mustache for the makeup. How /devilish/ he was.

Understandably terrified and unable (or unwilling) to make a sound, Corinne turned over and buried her face into her pillow. The next time she looked up, it was daytime. Hastily, she went to her parents about what had happened. To her dismay, they told her it was just a dream.

Corinne didn’t—and still doesn’t—believe that. She recalled how her heart raced and how difficult it was to breathe while she hid her face in her pillow. Both of these details really make me think of sleep paralysis, but I’ll save my thoughts on this for later.

Corinne’s encounter with the strange Joker-like entity wouldn’t be the only odd experience she would have in that house. According to her, she saw a pair of shoes take a step on their own. She also saw her Barbie doll fall over, only to sit back up by itself.

Although those other two experiences were unsettling on their own, the night she saw the Joker stuck to Corinne like a tick. So, from that day onward, she couldn’t sleep unless there was a light on. Lucky for her, it doesn’t seem like it ever returned to stare menacingly at her ever again. I guess he was captured and sent to Arkham Asylum.

That’s where our story ends. According to Lon Strickler, the story was transcribed by “JLB,” so thank you to whoever you are. Anyways, while this may have been a one-time encounter, there are plenty of theories as to what the reality is. So come along; let’s dig into ‘em!


1. A dream

Dreams are interesting. Sometimes, you can’t remember them. Other times, you can. I can, unfortunately, remember a lot of dreams. More often than not, they ruin my day because of how awful they are. Quite frankly, I think dreaming of a demonic Joker looking at me would be preferable to some of the incredibly depressing stuff I’ve dreamt of.

Although Corinne insisted that what she saw wasn’t a dream, our inaugural theory is that it was nothing more than that. Some dreams can be incredibly vivid; I cannot count the number of times I’ve had a dream that felt unbelievably real. Even if the circumstances were far too good (or bad) to be true, the whole thing feels like reality. This includes times I’ve had the ability to fly or reverse time. As a pointless fun fact, the latter of those two is a way I’ve come to know when I’m dreaming. Despite that, those dreams still sometimes feel like reality.

Anyway, a fair number of dreams I’ve had were within the place that is now my old home. I’d say that it’s within the realm of reason for Corinne to have been dreaming, but she thought it was reality. I know that in some of my dreams, I’ve had trouble breathing. It is, after all, a dream; they seldom make any sense.

2. Sleep paralysis

I’m very prone to sleep paralysis and have seen my fair share of weird things when I’ve had it. As such, when I first read this story, I immediately thought this may have been an episode of that.

Most of you are likely familiar with sleep paralysis, but for the few who aren’t, it happens when you “wake up,” but a certain part of your brain is still asleep. As such, you can’t move your body, but you can still look around. It’s like you’re half asleep—literally. During this time, you may experience hallucinations; people have reported seeing some weird stuff, and I myself have seen a fair number of “sleep paralysis demons.” I once saw a dark, feminine shadow figure jittering around before it walked over and ran its hand through my hair. I wrote more about the things I’ve seen here. I also fixed the broken image but decided to remove the caption below it. Also, I really should rewrite that piece.

Anyways, this theory realistically fits what happened remarkably well. An intense feeling of fear at seeing something is common with sleep paralysis (for rather obvious reasons: you can’t move), but there’s also the matter of it being hard to breathe. While Corinne said she had buried her face in her pillow, I feel it’s worth mentioning that a lot of people (myself included) experience difficulty breathing during sleep paralysis. While it appears that this was probably caused by Corinne having buried her face in her pillow, I do have to wonder if Corinne, while (potentially) having sleep paralysis, woke up and then buried her face into her pillow.

I also know that your heart rate increases during sleep paralysis (as does your blood pressure, apparently). I remember this happening when I saw the aforementioned feminine shadow figure; I recall thinking that I was going to have a heart attack. It was easily the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life, and I hope to never have it happen again.

Ultimately, though, this theory hinges a lot on my own experiences. While I know first-hand accounts are crucial, I must stress that I’m more or less projecting here. So, take this with a grain of salt; we still have a fair number of theories left.

3. It was all made up

It can’t be a write-up on Limitless Possibilities if I don’t include a theory that it was all nonsense. Gotta keep the trend going!

People do a lot of weird stuff for attention, and nowhere is that more apparent than on the Internet. The denizens of the Internet will fabricate encounters with cryptids and ghosts or flat-out pretend to be someone they aren’t. Why? Beats me.

This theory posits that this was one of those many cases. I personally doubt that, as this story doesn’t appear to have been spread around all that much. If it was a hoax, I imagine there would have been a bigger push to have it be in the eye of paranormal enthusiasts. I also imagine it would have been posted to 4chan or Reddit. But that’s just me; maybe Corinne wanted it that way.

4. A poltergeist

In many ways, this is the theory that fits the best with this story—at least to me. While the sleep paralysis theory is one I can identify with a lot, this one helps to explain the things that Corinne mentioned at the end of her account. 

For the uninitiated, poltergeist means “noisy ghost” in German. They’re known for moving and throwing objects, scratching people, banging on walls, and generally being as accommodating as a wild hippopotamus. Suffice it to say, poltergeists are not good house guests; rather, they’re real dicks. Of course, such an opinion depends on whether or not you believe in ghosts. I personally do, and as such, I am of the opinion that if you have a poltergeist in your home, you ought to have an exorcist expel it from your house, lest it drive you to grey hair by the time you’re 23.

Now granted, not every ghost that moves things is a poltergeist; some simply misplace things, like putting a shoe in another room or putting your keys on the bathroom sink. These actions, however, aren’t noisy; they aren’t like banging shoes on the floor to imitate someone walking. They also don’t happen in the same house where someone sees an orange-glowing Joker wannabe.

This story, however, did have shoes being banged on the floor and involved a Joker wannabe (who just so happened to glow orange). Could it have been a coincidence? Maybe. Is it likely? Probably. Do I think so? Ehh, let’s wait until we get to my take.

5. An interdimensional being

Coming in at number five, we have the theory that this was a being from another dimension. Given I’ve gone over how this theory works enough times to create a “best of” list, I won’t linger here. Basically, our dimension and another one overlapped, and Ronald McDonald’s demonic cousin appeared in some girl’s closet. I can hear the Interdimensional FBI approaching fast.

6. Aliens

I don’t know why, but the fact I saw aliens presented as a theory is the least surprising thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

This was brought up on the Paranormal World Wiki. Its origin is something I’m unfamiliar with, but I have to admit that it sounds incredibly fascinating. The article brings up how tons of people have seen “phantom clowns,” which my younger readers likely know about due to the 2016 clown fiasco. Yeah, it goes back farther than that, but I don’t think it was ever as big as 2016.

Anyway, these sightings of phantom clowns are discussed in the book Ultraterrestrial Contact by Philip J. Imbrogno. Within the pages of said book, one case is discussed: someone saw a “clown-like entity” near where a UFO was sighted. I didn’t read the book, but I want to say that this is the story of Sam the Sandown Ghost Clown, who we’ll be going over next year if all goes well.

Regardless, Sam’s a case of a weird clown-like entity being spotted with a UFO, and likewise, this could be a similar case. Of course, I think it’s bizarre that this alien just so happens to look like Cesar Romero’s Joker. But hey, weirder things have happened. Some folks say they’ve seen aliens that look like giant brains. Why would a demon-clown alien be so different?

7. It was Noam Chomsky

When society and linguistics meet, you get a demon Joker in your closet. Don’t think too hard about it, or you may turn into one!

My Take

To be honest, I’m torn between the sleep paralysis and poltergeist theories. Lemme start with the latter, though, as I think it’s the more controversial of the two.

I obviously doubt everyone who reads this blog is a believer in ghosts; I can’t force you to believe in them, and I sure as heck have no intention of doing so. Though, being the person I am, I do believe in them. I’ve had some really unexplainable experiences in my life that I know happened to me. As such, I think ghosts are as real as my ceiling fan.

That belief does produce a bit of bias, and with this theory, I see little reason for this person to have fabricated this story. She has nothing to gain from it, and given how obscure it is, I think doing it as a prank is on the underwhelming side. Is it possible it was a prank? Absolutely. Do I think so? No.

As such, I feel the poltergeist theory covers every base remarkably well. A ghost took on the guise of a scary clown and gave some poor girl a terrible fright (it’s worth noting that children are more susceptible to the paranormal—or so they say). Why? Who knows; as I said earlier, poltergeists are dicks.

That said, I find it odd that the ghost appears to have simply stopped being around. Maybe it finally moved on, maybe it realized this girl didn’t care, or maybe there was more to the story that Corinne left out. It’s also possible she and her family moved. Still, I find that peculiar.

On the other hand, though, I think the sleep paralysis theory is extremely likely. Having had plenty of sleep paralysis hallucinations in my life, I know that you can see some vivid and ridiculously scary things. I wouldn’t doubt that Corinne, even if she’s adamant that she experienced this while awake and simply didn’t know at the time what she was seeing was in her head.

Of course, that’s just me. It’s entirely possible that all of this was made up, or maybe it was a vivid dream that was impacted by the real world. Perhaps Corinne was sleeping with her face in the pillow, and that breathing difficulty she felt was because of that.

Or maybe it was aliens. Because when all else fails, just say that aliens were (or are) behind it. 0% failure rate, trust me.


This story is definitely one for the books; while far from the wildest thing we’ve discussed on this blog, this certainly struck a chord with me. It’s yet another instance where something sounds incredibly absurd but never reaches the heights I would have expected. Nonetheless, it’s still rather surreal; someone claims to have seen an orange-glowing Joker in their closet that looked like Cesar Romero. It’s hard not to look at that and think it’s a joke.

Oh well, to round things off, I’d love to know what you think of this all. Was it a ghost, an alien, sleep paralysis, a dream, or something else entirely? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, stay happy, stay healthy, and thank you for reading!

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