We all have a neighborhood nearby that’s home to a ghost story. Whether we believe them or not, they do exist. To make matters even more debatable, some legends come with evidence. In October of 2004, two young boys mysteriously disappeared. Matthew Murray and Josh Lynch, both twelve years of age, had vanished after an afternoon of hanging out. The two had been friends for years; and resided in the small town of Brooker.
The town is surrounded by forest and swamps. Anyone who’s lived in Brooker is aware of the Legend of Brooker Swamp; a ghost story that at times feels all too real. The area was once the home to a beautiful woman by the name of Maya Stone. Everyone in town knew her face, and always would stop to say hello. She had dreams of opening her own retail business in women's fashion. She was only months away from graduating high school. On the evening of October 12, 1974, Maya went out for an evening walk through the town. The town is divided into sections that are surrounded by areas of forest and swamps. With dusk approaching, her parents began to grow concerned after not seeing their daughter for hours. At 11pm, a search team was formed in an effort to find Maya. She was always a responsible young woman; rarely disobeying her parents. One of their strictest rules was a 9pm curfew. After numerous phone calls to her friends and hours of searching, the search was to be postponed until 7am the following morning.
Just after 3am, ear shattering screams were heard from the heavily wooded areas that surrounded the town. The screams only lasted for a matter of seconds. A small gust of wind passed through the town; some claiming to hear Maya’s voice in the breeze. As residents confusingly met in the street, a shadowy figure was seen flying into the moonlight. It appeared to have long flowing hair, wings, and bird-like feet. Almost as soon as the creature was seen, it had vanished. A group of adults hustled into the forest in a desperate attempt to find Maya. Splitting into groups of twos and threes, the search revealed some personal belongings that were clearly Maya’s. A custom made friendship bracelet was found on the ground of the dusty dirt trail path; snapped in half with a trail of beads scattered sporadically. A necklace given to Maya by her mother was found thirty yards away from the dismembered bracelet. Pieces of clothing were found off of the side of the trail; shredded by something with razor sharp claws. The teams began to fear the worst as they proceeded into the deep forest of Brooker. After fifteen minutes of calling and searching for Maya, the search party located Maya’s belt bag. The fanny pack, like the pieces of her shirt, was sharply ripped. Only feet away, there were large scattered feathers that were bigger than any living bird on Earth. The feathers were jet black with purple shading. The team arrived at a cliff with a one-hundred foot drop. At the bottom, masked by the shadows of the trees was Maya’s lifeless corpse; her eyes and mouth locked wide open and glowing in the moonlight.
The adults made their way to the bottom of the cliff. They screamed with horror, discovering deep gashes on her back; some that looked to be five inches deep. Her arms were locked in a bracing position; straight up into the air. Pieces of teeth were scattered next to her body; half of her shirt missing. No one had a clue as to what had happened to her. There wasn’t an animal in the area that could have inflicted damage of that magnitude onto a human. The coroner on scene was completely speechless at the state of the young woman. He determined the cause of death to be severe trauma and blunt force from an apparent fall. A bird could be heard screeching in the distance. As police investigated the scene one of the adults had pointed out the massive feathers that had been discovered. One of the search members offered to show one of the officers. As they approached the fanny pack, the feathers were nowhere to be found. A cold breeze started to blow throughout the forest.
An autopsy was performed the following morning. Maya had suffered massive amounts of blood loss from the gashes in her back, and shattered numerous bones in her arms, legs, back, neck, and face. A huge debate unfolded as to what had happened to her. Some believed she was stalked and murdered by a local resident of Brooker. Others believed she was attacked by an animal and was forced to descend the cliff in order to escape. One of the Brooker residents claimed she was attacked by a creature of Greek Mythology. Although the man was viewed as a nutcase, he was also a historian.
After he had read about the mysterious creature that they had seen in the night sky, he put the pieces together little by little. The man happened to be close friends with one of the morticians, and was able to see the autopsy photographs of Maya’s wounds. He stated that Maya was attacked by a Harpy; a female creature with the body of a bird, and the head of a woman. The residents of Brooker quickly dismissed the theory, but as time progressed, their thoughts began to change. Ever since that night in October 1974, the town has mysteriously become overshadowed by a lurking presence during the late night hours. The sound of wings flapping have been heard outside of the townspeople’s windows. Residents have claimed to have heard ghostly voices coming from the forest; calling out to them. Scratching noises have been heard on windows; some discovering scratch marks on the glass.
In October 2004, 30 years after Maya’s death, two boys ventured into the forest with a video camera and a miniature tape recorder. The boys were Matthew Murray and Josh Lynch. The content on the tapes were spine chilling. Matthew and Josh went missing on October 28, 2004. The two boys met in first grade homeroom and remained friends ever since. The tape’s audio track sporadically cuts in and out. It is unclear as to why Matt and Josh went out into the forest. The tape begins with them talking about weapons and they state that they are trying to find something of obvious importance. Friends of Matt and Josh have said that the two were aware of the Brooker Swamp Legend. Friends and and family have also pointed out that the two were adventurous, naive, and occasionally stubborn. A friend once overheard them discussing the belongings of Maya Stone that were never recovered, and insisting that they had to still be out there. This was apparently overheard only a week before their disappearance.
They make a terrible mistake of splitting up at the start of the tape; Matt heading towards the swamps, Josh heading down the trail. In a matter of minutes they catch a glimpse of something in the forest. As Josh screams and runs with sheer terror, a female voice is heard laughing directly behind him. The tape goes through massive interference feedback and cuts in and out during the chase. They manage to make it to an abandoned house in the forest; the building was built in the early 1970s as a shelter for residents who ended up getting lost in the surrounding forest. The two boys split up again once inside; perhaps as a way to lessen the chance of getting seen or caught. Matthew heads towards the dark basement while Josh’s whereabouts will forever remain a mystery. Josh radio’s to Matt on his walkie talkie, and tells him that it’s safe to head outside. There is no way of knowing how long the two were spent locked inside of the house.
As Matt heads toward the basement exit, a door can be heard opening in the background. He exits the shelter and is greeted with the supposed spirit; sounding as if it lunged out at him into the door he had just closed. The basement doors have see-through glass windows on them. He screams in terror and takes off running towards the swamp. He hides inside of a shed in a desperate attempt to lose the ghost. Moments later, Josh arrives at the scene.
The two are then ambushed by something, and apparently fall and tumble; or are dropped from a great height. Josh and Matt both hit the forest floor with brutal impacts. Josh hits and rolls; Matt landing with one solid hit. They scream in pain as the tape ends. On October 30, 2004, the camera was discovered by a search and rescue team. The location was a mere five hundred feet away from where Maya Stone had been found; at the foot of the same cliff.
The camera batteries were fried and the viewfinder was broken clean off. Pieces of the camera were laying all over the forest floor. Tiny shreds of clothing were found next to the camera. Fifteen feet away was a shoe that belonged to Matthew. The impact had caused not only his shoe to separate from his body, but his foot as well. The remaining area of the impact scene was clear, and left the rescue team puzzled. The surrounding area was searched both high and low, but there was no sign of the two boys.
The video camera was carefully pulled apart to separate the tape from the charred camcorder. The tape was positioned far enough from the batteries to withstand the damage. Due to the damage from the fall, the camera’s visuals were lost or beyond the point of repairing; the date was able to be made out on the screen through the static visuals as October 28, 2004. The audio track, although missing essential moments, was able to be played. Brooker Police and the families played the tape and were shocked at what was audible. The search would continue for a week and was eventually called off after searching the entire wilderness of Brooker. The families of Matt and Josh wouldn’t accept the fact that their boys may had been brutally murdered. They hired an additional search team to search beyond Brooker’s border.
After four long and tiring weeks, the search was officially brought to a close. Matt and Josh’s remains were never recovered. The video camera was the only substantial piece of evidence to their disappearance. Matthew’s detached foot was analyzed in a forensic laboratory. The police and forensic analysts came to a conclusion that the two boys were murdered by a stalker, and thrown off of a cliff. They agreed on a female unsub, due to the feminine laughs that were audible on the video tape. Many residents insisted that their disappearance tied in with Maya Stone’s murder in 1974, but the unsub would have had to be an entirely different person due to the time period. Police stated that the unsub involved with the 2004 disappearance was in her late teens, to late twenties. The historian who was involved with the 1974 case had passed away in the early 1990s, and most of the other members involved with the case had either moved or passed on. A curfew was issued to help prevent future kidnappings and possible murders, but no one was ever arrested or charged with the disappearances of Matthew Murray and Josh Lynch.
Brooker residents continue to warn about the Swamp Legend in hopes of minimizing future disappearances. Newcomers continue to dispel the story. Although a significant amount of time has passed since the three supposed murders, the town of Brooker remains on high alert for the safety of their town. Signs have been posted all over the primary forest entrances; warning individuals not to enter without supervision. Although no one from Brooker has gone missing since October 28, 2004, it isn’t ruled out that unsuspecting outsiders haven’t suffered a similar fate…