Moving into a new house or apartment is an experience often accompanied by the excitement of making an unfamiliar place feel like home. Yet no matter how many pictures we hang, the previous residents of the space seem to always linger in the scuffs on the wall. Or, perhaps, in the spaces behind the wall.

For these 20 homeowners, the spaces between the plaster proved to be a treasure trove of unbelievable oddities, ranging from the fascinating to the deadly. It just goes to show: you never know what could be lurking behind the walls inside the place you call home…

1. Mummified Cats: Live cats were once sealed into the walls of homes in order to protect the occupants from evil spirits. This practice was popular in 17th-century England, and there have been dozens of reports of mummified cats tumbling out of walls all over the UK.

Through the Shattered Lens

2. A Live Missile: In April 2011, a Wisconsin man was remodeling his bathroom when he discovered a 20-inch Korean missile with a five-inch explosive head in his wall. According to neighbors, the home’s previous owner was a Korean War veteran who liked to bring home “souvenirs”.

3. Hidden Cameras: There are always risks when it comes to renting a home, and this couldn’t have been truer for one Australian couple. They were horrified to find dozens of hidden cameras in the walls of their rental home.

The Independent

4. A $15M Painting: Two brothers discovered that their late father hid a priceless Norman Rockwell painting (right) in the walls of his Vermont home in order to keep it from their mother during their divorce and hung a self-painted fake (left) in its place.

The Newport Daily News

5. Hanged Army Men: During a renovation, a homeowner was delighted to find a number of army men figurines hidden in one of the walls. However, this find turned morbid quickly as he discovered that the figurines were all dangling from strings tied around their necks. Yikes!

6. Lots of Snakes: When an expecting Idaho couple moved into a new home in 2009, they couldn’t wait to hear the pitter-patter of little feet. What they got instead was the hiss of hundreds of venomous snakes slithering up from the nest below their house and through every crevice of their home.

snakeman / YouTube

7. A 100-Year-Old Ouija Board: Ouija boards are creepy on their own, but one found in an abandoned house? Downright terrifying. According to the construction worker who made the discovery, the board was concealed in a wall and was positioned with its writing upside down. Let’s hope he left it where he found it…

8. Lots of Bees: When brown ooze begins pouring out of the walls, it becomes a question of who to call next: an exterminator or an exorcist. For one Colorado homeowner, it was the former, as a whopping 60 thousand bees had taken up residence in her walls. 

9. A Da Vinci Mural: It’s one thing to have the wealth and influence to commission Leonardo Da Vinci to paint a mural of the Battle of Anghiari, but to then commission another artist to cover that mural? Insanity. Luckily, artist #2 felt the same and constructed a fake wall to hide Da Vinci’s painting.

Dave Yoder

10.  Action Comics #1: One of the most valuable comic books of all time, this issue is known for featuring the first appearance of Superman. Rather than sitting on someone’s bookshelf, however, the comic book (below) was found behind a wall and sold for an astonishing $175,000 at auction.

USA Today

11. Lots of Bats: When a Canadian man discovered hundreds of bats living in his attic and walls, he worked tirelessly to sealed every entry point. Unfortunately, bats like to return to the same place every year, and every single one managed to crawl their way back inside the home.

ZAPP

12. Witch Bottles: In a similar way, those who were wary of witches would often seal a glass bottle filled with hair, fingernails, and urine in their walls to ward off curses. 

Daily Mail

13. Toxic Waste: After removing 400 barrels of toxic waste from his property, an Ontario man discovered an additional 400 barrels behind a basement wall. Apparently, the previous owner was known for having some sketchy business practices.

Taiwan News

14. Lots of Spiders: If snakes and bees weren’t bad enough, imagine spiders pouring down from the ceiling and “bleeding” out of the walls. That’s what a St. Louis couple got in 2014 when thousands of deadly brown recluse spiders forced them to flee from their home.

Missouri Department of Conservation

15. A Strange Treasure: A safe in the basement? Predictable. One buried in the backyard? Not bad. But one hidden in the wall of a kitchen? Now that’s just weird. The contents of the safe in question were odd as well: $50,000 in cash, a bottle of bourbon, and a copy of E.F. Schumacher’s “A Guide for the Perplexed”.

Mandatory

16. Meth Residue: Shortly after a couple began experiencing breathing problems in their new home, they discovered that the previous residents had been using the space as a meth lab. After having the house tested for toxicity, they found that the walls contained contamination 80 times over the safety limit.

17. Human Bones: While preparing an old chapel for renovation, construction workers at Harvard University were shocked to discover a small collection of human bones. Initially believed to be the remains of some unidentified murder victim, the bones were later confirmed to have been left over from the chapel’s time as an anatomy lab.

18. The Head of King Henry IV: While most of us store things like baby toys and old furniture in our crawl spaces, others prefer to stow away 400-year-old heads of French monarchs. That’s right: during a search of a retired tax collector’s attic, a journalist stumbled upon the petrified head of King Henry IV in a hidden wall space.

19. A Body: In 2013, the body of a woman missing for 28 years was found behind a false wall in the basement of her Poughkeepsie, NY home. Her husband, who reported her missing in 1985, is believed to have committed the murder, though he died just a few months before the body was discovered and was never questioned.

20. A Missing Boy: In 2007, four-year-old Ricky Chekevdia and his mother, Shannon Wilfong, disappeared amid a heated custody battle. After two years of searching, Ricky and Shannon were discovered in a hidden room built into the wall of Shannon’s mother’s bedroom.

NY Daily News

Ricky’s parents, Michael Chekevdia and Shannon Wilfong, had a tumultuous relationship even before their son was born in 2002. They were on again and off again for years, but one thing was always permanent: their arguing.

After the birth of Ricky, Michael and Shannon worked out an agreement to share custody. The environment they created wasn’t healthy for their son, so Ricky split his time between his mom and dad.

Although Ricky’s mother loved him dearly, it did seem like he had a closer bond with his father. Though Michael was in the Army, and got deployed to Iraq shortly after Ricky was born, he still managed to maintain a close relationship with his son.

When Michael finally returned home from his overseas duty, Shannon refused to let Michael see Ricky. Eventually, there was a court hearing scheduled to establish firm visitation rights for Michael. However, Shannon failed to show, and then the unthinkable happened…

Shannon and Ricky both disappeared! Two months after they vanished, the local department officially listed them as missing. Michael was in disbelief. Where was his son?

The police immediately issued a warrant for Shannon’s arrest. It wasn’t likely the two were in trouble; police assumed Shannon fled with Ricky to avoid giving Michael visitation rights. Why wouldn’t Shannon want Ricky’s father to play any role in his life?

When police questioned Shannon’s mother, Diane Dobbs, she told them Michael was abusive, and Shannon more than likely escaped to avoid Ricky growing up in a household were he was hit. She even took things one step further…

She began an intense smear campaign against Michael. She passed out hand-written flyers stating Michael was abusive, and she even went to Michael’s church to spread the word. However, was any of it actually true, or was Diane just covering for her daughter’s crime?

During this time, Michael had a strong suspicion Diane knew something about his son’s whereabouts, but he just couldn’t prove it. Two whole years went by without any evidence, and then in 2009, police received a tip that led them to Diane’s home.

Police had already conducted a search of the grandmother’s house when Ricky and Shannon initially went missing, but they didn’t find anything. This time however, the search led them to an unusually placed dresser. When the police pulled the dresser away from the wall, they gasped…

Behind the dresser was a small opening that led to a narrow crawlspace. Inside the crawlspace, cowering in the back corner, were Ricky and Shannon! After two years, the police finally found them!

When officers brought the boy outside, he began running around as if he hadn’t been outdoors in years, and that may have been the case. It was a heartbreaking sight for everyone. 

Shannon was immediately arrested for felony child abduction, and Diane faced charges of aiding and abetting her daughter. While out on bail, Diane claimed over the course of two years, Ricky spent a total of “five minutes” in the room. However, no one bought her story.

Almost immediately after appearing on the show, Diane was rearrested. The ugly truth was coming out about both mother and daughter, and it was one that painted a very different picture than what they first claimed about Michael’s abuse.

Michael, while obviously shaken by the bizarre series of events that unfolded, was overjoyed that he was finally able to hug his boy again. People no longer saw him as the abuser; he was clearly the victim. 

Not long after her arrest, Shannon plead guilty to her charges and faced a fine, as well as two years probation. Michael was granted full custody of his son and retired from his military duties so he could be a full-time father. But, how did the entire ordeal affect Ricky?

As much as you might think an isolated experience would have changed Ricky’s behavior, it actually didn’t. He was still energetic, talkative, and bright. Michael really couldn’t have asked for any other outcome to this upsetting, but eventually relieving, case.

It’s a shame that the very first time the police checked the grandmother’s home they didn’t look behind the mysterious dresser. What matters, however, is in the end, Ricky was safe and with a stable parent.