Coulrophobia: the fear of clowns. A lot of people have it, and it’s no wonder why. With modern pop culture flooded with creepy clowns, an obsessive fear of these freaky guys has become as common as a cold. We just can’t escape these unsettling, painted entertainers. But the fear of these modern-day jesters is all irrational… right?

Well, southern Florida has been getting some clown action, and the daunting ordeal is giving Stephen King’s Pennywise a run for his money. The photos are just plain haunting, but when people started digging for answers, they found there was more behind the face paint than they’d imagined.

Despite Florida being nicknamed the Sunshine State, lately things have been quite dark for the gator capital of America. There’s been a ghoulish harlequin lurking, and he just might be looking for you.

MSN

Disturbing clown sightings near Naples, Florida, have been occurring for years, finally making their way to mainstream media in 2014 when a CCTV video featuring a certain clown went viral. This was just the beginning of the clown frenzy.

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The oddest thing about these sightings (besides everything), which transpired at random public places, as well as outside people’s HOUSES, was that the public soon realized it was the same clown who appeared in all the eerie CCTV footage. We have goosebumps.

Fantastic Fest

Well, we’d like to introduce you to Wrinkles, Wrinkles the Clown. While he creeps the hell out of unsuspecting Floridians, the chapped, frowny figure has become a near celebrity.

Naples Daily News

Once you’ve seen him, it’s hard to forget him. With his eternally pale, leathery face, crimson frown, and harrowing black holes for eyes, it’s hard not to stare in pure terror. He dons a red jumpsuit glazed with white polka dots, and often carries a cluster of balloons.

Horror News Network

The increasingly frequent clown glimpses spawned a popular Instagram account, called @hvuseenwrinkles, which posts photos of reported sightings of Wrinkles. While the whole shtick is quite engrossing, his helpless victims don’t think so.

@spotwrinkles / Twitter

Said innocent victims, however, aren’t picked at random. See, Wrinkles the Clown runs a business. Tired parents hit up Wrinkles’ whenever their darned, meddlesome kids deserve a good scare. It’s all in good fun, of course… well, for the parents.

@spotwrinkles / Twitter

Remember that ominous CCTV footage we mentioned? Well, it featured a hair-raising scene involving Wrinkles slowly creeping out from underneath a bed, getting ready to horrify the snoozing child atop the mattress.

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The ending of the video sees Wrinkles eerily stare directly into the lens before proceeding to abruptly shut off the security camera. Believe it or not, the child’s parents are to blame for this raging nightmare fuel!

In another disquieting, yet profitable, instance, Wrinkles was delighted to frighten a boy in public. “He was scared of clowns and I showed up across the street from him at the bus stop and he just started crying in front of his friends and ran home,” he stated.

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We’ll say, Wrinkles the Clown is no dummy, as he took advantage of his viral quality by posting promotional stickers and flyers, as well as online advertisements, all around town. Take notes, kids.

@hvuseenwrinkles / Instagram

Wrinkles’ growing popularity caused his voicemail to fill with messages from more fed-up parents, prank calls from kids, and even demands for Wrinkles’ help with dumping dead bodies. Goodness, we hope the latter category was just some dark baffoonery!

@hvuseenwrinkles / Instagram

Considering he’s a real dude with a business number, who is Wrinkles the Clown, really? According to a 2015 profile by The Washington Post, Wrinkles is a divorced Rhode Islander and military veteran who took up “professional clowning” subsequent to retiring to Florida.

@hvuseenwrinkles / Instagram

At 65-years-old, Wrinkles wasn’t into playing shuffleboard and chess with the rest of the oldies, so he invested his time into clowning. The eccentric Wrinkles doesn’t like kids, declared balloon animals to be “stupid,” and “wants to bring scary back.” Now that’s what we’re talking about.

Tampa Austin Chronicle

When the laughable real-life clown contagion hit America in 2016, GQ made it a point to interview the wrinkly Southern menace. Wrinkles, who refused to reveal his given name, boasted to GQ that he apparently has a lengthy list of celebrity clients. Way to go, Wrinkles!

GQ

Just as any internet phenomenon, the buzz surrounding Wrinkles settled down; that is until the 2019 trailer for the Magnolia Pictures International documentary appropriately titled Wrinkles the Clown made its merry way around YouTube. Wrinkles was back with a vengeance.

Tampa Bay Times

“With incredible access to the mastermind behind the mask, Wrinkles the Clown is a cryptic and playful exploration of these questions, as well as an inside look at myth-building and the unpredictable spread of imagination in the internet age,” reads the synopsis.

In the the trailer, Wrinkles hauntingly states “No-one was hiring me when I was just a regular clown. I just thought, ‘Yeah, you know, maybe I’ll give it a little edge.'”

GQ

Considering the 2019 buzz surrounding IT Chapter Two and Joker, Wrinkles clearly loves perpetuating the myth of the scary clown. It looks like Wrinkles the Clown’s reign has just begun.

IT Chapter Two

When Wrinkles the Clown first lurked around dark corners of the Sunshine State in 2014, no one thought the spine-chilling figure would become an internet-savvy, film festival sweetheart. Wrinkles is a creepy clown with a brain for business, and we respect his haunting hustle.

While Wrinkles’ road to online fame is unique, the interweb is scattered with viral scary stuff. From more clowns (so many clowns), to haunted dolls, you’re likely to find wild stories that’ll have you saying “nope.” One particular story concerning a cursed piece of furniture will have you shaking.

@hvuseenwrinkles / Instagram

Daniel Awety moved to the small English village of Kirby Wiske in the late 1600s with his daughter, Elizabeth. But Daniel wasn’t just moving to the country for the fresh air; he had another mission in mind.

See, Daniel was a criminal counterfeiter. He figured the open space would provide enough security that he could print his fake money in peace without too many interruptions. So he purchased a large farm and named it Danotty Hall.

Elizabeth, too, was enjoying the country, but for much different reasons. She had met a young man named Thomas Busby and fell head over heels. The two were quickly married, but the honeymoon didn’t last long.

Elizabeth and Thomas moved into a local inn down the road from Danotty Hall. This locale turned out to be perfect for Thomas because he had a secret of his own: he was an alcoholic.

Daniel tried to make the best of Elizabeth’s marriage and offered Thomas a part in his criminal enterprise. But Thomas’ alcoholism quickly turned their partnership sour and Daniel decided to take drastic measures.

One night, Daniel stormed over to the inn and demanded Elizabeth leave Thomas for good. But Elizabeth refused and insisted on staying put in the inn until Thomas returned. So Daniel took a seat and waited.

When Thomas busted in, he was already drunk and irate. So, when Daniel confronted him, they immediately launched into a huge argument. What Daniel didn’t realize was that Thomas was mad about something else altogether.

See, while Daniel was yelling at Thomas to leave his daughter, Thomas was livid about something else entirely. Apparently, Thomas was upset that Daniel had sat down in his chair. His favorite chair.

Clearly not getting anywhere, Daniel returned home without Elizabeth. But Thomas was still outraged by the betrayal and followed Daniel. When he reached the farm, Thomas grabbed a hammer and bludgeoned Daniel to death.

Smithsonian Magazine

The town found the body the next day and swiftly charged Thomas with murder. He was convicted in 1702, then hanged, dipped in pitch, and hung up on the gallows. Just to make sure he was really, really dead.

But just before he died, Thomas had some parting words for the town. When they dragged him off to be hanged, he cursed everyone that would sit in his favorite chair. Of course, the town didn’t heed his warning.

The inn owner thought he could profit off Thomas’ infamous curse and renamed the establishment the “Busby Stoop Inn.” He then charged people to come take a peek at Thomas’ chair. This had a strange effect.

For some strange reason, people who dared to sit in that chair for centuries after were plagued with terrible luck. Some even place the chair’s death toll at over 60.

One builder’s apprentice was dared by his co-workers to sit in the chair. He accepted the challenge, certain nothing would happen. Yet, later that day, he fell right through a roof and died. The stories only get worse.

The curse was so deadly, that one owner hid the chair away in the cellar generations later. But when a delivery man inquired about the artifact, he let him try it out. The man died in a car crash later that night.

The curse continued when a chimney sweep dared to sit in the chair while having a couple drinks. But he never made it home; he was found hanging just feet away from the gallows that had once held Thomas Busby.

The chair’s wrath continued well into the 1970s when two pilots dared each other to try the tantalizing seat. Though they only sat down for a brief moment, the pair died in a car accident after leaving the inn.

Soon after this, the then-owner of the inn had had enough and got rid of the chair once and for all. He pawned it off to the local museum where it has sat for the past forty years.

The Thirsk Museum wasn’t taking any chances, though. They hung the chair high up on a wall so that no one could sit in it — no matter how much they begged. Years later, though, experts discovered something curious about the chair.

After a laboratory tested the chair, they discovered it might not be as old as the museum purported it to be! The story of the curse — and the curse itself — may not have been true. Of course, the same can’t be said for the cursed object one farmer dug up…

Edinburgh Napier

Life is strange sometimes. One minute you’re just plowing your field and the next you’re finding an ancient artifact on your own property. So it goes, right? At least that’s how it happened for one farmer back in 1785.

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While working on his field, the farmer suddenly heard an odd noise, as if he’d run over something hard. Concerned, he decided to see what had caused the sound. But when he knelt down to take a closer look at the dirt, he spotted something that made his mouth drop…

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The farmer discovered a strange gold ring that he’d never seen before in his life. After picking it up and giving it a quick once over, he had no idea that he’d potentially just found an artifact that would inspire some of the greatest stories ever told.

Kim French / Twitter

First, he noted that the ring was a signet, which are used to make seals. It was engraved with the Latin phrase “SENICIANE VIVAS IIN DE,” which translates to “Senicianus live well in God.” It weighed 12 grams—about the same weight as a modern man’s gold wedding band—and was designed to fit only on a gloved finger.

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Though the farmer didn’t know it, the ring’s origins could be traced back to the fourth century, when a Roman man named Silvianus visited the Celtic temple of Nodens, a healing god. As he bathed there, his ring was stolen by an unknown thief.

Silvianus was said to have thought the burglar was a man he’d seen inside the temple named Senicianus. In response to this alleged transgression, Silvianus supposedly cursed the man out of anger.

Wikipedia

After traveling some 100 miles away, it’s believed that Senicianus abandoned the ring in the town of Silchester. With no knowledge of this legend, the farmer who found it decided to keep the gold ring he’d found, hoping that one day he could sell it and become rich.

Aucegypt.edu

Eventually, the farmer sold the ring to a family living at The Vyne, a 16th-century country manor house outside of Hampshire, who’d taken a particular interest in its origins. After making the purchase, however, it remained in their library untouched. It was largely forgotten about until many years later, in 1888, when the then-owner of the home, Chaloner Chute, wrote about the item.

Blogspot

Meanwhile, a team of archaeologists were conducting a dig at the site of the old Nodens temple when they suddenly uncovered a plaque called “defixio,” or the “cursed tablet.” On it, the legend of Silvanius and Senacianus was detailed…

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Also inscribed on the tablet was a quote, which roughly translated to: “For the god Nodens. Silvianus has lost a ring and has donated one half its worth to Nodens. Among those named Senicianus, permit no good health until it is returned to the temple of Nodens.”

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Unable verify the authenticity of this story, the tablet would sit in the estate’s museum, untouched, for several decades. In 1928, however, a young archaeologist named Mortimer Wheeler and his wife, Tessa, were brought to the site to examine it. They worked at the site for two years before their investigation eventually led them to The Vyne and the ring.

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The Wheelers sought the help in two Oxford University friends, whom they hoped could offer some insight into the story surrounding the ring. Remarkably, those men were none other than philosopher and archaeologist R.G. Collingwood and Celtic literature and Anglo-Saxon professor, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Naturally, it’s rumored that the two years Tolkien spent researching Silvanius, the thieving Senicianus, and their cursed ring inspired him to write The Hobbit and his Lord of the Rings trilogy!

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In 2013, The Vyne ring was moved from the library and placed on permanent display at the manor, alongside a copy of the tablet and a first-edition copy of The Hobbit. Thanks to their love of Tolkien’s work, The Vyne family is happy to teach visitors about the history of the original One Ring.