Phantom Hitchhiker of Route 44

For more than three decades, a mysterious redheaded man has been seen walking down Route 44, waiting to be picked up, local people called him the Redheaded Hitchhiker of Route 44. He is one of the most popular and most notorious phantoms in Massachusetts walks along a dark stretch of road in the town of Rehoboth. At times he has been seen hitchhiking, and other times he has been seen walking into the woods or in the middle of the road, not moving as a car passes through him. At least once he was seen outside the window of a car that was moving at more than 40 miles per hour. Who the man was is still a mystery. Several people have died along that stretch of road, including a man matching the phantom’s description, but no one can say for sure who the man is or when the haunting started. He is described as being more than 6 feet tall, well-built, and having red hair and a red beard. He is often seen wearing jeans or work pants, but he is always described as wearing a red flannel shirt, sometimes tucked in and sometimes left out. Some travelers see him with his characteristic red hair disheveled and dirty.

The earliest formal written record of the occurrence was set down by Charles Turek Robinson in his 1994 book New England Ghost Files. In it he describes several encounters in detail. In one, the hitchhiker is seen outside the window of a fast moving car. Another person picked him up, only to have him vanish from the car. The most disturbing story in his book tells of a couple who broke down at about 10:00 PM. The woman stayed in the car while the man went to get help. They both suffered separate experiences. The man saw him on the side of the road and tried to talk to him. The red headed man began yelling at him and then disappeared, laughing from all directions as the man made his way back to the car. The woman heard his voice come over the radio, taunting her until she ran from the car.

People who come into contact with him can tell he is not human by his eyes, which are often described as lifeless. Most of the encounters follow a similar pattern: Someone is driving along, usually alone, when they see a man in or alongside the road. They may either hit him or stop to pick him up. The hitchhiker will interact with the person and then eventually vanish before their eyes or will no longer be there when they turn to look. This is followed by some type of audio finale where he laughs, yells at them, or taunts them.

A woman once reported stopping to pick the man up. He disappeared as he went to grab the door handle. Her car battery then died, and then she heard a man laughing at her, although he could no longer be seen. Ten minutes later, the car started, but not before the woman broke down in fright. One man had been driving alone when he saw the redheaded man on the side of the road. He stopped and called out to the man, who started to walk toward him. As he got closer, the ghost slowly faded until he completely disappeared.

Another witness had the hitchhiker appear in the backseat of his car through the rearview mirror. The radio started to scan the stations and then became so loud it shook the car. The phantom disappeared and began to laugh on the radio.

Local legend says that if three people are driving in the same car on Route 44, the redheaded hitchhiker will appear in the empty seat.

Encyclopedia of Haunted Places: "Ghostly Locales From Around The World" by Jeff Belanger;

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