GHOSTLY LEGENDS OF MICHIGAN

The Urban Legend of Detroit’s Knock Knock Road

Written by Michigan’s Otherside

You’re driving down Strasburg Street in Detroit on a warm night. It’s 2 a.m. and as you approach a stop sign, you notice how desolate and quiet everything is. You glance to your left and see a small girl standing on the sidewalk. Worry sets in and a little bit of uneasiness as she stares at you. Something doesn’t feel right about her. Why is she out this late and all alone?

You look away from her and are suddenly startled by a loud “knock-knock” on your driver’s side window. The little girl is standing there, looking in at you with sad, deep-set, hallow eyes. She’s looking for the driver who killed her.

Welcome to Knock-Knock Road.

The above retelling of the Knock-Knock Road story is the typical tale circulating these days and made popular by the book, Weird Michigan by Linda Godfrey. According to the book, teens and thrill seekers have been driving down Strasburg Road for years hoping to have their car knocked on by the ghostly child. The story has supposedly been around since the 1940’s. The legend says the little girl was killed on that road and she now haunts it, always looking for the driver who killed her.

The legend has been so popular over the years that police have given it extra attention, especially at Halloween. No story has ever surfaced to validate the death of the little girl on that street or suggest an origin for this tale, so for all it’s worth, it’s nothing more than another spooky, Michigan urban legend.

Is the true location of Knock-knock Road lost?

Another version of the legend tells about a couple parked in their car somewhere on Grosse Ile. The area had a “Lover’s Lane,” where people would go to make out. The woman told the man nothing romantic was going to happen between them, so he pushed her out of the car and shut the door. Unfortunately, her hair or dress got stuck in the door and she was dragged for miles and killed. Some say it’s her ghost that knocks desperately on cars to get them to stop as if she’s perpetually reliving her last, horrible moments. Other stories talk about a “babysitter” that was killed after refusing romantic advances.

A few websites out there like to mention the date June 12, 1962, from The Detroit News and story about a babysitter who was seduced and killed by the children’s father on Grosse Ile. I have not been able to look at this particular issue of The Detroit News yet, but if you have, let me know what’s there. I can not find any story about a babysitter being killed in Michigan in any of the other Michigan newspapers, including the Detroit Free Press and it seems newspapers all over would have reprinted the story of a “babysitter” murdered by her employer.

However, I found a very similar story from around the same time from the Lansing State Journal, April 25, 1962, but the story took place in Jackson, Mississippi, not Michigan. The story is eerily similar and it makes me wonder…

15-year-old Sandra Holderfield was hired by Kennedy Slyter, a 26-year-old ex-convict, to be a babysitter for his family. But when he picked the girl up, he took her to a “Lover’s Lane” where she resisted him.  Angered, he beat her in the face with a tire iron, ran her over with his car and shoved her body under a tree. Swell guy. He then came home, told his pregnant wife he had picked up a dog that had been hit by a car, cried to her how “beautiful” the dog had been and then drank DDT and kerosene while he went to a priest to confess. The priest took Kennedy to a hospital, where police showed up to arrest him and his stomach was pumped.

Of course, no place is without tragedy and Grosse Ile over the years has had incidents that could have sparked the “Knock-Knock” Road legend. For example, a four-year-old’s body was pulled from the Swan Island canal on December 8, 1964. The death was ruled an “accidental drowning and it’s news like this that often creates these spooky legends.

Early paranormal websites such as The Shadowlands index majorly helped propagate urban legends like this during the early to mid-2000’s. Thrill seekers hoping for a midnight scare would comb the state-by-state list of haunted places. Early on, Knock-Knock Road was listed as being located on Gross Ile (with no actual road known), not Strasburg in Detroit.

So with multiple tales and locations, there’s speculation on what area was originally coined, “Knock-Knock Road” or if this story even has a real history going back decades or was just a by-product or Internet urban legend, bad research or both! Websites for radio stations, “top 10 listicles,” and more have mastered the “cut and copy” method of writing to create quick click bait. So it’s no wonder why many of these urban legends have become lost in the murkey waters of the Internet.

If you grew up with this legend or are familiar with a variation of this one, comment below or email.

Common sense warning: Big cities come with bad areas. Be mindful if you are legend tripping in areas that may or may not be safe, especially at night. The living will do more to you than the dead. Don’t be an idiot.