Carmen Winstead

Was she really pushed down a sewer by bullies and killed?

Michel Tripepi / EyeEm / Getty Images

In which we investigate the story of a 17-year-old girl allegedly pushed down a sewer and killed by a gang of bullies from her school. Her ghost has returned to wreak revenge on those who do not share it. Can any of this possibly be true?

Description: Chain letter
Circulating since: 2006
See also: French version | Spanish version
Status: False

Example #1:
Text of post contributed by a reader, October 6, 2006:

------ Bulletin Message ------

They pushed her down a sewer

About 6 years ago in Indiana, Carmen Winstead was pushed down a sewer opening by 5 girls in her school, trying to embarrass her in front of her school during a fire drill. When she didn't submerge the police were called. They went down and brought up 17 year old Carmen Winstead's body, her neck broke hitting the ladder, then side concrete at the bottom. The girls told everyone she fell... They believed them.

FACT: 2 months ago, 16 year old David Gregory read this post and didn't repost it. When he went to take a shower he heard laughter from his shower, he started freaking out and ran to his computer to repost it, He said goodnight to his mom and went to sleep, 5 hours later his mom woke up in the middle of the night cause of a loud noise, David was gone, that morning a few hours later the police found him in the sewer, his neck broke and his face skin peeled off.

If you don't repost this saying "She was pushed" or "They pushed her down a sewer" Then Carmen will get you, either from a sewer, the toilet, the shower, or when you go to sleep you'll wake up in the sewer, in the dark, then Carmen will come and kill you.

Example #2:
As shared via Google+, Oct. 4, 2014:

"Hi my name is Carmen Winstead. I'm 17 years old. I am very similar to you... Did I mention to you that I'm dead. A few years ago a group of girls pushed me down a sewer hole to try and embarrass me. When I didn't come back up the police came. The girls said that I had fell and everyone believed them. The police found my body in the sewer. I had a broken neck and my face was torn off. Send this message to 15 people after you read the whole message if you value your life! A boy called David received this message. He just laughed and deleted it. When he was in the shower he heard laughing... MY LAUGHTER! He got really scared, rushed to his phone to repost this message... But he was too late. The next morning his mum entered his bedroom and all she found was a message written in his blood saying, "You will never have him back!" No one has found his body yet... because he is with me! A girl called Charlotte received this message and she immediately sent it to 25 people (10 more than required). I still watch over every second of her life to make sure that she is safe and to keep her and everyone close to her out of danger. Send this to 15 people in the next 5 minutes if you don't want your fate to be the same as David's. Your time starts... NOW! The story is true you can research It on google"

Analysis: Don't panic. I could find no public record of a teenage girl named Carmen Winstead who perished after being pushed down a sewer drain by bullying schoolmates — not in North America, at any rate, and certainly not within the past 50 years.

That doesn't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that no such thing ever happened, but it's reason enough to classify the tale as folklore, a cautionary tale, an urban legend.

It's also a classic example of a chain letter, albeit one circulating in the form of shared Facebook posts and forwarded emails instead of snail mail, which is how chain letters were traditionally distributed before the advent of digital media. Like every chain letter since time immemorial, however, its primary goal is self-replication. The story is told in such a way as to persuade you to pass it along to your friends, so they'll pass it along to their friends, and so on, ensuring that the text continues to circulate.

The supernatural threat

This particular chain letter relies on a supernatural threat — the promise of a painful death at the hands of Carmen Winstead's ghost — to goad recipients into passing it along. "If you don't repost this saying 'They pushed her,'" the text warns, "then Carmen will get you, either from the sewer, the toilet, the shower, or when you go to sleep you'll wake up in the sewer, in the dark, then Carmen will come and kill you."

Are you scared yet? If so, you probably shouldn't read any of these other specimens of the ghost-story-chain-letter genre, because they're likely to frighten you even more...

  • A Little Girl Called Clarissa
    "On a Monday night at 12:00 she creeps into your room and kills you, but slowly and painfully, slowly cutting different parts of your body then watches you bleed to death. If you don't send this to 20 people by midnight she'll be coming to kill you!"
  • The Clown Statue
    "The children and the babysitter got murdered by the clown. It turned out 2 be that the clown was a killer that escaped from jail. If you don't repost to 10 peeps within 5 minutes the clown will be standing next 2 your bed at 3:00 am with a knife in his hand."
  • The Ghost Under the Bed
    "People in Laredo, Texas received this image and did not send it and were killed outside a bar; it looked as if this woman killed them. Send it to five people or the woman will look for you."
  • Humans Can Lick, Too
    "If you delete this letter you will suffer the same fate as the girl in the story did, years after the dog was killed. She was raped and killed in the same town and same house as the dog. Do not dismiss this letter, because if you do, a horrible thing will become of you, everyone will soon know your name."

See also: The Death of David Gregory