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All over the world, urban legends about boogeymen abound, much to the delight of horror fans. Many of these tales involve scary real-life stories or experiences that can really make your skin crawl, sometimes due to the gory events associated with them and sometimes due to the sheer horrific nature of the characteristics of the boogieman. The Tennessee legend of Skinned Tom checks both boxes.

Skinned Tom’s story can be a source of oodles of satisfaction for horror aficionados studying urban legends. The tale of a ladies’ man who chose the wrong woman to show his affections to, the Skinned Tom urban legend is not for the faint of heart. Let us explore the legend and its source.

Origins of the Skinned Tom Urban Legend

The Skinned Tom urban legend originates from the charming Southern neighborhood of Walland, Tennessee. According to the story, Tom was a young man in that rural Tennessee town imbued amply with all the qualities of a classic playboy. He was good-looking, witty, charming, and knew the way to a woman’s heart. A typical womanizer, he started charming and dating local ladies — only to leave them by the wayside and look for someone new immediately after.

No girl in town was immune to the charms of Tom, and most of them eventually joined his list of conquests. The more Tom found success with the ladies, the more insatiable he became. Gradually, he started to expand his dominion and drive into nearby towns to find greener pastures. It is there, in a neighboring town, that Tom finally made the lady of his dreams, Eleanor. There was just one issue: Eleanor was a married woman.

Eleanor was beautiful, with a winning smile, blue eyes, and blond hair that she wore long. She quickly became enamored with Tom, and they became lovers. Maybe she hid the fact that she was married from him. Maybe he knew, and was even more excited romancing a married lady. However, they made no attempts to be discreet, and the gossip eventually reached Eleanor’s husband, an unsavory character who was physically imposing and proficient with a hunting knife.

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Driven mad by jealousy and rage, the husband plotted revenge. He told Eleanor that he needed to get out of town for the weekend for work, but he actually concealed himself in the greenery behind their home. He watched Tom arrive in his car and Eleanor passionately embrace him. They drove off and he followed them. They eventually ended up at the local Lovers’ Lane, and that is where the husband decided to strike, taking advantage of the relatively desolate setting.

Skinned Tom urban legend

He pounced upon them in the car, first stabbing Eleanor in the stomach and then proceeding to drag Tom off towards the nearby woods. Tom begged and pleaded with him to no avail. When they were well-hidden, Tom’s bloodcurdling screams could be heard from a mile away. Eventually, the husband went to the local sheriff and turned himself in. Later, when law enforcement arrived on the scene, they were treated with a chilling sight.

How Skinned Tom Came to Be

The officers found Eleanor still alive. However, when they entered the woods, they saw a full suit of human skin hanging from a tree. It was clear that Eleanor’s husband had used his skills with a hunting knife to flay and skin Tom alive. He had then draped the skin suit over a nearby tree and left, presumably leaving Tom to die. However, Tom seemed to still be alive as his skinned body was nowhere to be found in the area.

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This is how the Skinned Tom urban legend came to be. Legend has it that Tom, now undead and the owner of a horrific appearance on account of being completely skinned, lurks around the Lovers’ Lane area and teaches unfaithful couples the same lesson he himself learned that night about the consequences of infidelity. He carries a large hunting knife, a replica of the one used to carry out the brutal torture against him.

Skinned Tom urban legend

His aim is to catch cheating couples and perpetrate the same torture that he himself suffered years ago. Even now, parents warn their teenage kids not to go near the Lovers’ Lane area, lest they have an unfortunate encounter with Skinned Tom.

Life’s Lessons

While it is a cautionary tale that often serves to give parents leverage over their teenage kids, the Skinned Tom urban legend contains important life lessons about infidelity and the consequences of one’s actions. Most of all, it is the gory and gruesome endgame of the entire affair that will appeal to horror enthusiasts. Just visualizing the appearance of a completely skinned zombie man can be enough to set the pulses racing.

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Like many urban legends, the legend of Skinned Tom has stood the test of time and is heard in rural Tennessee even to this day.

— FOUNDATIONS OF HORROR —

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Last Updated on June 9, 2022.

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