One of the most popular and most notorious phantoms in Massachusetts walks along a dark stretch of road in the town of Rehoboth. For more than three decades, a redheaded man has been seen walking down Route 44, waiting to be picked up. 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 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 travellers see him as well-kempt, but he has also been seen with his characteristic red hair dishevelled and dirty. 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.
Written by — Christopher Balzano Founder, Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads
THE REDHEADED HITCHHIKER OF ROUTE 44
ROUTE 44 NEAR THE SEEKONK/REHOBOTH LINE
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places -Ghostly Locales from around the World – Compiled & Edited by Jeff Belanger – Copyright 2005 by Jeff Belanger