Von Dune'll Getcha if You Don't Watch Out!
October 8, 2011 7:04 PM   Subscribe

My in-laws are in town and are arguing about a weird family story/old news story. Help me get to the bottom of this!

So, my late grandfather-in-law would tell his kids (in the late 60s) and grandkids (in the mid-90s) that a boogeyman-type character named Von Dune (or a variation on that pronunciation... Van/Vaughan/Vonn, etc. Dune/Duyne/Doon, etc) would come and kill them if they got out of their beds at night. My mother-in-law insists that at one point, she Googled the story to see where her dad got it from, and found that there was a real guy in Arkansas with the same name who had kids that were kidnapped back in the day, and so he roamed around and kidnapped and murdered kids in the countryside until he found his kids. I just Googled everything I could find and couldn't verify this. Please hope me!
posted by coppermoss to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This doesn't sound familiar to me, but I can suggest some search tools:

Have you tried Snopes? Might be worth searching some various manifestations of the name, just to see if something comes up.

You might also try reading the Wikipedia entry on bogeyman and to see if it rings any bells.

Also, was the grandfather originally from the South? Or Europe? Or Africa? I'm wondering if you might investigate the folklore traditions from that culture.

Finally, you can search Google News for older articles (choose "Archives" on in the left column).

Good luck!
posted by bluedaisy at 7:46 PM on October 8, 2011

She may have the state wrong, that would throw your searches way off.

My aunt "remembers" lots of things quite clearly that not a single other family member can corroborate. We've gotten used to nodding patiently.
posted by hermitosis at 11:49 PM on October 8, 2011

Maybe ask a reference librarian for help.
posted by maurreen at 12:42 AM on October 9, 2011

Never happened. Wikpedia on all known US serial killers which has no fact pattern similar to your nor any name similar to yours. A serial killer who murdered multiple children would have been massive news in the 60s, bigger than the Boston Strangler.
posted by Lame_username at 2:37 AM on October 9, 2011

Gramps might have been telling the story in the 1960s, but that doesn't mean it happened then. Could be folklore from the 1880s or even earlier. What part of the country did Gramps grow up in?
posted by Ideefixe at 10:08 AM on October 9, 2011

Granddad grew up in Alabama. His father was Austrian, so that's another possibility (if we're assuming the Arkansas bit of my MIL's story isn't necessarily the gospel truth.)
posted by coppermoss at 1:11 PM on October 9, 2011

Maybe this Phantom Killer guy (wikipedia - Texarkana Moonlight Murders, where Van Dune = phantom (phanTOOM)?

(also, this wikipedia article may require cleanup, indeed)
posted by tyrantkitty at 3:31 PM on October 10, 2011

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