When we think of things that scare us, we mostly think of things that we can see. It makes sense. When we can see something, we can visualize it in our mind. It takes a shape, which makes it real. What about sound though? Can sound be terrifying? I never used to think so, but after listening to some of these recordings my opinion has changed. These 11 recordings all captured something horrific or tragic. If you have sensitive constitution, you may want to think twice about listening to some of these. What you hear in these recordings will never be able to be fully pushed out of your head. Listen at your own risk.
1. A Nuclear Explosion- Many of us have seen a nuclear explosion on video before. The footage is fascinating to watch. The raw destructive power is almost beyond our comprehension, which only make it that much more enticing for us to play with. Most videos that you see of a nuclear explosion have matched up the audio with the visible explosion. This is perhaps one of the only unedited audio recordings of a nuclear explosion. The sound itself may not be the most terrifying thing, but when you realize that carnage that its source can cause it is shocking.
2. Earthquake Of The Coast Of Japan- Earthquakes are natural disasters that can wreak devastation on any part of the planet they effect. There really is nowhere to run when one occurs. In 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit 40 miles off the coast of Japan and 19 miles below sea level. The earthquake released the equivalent explosive yield of 470 megatons of TNT or roughly 9 Tsar bombs (the biggest nuclear weapon ever detonated). The earthquake was what was categorized as “megathrust” earthquake. Megathrust earthquakes are caused when one tectonic plate is forced underneath another. These type of earthquakes are the most powerful on Earth. Every earthquake above a 9.0 magnitude since 1900 has been a megathrust earthquake. More than 15,000 died as a result of this earthquake, and 1 million buildings sustained damage or collapsed. The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant was also significantly damaged in the incident, cause a meltdown and untold amounts of radiation to be released. It is also the most costly natural disaster in world history with a monetary cost of roughly $235 billion. It turned out to be the 4th most powerful earthquake ever documented.
3. Alto, Indiana Tornado- Another natural disaster that causes havoc and devastation are tornadoes. Having been through a tornado myself when I was younger, I know through firsthand experience the kind of terror that comes along with going through one. That’s why this recording was a little difficult for me to listen to. On Palm Sunday in 1965, a F4 tornado touched down in Indiana and tore its way through the towns of Alto, Russiaville, Kokomo and Greentown. The storm completely wiped the town of Alto, and almost destroyed all of Russiaville. It left a 800 yard path of destruction in Kokomo. This recording was taken from a church’s radio broadcast while the tornado was tearing through the town. It ultimately claimed the lives of 25 people and injured 800. If you listen carefully, you can make out the drowned out screams of the people inside the church….
4. Joplin, Missouri Tornado- When talking about the tornadoes in the United States, it’s hard to not bring up the Joplin, Missouri tornado of 2011. I still remember the news report when it happened because it was my birthday. The F5 tornado ripped its way through Joplin, Missouri basically leveling the whole town. I remember seeing pictures of what the school looked like after, and being amazed that anyone made it out alive. It is one of the deadliest and most costly tornadoes in U.S. history.
5. Aurora Colorado 911 Dispatch Audio- Remember the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting? Maybe not. We’ve had so many mass shootings in the past few years it’s hard to separate them all anymore. During the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, a man got up from his seat and walked out of the emergency exit at the front of the theater. People thought it was strange, seeing as how many had waiting in line for quite some time to get tickets to the premiere but just brushed it off. Moments later James Holmes emerged back through the doorway with a shotgun, semi-automatic rife and a pistol. He threw two canisters of tear gas into the crowd, and started firing. The shooting resulted in the death of 12 people, and the injuring of 70 more. The 911 calls really give you a sense of what law enforcement officers deal with during a situation such as this.
6. Mexican Cartel Shootout- Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have heard by now how out of control the drug cartels in Mexico have gotten. The war between the Mexican government and the cartels was at its height between 2006-2012. During that time it is estimated that 60,000 people were killed as a result of the war on the Cartels. In this video Mexican marines had been chasing down a wanted cartel leader named Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen for more than 6 months. They finally cornered him in the border town of Matamoros, Mexico. The resulting gun battle between 660 Mexican marines and the cartel lasted for 8 hours. Mexican officials claim that only 10 people were killed in the firefight, but locals and witnesses say that there were 4 to 10 times more casualties.
7. Air Traffic Controller Audio From September 11, 2001- The events of September 11, 2001 will forever be etched in my memory. I was sitting in 7th grade science when my principal interrupted our lesson to tell our teacher to turn on the news. We watched in horror as the events unfolded before our very eyes. Now can you imagine being an air traffic controller on that day? This set of audio recordings will give you an inside look at what it was like to witness that days events from their perspective. The chaos and confusion become very evident, as these people really have no idea what was going on. An event like this was inconceivable to many at the time. We weren’t prepared for this as a nation. There was no plan of action for something like this, and it really showed in the mass confusion. It is truly a day I will never forget. The video is pretty long, so here are some points you can jump to hear the more important audio:
At 2:22, air traffic control is able to make contact with American Airlines Flight 11. Unfortunately it is not the pilots who answer, it is the terrorists who have taken over the plane.
At 5:21 the information about a possible terrorist hijacking is finally being relayed around to the different air traffic control stations.
At 9:26, video starts. You hear the roar of a plane engine, and as the camera pans across you see the explosion of Flight 11 hitting the first World Trade tower.
At 11:30 the news is starting to cover the event, and air traffic controllers are learning that the plane they were tracking was flown into one of the World Trade Center towers.
At 13:05, air traffic control tries to get Flight 175 to change their transponder frequency, however they do not respond. Air traffic control tries for several minutes to reach Flight 175 to no avail.
At 18:13, Flight 175 crashes into the second World Trade Center tower.
8. Missing Person Brandon Lawson- This is about as weird of an audio recording and case in general that you can get. Brandon Lawson went missing on August 8, 2013 while making a frantic phone call to 911. His last known location was south of Bronte, Texas near a rest stop on US 277. The only known clues were this 911 call, and a call to his brother and his girlfriend. His truck had run out of gas and was parked precariously on the side of the road. His thick Texas accent as well as his panicked state make much of what he is saying in the phone call incoherent. One prediction is that he may have run into someone on the side of the road. Or he may have been searching for help to get gas when he approached people or saw something he shouldn’t have. His body was never found, and many people believe the key to what happened to him lies in the incoherent 911 call he placed.
9. Byron Smith Murders- This audio comes from us courtesy of Byron Smith himself. In 2012 Smith’s home in Little Falls was the victim of multiple burglaries. He went to the police, but the most they could really do was tell him to upgrade his security system. Well that wasn’t enough for Byron, who by all rights was a recluse with few friends or known family. One day he conceived a plan that would ultimately get him sentenced to life in prison. He decided that he would park his car away from his house, thus enticing the burglars to strike again thinking he wasn’t home. He then set himself up at the bottom of his basement stairs with Ruger Mini-14 and a revolver. Two kids then showed up and broke into his home, 17-year-old Nick Brady and his 18-year-old cousin Haile Kifer. Nick ventured into the home first with Haile waiting outside as a lookout. As Nick started down the basement stairs, Smith shot him twice with his mini-14. He then walked up to him and delivered a kill shot to the head. Soon Haile came looking for Nick, and she was met with the same fate. Smith was convicted of two counts of first degree murder with premeditation and two counts of second degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. This audio is different from the rest. Some may find this incredibly disturbing, and it is not recommended if you have a weak constitution.
At 3:21 Smith fires two shots that hit Nick Brady. You can hear Brady’s cries of pain as he is hit. Smith then fires the kill shot into Nick and declares, “You’re dead.”
At 13:40, Haile is heard calling out for Nick. She starts descending the stairs and is shot once by Smith. Smith then walks up to her, and nonchalantly states, “Oh, sorry about that.” You can also hear Haile saying, “Oh my god.” He then proceeds to fire four more shots into Haile from point-blank range and says, “Bitch.” However, Haile was not dead yet.
At 15:19, you can hear Smith deliver the kill shot by placing his revolver underneath Haile’s chin.
10. Kent State Shootings- Kent State was the sight of one of the most notorious shootings in the U.S. history. Not because of the number of people killed, or the weapons used. No, it’s because it was our very own government that killed these students. Kent State students had been involved in series of protests on campus over the days before the shooting. They were protesting Nixon and his plan to declare war on Cambodia. The Vietnam War was at its height and tensions were already high between the government and many citizens over the continuation of it. The protests in the days leading up to the shootings had been violent in nature. They had set fire to an ROTC building and then assaulted the firemen who were attempting to put it out. That day though, protesters were being peaceful and simply voicing their displeasure with the government. There is never an excuse for a government to fire upon its own citizens who are simply demonstrating. This was truly one of the most shocking moments in American history.
11. Grizzly Man Death Audio- This is one of the first pieces of disturbing audio I ever listened to, and to be honest is still hasn’t stopped freaking me out. In my experiences in life, I’ve heard grown men scream like crying babies. For Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard though, what they experienced must have been one of the worst things I can ever imagine. Timothy had spent many summers up in Alaska living with the Grizzly Bears. Unfortunately in 2003, his relationship with the animals took a sudden and terrifying turn. A grizzly bear wandered into him and his girlfriend’s camp and caught them both unaware. The audio still gives me goosebumps to this day. These are what death screams sound like.
Did you make it through all of these? It was hard for me to, I have to admit. I never thought sound could scare me as much as it did with some of these. It may not even have been that I was scared, but they just made me incredible uneasy and uncomfortable. Witnessing or hearing death is never an easy thing. That’s why I think these audio recordings can bring out so much emotion in us. Death is something most people are never comfortable talking about, let alone seeing or hearing. Hopefully these don’t keep you up at night…