[WARNING: This list contains disturbing recordings.] In 2017, a pilot flying over Western Australia noticed an SOS made of rocks in a remote location. Realizing that somebody could be stranded in this hostile environment, the pilot reported it to police, who launched an investigation.
The mysterious SOS was later revealed to have been created four years earlier, when a couple became stranded on their yacht in Swift Bay. They survived on meagre rations before being rescued by a passing yacht days later.
Despite this SOS signal not aiding their survival, it was certainly a smart way to increase their chances of rescue, however not all SOS stories have such a positive and logical conclusion, so here are 10 Chilling SOS Calls That Have Never Been Explained.
Top 10 Absurd Emergency Calls
10 Kenji Iwamura
In July 1989, two hikers from Tokyo visited the Daisetsuzan National Park in Hokkaido where they planned to hike to Mount Asahidake. During their trek, the men became stranded and when they didn’t return home as scheduled on July 24th, a search was launched. An SOS sign made from birch tree logs was spotted from a helicopter and the lost hikers were eventually rescued. During their recuperation, the hikers were commended by the rescue pilots for building the SOS signal they had spotted. This clearly baffled the men who denied any knowledge of the signal, so the rescue mission was relaunched the next morning because of fears that more people were stranded on the mountain.
After another search of the area, a backpack was found containing a tape recorder and the driving license of 25 year old Kenji Iwamura. On the tape recorder was the recording above.
Five years earlier, Kenji had decided to hike a similar route but when he failed to check out of his hotel two days later, the owner called the police and a search party was launched. It was called off after 30 days as no trace of Kenji was found.
After reinvigorating the search following the discovery of the backpack, rescue teams found human bones not far from the SOS signal which they eventually announced to be Kenji’s. Investigators couldn’t determine the cause of death from his remains so the investigation was closed. Some reports suggest that the police originally identified the body as that of a woman with type O blood before re-analyzing it and concluding that it was a male with type A blood, which matched Kenji.
Many people still question the police explanation of Kenji’s final moments. How did Kenji move the gigantic birch logs used to construct the SOS signal? The trees were also apparently felled with an axe, although no large bladed object was ever found nearby.
9 Anthonette Cayedito
Anthonette Cayedito was living with her mother and two sisters in Gallup, New Mexico when, at 3am on the 5th of April 1986, she went to investigate a knock at the door. As soon as the door opened, Anthonette was snatched by two men and bundled into a van which sped off into the night. Anthonette’s Mother didn’t notice her daughter was missing until the next morning, at which point she contacted police.
With little for the police to go on, the trail quickly turned cold until almost a year later, when Gallup PD received a chilling phone call from a young girl which you can hear above….
The call was too short to be traced but Anthonette’s mother, Penny, confirmed that it was her daughter’s voice. Despite this brief call raising the family’s hope that Anthonette was still alive, nothing was heard from her for nearly five years until 1991, when there was an unconfirmed report from a Waitress in Carson City, who noticed a teenage girl matching Anthonette’s description dining with an unkempt looking couple. After they left, she found an SOS scrawled on a napkin under the girl’s plate that simply said… ‘ Help me!’ and ‘Call Police’.
That was the last anyone ever saw of Anthonette and Penny died in 1999, never knowing the truth about her daughter’s fate.
8 Henry Mccabe
On September 6th, 2015, Henry Mccabe’s wife and kids left Minnesota to visit family, leaving him alone. Henry decided to enjoy his free time with two friends and they spent the night in a local nightclub. By 2am Henry was clearly in no fit state to drive, so his friends decided to drop him off at home. On the way, Henry insisted on being driven to a gas station to get food before walking home. Reluctantly his friends agreed, unaware that it would be the last time anyone saw Henry alive.
At 2.28am, Henry’s wife received a voicemail from his phone. Only part of the message has ever been released to the public but you can hear that clip above.
Obviously disturbed by this, Henry’s wife called the police. The investigation revealed that after calling his wife, Henry also called his brother, who claimed he could hear sobbing down the line before the call cut out. Later that night, Henry’s phone pinged once more from a cell tower 4 miles away and that is the last record we have of him.
Nearly two months later, Henry’s body was discovered in a lake not far from the cell tower where his phone last pinged. There were no signs of injury on his body so his death was recorded as either suicide or accidental drowning. He had recently been given a poor performance evaluation at work and his rent cheque had bounced, leading people to believe he chose to end his own life, however none of these details explain the chilling noises you can hear in the SOS call he made that night.
7 Brandon Lawson
At 11.30pm on August 8, 2013, Brandon Lawson called his father and announced that he was on his way to visit him in Crowley, a 3 hour drive from his home in San Angelo, Texas. At 12.30am, Brandon called his brother Kyle and told him he had run out of gas on Route 277. Following this call, Brandon also called 911 asking for help, above is a recording of that call.
Kyle arrived at 1.18am and was greeted by an officer who was attending the scene because of other 911 calls made by passing motorists regarding Brandon’s abandoned car. Kyle didn’t mention anything to the deputy as Brandon had outstanding warrants. Unfortunately both Kyle and the officer were unaware that Brandon had already called 911 asking for police, so whatever predicament he found himself in clearly outweighed his fear of being arrested.
Many theories suggest that Brandon had relapsed and was high on drugs, or he decided to disappear and start a new life but the case is still open and unsolved and his family remain convinced that he was the victim of foul play.
6 Joanne Pederson
On February 19th 1983, Joanne Pederson was visiting a mall in Chilliwack BC, with her sister and cousin. On the way back home, the sisters had an argument which led to the two older girls running into the house and locking the door behind them, leaving 10 year old Joanne outside in the cold, dark night.
After failing to convince her sister to open the door, Joanne made her way to a payphone and at 8pm she called her parents and asked to be picked up. Her father answered and said they would leave immediately before handing the phone to his wife so she could comfort the distressed girl. However when Joanne’s mother took the phone, she heard a gruff, irritated male voice who told her if they were not there in 30 minutes he would call the police, then the call ended.
Joanne’s concerned parents raced to the payphone, but when they arrived Joanne was nowhere to be seen. Witnesses claim to have seen Joanne at the payphone with a caucasian man in his 30s, wearing a dark jacket. Another witness claimed to see Joanne and the strange man in a cream coloured car with a green roof, however that’s as far as the trail goes and 35 years later no trace of Joanne has ever been found.
5 Brandon Swanson
Brandon Swanson was a 19 year old student at Minnesota West Community College when on May 13th 2008 at around 2am, he crashed his car into a ditch on the way home from a party. Apparently unhurt, he called his parents so that they could come and get him. His parents agreed and stayed in contact with him over the phone while they drove to pick him up.
Despite being unsure of his exact location, Brandon decided that he must be near the town of Lind as he could see lights in the distance. He told his Dad over the phone that he would walk there and meet him in the car park of a local bar. Brandon stayed in contact with his Dad on the phone for 47 minutes until eventually he uttered his last words ‘Oh shit!’ before the call disconnected.
After hearing this and not managing to find their son despite searching desperately, Brandon’s parents contacted the Lind police to declare him missing. Cell phone tower data was examined and it was found that Brandon had been calling from a town called Taunton, almost 25 miles away from Lind. A search was launched in the area and soon his Chevy was found north of State Highway 68. After a 30 day search of the area, Brandon and his phone could not be located and his fate remains a mystery to this day.
4 Ruth Price
Details are few and far between when it comes to this recording but it is reported that in 1988, Ruth Price was an elderly lady living alone in the U.S. when she called 911 to report a prowler outside her property. Not long after Ruth explains that she is home alone, she lets rip with a blood curdling scream while muffled thumps can be heard over the receiver. The operator sits in stunned silence as Ruth screams for help at the top of her lungs before the call ends abruptly. You can hear the recording above.
Many who trained as 911 operators in the 90s claimed to have heard this recording during training. They were informed by their instructors that the recording was real and that Ruth was battered to death in her home. Apparently it was a very effective way of demonstrating correct emergency operator procedure, as the operator heard everything but still had no address that she could send emergency responders to.
3 Japanese City’s Mystery Emergency Calls
In the Akita prefecture of Japan, emergency calls from landlines have recently been proving such a mystery that local firefighter chiefs submitted a letter of enquiry to the local phone company to begin an investigation. In 2020, emergency responders were called out 9 times to properties where residents were unaware that their landline phone had dialled the emergency services.
The calls didn’t contain an audible language, but were described as robot-like noises by those that heard them. Due to them being considered ‘mute emergency calls’ firefighters were dispatched to the locations where the calls originated from, only to find bemused residents with no idea why the fire service was interrupting their dinner. Over half of these calls were made when residents were not even home!
2 SS Ourang Medan
The Ourang Medan SOS is one of the most famous mayday calls in maritime history, yet the details of this case are heavily disputed. Even a date cannot be agreed on for this event, with most people agreeing it happened some time between late 1947 and early 1948. What makes this story interesting is that the SOS was received by two American ships who both separately understood the communication to say..
‘All officers including the Captain are dead. Lying in chartroom and the bridge. Possibly whole crew dead. I die.’
Upon hearing this ominous message, the Silver Star was immediately dispatched in the direction of the stricken vessel and several hours later the Ourang Medan was spotted with no signs of life on board. Once all efforts to make contact were exhausted, the crew of the SIlver Star boarded and were faced with a grisly scene. The corpses of the Dutch crew littered the decks, their faces contorted in agony and/or horror but with no signs of any injuries. The radio operator who sent the message was still at his station, as were the engineers who appeared to have died where they were working. Crewman who boarded the Ourang Medan reported an eerie chill on the ship despite the warm climate of the Malacca Strait where it was found.
Eventually the crew of the Silver Star tethered the Ourang Medan ready to tow it to safety, at which point it promptly burst into flames from the lower decks, before exploding and sinking to the bottom of the ocean, dragging any chance of discovering what happened to the crew down with it.
1 1990 Washington State Bigfoot calls
Our final entry contains two phone calls to Washington State emergency operators that were recorded some time in 1990. Both recordings are edited but they both clearly come from the same confused and distressed gentleman in his home. He is obviously at a loss to explain what is happening but he is also clearly a sober and logical person. He does his best to describe what he is witnessing in human terms, however it is clear he doesn’t really understand what he is seeing.