The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs

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The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs — also known as The Baby-sitter or The Sitter — is an that dates back to the 1960s about a teenage girl children who receives telephone calls from a man who continually asks her to "check the children". The basic storyline has been adapted a number of times including in (1971),The Sitter (1977), (1979 and ), (1993), and (2008). (The Sitter, When a Stranger Calls, and When a Stranger Calls Back are all the work of director .)

It has also been covered in the television programs and .

The legend

A teenage girl is babysitting at night. The children have been put to bed upstairs and the babysitter is downstairs, watching TV. The phone rings, a man is laughing and telling her to check on the children. She at first dismisses the call. After a second call of the man laughing and asking her to check on the children, she asks who it is, the caller hangs up. Rather than checking on the children, the teenager decides to ignore the call and goes back to watching TV. The stranger calls back again.

Eventually the girl becomes worried and calls the police, who tell her they will trace the next call. After he calls again, the police call back, they tell her that the call is coming from inside the house and to get out now.

She goes outside and the police meet her. They tell the calls were coming from inside the house, and he was calling her after killing each child.

The crime

The crime on which this urban legend is based happened in 1950. On the evening of March 18, 1950, 13-year-old Janett Christman was babysitting 3-year-old Gregory Romack at his home on West Boulevard and Stewart Road in Columbia, Missouri. Sometime after Christman put the toddler to bed and before his parents returned around 1:30 a.m., an intruder shattered a window and attacked her in the Romacks' living room. Although a garden hose left outside was used to break the window, police said the furniture and light fixtures near the window were totally undisturbed, making it impossible that he entered that way. This indicated to investigators that the intruder attempted to make it look like the house had been broken into, when in reality, Christman probably opened the front door for someone she knew.

At 10:35 p.m., Officer Roy McCowan received a jarring phone call. A girl was screaming hysterically on the other end, and McCowan heard the words "come quick." The connection, however, broke off before the girl could identify herself. At that late hour, the test board at the telephone company was not staffed, and the call couldn't be traced. At about 1:35 a.m., the Romacks returned home to find the front Venetian blinds open and the porch light illuminated. Both the front and back doors were unlocked, and a side window was broken open. Christman lay in a pool of blood on a shag carpet by the family piano.

In the attack, she was hit on the head with a blunt weapon, raped and strangled with an iron cord. Several small puncture wounds on her head were consistent with that of a mechanical pencil — an item often carried by a close friend of the Romacks, Robert Mueller. He had met Christman several times and, according to court documents, "expressed admiration for Christman's figure and her mature development, and expressed the opinion that she was a virgin." Mrs. Romack told police she thought Mueller had made unwelcome advances toward Christman in the past.

The prime suspect, 27-year-old Robert Mueller, was never charged, passed a lie detector test and eventually sued the sheriff and others for holding him illegally. He lived on West Worley, less than a half-mile from the Christman murder.

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