With the release of the latest installment of the Halloween movies, I think it’s about time we cover what is perhaps my favorite urban legend. It allegedly begins in the 1920s, ands doesn’t have an ending. So, who is Stanley Stiers, and how is he related to the infamous Michael Myers? Let’s explore?
Some time in 1912, two baby boys were born on the same day. One was to the Stiers family, who named their son Stanley. The other family is unknown. At the hospital a nurse switched the babies – some say it was an experiment to see if the families would notice, others say it was just for her own enjoyment. Unfortunately, the unnamed family perished in a car accident on their way home from the hospital. Soon, the Stiers discovered the baby they came home with was not theirs, and their real son had died in the car accident. They became hateful towards Stanley. They began drinking to numb the pain of this realization, and began to abuse Stanley. The Stiers family had a daughter named Susie a few years later. They treated her like a precious gift while continuing to abuse Stanley. Eventually, even young Susie contributed to the abuse.
Around Halloween in 1923, Stanley desperately wanted to go trick or treating. However, because Susie also did not want to go, he was forced to stay home. That night, Susie was allowed to go to a party while Stanley suffered alone in his room. Apparently, Stanley then snapped. He waited for Susie to get home before grabbing a butcher knife and stabbing both her and their parents to death. He stayed in the house with their dead bodies and went trick or treating the next day. While out trick or treating, he encountered a group of kids that made his life hell at school. So he attacked them with the butcher knife as well, killing some and wounding others. Someone ran to call the police, and when they finally found Stanley, he was swinging on a swing set, eating his trick or treat candy.
Stanley was then sent to a psychiatric hospital, though they could find nothing wrong with him. He was just evil. 13 years after he was admitted to the hospital, he escaped by snapping the necks of the orderlies who were in charge of him. At this point, he stood at 6’4” tall and had superhuman strength. Another orderly reported his escape and the police attempted to stop him in the facility’s parking lot. They tried shooting him, but their bullets hardly slowed him down. He apparently walked off into the night, ever to be seen again. Some claim to have seen Stanley to this day.
Does This Sound Familiar?
Well, let’s look at the first Halloween movie. A young man named Michael Myers (Michael Myers…Stanley Stiers…come on.) was being babysat by his older sister on Halloween in 1963. He murdered her for seemingly no reason. Rather than face imprisonment, Michael Myers was sent to a mental health facility. He escaped from that facility on Halloween fifteen years later. He found his way back to his childhood home, and became fixated on Laurie Strode, who resembled his sister. Michael then murders everyone who gets in his way, or who breaks the unwritten Slasher Movie Rules. Michael Myers has superhuman strength and is said to be unstoppable. Sound familiar?
There is no record of any Stanley Stiers in Iowa – there are no birth or death records, most notably. There are also seemingly no newspaper articles regarding the gruesome murders he allegedly committed. You’d think if a young boy murdered anyone in a small town in Iowa, his story would end up in at least one paper. But there is nothing to be found. Not transcribed on local news stations, and not archived on Newspapers.com. It seems unlikely that every single mention of this crime simply slipped through the archival cracks.
John Carpenter has spoken many times about his inspiration for Michael Myers, and has never mentioned Stanley Stiers. Instead, Carpenter cited an experience from his time studying Psychology in college. For his degree, he studied mentally ill patients who had been admitted to an inpatient facility. It was at this facility that Carpenter saw a 12 year old boy with a thousand-yard stare that disturbed him. He described the boy as emotionless, with black eyes and an “evil” stare. It seems problematic to deem someone struggling with mental illness as evil just because of how he looks, but it was apparently a gut reaction. That boy heavily influenced the depiction of young Michael Myers in the film.
Another influence for Michael Myers was Ed Kemper, who is a serial killer who murdered ten women between 1964-1973. Kemper is highly intelligent and stands at 6’9” tall. He is also known as the Co-Ed Killer. Throughout his crime spree, Kemper targeted young women who were hitchhiking. His crimes also included sexual assault and necrophilia. It seems that the only things Kemper inspired in Michael Myers were his height, and his fixation on young women.
It seems that this legend was just a creative writing exercise that spread like wildfire across the internet. Some people believe Stanley Stiers must have inspired Michael Myers because the legend allegedly predates the film. Except that there are no signs of the legend popping up in any analog media, or even on any early-digital age media. The earliest mention of Stanley Stiers I have seen came from the mid-2000s. It seems more logical to me that a fan of the Halloween franchise decided to rewrite Michael Myers’s origin story to make it even more gruesome. The details just line up too nicely. But, hey, there are papers that haven’t been digitized, and some urban legends are more like an oral tradition. Maybe I just haven’t come across the source material.