If there’s anything we’ve learned from pop culture, it’s that getting caught cheating never ends well. You can end up losing your career, family, inheritance, and – in the case of Skinned Tom – even your life. This urban legend from Walland, Tennessee has it all for the average horror enthusiast: blood, sex, vengeance, and a cautionary tale for young people to not go looking for trouble. But how did Tom go from an attractive ladies man to a terrifying body horror urban legend who has supposedly haunted Lover’s Lane for decades? Here’s what the stories say.
The Legend of Skinned Tom
Decades ago in Walland, Tennessee, a young man named Tom was living the dream. He was handsome, funny, and smart…and the ladies noticed. He slowly began to womanize everybody in town, and yet, as with most playboys, he was never content. He would spend a bit of time with a woman before breaking up with her and moving on to the next, but everything changed when he met a gorgeous woman from the next town over. Some tales of Skinned Tom called her Eleanor. She was basically his dream girl, except for one unfortunate fact: she was already married. Tom didn’t mind, and he got a rush from sneaking around with a married woman trying not to get caught. He even pulled it off for a while, as they would kiss in Tom’s car near Lover’s Lane and do what all secret lovers do. That is, until Eleanor’s husband tracked them down and got the ultimate revenge on Tom for making him a cuckold.
The legends say that Eleanor’s husband dragged Tom out of the car and skinned him alive with a hunting knife at the sight of his smug face. Gory? Yes. Deserved? Debatable. Tom had begged the angry man not to hurt him, swearing that he had no idea that Eleanor was married (a complete lie) and that he would never go near her again. But her husband saw right through Tom’s phony antics and got the ultimate vengeance on the man who had wronged him.
The Legend of Eleanor
As for Eleanor, there are different versions of what happened to her. Some urban legends say that her husband had killed her with the hunting knife right before he skinned Tom, albeit in a much less gruesome way. Others say that he had kept her alive on purpose, forcing her to watch as her lover was brutally murdered and tortured right before her eyes. That’s definitely something that would scar you for life, right? The part of the story that doesn’t change, however, is Tom’s brutal end…and how he now makes it his mission in death to prevent others from making the same mistakes he did in life.
According to many urban legends told around the campfire in Tennessee, the ghost of Tom still hangs out around Lover’s Lane to teach young adults a lesson or two about adultery. He is described as a bloody skeleton who still holds the very same hunting knife that was used to remove the skin from his body, and will scare away anybody who tries to make out in the Tennessee countryside. Cheating is a painful act that hurts everybody involved, a lesson that Tom had to learn the hard way, and you’ll definitely stop smooching a married lady once a bloody, knife-wielding skeleton comes your way.
Skinned Tom’s song:
“Have you see the ghost of Skinned Tom?
Bloody red bones with the skin all gone
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
Wouldn’t it be chilly with no skin on.”
I am a lifelong pop culture junkie with immense passion for all forms of art and entertainment. On a typical weekend, I can be found at a concert or musical, chasing ghosts on the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, or watching way too many makeup tutorials on YouTube.