Claim: Freddy Krueger from ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ was inspired by a real serial killer.

We might be months away from Halloween, but that won’t stop the internet from trying to scare you. A social media legend is claiming horror protagonist Freddy Krueger was once a real man.

Krueger is the villain in the 1984 horror movie “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” a child murderer’s terrifying spirit that haunts teenagers’ dreams.  After inspiring a five-film series and several spinoffs, the Krueger character has become famous for his fedora, claws and burnt skin.

“DID YOU KNOW…. That the Horror Film Character Freddy Kruger (sic) was based on a real life serial killer who lived in Lightening Creek, Oklahoma in the 1800s,” Michael Phariss posted on Facebook on July 2. “Later the town was moved and became Alluwe, Oklahoma.”

The post then shares eerie details of child murders, factory fires and haunted ghost towns alongside a mysterious photo of a dark figure lurking behind three oblivious toddlers.

The legend, which was debunked by Snopes in October 2017 and PolitiFact in September 2019, is an evolved rendition of a 2017 Halloween prank.

Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger in "A Nightmare on Elm Street."

It all started with a Halloween joke 

In a much shorter October 2017 Facebook post, Lamaur Foster told his followers about the “real serial killer” alongside a photo of a gravestone inscribed “Frederick Kruger.”  Foster recounted the legend of an 1800s serial killer who allegedly inspired the iconic character before disclosing the post was a holiday joke.

“Actually, I just found this picture and made all that … up. Happy October everyone!” Foster wrote at the end of the post, which received thousands of shares, likes and comments.

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The legend evolved over time

Foster’s original post shares several themes with the longer version Phariss shared in July. In both posts, the fictional character had a similar death count, weapon choice, crime scene and punishment. They differ in location, photo, detail and disclaimer.

Foster’s account of the legend took place in Cincinnati, where he appears to reside. Other retellings have moved the legend to Brooklyn and Buffalo, N.Y.

The latest version of the post is accompanied by an old photo of a man in a fedora lurking behind several children as they pose for a photo. Reverse search of the image shows it’s appeared on paranormal-theory sites and creepypastas in various contexts for more than a decade.

The most glaring difference between the two posts is that Phariss does not disclose that the legend is untrue.