Phrogging: When Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

Credit: Lifetime

A dark shadow moving across an empty living room, strange noises within the walls, the feeling that someone is always watching you– all of this certainly sounds like the makings of a horror movie but unfortunately, this is all too real. The phenomenon is known as Phrogging and is a horrifying trend that is coming a little too close for comfort. 

Phrogging is the occurrence of another person secretly living inside someone else’s house. It’s creepy, it’s crawly, and even worse, it’s real. Several examples of these occurrences have been documented in the new show on Lifetime titled Phrogging. Examples of this horrifying trend include people living inside attics, crawlspaces, and even closets, and walls. The homeowners usually are alerted to the presence of an intruder by little things being out of place, or the presence of items they’ve never seen before. Strange noises and the feeling of being watched are additional indicators of the presence of a phrogger. The tricky thing about this phenomenon is that it is hard to call the police over something small like a misplaced coffee pot or a raised toilet seat in a house full of women. Usually, by the time the phrogger is actually discovered, the homeowner has felt something was awry for months. So not only is the invasion of the home physically terrifying for the occupants, it is mentally and psychologically damaging too. Ick. 

Credit: Lifetime

The Culprits

So this phenomenon begs the question– who would do something like this? Well, it seems the culprits most often fall into two main categories. The first category is the seemingly obvious category;  homeless people looking for a place to live or criminals looking for a place to hide. And why not, there’s certainly no better hiding spot than inside someone else’s WALLS! The examples of this category are endless, people crawling into crawl spaces, climbing up into attics, or hanging out in unused garages or basements. It’s horrifying. 

One of the most interesting examples of this was a phrogger hiding in plain sight. When Ohio State college students Brett Mugglin and Mark Hartman moved into their new off-campus home, they were excited about having more space. Although the house had some quirks and wasn’t in the best of shape maintenance-wise, the boys had still been excited. But it wasn’t long before their sense of excitement turned to terror when they realized they had a roommate, who wasn’t on the lease. The boys discovered a room in the basement, windowless and cramped but certainly inhabited. But by who? It turned out to be a young, college-aged male. Confused by his presence the boys reached out to their landlord only to discover the boy was not on the lease at all and wasn’t supposed to be living there. The boys had their very own phrogger who had just moved in and set up shop in their basement! 

Other examples include criminals who had been on the run and had sought refuge in crawl spaces and attics, living there unnoticed for days, weeks, and in some cases even months. 

The Campbell’s 

But one of the creepiest examples by far centers around the Campbell family. James and Brittany Campbell were a newly married couple with two young sons. The family had noticed odd occurrences of items out of place, strange noises, and odd coincidences. But things came to a head when the family went out of town but ended up returning home a day earlier than planned, to find the phrogger in their home!  They came face to face with the phrogger who was holding their door shut, barring them entrance to their own home! When the police arrived they realized just how sinister the phrogger’s intentions had been. The phrogger had planned to put sedatives in the family’s food so that they would fall asleep and the intruder would be able to practice surgical operations on them at his leisure. Yikes. The phrogger had also infiltrated their computers, cell phones, and all kinds of private information, running around their home undetected all day while the children were at school and the parents were at work. They found he had used their laptops to keep a journal and notes on them and saw his terrifying Google searches.  The Campbell’s got rid of the phrogger but their home was never the same, the family ended up moving away and making a fresh start. 

The Devil You Know 

The second category of phrogger is far more sinister in intent, the devil you know kind of sinister. This category includes people known to the homeowners, people such as ex-husbands, girlfriends, partners, or roommates, and all manner of people just unwilling to let the person or their place, go. Examples of these are especially frightening as these house crouchers seem intent on terrorizing the person, adding an extra layer of fright to an already terrifying situation.

One such example came when Tennessee resident, Vicki Martin upon finding out some terrifying information about her current partner, Tony’s past, had asked him to leave her home. Which he claimed to do, but never really did. Although she could never see him, Vicki could still feel him and she said could almost smell him. When things were going missing or misplaced, she became suspicious but she never thought that her ex, had never really left. Eventually, the situation escalated when after getting a restraining order,  Vicki caught her ex-partner, hiding under her bed! It turns out he had been coming in and out of Vicki’s home, the whole time.  Vicki didn’t hesitate and she shot him in the foot, as one does. Finally, the police arrived and hauled her ex off but Vicki’s ordeal was one for the books. 

Another example is when one single mom’s previous roommate whom she had evicted, never really left! He ended up living in the attic for several months, stealing food from the kitchen and using a bucket as a makeshift toilet. It was beyond bizarre but par for the course for this phrogging phenomenon. 

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“Courtney Randolph” 

Yet another twisted example of a phrogger being not so much of a stranger happened to “Courtney Randolph” (a pseudonym) Courtney and her then-husband had recently parted ways. While the split wasn’t exactly amicable she had not felt it was necessarily aggressive either, so when she and her daughter from a previous marriage heard what sounded like acorns on the roof, she didn’t think much of it. But when the strange noises continued and escalated and her daughter reported hearing scratching noises on her window at night,  Courtney became suspicious. She noticed things like her jewelry, underwear, and wine going missing. She found cigarettes in her yard when she didn’t smoke, empty beer bottles left strewn around. It was very obvious to her something was going on. Desperate for help and answers, she turns to her ex-husband, who immediately comes to her rescue, consoling her and offering her help and advice.  But the problems only seem to get worse. Courtney had flat tires on an ongoing basis, and when she received an angry Christmas card threatening her, Courtney knew she couldn’t ignore this anymore. Finally, at her wit’s end, she calls the police who begin investigating. One determined detective even set up surveillance on the house, even unbeknownst to Courtney herself! But all the detective’s hard work pays off when they discover the phrogger is actually–the ex-husband! 

This new phenomenon is so creepy because it can be so difficult to detect and can happen to anyone, anywhere at any time. How often do we notice small things out of place in our own homes yet brush it off as something we or a family member has done? How often do we hear odd noises in our attics and simply assume it’s an animal or the wind? These were the only signs of an intruder many of these survivors got. Some of them had another person living in their home, wandering around while they slept and going through their personal belongings on a daily basis, for days, weeks, or even months. So we should ask ourselves– that creak on the stairs, that ajar attic door, that missing item from our home, is it innocent, or is it the sign of an intruder, a phrogger, a hider in our home?