When New York City resident Samantha Hartsoe made the shocking discovery that there was an abandoned apartment hidden behind her bathroom mirror, little did she know it would draw chilling comparisons to the 1992 slasher film Candyman when she posted it to Tik Tok – and a reminder of the forgotten real-life murder that inspired it.
Hartsoe was investigating why her apartment was so cold and gamely documenting her sleuthing for TikTok. ‘I’m in my New York City apartment and it’s cold,’ she says in the first clip. ‘It doesn’t matter how high the heat goes, I’m cold.’
Following the frigid draft to her bathroom mirror led to the disturbing discovery of a concealed portal into a dilapidated, unoccupied apartment next door.
The videos immediately prompted users to draw comparisons the terrifying 1987 murder of Ruthie May McCoy, a 52-year-old Chicago resident who was attacked by intruders that broke into her apartment through her bathroom medicine cabinet. The chilling crime was later turned into the 1992 slasher flick, Candyman.
A New York City woman was shocked this week to find an entire empty apartment hidden behind her bathroom mirror. She followed a frigid draft to her bathroom where she was confused by cold air blowing from behind her mirror – despite there being no window or working air vent nearby
After removing the mirror, Hartsoe uncovered a gaping hole that opened to an abandoned apartment which was littered with trash. There are ‘signs of life,’ she remarked
Armed with a hammer for protection, Hartsoe investigated the creepy, abandoned space behind her bathroom mirror. Viewers of the viral TikTok videos were quick to comparisons to the 1992 horror film, Candyman, which is based on the true story of Ruthie Mae McCoy’s 1987 murder
Ruthie May McCoy was a 52-year-old Chicago resident that was murdered by intruders who that broke into her apartment through the bathroom medicine cabinet. McCoy suffered from paranoid- schizophrenia which led her to believe she might have been hallucinating
Above, Samantha Hartsoe investigates the lower level of the hidden apartment where she finds a door to the outside.
52-year-old Ruthie McCoy was known to neighbors in her Chicago Housing Authority as the bag lady that talked to herself and cursed at strangers on the street. She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in her early twenties.
On the afternoon of her murder, April 22, McCoy had been receiving outpatient psychiatric treatment at Mount Sinai Hospital when she exclaimed to the stranger sitting next to her in the van ride: ‘Someone has threatened my life!’ The woman urged McCoy to relate her fears to a staff member at the clinic, but McCoy said she didn’t want to get anyone else involved.
Terrifying fantasies and bizarre outbursts were par for the course in her life. But McCoy wasn’t hallucinating when – later that night – she made a frantic 911 phone call to report that someone was breaking into her apartment through her medicine cabinet. This time, she wasn’t just imagining things.
‘They throwed the cabinet down,’ she told the dispatcher.
Other 911 calls from neighbors reported shouting and gunshots from apartment 1109; but by the time cops arrived on the scene, there was total silence. Ruthie failed to answer the door or respond to multiple phone calls and the police left after 30 minutes of repeated attempts.
At the time, violence in the south side Chicago projects was rampant. McCoy lived in the Grace Abbott Homes – 15-story Y-shaped tower where murder, poverty, drug addiction, rape and burglary was part of daily life.
Cops didn’t discover McCoy’s lifeless body until two days later, after multiple trips and phone calls from worried neighbors summoned the police to break down her front door. She had been shot four times and crime-scene but there was no indication of forced entry.
Investigators were confounded when they discovered that the medicine cabinet was missing entirely. Leaving behind, instead, a gaping foot-and-a-half wide hole that opened up into a short corridor.
Through the opening, detectives could see the pipes that her killers wriggled past, and beyond that, the bathroom of 1108. They wondered: was this the possible mode of entry?
Cops were stunned by the brazen bathroom break-in but residents of the Grace Abbot project were not. By that time of McCoy’s murder, intruders had been sneaking into apartments through medicine cabinets for at least a year.
Ruthie McCoy’s shocking murder inspired the 1992 horror film, Candyman, which is about a Chicago cop that investigates a spate of mysterious bathroom-based killings
‘Even the dullest youth here knows you can slither from one apartment to the adjacent one through the pipe chase, about two-and-a-half feet across, between the cabinets,’ wrote investigative journalist Steve Borgia in the Chicago Reader. The cabinets themselves, secured by only six nails, are no obstacle.
A fifth floor resident named Alice Johnson, told Borgia that she was watching a television one night when she saw a figure dart out of her bathroom and race out the front door. ‘Noises in the bathroom alerted her to a second intruder, a 13-year-old boy whose girth slowed him as he attempted to squirm out of the opening where Johnson’s medicine cabinet had been until the first intruder removed it. Two more boys had been behind him in the wall, but had retreated.’
The buildings were designed with the pipe chases behind the medicine cabinets to provide easy access to the plumbing; if something’s leaking, janitors simply have to remove the medicine cabinet to check the pipes.
McCoy’s apartment in particular was one of the four units on every floor that were especially vulnerable. She lived at the end of the hall, where the back-to-back units were connected through a two-and-a-half foot tunnel.
Looking through the hole in McCoy’s bathroom, Detective Leuser could see the back of the medicine cabinet in 1108 – it was the apartment from which the killers came. The rent had been paid through May and drug addicts were known to frequent the residents.
Detectives found no drug paraphernalia in the unit, but ‘they had two days to remove any stuff,’ said Lueser to Borgia. He was also bewildered to find that mirror in 1108 seemed secured and undamaged when he tested pulling on it.
After relentless questioning and multiple tips, detectives tracked down Grace Abbot residents, Edward Turner, 19 and John Hondras, 25. Both men were charged in the murder of Ruthie McCoy.
Though a motive was never made clear, detectives believed that Turner and Hondras attacked McCoy because she was mentally disabled and an easy target. She had recently received a windfall from the government in Supplemental Security Income – a windfall that was duly noted among her neighbors after she was spotted wearing a new winter coat, along with a few other clothing items.
Her stunning death inspired the 1992 horror film, Candyman, which is about a Chicago cop that investigates a string of mysterious bathroom-based killings. A remake of the movie, directed by Jordan Peele is slated to hit movie theatres later this year.
In the meantime, Samantha Hartsoe ended her four-part TikTok saga by telling the camera lightheadedly, that she plans to have a ‘really fun phone call’ with her landlord.