La Llorona or "The Weeping Woman"

Every culture has its own version of the boogeyman, the ghostly monster whose tale frightens children into behaving properly. For Latin Americans this figure is known as La Llorona (pronounced "lah yoh-ROH-nah") or the "weeping woman."

Her legend is hundreds of years old and has many versions. Yet, in all of them she is a mother who has been betrayed by the man she loved who murders her children by drowning them. She is then cursed to walk along the shore crying and searching for her children. While this story might sound like the story of Susan Smith, the South Carolina woman who drowned her two sons in 1994, the story is much older.

La Malinche

One of the earliest versions of her legend is La Malinche. La Malinche born in 1496 or 1505, the only child of a noble Aztec family who was given or sold into slavery by Mayan merchants. Her father had recently remarried after her mother died, and La Malinche was an inconvenient reminder of his first wife. La Malinche was eventually given, along with twenty other women, to the Spanish Conquistadors after conquering Tabasco. She immediately caught the eye of Hernán Cortés and, after learning Spanish, served as Cortés's interpreter. But the relationship between the two was not simply a working one, La Malinche was also Cortes's mistress and produced two sons for him.

Then, around 1522, the night before Cortés was scheduled to return to Spain, La Malinche murders her two sons on the banks of a lake that would eventually become the foundation for Mexico City. At this point, her story varies and she becomes either villain or heroine depending on which version you believe. One version of her legends states that she received a vision after praying to her Gods and was told if she allowed her sons to return to Spain, one would return and destroy her people. Another more sinister version states that she murdered her children in cold blood because she learned Cortes planned to return to Spain without her.

Either way, this was not the end of La Malinche. Starting in 1550, twenty years after La Malinche's death, she started appearing in Mexico City. Under the full moon, a woman dressed in white dress and veil, appears on the streets. Anyone who sees her or hears her cries is terrorized. Eventually she makes her way to La Plaza Mayor, lets out one final bone curdling cry and disappears.

La Llorona in Got Milk commercial

La Llorona in "Got Milk?" Commercial

Since that time, versions of the La Llorona story have popped up all over the United States. She even made an appearance in a California "Got Milk" commerical. Most of the stories are focused in the Southwest, but some have ventured further north and east. Here are some of her hot spots. But be warned, many believe that if she appears to a family it fortells a bad happening such as a death.

Gary, Indiana

On Cline Avenue in the Cudahee section of Gary, Indiana, a ghostly woman is seen standing by the edge of the road. She appears to be weeping, but when you get closer she vanishes. She is described as being short, thin with a dark complexion. According to the legend, she is the spirit of a woman whose children were killed in an auto accident in the 1930s. Grief-stricken, she returned to the spot they died after their funeral wailing for her children to return. She died a few years later, completely insane.

Some see her weeping alongside the road. others say she makes wild motions with her hands and screams. Still others see blood on her hands and dress. Paranormal investigators have tried to track down this La Llorna, but she eludes them. She prefers to wander Cline Avenue alone, constantly searching for her lost children. La LJorona is most often seen near the comer of Fifth and Cline Avenue.

Billings, Montana

A tall, dark-haired woman in flowing white gown is seen along the banks of the Yellowstone River five miles east of Billings, Montana. She is called the Weeping Woman.

Guatdalupita, New Mexico

Since the 1930s, people have reported seeing a tall ghost with flowing black hair crossing Lucero Road between Mora and Guadalupita. She's also seen in the Apache ridge area and along the old Sante Fe Trail near Garcia Street. She is searching for the children she drowned in a river.

Las Cruces, New Mexico

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, La Llorona walks along the banks of the Rio Grande River calling out for her children. In this story, her children were murdered. If she sees you, she will try to kill you, thinking you are her children's killer.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

The PERA building located near the river is said to be haunted by La Llorna. Employees who work there report lights turning on and off, hearing a woman cry at night, and have seen a woman dressed in black walking the hallways before fading away.

El Paso, Texas

Like in Las Cruces, La Llorona haunts the banks of the Rio Grand River. However, this time she is said to have killed her children in order to be with her lover. Remorse for her actions causes her spirit to roam along the banks of the river looking for them wearing a long black dress. She's also said to seduce young men and then murder them.

woman hollering creek ghost

San Antonio, Texas

In San Antonio, Woman Hollering Creek is said to be a rough English translation of La Llorona. There are several legends connected to it, many variations of the La Llorona legend.

Santa Rosa, Texas

In Santa Rosa Texas, La Llorona walks down the streets of the villages called "EL Rincon Del Diablo" or the Den of the Devil. She weeps for the spirits of her children that drowned in a canal near the village. Locals claim the town conducted a huge exorcism to get rid of her spirit, but some still claim to hear her wailing near the canals at midnight.

Zwolle, Louisiana

In Zwolle, Louisiana, near Grady Hill, a spirit known as the Crying Woman searches for her lost baby. According to local legend, her boyfriend or husband took and killed her baby. The woman found him in a boat with the baby, but it was too late to save her child. Now she is doomed to wonder the area in grief.