He might make you wake laughing, but the "serial tickler" is no laughing matter. At least, not according to cops in Boston, who are warning students of Boston College to lock their doors at night to guard against the man with a tickling fetish. That's right, there is a man breaking into Boston houses to tickle sleeping inhabitants. You just can't make this stuff up.
Known as the "tickler," the suspect has been active for an astounding two years without any real leads as to his identity, much less his capture. According to victims and police reports, the "tickler" breaks into student homes in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, where he proceeds to tickle their feet. And that's all. He just... tickles them. No students have ever reported anything stolen, although the "tickler" may be guilty of some sexual deviancy. A few students have told police that the man watched them through their windows while he performed sexual acts.
Police have no pictures of the "tickler," but his description is consistent among victims, who say the perpetrator is a "5-foot-8-inch black male of unknown age in dark clothing and a hoodie." It is unclear how many people have been affected by his tickling fetish, but it is known that he works rather quickly, with three people reporting tickling incidents on the night of April 7.
Though his elusive nature has made him something of an urban legend in Boston, Sgt. Michael O’Hara, community service officer for the Boston Police, told the Boston Globe that the "tickler" is "no myth." Teddy Raddell, a junior at Boston College, can testify to his existence, as he told the Globe that he was awakened by someone running down the stairs in his house. Said Raddell, "I thought my roommate had fallen down the steps, but then he started yelling. I got up and he said that he had woken up to someone touching his feet.”
Another BC junior, Daniel Marenzi, was himself tickled by the "tickler," and in an interview with the Globe, said of the incident, “I thought my friend was just trying to annoy me, but I soon realized it wasn’t anyone I knew. I freaked out and sat up but he was already on the way out.” Several other individuals have reported similar incidents, either of being tickled by the mysterious fiend, or waking up to a figure standing at the foot of their beds.
While amusing, this is certainly a terrifying situation, especially considering the "tickler's" unknown identity and motives. Some students have reported being unable to sleep in their rooms after an encounter with the "tickler."
While many are calling for an increased police presence in the neighborhoods the "tickler" is thought to frequent, O'Hara has said that this is an incomplete solution. Rather, he said, residents "need to report crimes when they happen.”
The "tickler" may be a copycat of sorts, basing his activities on those of the "naked toe-tickler," who similarly broke into his victims' houses and touched their feet while they slept. The majority of his targets were women over the age of 60, who would awake to a naked man fondling their feet.
Hopefully, the mystery of the "tickler" is soon solved. Otherwise, Boston residents may soon find themselves in a world of unwanted laughter.