Fact or Fiction: The Hayward Plunge Murders

Maha Sanad, Social Media Editor

Did the Hayward Plunge Murders Actually Happen?

The Hayward Plunge is a year-round indoor swimming facility located in Hayward, Calif. Located in the heart of downtown Hayward, the Plunge (as it is commonly referred to by locals) is a popular spot to hang out with friends and go for a swim.

The Plunge was built by the City of Hayward in 1936 during the Great Depression. With the facility now nearly 100 years old, it is bound to have a rich history.

If you live in or near Hayward, odds are that you have heard at least a mention of the macabre urban legend surrounding Hayward Plunge. One of the first suggestions when you search “Hayward Plunge” is “Hayward Plunge Murders.”

According to the legend, in the 1960s a swim coach took his team up the trail that is located behind the Plunge. The swim coach then told the kids that he would be leaving but would shortly return and that they should wait for him there.

The swim coach returned after dark and supposedly murdered the entire team in cold blood, dumping their bodies into the running water by the trail before escaping.

Without any solid evidence, article clippings, or known witnesses, it is hard to determine if the rumor of the brutal murders is true or where it even originated from.

To add to the already eerie rumors of murder, some Hayward locals claim that the Plunge is haunted.

“Some locals claim that if you visit the Plunge late at night, you’ll hear the ghostly cries of children running around you. Others have claimed to experience mysterious cold spots and unexplained rockslides there after dark,” an Instagram account called Hayward Thrives wrote.

These rumors have grown to be such a defining feature of Hayward Plunge that it is often cited on lists as one of the most haunted locations in the East Bay Area. On a website called Haunted Places, users are encouraged to post their haunting experiences with Hayward Plunge on a forum. Here’s what some of them shared:

“My experience was in 07. A spirit touched me and I heard children’s laughter in the distance,” – Summer

“The trails are obviously haunted. Been back there for investigation in late 2014. Tried an amateur EVP session with my phone and my iPod, got faint whispers,” – Domine

“Been there at night, heard the voices, laughter, crying, screaming. Seen small landslides along the trail similar to that of someone trying to climb up the hill on the right,” – Jon

As with every superstition and urban legend, there inevitably will be a portion of the population who remain skeptical. Rightfully so considering there is not much concrete evidence to support the legends surrounding the Hayward Plunge Murders. On the forum, these skeptics wrote:

“I worked at the Hayward plunge in the 1960s and was on the swim team and nothing like that ever occurred. There were no hauntings, or ghost stories, or murders associated with the Hayward Plunge,” – Laura

“Born and raised in Hayward from 1960, second youngest of 7 kids. nobody my age group ever heard of this as fact. I have been up that trail a hundred times…I call myth with zero facts to support it,” – JP

“I grew up in Hayward, and my grandfather helped build a lot of it through the 60s and 70s and 80s, never heard of any story, not true!!!” – Jennifer

In an attempt to get a somewhat solid answer to whether or not the Hayward Plunge murders actually happened, I reached out to the Hayward Area Historical Society.

“In our research, we have never found a reference that says there was a murder at the Hayward Plunge. As far as we can tell it is just a legend. That being said, I do know that at least one person has drowned at the plunge,” said Diane Curry, Hayward Area Historical Society Curator.

According to a June 21, 1945 article in Hayward Journal, an eight-year-old boy was found dead in the pool about 10 hours after fatally drowning. There were no witnesses to the struggle leaving the accident to remain unexplained.

The grisly rumors about Hayward Plunge extend even more locally to the California State University, East Bay campus itself.

“Ghosts are seen near Robinson Hall around 10 p.m. A male and female who are not shy. The female is said to wear a ‘little bo peep’ costume,” a CBS SF Bay Area article wrote.

As spooky as the urban legend about the Hayward Plunge murders is, it is unlikely that we will ever find a solid answer to where the rumors came from.

Based on your experiences and the limited information available, what do you think of the Hayward Plunge murders? Do you think that they did occur or do you think that the rumors are merely a local urban legend?