On April 17 2019, a Facebook post (archived here) began circulating, purporting to tell the tragic story (“they pushed her”) of a young girl named Carmen Winstead, as well as the fates of the classmates responsible for her death:
They pushed her
After lunch, her teacher announced that the school was holding a fire drill. When the alarm sounded, Carmen and the other students filed out of the classroom and assembled in the yard outside. As the teachers read out the roll call, the gang of five girls decided that this was a great opportunity to embarrass Carmen in front of the whole school during the fire drill. They moved over to where Carmen was standing, near a sewer drain, and began crowding the poor girl, getting in her face and nudging her towards the open manhole.
They pushed her and she tripped over and fell head-first down the manhole. When they saw her falling, the girls started giggling and when Carmen’s name was called out, they shouted “She’s down in the sewer!”
All of the other students began laughing. But when the teachers looked down the manhole and saw Carmen’s body lying at the bottom in the muck and the poop, the laughter abruptly stopped. Her head was twisted around at an odd angle and her face was covered in blood. Worse still, she wasn’t moving. There was nothing any of the teachers could do for her. Carmen was dead. When the police arrived and went down into the sewer, they determined that she had broken her neck. Her face had been torn off when she hit the ladder on the way down and her neck snapped when she landed on her head on the concrete at the bottom.
The police hauled Carmen’s body out of the sewer and sent her to the mortuary. Everyone had to stay behind after school while the police questioned all of Carmen’s classmates. The five girls lied to the police, saying they had witnessed Carmen falling down the sewer. The police believed the girls and Carmen Winstead’s death was ruled an accident and the case was closed. Everyone thought that was the last they would hear of Carmen Winstead, but they were wrong.
Months later,Carmen’s classmates began receiving strange e-mails on their MySpaces. The e-mails were titled “They Pushed Her” and claimed that Carmen hadn’t really fallen down the sewer, she had been pushed. The e-mails also warned that the guilty people should own up and take responsibility for their crime. If they didn’t there would be horrible consequences. Most people dismissed the e-mails as a hoax, but others were not so sure.
A few days later,one of the girls who pushed Carmen down the sewer was at home taking a shower, when she heard a strange cackling laugh. It seemed to be coming from the drain. The girl started to freak out and ran out of the bathroom. That night, the girl said goodnight to her mom and went to sleep. Five hours later, her mom was awoken in the middle of the night, by a loud noise that resounded throughout the house. She ran into her daughter’s room, only to find it empty. There was no trace of the girl. The worried mother called the police and when they arrived,they conducted a search of the area. Eventually, they discovered the girl’s grisly remains. Her corpse was lying in the sewer, covered in muck and poop. Her neck was broken and her face missing. It had been completely torn off. One by one, all of the girls who pushed Carmen that day were found dead. They had all been killed in exactly the same way and were all found at exactly the same spot. In the sewer at the bottom of the same uncovered manhole where Carmen had met her doom. But the killing didn’t stop there. More and more of Carmen’s former classmates were found dead. It seemed that anyone who didn’t believe that Carmen had been pushed, was eventually found down in the sewer with their necks broken and their faces torn off.They say that Carmen’s ghost is still on the rampage, hunting down anyone who doesn’t believe her story. According to the legend, Carmen will get you, whetherit’s from a toilet, a shower, a sink or a drain. When you go to sleep, you’ll wake up in the sewer, in complete darkness, paralyzed, unable to move, hearing cackling laughter all around you. Then, as you scream in horror, Carmen will come and tear your face off.
Interest in the story was unlikely the main driver in its popularity, as a threat was appended:
FACT: About two months later,16-year-old David Gregory read this post and didn’t repost it. When he went to take a shower, he heard laughter, started freaking out, and ran to his computer to repost it. He said goodnight to his mom and went to sleep, but five hours later,his mom woke up in the middle of the night from a loud noise and David was gone. A few hours later,the police found him in the sewer, with a broken neck and the skin on his face peeled off.
Even Google her name – you’ll find this to be true.
We did Google “Carmen Winstead,” and the only hits were references to that same urban legend about a teenager’s grisly death in a sewer, and the mysterious deaths after hers.
However, as early as 2006, iterations involving the same story and a “Jessica Smith” circulated on MySpace:
About 6 years ago in Indiana, Jessica Smith was pushed down a sewer opening by 5 girls in her school, trying to embarrass her in front of her school during a fire drill. When she didn’t submerge then police were called. They went down and brought up 17 year old Jessica Smith’s body, she broke her neck hitting the ladder, then hit her side on concrete at the bottom. The girls told everyone she fell … They believed them.
FACT: 2 months ago, 16 year old Ron Anderson read this post and didn’t repost it. When he went to take a shower he heard laughter from his shower, he started freaking out and ran to his computer to repost it, He said goodnight to his mom and went to sleep, 5 hours later his mom woke up in the middle of the night cause of a loud noise, Ron Anderson was gone, that morning a few hours later the police found him in the sewer, his neck broke and his face skin peeled off
If you don’t repost this saying
“She was pushed”
or “They Pushed her down a sewer”
Then Jessica will get you, either from a sewer, the toilet, the shower, or when you go to sleep you’ll wake up in the sewer, in the dark, then Jessica will come and kill you.
The post was shared once again as fiction to DeviantArt in 2013, and to The Paranormal Guide the same year. An undated post on the Villians Wikia page about Carmen Winstead described her as the “titular main antagonist of an urban legend that originally derives from a chain letter titled ‘They Pushed Her’ or ‘Carmen Winstead.'” In other words, this Facebook post qualifies as pure copypasta.
The tragic character and death of Carmen Winstead was most likely inspired by Samara Morgan, who (like Carmen) was thrown into a deep dark hole where her vengeful ghost continued to reside and killed anyone who failed to spread her message. Images of Samara are often used to depict the character of Carmen.
An undated ThoughtCo.com page about the story explains:
First of all, don’t panic if you’ve received one of these chain letters. There are no public records of a teenage girl named Carmen Winstead who perished after being pushed down a sewer drain by bullying schoolmates. That doesn’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that no such thing ever happened, but it’s reason enough to classify the tale as folklore, a cautionary tale, or an urban legend.
It’s also a classic example of a chain letter, albeit one circulating online instead of by mail, which is how chain letters used to be distributed. Like every chain letter, its primary goal is self-replication by sending and resending. This particular chain letter relies on a supernatural threat—the promise of a painful death at the hands of Carmen Winstead’s ghost—to goad recipients into passing it along.
So who is the girl in the picture attached to the Facebook post? We found the same image on a YouTube profile with a different name than the one in this popular and recurrent story.
And therein lies the risk of sharing these types of stories. We know that in early versions of “They Pushed Her,” “Carmen Winstead” was a very generic named “Jessica Smith.” Just like a random image on a YouTube profile is attached to this version of the legend, so too do names like “Carmen Winstead” become attached when they get re-shared. If a girl named “Carmen Winstead” once shared the legend on MySpace in the early 2000s, prospective employers looking up her name are not finding any relevant results. Both the supernatural and mundane elements of the story were false in the early 2000s and remain false in 2019 — and sharing the phony story won’t save you from vengeful shower drains or mysterious, face-ripping attacks.