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The Hammered Child Urban Legend

In February 1986, an anonymous typewritten letter was sent to various media outlets in Salt Lake City claiming that a horrendous crime against a six-year-old girl by her father had taken place, and that the hospital where she had been treated was forced by law to return the child to her parents with no charges being brought against them. Supposedly, after the child damaged the family car with a hammer, her father “took the same hammer to her hands,” injuring the girl so badly that both hands had to be amputated. A local children’s hospital facility was named in the letter, but the writer concluded, “I can’t sign this because I’m only a private citizen and not supposed to know about this.” The writer begged, “For God’s sake, can’t the media do something?”



Media investigations revealed that there had been no such case brought to the named hospital or to any other medical facility in the community. This lack of verification, the claimed official cover-up, and the likely source of the story in word-of-mouth rumors all suggest a typical urban-legend pattern. At least “The Hammered Child” might be considered an emerging urban legend.

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