The Radleys lived three houses south of the Finch home in Maycomb. Inside lived a "malevolent phantom"--Arthur Radley Jr., known by everyone in town as "Boo." Boo had been in trouble with the law as a teenager, so his father shut him away inside the Radley House, not to be seen again for fifteen years. The next time Boo was heard from, it was after stabbing his father in the leg with a pair of scissors. After his release from jail, Boo was again sentenced by his father to a reclusive life within his home, and no one had seen him since. But many people believed Boo still remained active.
People said he went out at night when the moon was down and peeped in windows. When azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he breathed on them. Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work.
According to Jem, who had never seen him,
Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall... he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch... There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time.
Walter Cunningham Jr. had heard the rumors as well.
"Almost died first year I come to school and et them pecans--folks say he pizened 'em and put 'em on the school side of the fence."