S2 Ep. 15: Caged & Enraged/Honest Abe

NOW AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD AT hauntheads.podbean.com.

We’re back from our Summer hiatus and ready to deliver spooky tales to delight and terrify! This week, Mimi goes political and talks about the ghost of Abraham Lincoln and hauntings at the White House and Janine explores human darkness and despair at Pennhurst Asylum in Pennsylvania.

This episode contains naked Winston Churchill (did that dude even own clothes?), a ghostly little girl, and a haunted experience that perhaps shouldn’t be (according to your fellow Haunt Heads.)

Trigger Warning: This episode contains stories of abuses in an asylum. Many of the accounts may be too much for some listeners. Listener discretion is advised. Janine goes first this week, so feel free to skip. We understand.

Mimi’s source material: https://exemplore.com/paranormal/The-Ghost-of-Abraham-Lincoln

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High Hopes and Horror

“You got to help me! I think my mother and father are shot!”

From Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_DeFeo_Jr.)

Around 6:30 PM on Wednesday, November 13, 1974, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo entered Henry’s Bar in Amityville, Long Island, New York and [delivered the above statement to its patrons]. DeFeo and a small group of people went to 112 Ocean Avenue, which was located near the bar, and found that DeFeo’s parents were indeed dead.

Upon realizing the situation, DeFeo’s friend, Joe Yeswit, contacted Suffolk County police and had the following exchange with a dispatcher. (http://truelegends.info/amityville/call.htm)

Operator: This is Suffolk County Police. May I help you?”
Man: “We have a shooting here. Uh, DeFeo.”
Operator: “Sir, what is your name?”
Man: “Joey Yeswit.”
Operator: “Can you spell that?”
Man: “Yeah. Y-E-S W I T.”
Operator: “Y-E-S . .
Man: “Y-E-S-W-I-T.”
Operator: “. . . W-I-T. Your phone number?”
Man: “I don’t even know if it’s here. There’s, uh, I don’t have a phone number here.”
Operator: “Okay, where you calling from?”
Man: “It’s in Amityville. Call up the Amityville Police, and it’s right off, uh . . .Ocean Avenue in Amityville.”
Operator: “Austin?”
Man: “Ocean Avenue. What the … ?”
Operator: “Ocean … Avenue? Offa where?”
Man: “It’s right off Merrick Road. Ocean Avenue.”
Operator: “Merrick Road. What’s … what’s the problem, Sir?”
Man: “It’s a shooting!”
Operator: “There’s a shooting. Anybody hurt?”
Man: “Hah?”
Operator: “Anybody hurt?”
Man: “Yeah, it’s uh, uh — everybody’s dead.”
Operator: “Whattaya mean, everybody’s dead?”
Man: “I don’t know what happened. Kid come running in the bar. He says everybody in the family was killed, and we came down here.”
Operator: “Hold on a second, Sir.” 
(Police Officer now takes over call)
Police Officer: “Hello.”
Man: “Hello.”
Police Officer: “What’s your name?”
Man: “My name is Joe Yeswit.”
Police Officer: “George Edwards?”
Man: “Joe Yeswit.”
Police Officer: “How do you spell it?”
Man: “What? I just … How many times do I have to tell you? Y-E-S-W-I-T.”
Police Officer: “Where’re you at?”
Man: “I’m on Ocean Avenue.
Police Officer: “What number?”
Man: “I don’t have a number here. There’s no number on the phone. “
Police Officer: “What number on the house?”
Man: “I don’t even know that.”
Police Officer: “Where’re you at? Ocean Avenue and what?”
Man: “In Amityville. Call up the Amityville Police and have someone come down here. They know the family.”
Police Officer: “Amityville.”
Man: “Yeah, Amityville.”
Police Officer: “Okay. Now, tell me what’s wrong.”
Man: “I don’t know. Guy come running in the bar. Guy come running in the bar and said there — his mother and father are shot. We ran down to his house and everybody in the house is shot. I don’t know how long, you know. So, uh . . .”
Police Officer: “Uh, what’s the add … what’s the address of the house?”
Man: “Uh, hold on. Let me go look up the number. All right. Hold on. One-twelve Ocean Avenue, Amityville.”
Police Officer: “Is that Amityville or North Amityville?”
Man: “Amityville. Right on … south of Merrick Road.”
Police Officer: “Is it right in the village limits?”
Man: “It’s in the village limits, yeah.”
Police Officer: “Eh, okay, what’s your phone number?”
Man: “I don’t even have one. There’s no number on the phone. “
Police Officer: “All right, where’re you calling from? Public phone?”
Man: “No, I’m calling right from the house, because I don’t see a number on the phone.”
Police Officer: “You’re at the house itself?”
Man: “Yeah.”
Police Officer: “How many bodies are there?”
Man: “I think, uh, I don’t know — uh, I think they said four.”
Police Officer: “There’s four?”
Man: “Yeah.”
Police Officer: “All right, you stay right there at the house, and I’ll call the Amityville Village P.D., and they’ll come down.”

High Hopes

The sign that hung outside 112 Ocean Avenue (now 108 Ocean Avenue) read “High Hopes.” Undoubtedly, those who entered the residence were dreaming of making this house a home. For the DeFeo family, this was not to be. Ronald DeFeo Jr., then only 23, methodically murdered his entire family within the walls of what would become known as the Amityville Horror House. DeFeo systematically moved from bedroom to bedroom, shooting his parents, Ronald DeFeo Sr., 43, and Louise, 42; his sisters, Dawn, 18, and Allison, 13; and his brothers Mark, 11, and John, 9, with a shotgun blast from a .35 caliber Marlin rifle to the head. DeFeo first told police that he had arrived home to find his family murdered, then ran to a local bar for help. Later, he would amend his original statement, claiming that voices in the home told him to commit the murders.

“DeFeo’s trial began on October 14, 1975. He and his defense lawyer, William Weber, mounted an affirmative defense of insanity, with DeFeo claiming that he killed his family in self-defense because he heard their voices plotting against him. The insanity plea was supported by the psychiatrist for the defense, Dr. Daniel Schwartz. The psychiatrist for the prosecution, Dr. Harold Zolan, maintained that although DeFeo was an abuser of heroin and LSD, he had antisocial personality disorder and was aware of his actions at the time of the crime.

On November 21, 1975, DeFeo was found guilty on six counts of second-degree murder. On December 4, 1975, Judge Thomas Stark sentenced DeFeo to six concurrent sentences of 25 years to life.

Ronald_defeo

By Suffolk County Police Department – Suffolk County Police Department photographic records., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46207341

DeFeo is currently held at a correctional facility in the town of Fallsburg, New York, and all of his appeals and requests to the parole board to date have been denied.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_DeFeo_Jr.

DeFeo still resides at Sullivan and is 66 years of age. Since his conviction, he has changed his story many times, even claiming that he committed the murders with two friends. Joe Nickell, a writer for Skeptical Inquirer (https://www.csicop.org/si/show/amityville_the_horror_of_it_all) has stated that the story has changed so much from interview to interview that DeFeo’s explanations should be taken “with caution.”

There has been speculation that Dawn DeFeo had a hand in the killings because gunpowder was found on her nightgown. Dawn, too, was murdered by Ronald DeFeo in the same way as her parents and siblings, but there has been speculation that Ronald and Dawn were intimately involved. Neither theory has been positively verified.

28 Days Later

De. 18, 1975

Enter the Lutz family. George Lutz, his wife Kathleen (Kathy), and their five children move into 112 Ocean Avenue. The Lutz’s bought the house (the realtor threw in some of the DeFeo family’s furniture for $400) for a meager $80,000, a ridiculously low price given that the home has sold in recent years for upwards of $1.5 million, and was able to put a substantial amount down on their mortgage due to their recent marriage. George and Kathy each had houses to sell, this marriage not being their first rodeo, and George intended on moving a home office for his land surveying business into the basement.

Upon moving in, George and Kathy claimed that paranormal activity began almost immediately. Their German shepherd tried to hang itself by jumping over the back fence while it was chained in the yard. A priest who visited to bless the home was told to “get out” by a disembodied voice and was slapped across the face. In an interview, the priest stated, “I was blessing the sewing room. It was cold. It was really cold in there. I’m like, ‘Well, gee, this is peculiar,’ because it was a lovely day out, and it was winter, yes, but it didn’t account for that kind of coldness. I was also sprinkling holy water, and I heard a rather deep voice behind me saying, ‘Get out!’ It seemed so directed toward me that I was really quite startled. I felt a slap at one point on the face. I felt somebody slap me, and there was nobody there.”

According to George, these incidents happened within hours of their first occupation. The paranormal activity in the home continued to escalate. George and Kathy claimed to have heard a marching band parading through their living room. When the marching band wasn’t performing, they claimed there was a sound like a clock radio between stations emanating from the living room. When someone went into the living room, the noises would stop. The porcelain in all the toilets turned black, slime ran down the walls and out through the keyholes, a flying, George would awake every morning at 3:15AM (the time of the murders,) Kathy would have nightmares about DeFeo wandering the house and slaughtering his entire family, a demonic pig with glowing red eyes named Jodie (supposedly a “friend” of George’s youngest daughter, Missy,) was seen hovering outside a second story window… All of this and more were reported by the family, but how much of what George Lutz has claimed happened can be believed?

In the book, released in 1977, The Amityville Horror: A True Story, author Jay Anson crafted several scenarios that may or may not have happened while the Lutz family lived at 112 Ocean Ave. The experiences are as follows (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Amityville_Horror):

  • George would wake up around 3:15 every morning and would go out to check the boathouse. Later he would learn that this was the estimated time of the DeFeo killings.
  • The house was plagued by swarms of flies despite the winter weather.
  • Kathy had vivid nightmares about the murders and discovered the order in which they occurred and the rooms where they took place. The Lutz children also began sleeping on their stomachs, in the same way that the dead bodies in the DeFeo murders had been found.
  • Kathy would feel a sensation as if “being embraced” in a loving manner, by an unseen force.
  • George discovered a small hidden room (around four feet by five feet) behind shelving in the basement. The walls were painted red and the room did not appear in the blueprints of the house. The room came to be known as “The Red Room.” This room had a profound effect on their dog Harry, who refused to go near it and cowered as if sensing something ominous.
  • There were cold spots and odors of perfume and excrement in areas of the house where no wind drafts or piping would explain the source.
  • While tending to the fire, George and Kathy saw the image of a demon with half his head blown out. It was burned into the soot in the back of the fireplace.
  • The Lutzes’ 5-year-old daughter, Missy, developed an imaginary friend named “Jodie,” a demonic pig-like creature with glowing red eyes.
  • In the early morning hours of Christmas Day 1975, George looked up at the house after checking on the boathouse and saw Jodie standing behind Missy at her bedroom window. When he ran up to her room he found her fast asleep with her small rocking chair slowly rocking back and forth.
  • George would wake up to the sound of the front door slamming. He would race downstairs to find the dog sleeping soundly at the front door. Nobody else heard the sound although it was loud enough to wake the house.
  • George would hear what was described as a “marching band tuning up” or what sounded like a clock radio playing not quite on frequency. When he went downstairs the noise would cease.
  • George realized that he bore a strong resemblance to Ronald DeFeo, Jr. and began drinking at The Witches’ Brew, the bar where DeFeo was once a regular customer.
  • When closing Missy’s window, which Missy said Jodie climbed out of, Kathy saw red eyes glowing at her.
  • While in bed, Kathy received red welts on her chest caused by an unseen force and was levitated two feet in the air.
  • Locks, doors and windows in the house were damaged by an unseen force.
  • Cloven hoof prints attributed to an enormous pig appeared in the snow outside the house January 1, 1976.
  • Green gelatin-like slime oozed from walls in the hall and also from the keyhole of the playroom door in the attic.
  • A 12-inch (30 cm) crucifix, hung in the living room by Kathy, revolved until it was upside down and gave off a sour smell.
  • George tripped over a 4-foot-high (1.2 m) China lion ornament in the living room and found bite marks on one of his ankles. Later this lion would reappear in the living room after George had moved it back upstairs into the sewing room.
  • George saw Kathy transform into an old woman of 90: “the hair wild a shocking white, the face a mass of wrinkles and ugly lines, and saliva dripping from the toothless mouth.”
  • Missy would sing constantly while in her room. Whenever she left the room she would stop singing and upon returning she would resume singing where she left off.
  • On one occasion Kathy heard what sounded like a window being opened and closed through the sewing room door even though she was sure no one was in there.

 

However, it seems as if Amityville’s Horror House is not all hogwash. According to historyvshollywood.com, there was one piece of controversial evidence captured during a paranormal investigation that could verify an otherworldly presence within the house.

“The debate over the alleged Amityville ghost image […] has been going on ever since George Lutz first revealed it during an interview on the Merv Griffin show in 1979. It had been taken three years earlier in 1976 by Ed and Lorraine Warren’s team of paranormal investigators, namely a professional photographer by the name of Gene Campbell.

Campbell had set up a camera equipped with black and white infrared film to shoot automatically during the night. Numerous rolls of film were used, with only one suspicious image being captured. The Amityville ghost image shows a figure with white eyes peering out of a doorway. Some believe that it is a demon or possibly the ghost of the murdered DeFeo boy, John. Others have concluded that it is likely one of the investigators, in particular, a man named Paul Bartz. They cite that his white eyes were possibly due to the infrared camera film.”

As of 2013, no other owners of the home have experienced any paranormal phenomena.

In 2006, George Lutz passed away suddenly. One of the last interviews he ever gave can be found at http://www.ghostvillage.com/legends/2005/legends36_04122005.shtml. In many ways, the Lutz’s purchase of the home was very straightforward. They saw the house, heard about the history, discussed numbers and commute times…basically the kind of shit you talk about with your significant other when considering a big purchase. I suppose we’ll never know what actually did or did not take place inside the Amityville Horror House, but we can be sure that the legend of the DeFeo murders and the Lutz family ordeal will survive for generations to come.

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

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Don’t chew on the walls, kids! S1 Ep.1

Episode 1 of Haunt Heads is now available on Podbean.com!  https://hauntheads.podbean.com/e/dont-chew-on-the-walls-kids-haunt-heads-s1-ep1/

The audio quality in this episode leaves something to be desired, but headphones should help. Our next episode will be GREATLY improved in the audio department.

We appreciate your views, your follows, your likes, and your patience as we get the hang of pod casting/our equipment.

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

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House of the Seven Gables, Salem, MA: Haunting & Hawthorne

A visit to Salem is pretty high up on my bucket list. It falls just above taking the Jack the Ripper tour in England and just below visiting the Mutter Museum in Pennsylvania. The history of old Salem is definitely a draw for me, but I’m also fascinated by the touristy side of new Salem. Some compare it to a witchy sort of theme park, filled with out-of-towners and people swathed in robes and pointy hats. Some might find the commercialization of Salem quite sad, but truthfully it makes me want to visit even more. It seems to me as if this side of Salem has become a way of life for those who reside there, embracing the past and creating a new future. But there are some structures that retain their history and their ghosts.

1200px-House_of_the_Seven_Gables_(front_angle)_-_Salem,_Massachusetts

Built in 1667, the House of the Seven Gables is the oldest surviving 17th century wooden mansion in New England. The house is now a museum, but has undergone renovations by the Turner and Ingersoll families that resided within it. For this reason, it is often referred to as the Turner-Ingersoll mansion. Susan Ingersoll, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s cousin, resided in the house until she died at the age of 72 and he visited her quite often. The house was the inspiration for his novel of the same name.

Visitors to the mansion report the house to be quite active, particularly on the attic staircase. Some claim to feel dizzy or lightheaded as they ascend the stairs while others feel an oppressive force pushing down on them. It has also been reported that there is a sensation of being pushed backwards, as if something is forcing them out of the attic. Susan Ingersoll’s ghost has also been spotted in the windows of the house and people have seen her specter wandering the halls. An apparition of a little boy has been seen playing in the attic. Other experiences include:

  • Cold spots.
  • Being touched by unseen hands.
  • Hearing screams.
  • Hearing deep growling sounds.
  • Malfunctioning water taps and electricity (turning off and on by themselves.)
  • While outside, some have said they heard someone tapping on the windows as if trying to get their attention.

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Tours of the location last roughly 30-40 minutes and, it seems to me, that given the activity at the location there’s practically a guarantee you’ll experience something during your visit.

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Have you visited the House of the Seven Gables? Did you have an experience there that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

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Sleep Tight: The Hag of Newfoundland Folklore (Newfoundland, Canada)

I learned of The Hag in grade school, sometime around 1994.  It was close to Halloween and my teacher had added a little bit of folklore into her lesson plan. It was a story I hadn’t heard before and I was instantly intrigued.

Most people call it what it is: sleep paralysis. That feeling of being unable to move in the moments just before your fall into REM sleep. If you have issues falling into or out of REM sleep, and your experience involves hallucinations or you’re unable to move or speak as you begin the waking process, you might be experiencing sleep paralysis. Where I come from, it means you’ve been “Hagged.”

John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_Nightmare.JPG

The Hag is a demon called down upon an unsuspecting individual by another person. There are many reasons why The Hag might be summoned, but the tale my teacher wove involved a vengeful wife. As the story goes, the woman made a pact with the devil and offered her husband’s soul in exchange. He had many women interested in him, but one woman in particular had set her sights on him and the two were often seen in each other’s company. This angered the man’s wife, so she called The Hag down upon him.

One night, the man awoke from a deep slumber to a pressure on his chest. His eyes slowly came to focus on a dark form perched there, its eyes glowing and its teeth glinting in the moonlight. Although the man tried to scream, no sound could he make. Although he tried to move and push the figure away, he could not make his arms or legs react. The growling form pried his mouth open with long, sharp talons and placed its mouth upon his, draining the life from his body. The Hag swallowed his soul and forever imprisoned it in hell. The man’s wife lived a long and happy life without the burden of her cheating husband.

Fritz_Schwimbeck_-_My_Dream,_My_Bad_Dream._1915

There is no definitive cause for sleep paralysis, though some doctors suggest that getting more sleep, as sleep deprivation is often reported by sufferers, could be a cure-all. Perhaps getting better and longer sleep will help, but the stories in cultural folklore still persist.

As long as there are unexplained phenomena in this world, there will be folklore tales to craft a response. Although this response may sound illogical, the folklore tale of The Hag was rooted deeply in the lives of early settlers on the island. These tales were handed down from generation to generation and allowed sufferers to give a real face to something they could not explain.

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Side Note: I’m pretty sure my teacher was disciplined for sharing such a story with a grade school class, even if it was just for laughs.

Have you ever experienced sleep paralysis? Do you have a Hag story to share? Please comment below. Sweet dreams.

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

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Enjoy Your Stay: The Carlton County Gaol (Ottawa Jail Hostel), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Dark Past

Said to be one of Canada’s most haunted buildings and featured on many top ten lists of haunted places is The Ottawa Jail Hostel. Originally, the structure was used as a maximum security prison, connected to the courthouse next door via a tunnel, and housed every kind of offender from murderers to the mentally ill. The structure, opened in 1862, had no glass over barred windows, allowing the Ottawa winters to chill the inhabitants to the bone in their tiny 9’x3′ cells. Each cell barely had enough room for a mattress on the floor. Prisoners endured harsh conditions, including torture from the guards, and were only fed once per day, leading to an undocumented number of deaths. Up to 150 prisoners had to share 60 small cells and 30 larger cells. Six cells were reserved for solitary confinement.

hi-ottawa-jail-hostel

The prison was Ottawa’s main detention center and was a model prison when it opened. Other institutions were modeled after its example and it remained the main jail for over 100 years.

Darker Present

Once the prison closed in 1972, a company bought the location and turned it into a hostel, converting the cells into small dorms with bunk beds where patrons could sleep. The staff run regular tours of the building, telling visitors of the horrible conditions and the innumerable deaths on the property. The hostel now offers a money back guarantee to those brave enough to stay the night. The location is apparently very active because they’ve never had to refund a guest.

Unexplained Occurrences

A guest who had complained about not seeing any ghosts approached the manager about a refund about halfway through her stay. The manager, following their policy, retrieved the woman’s money and laid it on the counter. Before she could grab her change, a coin rose from the counter top and hovered in the air for at least a minute before dropping again. The woman threw her money down and ran from the lobby.

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Guests have reported hearing women and children crying in the basement area of the old jail as well as disembodied footsteps in the hallways. Cell doors will often slam shut on their own and, on the top floor where Death Row was located, guests have reported hearing the trap door release and the tightening sound of the noose around a neck. They also hear kicking noises as if someone is flailing after being hanged.

Have you ever spent the night at the Ottawa Jail Hostel? Do you have experiences to share? Please let us know in the comments.

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

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Black River Falls, WI: Hauntings, Murder, & Suicide

There  is little explanation for the events that took place in the small, isolated town of Black River Falls at the end of the 19th century. Between 1890 and 1900 the town, filled with primarily German and Norwegian immigrants, fell victim to a rash of occurrences that very nearly brought the town and all who lived there into complete downfall. Charles Von Schaik, a local photographer, cataloged the events in photo form capturing some 30,000 images. What he captured on film was evidence of vagrancy run rampant, murder-suicide pacts, madness, and the unexplained.

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In the 1890’s, Black River Falls was enduring the worst financial crash and commercial depression the country had ever known. Many immigrants had come in hopes of growing or starting a family in the area and the land was very cheap, but upon arrival had realized that the land was worthless, not even worth what they paid. Railroads offered free fare to those eager to move elsewhere. Shortly thereafter, residents began acting strangely. Stories of ghosts and witchcraft swirled and reports of random violence, shootings, and suicides rose. Residents took their lives and were found hanging in barns and from trees on their property. Some accounts of strange behavior include:

  • A farmer blew off his own head by placing it over a hole full of dynamite and lighting the fuse.
  • A woman, concerned about the rash on her back, went outside and doused herself in gasoline then lit a match and self-immolated.
  • A young mother takes her children for a day at the beach and drowns them one by one while the others watch.
  • A fifteen-year-old girl burns her employers barn and house because she “wanted some excitement.” She had burned several buildings of previous employers.
  • A recently divorced man shoots his wife and family dead in the town square.
  • A young man attempts suicide by laying on the train tracks. He had only been living in Black River Falls for about a month. It takes four men to remove him from harm. After this incident, he is never seen or heard from again.
  • A farmer decapitates all of his chickens, convinced that the devil has overtaken his farm.
  • A family offers lodging and food to a drifter who, after the family goes to sleep, shoots them all before shooting himself.
  • A former school teacher, now addicted to cocaine and travelling the country by train, is admitted to the insane asylum for her propensity to break windows. She had been arrested and institutionalized scores of times for the same activity.
  • A ten-year-old boy and his brother run away from home and kill the owner of a remote farm by shooting him in the head. They live on the property for some time before being discovered by the farmer’s brother. The younger boy is caught while the older flees the scene. Authorities capture the older boy, but not before he shoots one of the men. The boy is sentenced to life in the penitentiary.

Today, Black River Falls is a tourist destination and is home to roughly 3,600 souls. People come to the community for camping and shopping and downtown is filled with small shops and restaurants that resemble little of the town depicted in Von Schaik’s photographs. There are no explanations for the behaviors of the residents in the 1880-90’s and answers will likely never be found. Despite that fact, there will always be speculation surrounding the small town and its former inhabitants.

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Have you ever visited Black River Falls? Do you have any theories as to why these strange occurrences took place? Do you have a story you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

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Flatbed or Keep On Truckin’

It’s Easter weekend, so I thought I’d share something a little special for the occasion. Below is another encounter I’ve had with the paranormal. As I mentioned in one of my first posts, I am sensitive (some call it clairsentience), so I can often feel the presence of those who have passed over or, in some cases, have interactions with these spirits. It’s often frightening, it was especially so when I was younger, but I have come to accept the fact that I have this gift. I have embraced it as an opportunity to interact with the unknown and to get a sense of what awaits us after we pass on. I hope you enjoy this piece. I call it Flatbed.

___________________________________

The summer had been on the warmer side. For Newfoundland, the “warmer side” means somewhere around 70 degrees. It’s not really warm for most Americans, but I’m certain it was for most Newfoundlanders. I remember that summer as peaceful and quiet in the little town where I grew up, a place called Paradise. I spent my time building hideouts in the woods, tepees and lean-to’s mostly, in an effort to distance myself from my parent’s volatile relationship.

Many of my friends had gone on vacation that summer. My best friend George had gone to Nova Scotia and my other friend Mel was stuck at camp somewhere in New Brunswick. During their time away, I had found some old wrecks in the woods, most of which were too far gone even for the most vivid imagination, several dilapidated cars and a flatbed truck. The truck in particular captured my attention and I spent copious amounts of time sitting in the driver’s seat, pretending to drive everywhere in the world I wanted to go. I was 10.

It was a Sunday. I remember because Jem and the Holograms came on at 3 pm and a half hour after that some boring religious documentary, standard Sunday fare. I was out the door before the credits rolled. At this point in my life, I had a “get out” mentality. I had trained myself to be elsewhere before voices were raised, battle lines drawn, and insults thrown like spears. I visited my grandparent’s house on the weekends and, in short order, escaped to the woods at the earliest convenience.

Per usual, I picked my way through the dense undergrowth to my vehicle of choice. The truck sat untouched, in the same condition as I’d left it the weekend before. Something was different, though. There was a chill in the air and the woods were quieter than normal. As I slid into the driver’s seat, I felt a cold hand grab my shoulder. I spun around to see a man with dark hair and dark eyes. He wore a leather jacket and jeans stained with motor oil. On his feet were cowboy boots with steel tips on the toes.

“This ain’t no place for little girls!” He scolded. “You shouldn’t be here!”

I slid out of the truck via the passenger door and put the truck between us. “I’m s-sorry,” I stammered.

“This is my truck! You shouldn’t be here!” His face was angry as he slid into the driver’s seat and gripped the wheel. “I put a lot of work into this truck. It’s mine!” His eyes were two black holes, void of any warmth. “Get the hell out of here!”

At this point, I turned to run. He could have his truck for what good it would do him. It was a rusted heap that had obviously been there some time. As I ran I looked back over my shoulder. The man was gone.

I stopped and waited. He didn’t appear. It seemed as if he had vanished into thin air. I thought better of waiting around, so I ran all the way home.

The following Saturday I was doing my paper route. My route took me up the street next to Irving Drive, a dead end called Drover’s Road. I opened the mailbox to slip a paper in, but the front door opened. The old lady who lived here was always kind, offering me something cool to drink and a cookie for the road. It wasn’t long before we were chatting about this and that. She lived alone and likely looked forward to company, even if that company was a lanky preteen like me.

I told her about what I had been doing over the summer and how all my friends were gone to the mainland. She was sympathetic. She explained that, when you’re alone, you have to make your own fun. I agreed and told her about the abandoned cars, the truck in particular, that I had found in the woods.

“That’s Jim’s truck,” she said quietly, her voice suddenly sad.

“Did you know him well?”

“Oh yes!” Her face brightened. “He was a mechanic. He loved that truck like it was a baby, always polishing it and yelling at the neighborhood kids if they came too close.” She smiled. “He was all bark and no bite if you know what I mean. He lived here for a time. Here,” she said, “give me a moment and I’ll fetch a photo of him.”

I heard her rummaging through a drawer somewhere inside. When she returned she held a Polaroid in her hands and was admiring it fondly. She handed it to me and a chill ran up my spine.

In the photo, a man with dark hair and dark eyes stood next to a white pickup. He wore a leather jacket, blue jeans stained with motor oil, and a pair of cowboy boots with metal tips on the toes.

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I hope you enjoyed Flatbed and I hope you have a great Easter weekend (or just a long weekend, if your custom is not to celebrate Easter :)).

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

Tweet us @hauntheadscast

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Bubble, Bubble, Brew, and Trouble: The Lemp Mansion, St. Louis, Missouri

The Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, MO, is an astounding structure. It is filled with beautiful Victorian furniture and antiques and oozes affluence and grandeur, but beneath the surface lies a tragic tale, one of infidelity, and death that still affects the location today. It is home to many spirits who still haunt the halls of the mansion.

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Beginnings

Johann Adam Lemp arrived in St. Louis from Eschwege, Germany in 1838. He built a small grocery store on the corner of (now) Delmar and 6th Streets and sold various household wares, grocery items, and homemade beer, made from a recipe created by his father. In a time when beer was dark, Lemp’s light beer (lager) was a welcome arrival and an instant hit. Just two years later, Lemp abandoned his store and opened a brewery with a small pub attached, manufacturing his beer in large quantities to satisfy the growing demand. The brewery was located close to where the Gateway Arch stands today. He began storing the beer in a limestone cave not far from the brewery in order to stockpile and brew his product and found the conditions promoted the lager process. Ice was chipped from the nearby Mississippi River to keep the cave cool. Lemp’s Western Brewing Company was the largest in the city in the 1850’s and the beer took first prize at the annual St. Louis Fair in 1858.

Downturn

In 1862, Johann Lemp died and the business was taken over by his son William J. Lemp Sr. By the 1870’s the Lemp family was a symbol of wealth and power and the brewery controlled the beer market in St. Louis. In 1876, he purchased a home a short distance from the brewery that had been built by his wife’s father, Jacob Feickert, and began renovating the expanding the house and the brewery. By the time he was finished, Lemp Mansion, and the surrounding land, spanned 5 city blocks. A tunnel was built in the basement that led from the house to the brewery.

 

William Sr. had hoped to pass the business on to his son Frederick, but he passed away in 1901 from heart failure. Frederick was never the picture of good health, so his passing was not a surprise, but nonetheless his passing hit William hard. A few years after Frederick’s death, William Sr. committed suicide by shooting himself.

Upon his father’s passing, William Jr. inherited the business and the Lemp fortune. William was a womanizer and threw lavish parties in the tunnels beneath the mansion which had a large concrete swimming pool and bowling alley. It is said that he gave his wife, Lillian, called The Lavender Lady due to her propensity to always wear the color, $1,000 per day for shopping expenses to keep her preoccupied and threatened to lessen the amount if she did not spend it all. The purpose was to keep her mind elsewhere, allowing William to continue his adulterous lifestyle.

William’s lifestyle eventually caught up with him and he fathered a son outside of his marriage. The boy was born with down syndrome and was forced to live with the servants in the attic, never allowed to live in the main house, and was hidden from public view. A nanny to the boy and the family chauffeur verified the child’s existence though no documents exist to support his birth.

In 1908, William filed for divorce and the brewery was barely limping along. Nine of the large breweries in St. Louis had merged to form the Independent Breweries Company, creating huge competition that Lemp Brewery had never faced. When prohibition reared its head in 1919, William decided to close the brewery for good and without notice to anyone. Workers arrived to begin the day and were met with closed doors and locked gates. In 1922, William sold the logo and the building for a pittance compared to what the company was worth before prohibition.

Death

William Jr. became reclusive and began complaining of ill health and, in 1922, committed suicide. Much like his father, he chose to shoot himself in the dining room of the house. Elsa, William Sr’s daughter also shot herself in 1920 after a long period of emotional distress due to her rocky marriage.

In 1943, William III died of heart failure at the age of 42. Around this time, William Jr’s illegitimate child, now in his 30’s, passed away. He is buried on the property under a simple marker that simply reads, “Lemp,” but in life he was simply known as “The Monkey Faced Boy.”

William’s brother, Charles, took ownership of the mansion after William Jr’s passing and remodeled the house back into a residence, removing the offices. Charles developed an odd fear of germs and wore gloves constantly, constantly washing his hands. In 1949, Charles climbed the stairs to the second floor, after shooting his beloved doberman pincer in the basement, and shot himself.

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The Lemp family line eventually died out, the remaining members passing of natural causes, and the family plot can be found in Bellefontaine Cemetery.

Haunting

There is a long list of paranormal experiences at Lemp Mansion including footsteps, the sounds of someone knocking on and slamming doors, and the feeling of being watched. Various apparitions have been seen including that of a small boy with a facial deformity. It is said he asks people to play with him and many investigators have left toys for the spirit. They place the toys in the center of the attic room where the boy was said to stay, and draw a chalk circle around them. When they return to the space, the toys have moved outside the circle. His face can sometimes be seen in the attic windows from the street.

At the bar, drinks often stir themselves and some visitors report glasses being flung across the room. The piano is also said to play itself. Tools disappear and are never found.

In the main floor bathroom, guests state they have seen a man peek over the partition while they are taking a shower. It is believed that this is the ghost of William Jr. given his womanizing ways.

In William Sr’s room, guests report hearing someone running up the stairs and kicking at the door. It is said that when William Sr. shot himself, William Jr. ran up the stairs and began trying to kick the door down.

Visit the Mansion

The mansion has been featured in many magazines and has had many ghost hunting groups stay the night. Today, the mansion features a bed and breakfast, dinner theater, and restaurant and offers tours to those souls who are brave enough.

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Have you taken the Lemp Mansion tour? Did you have any experiences there? Let us know in the comments below.

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

Tweet us @hauntheadscast

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The Villisca Axe Murder House, Villisca, Iowa

On June 9, 1912, the Moores, husband Josiah (43) and wife Sarah (39)including their four children, Herman (4), Katherine (9), Boyd (7), and Paul (5), and two members of the Stillinger family made their way back to the Moore home following a church social. The event began at 8 p.m. and concluded around 10 p.m. The children and their parents readied themselves for bed and settled down for the night. What followed is considered by many  the most gruesome event in Iowa history and a tale of murder that would rock the small community of Villisca to its very foundation.

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The Stillinger children, Ina (8) and Lena (12) had been asked by the Moore children to stay the night after the lamps in town went unlit due to some argument between lamp lighters. The girls were supposed to travel to their grandmother’s house for supper, but were afraid of the dark. In a strange twist of fate, they stayed with the Moores instead, believing this to be a safer alternative. When they all arrived back at the house, they went to bed, the Stillinger children occupying the guest bedroom on the first floor off the kitchen and the Moores upstairs. Sometime between midnight and 5 a.m., the entire family and the Stillinger children were brutally murdered with an axe.

Many have speculated that the attacker hid in the attic space and waited until everyone was asleep. Two spent cigarettes were found in the space. It has also been speculated that the food the family may have consumed had been poisoned or tampered with in some way to facilitate their murder.

The murders were a national sensation, causing friends and neighbors to turn on one another and making it difficult to buy a means of protection or a lock anywhere in the town. Many suspects were questioned, but were ultimately cleared or dismissed by authorities.

Suspects

Reverend George Kelly– Kelly had a history of mental problems and was considered a sexual deviant. He was also accused of being a peeping tom and writing lewd letters to women in town. It was reported that Kelly left early in the morning the day of the murder and talked about it on the train out of town. This information could not be confirmed by witnesses and, although Kelly had confessed to the crime, they had no evidence to support Kelly as the killer. He had also contacted people in town asking for details about the murder. Kelly later recanted his confession and was acquitted twice.

Henry Lee Moore (No Relation)- Moore had been charged/sentenced of the murder of his grandmother and sister (he killed them with an axe no less), but authorities could not link him to the crime. He was also accused of killing several other people, but the charges did not stick.

Frank Jones– A former employer of Moore. Jones became a business rival when Moore went out on his own and was bitter about the loss of business caused by the split. It has also been said that Moore had been seeing Jones’ sister, which he was not pleased about. This has never been proven.

William Mansfield– It was speculated that Mansfield was hired to kill Moore and his family by Frank Jones, but there was no proof of this.

Andy Sawyer– A transient who was in town the night of the murders. He stated that he left town after the murders because he did not wish to be blamed for the crime.

The Facts

Digital Camera

On June 10 at approximately 5 a.m, the Moore’s neighbor, Mary Peckham, exited her house to hang some laundry out to dry. She was surprised to see that the shades on the Moore home were still drawn and that the children were not outside tending to their chores. At approximately 7 a.m., Peckham walked to the Moore home and knocked, but received no answer. She tried the door, but it was locked from the inside. The shades were still drawn. On two of the windows that were without shades, clothing had been hung to block the view inside.

Peckham immediately called for Josiah’s brother, Ross Moore, who tried the door before using his key to enter. He walked through the kitchen and into the guest bedroom, often referred to as the Blue Room. When he saw the two Stillinger girls lying dead with dark red stains surrounding them, he immediately retreated back to the porch and called for authorities.

The sheriff arrived and took in the scene. He made his way into the house, found the two Stillinger girls in the Blue Room, then proceeded upstairs to find the Moore’s in a similar state. All had been attacked with an axe, but only Josiah Moore had been struck in the face with the sharp side of the axe, his wife and the children had been bludgeoned with the blunt side. The sheriff returned to the porch where Peckham and Moore’s brother were waiting. He muttered something about each bed having a dead body in it and went back to town for reinforcements. Once there, he told several townspeople about what had happened and, within a short time, almost 100 people had converged on the house. They wandered inside and gawked at the dead bodies, essentially destroying the crime scene. The townspeople arrived even before the coroner. Finally, the Villisca National Guard arrived and took control of the scene and cordoned off the area at around noon.

A through search of the home by authorities found the following:

A pan of bloody water sat on a table next to some uneaten food.

There were axe marks on the ceiling, either from the killer chopping at his victims or swinging the axe around maniacally (both are speculated).

Sarah Moore’s face was completely unrecognizable and Josiah Moore had no recognizable features from the shoulders up. Both parents had been struck between 20-30 times each.

Josiah Moore’s head had been crushed completely and pieces of tissue and skull fragments were all over the head board.

The Moore children likely slept through the murders while it is speculated that the Stillinger sisters, at least Lena, awoke while she was being attacked. Her body hung off one side of the bed and her skirt was pulled up to her waist. Her underwear had been removed and thrown under the bed. There was no sign of sexual assault. Ina had her hips angled toward a lamp that sat on the floor next to the bed. Again, there was no sign of sexual assault.

The axe was found in the Blue Room and appeared to have been partially wiped clean. A slab of bacon wrapped in a towel was also found in that room. Some speculate the killer intended to steal the bacon and forgot it, others claim it was used as an artificial vagina due to the way the bodies of the Stillinger girls were found. However, authorities found no hair or fluids.

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The killer covered the mirrors in the house.

The murder remains one of Iowa’s most perplexing mysteries. Locals blame the authorities at the time for mismanagement of the crime scene, believing they could have brought someone to justice. Of course, at the time, there was no DNA testing and the crime scene had been so badly muddled by the townspeople that fingerprint evidence was destroyed. There would have been no database to compare the prints to anyway. Basically, authorities would have had to catch the killer as he left the scene or in the act.

Haunted House

With such a terrible crime, the house must contain some residual energy, right? Of course it does! Violent death and unsolved murder can have that effect. Guests can do a daytime tour (for the faint of heart, as the website states) or an overnight and many visitors have reported seeing and hearing ghostly phenomena. Full bodied apparitions have been spotted as well as disembodied footsteps and voices. EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) have caught children laughing and, immediately after, heard them crying out. They have also recorded children telling them to “hide.”

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Have you ever visited the Villisca Axe Murder House? Tell us about your experiences in the comments. Don’t forget to like/share/follow if you like what you’ve read!

Your Fellow Haunt Head,

Janine

hauntheadscast@gmail.com

Tweet us @hauntheadscast

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