The Lizzie Borden House: Virtual Haunted House Tour Stop #6

Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done

She gave her father forty-one.

I’m sure everyone has heard that little jumping rope ditty at some time or another in early childhood. It is a sordid reminder of another unsolved crime that grabbed national headlines in the late 1800s: the tale of Lizzie Borden.

The History

The morning of August 4th, 1892, Andrew Borden and his wife Abby were discovered murdered in their home. Focus quickly settled on Andrew’s daughter, Lizzie, as being the perpetrator of the crimes. The murders were violet- each victim being struck multiple times with a “hatchet-like” weapon. The rhyme above is not quite accurate- Andrew Borden will struck 11 times while his wife suffered from 18 or 19 blows.

There was reportedly a great deal of tension between Andrew and his daughters, Lizzie and Emma, over his financial gifts to Abby’s family members (she was Andrew’s second wife and Lizzie and Emma’s stepmother.)  Andrew had done very well for himself over the years, but was quite frugal with his money in other matters. This could have provided a motive for the murders- Lizzie and Emma inherited everythin on their parents’ passing.

What is odd about these murders is that both Lizzie and the Borden maid were at home during the time of the murders. The maid was resting upstairs in her attic bedroom, while Lizzie said that she had gone outside to retrieve something from the barn.

Andrew Borden was killed while he was resting on a couch in the front parlor while Abby was struck from behind while she was making up a bed in the guest room.

The evidence linking Lizzie to the murders wasn’t strong enough to stand up in court and she was eventually acquitted.

An Infamous Address

The Lizzie Borden house is consistently ranked one of the top haunted houses in the country. It is a commonly held belief that when people die horrible, untimely deaths, there is residual energy left that can lead to hauntings.

The ghosts of Andrew and Abby Borden are said to still remain in the home, especially in the areas of the house where they were murdered. The house is now a bed and breakfast, and visitors can request to stay in the room where Abby Borden was murdered (pictured here).

Visitors of the hotel have reported hearing a woman weeping, muffled conversations from vacant rooms, doors opening and closing, and seeing an apparition of a woman dusting and straightening the bed linens.

Cege’s Thoughts

The Lizzie Borden story has fascinated me for years. I still can’t believe that there could be 2 people at home during the murders who didn’t hear or see a thing. But I wasn’t sitting on the jury in 1893. This is another one, like the Villisca Ax Murder case, where we may never know what actually happened.

 

(photo credit dbking)

Tomorrow we’ll be visiting the Griggs Mansion in St, Paul, MN. If you are enjoying the virtual haunted house tour, please share it with your friends! See you again soon!

Don’t forget that there is a Monster of a Sale going on. Just in time for Halloween, three of my monster-ish tales are on sale for $0.99 through October 31st. Click the book cover to snag your copy now!

  

 

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Palmer House: Virtual Haunted House Tour Stop #5

When I started poking around for haunted locations here in Minnesota, I went straight to the experts. I put out a call to Minnesota Ghosts, a website run by the Minnesota Paranormal Study Group, and asked them which Minnesota haunted houses they would recommend featuring here on the blog.

The top of their list? The Palmer House in Sauk Centre, MN.

The Palmer House is a historic landmark in Sauk Centre, built in 1901, and was what many residents called “a first-class hotel”. But the Palmer House was built on the substructure of an older building that burned down in 1900.

That building, the Sauk Centre House, was a saloon, hotel, and brothel. And it’s the ghosts of people who supposedly lived during that time that are said to haunt the Palmer House today.

For a slightly different twist in today’s post, I’m featuring the work of two different paranormal groups who have investigated the Palmer House. For those of you who like video, check out this 8-min clip of the investigation led by historian, co-founder of the International Paranormal Society and host of Darkness Radio, Adrian Lee. There’s definitely a few chilling moments that will give you goosebumps.

I also gained permission from the Minnesota Ghost’s crew to republish the findings from their investigation in 2008. For those of you who appreciate reading about these encounters, here’s what they have to say:

Brief History: Palmer House is a hotel built by the Palmer family in 1901. It was built over the site of a former saloon and brothel which burned down.

Case ID: I8003
Owner ID: Adam Nori
Case Title: Palmer Hotel
Status: Open
Investigation Type: Investigation
Investigation Date: 2008-05-23
Investigation Time: 07:00 cst

Team Members Present: Monica Zacharias, Clay Cochran, AJ Spain, Eric Miller, Shannon Heier, Sean Heier, Kyle Krenz, Nancy Willis

REPORTS

Here are some public files from our team reports log.
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Clay Cochran –

Outside Impressions: Rather unassuming building given that there are a lot of older buildings in downtown Sauk Centre. Not much to look at from the outside.

Walk-in Impressions: Very beautiful lobby, main staircase, bar, and restaurant with a lot of the original furnishings.

Closing Impressions: One of the neatest places I’ve ever stayed in ; the ownership/host was incredible as was the staff. While there is a definite erie ambience in certain areas of the hotel (most notably the basement), I don’t get the impression that it’s haunted, but could easily see how people could think it could be.

Lucy’s Room: Formally Room 217:
This is the room that’s supposedly occupied by a prostitute named Lucy – undoubtedly from the days when a saloon and brothel stood on the site the Palmer House now stands. According to Kelley, the owner, several experiences have been reported and a sensitive identified the spirit as this Lucy. One of the more outstanding experiences Kelley had with this spirit was when a sensitive claimed that Lucy was calling him to check out her room. Both the sensitve and Kelley felt a heavy feeling and could barely get up the stairs to her room. When the sensitive opened the door to this room, he was greeted by the apparition of Lucy sitting in one of the chairs, smoking a cigarette, while her body was in a state of decay.

I had no personal experiences in this room. Various EVP’s may have been recorded from this room, but many of them were inconclusive. One EVP that was picked up that was somewhat discernible was when one of the team members asked Lucy if it was OK to leave the room to investigate the children’s playroom. The EVP picked up seemed to be saying “It’s OK to play with the kids”….or something similar to that.

Raymond’s Room: Formally room 22:

Raymond is an apparition identified by sensitives as possibly being Lucy’s pimp. Experiences are not uncommon for guests staying in this room or staff cleaning it. He is apparently an ominous and domineering spirit.

I had no personal experiences while in this room although we think the staff may have purposefully moved some of the furniture around. There was an EVP picked up that clearly whispered “Luuuucy….” ; all other investigator’s voices were accounted for as this happened, so it’s unlikely that it was one of the investigators. Subsequent experiments seem to exclude the possibility of someone standing outside the door or coming from other external sources.

Child’s Playroom: Pursuant to reports of the ghost of a little child, we investigated the children’s room. Eric, AJ, and Kyle left the microphone and recorders running as they tried telling stories and laying out Leggo toys. They left the infrared camera running as they left. Video reveal nothing. The toys weren’t moved. However, there was an EVP picked up after Eric sneezed and Kyle said “God bless you” that seemed to be a child’s voice mimmicking “God bless you”….I find that EVP to be contentious and undetermined, but the rest of the group seemed to think it definitive.

Room 18: This room is reported to be haunted by the inexplicable sound of footsteps. To my knowledge, we were never able to pick this up or reproduce it in order to debunk.

Basement “Icky Room”: The Icky Room is a room full of old doors that previous sensitives claim is dominated by a rather mean male spirit and the spirit of Lucius – a Palmer family sibling who was responsible for the family dogs. There was absolutely nothing picked up in the Icky Room. One point of interest happened when using an EMF and the spirit (of Lucius) seemed to manipulate the LCD light, but when specific parameters for EMF light display manipulation were set to “yes and no” questions, nothing happened.

Basement: The Chair: There was a chair in a corner near the Icky Room next to a bunch of furnaces where a sensitive friend of Kelly claimed to have been possessed and flung off the chair. By possessed, I mean this person was tone deaf yet apparently was possessed to sing a child’s lullabye song in perfect harmony. I sat in the chair for about 20 minutes, all alone, and in the dark. Nothing happened. Didn’t feel anything. No EVP’s picked up. Nothing going on there.

Basement: The Hole: There was an inexplicable, perfectly rectangular hole dug in one section of the basement that was about 4 ft deep, 5 ft. long. I sat in it with a DVR running. Nothing picked up.

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Monica Zacharias –

Outside Impressions: Beautiful, old brick building, one of original town structures. First building was involved in a fire, some of original structure was used in rebuild.

Walkin Impressions: You walk into the lobby/pub/restuarant, very welcoming feeling entering the building. Staff helps as they are very accomidating and friendly. Walking thru the floors of the hotel I felt very welcomed as well, no ill feelings at all during my time there.

Closing Impressions: The floors creak with every move you make throughout the entire location, this may explain some of the sounds that are reported – footsteps in hall with no one outside the door when you look, they could be hearing someone walking on the floor above them. If the are on the third floor they could be hearing from below them.

I spent most of my time in the basement and main floor of the hotel. My sleeping room was located on the third floor though.

I was present for only the first night of the investiagtion, it seemed like a quite night. The only report by members that was unexplainable was AJ hearing footsteps comiong down the basement all the way to the concrete floor, she thought I had returned to the basement but I was still on the third floor checking on members. This was captured on EVP.

Basement: I spent most of my time in the basement. I was with AJ and Sean, this was AJ’s first case and so I was trying to stay in her areas so that if she had questions or concerns I was right there for her. The basement area is quite large and so we were able to spread out comfortably without contaminating the evidence we were trying to collect.

Main Floor: The second half on my night I spent with Kyle on the main floor. We did notice that every semi truck that passes on the street outside makes the entire building shake. As well there is so many windows and glass doors with reflective surfaces that we had to debunk some of the sightings in that area.

(Reprinted with permission from the Minnesota Ghost website).

(photo credit cisc1970)

Tomorrow we’ll be visiting the Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, MA. If you are enjoying the virtual haunted house tour, please share it with your friends! See you again soon!

 

Don’t forget that there is a Monster of a Sale going on. Just in time for Halloween, three of my monster-ish tales are on sale for $0.99 through October 31st. Click the book cover to snag your copy now!

  

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Villisca Ax Murder House: Haunted House Tour Stop #4

When a place openly declares itself to be an “ax murder house”, you can’t help but sit up and take notice. When you see the slightly garish sign that sits outside this small, unassuming white clapboard house, you may think that you’ve stumbled upon some kind of staged amusement attraction.

Not the case here. Welcome to the Villisca Ax Murder House. The walls of this house witnessed a horrific set of events late one night in 1912. And this little town in Iowa hasn’t been the same since.

The History

The house was owned by J.B. Moore at the time of the murders. He and his wife, Sarah, lived there with their four children. On the evening of the June 9th, 1912, the Moores had spent the majority of the day at church where Sarah organized children’s activities and their own children participated. At the end of the evening, Sarah invited two friends of her daughter to spend the night at their house. The family walked home and entered the house around 9:30pm.

The next morning, a neighbor noticed that the Moores were not up and about yet and called J.B.’s brother. What the brother found inside was horrifying. Sometime during the night, someone had bludgeoned the entire family to death with an ax, including the two young guests.

It is widely speculated that because of the mismanagment of the crime scene after its discovery, potential crucial evidence was likely tampered with or lost. Panic and suspicion gripped the small town, and although several suspects were investigated, no one ultimately was charged with the murder.

The case remains unsolved.

A House of Unrest

Based on numerous accounts of visitors to the house, as well as mediums, and paranormal investigators, it appears that the house is without a doubt haunted. Children’s voices can often be heard, and items in the house move about.

Investigators have been able to secure audio, visual, and photographic proof of paranormal activities. (Check out the Ghost Adventures page for evidence from their investigation of the house.)

The current owners offer daily tours of the house, and even the opportunity to stay overnight if you want to stage your own investigation. The only thing they ask is that you share whatever evidence you collect with them. Clearly, they are believers too.

If you want to keep a safe distance but still see the inside, you can find a virtual tour of the house here.

Cege’s Thoughts

Nothing disturbs me as much as hearing about violence against children. The brutal murders that took place inside the house that long ago night are incredibly tragic, and I feel queasy thinking that six of the eight victims were children. Whoever did it must have been a sick and twisted person. My hope that all of the victims were able to eventually find peace.

Tomorrow we’ll be visiting the Palmer House in Sauk Centre, MN. If you are enjoying the virtual haunted house tour, please share it with your friends! See you again soon!

 

Don’t forget that there is a Monster of a Sale going on. Just in time for Halloween, three of my monster-ish tales are on sale for $0.99 through October 31st. Click the book cover to snag your copy now!

  

(photo credit Jo Naylor)

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Rose Hall: Virtual Haunted House Tour Stop #3

What could be better than visiting a haunted house on your birthday? That’s just what my oldest stepson got to do back in 2009, when we visited Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica during the kids’ spring break.

Today, Rose Hall is a museum and tourist attraction. It sits high on a hill and overlooks the Jamaican coast. The gardens and landscape are breathtaking. But back in the early 1800s, when Rose Hall was an active sugar plantation, it was a much scarier place to be.

The History

This info packed 3-min video features our Rose Hall tour guide who explains the history of the Great House, including giving some nuggets about Annie Palmer, the infamous “White Witch of Rose Hall”.

 The “Wicked” Annie Palmer

Annie Palmer got her name “The Witch Witch” from the Rose Hall slaves. Although she only lived in the house for 11 years, she managed to kill 3 husbands and an unknown number of slave lovers.

Having learned the practice of voodoo from her nanny as well as slaves on the plantation trying to curry favor with their cruel mistress, Annie supposedly conducted dark rituals to keep herself and her land protected from pirates as well as terrorize the slaves and keep them in line.

Every day, Annie would stand on a small balcony off the second floor and issue orders to the assembled slaves below. Often, these orders would include punishments and Annie would watch from her balcony as those slaves were whipped, beaten, or worse by her command. The slaves lived in fear of Annie and torments. Because of her voodoo background, they started to call her the “White Witch”.

Annie often took male slaves into her bed, but quickly bored of them. Once she was done with a lover, she would have him killed and buried in an unmarked grave.

Eventually, Annie’s evil deeds caught up with her. Her roving eye fell upon a young slave man who she couldn’t have, and another one of her slaves killed her to protect the young man from her. Annie was buried on the property in a stone coffin that has etchings that were supposed to keep her spirit inside.

Legend says that the spell was never completed, and so the White Witch was able to escape and continues to wander the Great Hall to this day.

A young maid, employed by one of the subsequent owners, fell to her death from Annie’s balcony. There are those who say that Annie’s ghost pushed her.

Visitors to Rose Hall report hearing strange noises and also capturing strange phenomena and images in photographs of the Great House and the dungeon below. Although we didn’t experience any paranormal occurrences during our visit, after hearing the history of this house, I am certain that if the White Witch could find a way to come back from the dead, she definitely would.

 

Tomorrow we’ll be visiting the Villisca Ax Murder House in Villisca, IA. If you are enjoying the virtual haunted house tour, please share it with your friends! See you again soon!

 

Don’t forget that there is a Monster of a Sale going on. Just in time for Halloween, three of my monster-ish tales are on sale for $0.99 through October 31st. Click the book cover to snag your copy now!

  

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Winchester Mystery House: Virtual Haunted House Tour Stop #2

Back in 2002, I was traveling for work in Northern California and happened upon an attraction there that I had never heard of before: the Winchester Mystery House. As I followed the tour guide through the twisted turns, dead ends, and beautiful (albeit eccentric) decor, I was fascinated.

This was a house that wasn’t built for the living. It was built for the dead.

The History

There a several variations of how what inspired Sarah Winchester to begin construction on her sprawling mansion back in 1884. I say “begin” construction because that activity didn’t cease until 38 years later– when Sarah passed away. Being a Winchester meant that Sarah was heir to the rather large Winchester rifle fortune, which played a significant role in what happened next.

Sarah was from the East Coast, and history says that after her daughter and husband both passed away rather suddenly, she consulted a medium. That medium told her to pack up her belongings, move all the way across the country, and build a home there. As long as she never stopped building on the home, she would not be vulnerable to the ghosts of victims who died at the ends of Winchester rifles.

For the rest of her life, Sarah consulted the spirit realm on a regular basis to provide building plans for the mansion. Upon her death, construction immediately ceased, and the house was sold. It became a tourist attraction in the early 1920s, and has been ever since.

The House

Supposedly the maze-like interior of the house was meant to ensure that any ghosts would get lost or confused and be unable to find Sarah within its walls. Having visited the house myself and seeing just a small portion of its 160 rooms, I can say that that strategy could definitely prove to be effective. The hallways twist and turn at random, there are staircases that lead to nowhere, and you encouter various deadends all through the house. There are rooms with windows that don’t actually have exterior walls. And we can’t forget the famous “door to nowhere” pictured below.

The house originally had seven stories (currently only four), but suffered earthquake damage in the 1906 earthquake (which trapped the widow Winchester in the house for a short period of time). What I find unusual is that with all of the construction that continued to go on after the earthquake, Sarah didn’t touch portions of the house that sustained earthquake damage. I guess the ghosts were fine with that?

Not surprising, there are small decor details that held special significance to Sarah that can be found throughout the house, namely the number 13 and spider web motifs (an example pictured in the stain glass windows here).

One thing for certain though, Sarah Winchester spared no expense when it came to building her ghostly mansion. Stain glass, gold, silver, and Tiffany embellishments could be found throughout the home.

Is it Haunted?

Now this is an interesting question. I’m not really sure that this house built for ghosts is actually inhabited by any ghosts. It’s creepy and has an otherwordly history, but I’m not sure that that is enough to draw the attention of the paranormal.

I’m a big fan of the reality ghost-hunting show Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel, and their investigation of the Winchester Mystery House was rather disappointing (and ended abruptly when the lead investigator had to close the investigation early due to a family emergency).

I’d say on this haunted house, the jury is still out.

 

Tomorrow we’ll be visiting Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica. If you are enjoying the virtual haunted house tour, please share it with your friends! See you again soon!

 

Don’t forget that there is a Monster of a Sale going on. Just in time for Halloween, three of my monster-ish tales are on sale for $0.99 through October 31st. Click the book cover to snag your copy now!

(photo credit Harshlight)

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