The Colonial Park Cemetery is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Savannah. Built in 1750 it is the burial place for some of Georgia’s earliest residents, including 700 unfortunates who died of yellow fever in 1820.
Closed against burials in 1853, it has since been beautifully restored to its former glory. It is not surprising then that it is high on the must-see list of those visitors keen to immerse themselves in this gracious city’s past.
Browse the thousands of graves and you will find the names of people who have helped shape the history of the USA.
There is one grave that many visitors seek without success, however.
No matter how hard they scour, they will not find it because it does not exist.
Buried elsewhere in an unmarked grave the Colonial Park Cemetery ghost wanders the tombstones and catacombs for a different reason.
During his short and violent life, this cemetery with its underground tunnels and burial vaults was his very own personal playground.
Who is The Ghost of Colonial Park Cemetery?
In recent years, the Colonial Park Cemetery has featured on the many ghost tours that visit Savannah’s haunted hotspots.
Rumored to be the home of many earthbound spirits including young children, there is one spirit in particular who likes to make his presence felt.
Caught on camera and witnessed by many as a green apparition hanging from a tree or flitting between the graves, this ghost is particularly distinct.
At almost seven and a half feet tall, it can only be the spirit of one particular Savannah resident, the notorious murderer Rene Rondolier.
Rene Rondolier was born in Savannah in 1777. In all likelihood, he was born with a genetic mutation as by early adulthood he had grown to be 7 feet 5 in height and was covered in dense black body hair.
This combined with the fact that he probably had special educational needs, made him easily recognizable in the district where he lived.
Indeed, his appearance was so distinct and terrifying that some people have suggested he was the inspiration for Frankenstein’s monster.
Rondolier lived with his parents in a home adjacent to the Colonial Park Cemetery and as a child was allowed to roam freely in the local area.
As he grew though, his behavior became increasingly disturbing and he was accused of torturing and killing small animals.
Eventually, concerned for the safety of themselves and their children, a number of locals approached Rondolier’s parents and asked them to confine their son to their own property.
The Rondolier family agreed to comply with the wishes of the local townsfolk and attempted to constrain their son by building a large enclosure.
Surrounded by eight foot walls and guarded at night, it would have been difficult for the average human to escape. For Rene though, it proved an easy task to evade his captivity.
Familiar with the cemetery from childhood, he would slip into the catacombs or hide amongst the gravestones whenever it suited him.
On a moonlit night late in the eighteenth century he escaped for a final time. Before dawn, a terrible act was committed and Rene stood accused of a violent and senseless murder.
When the mutilated bodies of two young girls were found in Colonial Park Cemetery early one morning, Rene Rondolier was the obvious suspect.
Examining the scene, unusually large footprints were found leading away from the bodies to the Rondolier property.
With his history of torturing and mutilating animals, it seemed highly like that Rene Rondolier had committed the heinous crime.
In the days when justice was often meted out upon the spot, a lynch mob soon gathered baying for the blood of the murderer.
Rondolier was dragged from his home and hung from a tree until he was dead. Later that same day his family cut him down and buried him in an unmarked grave in land adjoining the cemetery.
For the local people justice had been seen to be done and the tragic matter should have ended there. Unfortunately, within months more murders were committed and the bodies dumped in Colonial Park Cemetery.
This time the bodies were those of a mother and her two children.
Mutilated in the same way as Rondolier’s victims and with no other suspects, the locals bizarrely blamed the ghost of Rene and the rumor that his spirit haunts his old playground began in earnest.
A Strange Discovery
Over the centuries, the ghost of Rene Rondolier has been witnessed countless times . It is clear that his disturbed spirit cannot rest for some reason.
Perhaps he was falsely accused of a crime he did not commit or maybe his spirit cannot find peace until he atones for his terrible sins.
Intriguingly, when his grave on the Rondolier property was opened by a builder early in the twentieth century, it was found to be empty.
What happened to Rondolier’s skeleton remained an unsolved puzzle for many years and provoked even more speculation about his evil deeds.
The mystery may have been solved in recent years, however.
Hundreds of miles south of Savannah, off the coast of Florida, lies Hutchinson Island. During recent construction on the island the skeleton of a seven foot man was discovered buried in an unmarked grave.
Is this the grave of Rene Rondolier?
Did his family transport his remains down the coast to Hutchinson Island believing it would lie undiscovered and undisturbed?
We will never know the answer.
One small comfort is that the contractor who made the discovery chose to leave the skeleton where it lay. Its precise location is known only to a few.
In a city rumored to be home to many restless spirits, the Colonial Park Cemetery ghost is surely one of the most terrifying.
At over 7 foot 5 and making frequent appearances in this old graveyard, to be confronted by this specter must be truly horrific.
Sometimes appearing as a corpse hanging from a tree or as a green mist that wends its way between the tombstones, Rondolier clearly has no plans to leave.
In life as in death the cemetery remains Rene’s playground.
So why does the spirit of this giant man remain earth bound?
There can be little doubt that he cruelly tortured animals during his lifetime and modern psychology has taught us that this behavior often progresses to murder.
Clearly unable to rest in peace we will probably never know for certain if Rondolier really was a vicious child murderer or simply man with a child’s mind who still cannot make sense of his own death and spends his nights fruitlessly searching for his old home.