Al Capone was a leader of a Chicago-based organized crime syndicate during America’s Prohibition era. His vast operation raked in tens of millions of dollars yearly through gambling, bootlegging, prostitution and other illegal activities and was dominant in the organized crime circles for almost a decade.
The Nickname “Scarface”
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1899 to Italian immigrant parents, it is not clear the circumstances that led him to relocate to Chicago.
It was in Chicago that he would achieve prominence as a feared gangster and get the nickname Scarface. It was a nickname that the press gave him because of scars he had on his face.
The scars were as a result of a fight at the Harvard Inn after he had insulted a female patron. The patron’s brother retaliated by slashing him and left him with three indelible marks on his face.
Capone’s Vast Syndicate
Soon after moving to Chicago, he became friends with Johnny Torrio and later became Torrio’s bodyguard. At the time, Torrio was heading a criminal syndicate that dealt in the illegal supply of alcohol during the prohibition era.
In 1925, after surviving an assassination attempt, Torrio left Chicago and chose Capone as his replacement.
Capone expanded the organization and made a name as one of the country’s leading mobsters. Some estimates show that his syndicate was pulling in up to $100 million daily.
At the prime of his power, he had almost half of Chicago’s police force and up to 1000 gunmen on his payroll.
The Beginning of The End
Capone continued to rise untouched by the law, helped by both law-enforcement and political protection. He was using his deep pockets and fearsome reputation to influence elections, and vicious violence to push his illegal alcohol business.
But the events of the morning of February 14, 1929 would change the landscape forever.
With Capone still dominating the trade in illegal liquor, another gang led by his long-time rival George “Bugs” Moran, known as the North Side Gang, was on the rise and was vying for a piece of the pie.
Capone felt threatened and decided to deal with Moran decisively.
Seven men from the rival North Side Gang were lined up against a wall and sprayed with bullets, but Moran had managed to escape.
It was an attack carried out by Capone’s men who had posed as police.
The attack that came to be known as the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre was the final straw for influential citizens and Capone’s political allies and it was decided that his lawlessness had to be curtailed.
But without any evidence linking him to the massacre, the police had to find other charges to bring him in and in May 1929, he was arrested on a gun charge and sentenced to one year at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.
“Jimmy” Torments Al Capone
While in prison, Capone enjoyed special privileges due to his connections. He had an easy chair, an antique desk, a rug and a radio among other things. He was even conducting business via a prison warden.
But no one could have foreseen that Capone would degenerate into a haunted man screaming in fear every night.
Inmates reported that they heard him screaming at somebody by the name of “Jimmy” to leave him alone.
Many assumed he was pleading with the ghost of James Clark who was among the men murdered in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. James Clark was brother in law to George “Bugs” Moran”.
The torment continued even after he left Eastern State Penitentiary. In fact he even enlisted the services of a psychic by the name Alice Britt in 1931 to try to ascertain what Jimmy’s demand was, but without success.
In 1934, he was sentenced for tax evasion and sent to Alcatraz which hugely affected his mental health. Jimmy continued to haunt him during his time there.
Was it “Jimmy” or Syphilis?
Some have given a different theory to explain his torment. Al Capone contracted syphilis at the age of 20 while working at a brothel as a bouncer.
Due to non-treatment, the disease advanced into neurosyphilis which led to dementia.
After his release from Alcatraz, Capone went to live in his mansion in Miami Beach, and he spent the next eight years suffering from Psychosis from time to time.
On January 25, 1947, Capone died of a brain haemorrhage and bronchial pneumonia. The “ghost” most likely followed him to the grave.
The winter of 1872 saw the worst Atlantic storms since records began. Gales and tempests ravaged the ocean making perilous transatlantic voyages even more hazardous.
Ship after ship foundered and was lost upon cruel, unforgiving seas.
Common sense advised that it was safer to stay in port til spring but in the years when trade between continents depended entirely upon shipping, there was no room for the faint hearted.
When the brigantine the Mary Celeste slipped out of New York harbor on November 7th, its captain, his family and his crew knew they were in for a stormy voyage.
What they didn’t know is that they were to become part of one of the most famous enigmas in shipping history.
A month later their ship would be discovered crew-less and abandoned thousands of miles away. Deserted without explanation, the ghostly sailing ship appeared to give no clue to the fate of its human occupants.
In the years that have followed many have attempted to solve this enduring puzzle, to offer the Mary Celeste theory that best fits the meagre facts.
To this day however, there is no consensus between those who seek to offer an explanation.
As for the Mary Celeste, she was cruelly scuttled some years later for her insurance value.
Will we ever know what happened that fateful winter’s day or did the Mary Celeste take the secret of this baffling mystery with her to her own watery grave?
The Voyage of 1872
In 1872 the brigantine Mary Celeste owned by a consortium headed by the businessmen James. H. Winchester underwent a major refit and expansion.
Built in 1860 and originally named the Amazon she was nearing the end of her working life when her investors decided to pay for a major refit.
Her cargo space was increased, a new deck was added and the cabin space was expanded to make room for a new captain and his family.
The newly appointed captain, Benjamin Spooner Briggs was also an investor in the consortium.
An experienced and much respected sea captain, Briggs was reputedly conscientious and methodical in everything he did.
On the 5th November 1872 the Marie Celeste left port to sail to Genoa, Italy . On board was Captain Briggs, his wife and infant child and seven crewmen.
Their cargo was industrial alcohol. Stored safely in the hold, the captain must have been confident that his volatile cargo was no threat to his crew and family.
Immediately after leaving New York, Marie Celeste met a storm and holed up at Staten Island for two days.
Was this an omen of what was to come on this fateful journey?
We will never know.
What we do know is that the Mary Celeste truly began her journey across the Atlantic Ocean on the 7th November 1872.
The Marie Celeste was spotted at various points on her voyage and recorded in the log books of those ships who saw her.
On the 7th December 1872 she was sighted for a final time by another merchant ship the Dei Gratia. Witnessed sailing erratically near the Azores, the Marie Celeste appeared to be out of control.
At first Captain David Moorhouse of the Dei Gratia was reluctant to approach the ailing ship, fearing piracy.
Eventually though, he sent a party of men led by one of his officers Oliver Deveau, to recover the stricken vessel and investigate what happened.
What Oliver Deveau discovered as he boarded the stricken Mary Celeste was to inspire a mystery that many believe still remains unsolved.
No living creature was discovered upon the Mary Celeste.
Climbing on board Deveau first noted that the top decks were awash with water, yet there was no evidence of flooding below.
Further investigation discovered that while two minor hatches were open the main hatch to the hold was secured.
One of the ships pumps was dismantled on deck as if it was being serviced or repaired. The sounding rod which was used to measure flooding in the pumps was also found on the deck.
When Deveau sounded the pumps himself, he discovered there was less than 4 feet of water, not enough to abandon ship.
Inside the cabins, the floors were drenched with water yet items such as Mrs. Briggs’ harmonium were bone dry and undamaged.
The mouldy breakfast of a small child, lay uneaten on a table indicating that the abandonment of the ship was a hurried affair that took place in the morning time.
Inspecting the cargo hold, the Dei Gratia search party discovered all of the barrels of alcohol were intact and there was enough food and water to feed the captain, his crew and family for six months.
Deveau also discovered during his search that significant items were missing. The single lifeboat was gone as was the peak halyard, the longest rope on the ship.
Puzzlingly, working charts were found on board but not the ship’s papers or navigational tools including the chronometer.
The ship’s clock and compass were both found broken. The captain’s log, possibly one of the most important items on a ship was found in Captain Brigg’s cabin, meticulously filled in, the very least expected from a good captain.
The last entry in the log was recorded 10 days before the ship was seen aimlessly floating on the sea.
It was highly likely that the crew-less ghost ship had drifted hundreds of miles across the Atlantic before being discovered.
Assuming the crew were dead and with little other choice, the British registered Dei Gratia crew sailed the Mary Celeste into the nearest British port, Gibraltar, and claimed salvage.
Immediately, they became the prime suspects for the murder of the Marie Celeste’s crew and passengers.
Investigated by Frederick Solly Flood, a man convinced that foul play had occurred, the Dei Gratia and its captain came under intense scrutiny.
Eventually, their own ship’s log and the fact that no evidence of foul play could be discovered on board, meant that the Dei Gratia crew were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Reluctantly, Solly Flood accepted that natural causes were the probable reason for the abandonment of the Mary Celeste.
The ship was allowed to continue her journey to the port of Genoa in Italy with her cargo of alcohol. Interestingly, the disappointed De Gratia crew were only to receive one sixth of the salvage value of the Mary Celeste.
Suspicion was to hang over them for many years.
The story of the Mary Celeste may have been consigned to history if it was not for the author Conan Doyle, writer of the Sherlock Holmes books.
Some twelve years later, he used the essence of the mystery to write an entirely fictional version of events.
Although his work was fictional, the intrigue surrounding the Mary Celeste caught the public’s interest and a hundred theories of what happened to the stricken vessel during its fateful journey, were born.
The Crew of the Dei Gratia
The crew of the Dei Gratia were the first and most obvious suspects in the strange case of the Mary Celeste. They profited from the salvage of the Mary Celeste and could have easily murdered the crew and family on board without any witnesses.
Investigations proved however, that they left the port of New York sometime after the Mary Celeste and sailed north of the Azores while the Mary Celeste sailed south.
Careful calculations proved that the captain of the Dei Gratia was telling the truth when he said that they did not encounter the Mary Celeste until the 7th of December, 10 days after the last entry in her log.
Despite detailed searches for blood, no evidence of foul play was found on board.
The Mary Celeste was carrying a valuable cargo of alcohol on her voyage. This was a time when piracy was still rife on the Atlantic Ocean.
Piracy was ruled out when valuables and the cargo on the Mary Celeste were discovered untouched. Had pirates hijacked the ship they would have had ten days to clear the ship of its cargo and valuables.
Some people have put forward the theory that the flour on board the Marie Celeste was poisoned with an hallucinogenic called Ergot fungus.
Consumed in large amounts it could have caused someone on board to go mad and murder the others.
The theory seems unlikely until you consider that the same fungus was probably the cause of the events that led to the Salem witch hunts.
In the case of the Mary Celeste, the theory falls flat though. There were no signs of violence on board and the crew of the Dei Gratia showed no ill effects when they consumed the same flour.
When it was initially examined by the crew of the Dei Gratia, the cargo of the Mary Celeste appeared to be intact. However, when it eventually reached Genoa nine of the sealed barrels of alcohol were empty.
Immediately suspicions grew that one or more crew of the Mary Celeste had drunk the industrial strength alcohol and in a drunken rampage had killed everyone else on board.
Once again this was discounted because there were no signs of violence on board. Intriguingly the empty barrels were to give rise to another popular theory some years later.
Mutiny on Board
One of the most astonishing Mary Celeste theories arose during the years between the two world wars in the twentieth century.
Captain Briggs had written of his satisfaction with his crew at the beginning of his voyage and there is nothing to suggest that they were anything other than honest and good men.
Three of the men however, were German.
During the twentieth century the theory gathered support that they were responsible for the murder of everyone on board the Mary Celeste, before escaping in the only available lifeboat.
The fact the belongings of two of the men were not on board added fuel to the fire.
Once again the theory can be discounted because of the lack of evidence of violence on board. Sadly, it also transpired that the two unfortunate men whose belongings were missing, had nothing other than the clothes they stood up in.
They had lost everything when their previous ship had sunk and were merely trying to work their passage home.
Tsunami, Sea Quakes and Water Spouts
Many scientists have sought an explanation for the mystery of the Mary Celeste in the natural world, citing the number of natural phenomena that have occurred in this area as a possible solution.
However, any such event would have caused massive disturbance on board ship. The crew and family would be unlikely to abandon the safety of a large ship for a small lifeboat, had such a phenomena occurred.
If the disturbance was so great that they were washed overboard why was nothing else on the ship disturbed?
Plates and dishes remained on their shelves and even a small bottle of oil stood carefully balanced on Mrs. Briggs’ sewing machine.
Explosion in the Hold
The cargo in the hold of the Mary Celeste was certainly an unstable and volatile substance, industrial alcohol. When the ship finally docked at Genoa nine of the sealed barrels were found to be empty.
One popular theory purports that the alcohol leaked from the barrels, releasing violent fumes which blew open the two hatches to the hold.
Concerned that the ship was about to blow up the captain did the unthinkable. He crowded the crew and his family into the one lifeboat and using the peak halyard tied the lifeboat to the stern of the ship hoping to climb back on board when it was safe.
Unfortunately, the rope at some point snapped and was left trailing in the water behind the ship.
The lifeboat and its occupants were left unable to climb back on board and died of hunger and thirst as they drifted out to sea.
This theory certainly seems to be a valid theory until the physical evidence is carefully scrutinized.
The nine barrels had indeed leaked. Mistakenly manufactured from porous red rather than white oak, they would have been indistinguishable with the naked eye.
However, scientific investigation has proven that they would have leaked slowly. There was unlikely to be a massive build-up of gas that eventually ignited and blew off the hatches leading to the hold.
If this had been the case the smell of alcohol would still be detectable ten days later when the crew of the Dei Gratia came on board.
No smell was ever reported by the crew of the Dei Gratia who examined the barrels. The main hatch to the hold was still intact and sealed and had not blown off.
The two hatches that had been removed merely provided access to equipment and sails and did not lead to the cargo.
At the end of his career, still plagued by the mystery of the Mary Celeste, the original examiner Frederick Solly Flood re-examined the evidence again and recorded his new findings.
He could not accept that an experienced captain would abandon ship without a valid reason. Finally, convinced that foul play had not occurred he concluded that there may have been a catastrophic failure of equipment that led Briggs to mistakenly believe his ship was about to sink.
This theory has been examined by shipping experts over the years. The sounding rod was found on deck and one of the ship’s pumps had clearly been examined.
During that period in history the sounding rod was covered in ash and dipped into the pump to measure how high the water level was. The previous cargo of the Mary Celeste was coal and she had recently undergone a refit which would have generated a lot of sawdust.
Had her bilges become clogged with silt and other residue, giving a false reading?
It is possible but doesn’t explain why ten days later Oliver Deveau used the same rod in the same pump and decided the water level was safe.
Another very plausible theory is that Captain Briggs realized that he was many miles off course. Sighting the island of Santa Maria, he would have realized that the one chronometer on board, one that he had hired for the voyage, was inaccurate.
Analysis of his log book demonstrates that it was almost eight minutes off. It seems feasible that he may have tried to head to Santa Maria in the lifeboat to get the chronometer repaired or to pick up a new one.
Why then did he take his whole crew, his wife and his baby in a tiny lifeboat when they would have been safer on board? And why before he left did he destroy both the compass and the ship’s clock?
At its closest point the Mary Celeste was just a few miles away from the island, the weather would have been good and there was no reason for the small boat to sink.
Curses, aliens, sea monsters and the Bermuda Triangle, just some of the many theories that have been put forward to explain the enigma of the Mary Celeste.
Many may scoff at these suggestions but the truth is that if it cannot be discounted then it is still a possibility. The Mary Celeste theory that best fits the physical evidence is probably the most likely explanation.
The problem is that there is very little physical evidence and so many theories.
The only facts that we know for sure is that an experienced sea captain, his crew and his family, did the unthinkable and abandoned the safety of their vessel for a tiny lifeboat on a November day in 1872.
Lost forever like the Mary Celeste herself, we will probably never know the reason why.
The year is 1641 and a Dutch galleon has set sail from Amsterdam heading for the port of Batavia in Dutch East India.
Time is of the essence and its captain is keen to fill the hold with the treasures of the east and return home. The crew reach the most dangerous part of their journey in record time; the point where east meets west at the very edge of the discovered world.
To port is the stretch of Africa known as the Skeleton Coast where the wooden bones of a thousand wrecked ships lie broken and shattered on the rocks.
To the South is the Cape of Storms where the ice cold Atlantic and the warm Indian Ocean clash in a maelstrom of turbulent currents and massive waves.
As they reach the rocky headland a terrific storm blows in. The galleon is tossed and thrown about the sea. Petrified, the crew beg to head for the safety of the nearest port at Table Bay, but the captain refuses.
Arrogant and obstinate, he believes he can defy nature and beat the raging tempest. Inevitably, he loses the battle and the ship is lost.
This should be the end of the tragedy but it isn’t, the stricken ship is to be seen again, not once but many times. Far from being the end of a sad tale of loss and destruction, the Flying Dutchman ghost story has just begun….
The History of the Flying Dutchman
In 1641 the galleon Vargalde Vlamingh left the port of Amsterdam for the port of Batavia, now known as Jakarta, in Dutch East India.
The name of the ship roughly translated into English as The Flying Fleming and later became corrupted to the Flying Dutchman.
This was a period of great economic growth for the Dutch and they were keen to exploit newly discovered territories in the east.
The voyage to Batavia was hazardous and dangerous though. The most dangerous part was rounding the Cape of Storms, now known as The Cape of Good Hope.
Captained by the intrepid Hendrick Vanderdecken the crew was determined to make the trip in record time and return home safely to Amsterdam.
As they approached the southern tip of Africa, a turbulent storm began to buffet and toss the ship like a toy on the waves. Notorious for its tempestuous weather and unpredictable seas, the crew and captain had expected to be challenged on this part of their voyage.
Nothing could have prepared them though for the storm that met them. Terrified and mutinous, the crew begged to put into port but the captain refused. An arrogant man, he decided instead to take on the might of nature and continue onwards.
As the storm raged on, Vanderdecken is said to have screamed out ‘I will round this Cape even if it takes me to Doomsday’. In this act of defiance, his fate and that of his crew, was sealed.
The man who thought he could take on the might of nature and God, had failed. The consequences would be terrible. The ship was cursed to sail the seas forever, its ghostly crew condemned to be earthbound until other souls took their place.
Witnessed by hundreds over the centuries and recorded in the log books of many ships, to see the tattered red sails of The Flying Dutchman lit by the glow of an unearthly light, is a portent of death and destruction.
Sightings of the Flying Dutchman
Capetown 1689-90: The first recorded sighting of The Flying Dutchman came from Capetown in 1690. The small settlement of Capetown was caught up in a fervour of superstition and speculation during this period.
A comet had recently been witnessed streaking across the sky, a sign that death would follow. An unexplained sickness then gripped the settlement and many lives were lost.
On Christmas Eve a two headed lamb was born, another sign that something evil was afoot. Then, on January 29th 1690 a red sailed galleon was witnessed heading into port in the morning light.
Shrouded in mist and bathed in an eerie light, her approach was witnessed by many on shore. The sea was calm but the galleon was soon enveloped in a blanket of fog.
Later in the morning, those waiting on shore were astonished when the fog lifted and the ship had disappeared, so astonished that the incident was recorded in the history of Capetown as an evil omen.
H.M.S. Leven 1823: Many confirmed accounts of sightings of The Flying Dutchman have been meticulously recorded in the log books of the British Royal Navy adding further credence to the stories of witnesses.
In 1823 H.M.S. Leven was sailing near Capetown when it was approached by the ghostly galleon on two occasions. On the second occasion a small rowing boat was seen being lowered from The Dutchman.
Aware of the stories and superstitions surrounding the galleon, Captain Owen of H.M.S. Leven refused to acknowledge or contact the other ship and changed direction.
Another witness who also recorded his account of these two incidents was the respected academic and statistician, Robert Montgomery Martin, later to become the Colonial treasurer of Hong Kong.
S.S. Pretoria 1879: The crew of the steamship S.S. Pretoria witnessed strange lights in the distance, which they took to be a ship in distress.
Altering course, they sailed towards the lights convinced they would discover a stricken vessel. By the time they arrived at their destination, the lights and the vessel had disappeared.
King George V 1881: Perhaps the most convincing and credible of all witness statements is that of the (then) future King George V of England.
A midshipman on H.M.S. Bacchante on July 11 1871, he and others were alerted at 4:00 a.m. by the shouts of a lookout.
The lookout had spotted the red tattered sails of a galleon in the distance. The future King, as well as 13 others on the Bacchante clearly witnessed and recorded their contact with the ‘Flying Dutchman’. The King himself wrote:
“A strange red light, as of a phantom ship, all aglow in the midst of which light the mast, spars and sails of a brig two hundred yards distant stood out in strong relief as she came up.”
The sighting was also recorded by the crew of H.M.S. Cleopatra and Tourmaline who were sailing in convoy with the Bacchante.
Sadly, in this story the sighting of the Dutchman was indeed a portent of tragedy. The unfortunate lookout who had been first to spot the ghostly apparition, fell to his death from the yard arm later that same day.
S.S. Waratah 1909: Known as The Titanic of the southern seas, the S.S. Waratah set sail from Durban in 1909 and disappeared into thin air.
Its wreck has never been discovered and all passengers were presumed drowned. The last person to see the Waratah was the captain of the SS. Clan McIntyre.
At a public inquiry into the Waratah’s disappearance Captain Phillips stated that on the day in question he first saw the ghostly apparition of The Flying Dutchman before its image evaporated.
Later in the day he saw the Waratah sail towards the point where the Dutchman had disappeared from view.
American Whaler 1911: The crew of an American whaling ship recorded having to change course when a red sailed galleon almost collided with them.
The Royal Navy 1923: On January 26th 1923, four crew of an unidentified Royal Navy ship witnessed The Flying Dutchman.
The four men identified as fourth officer Stone, second officer Bennett, a helmsman and a cadet were so astounded that they agreed to give an account to the Society of Psychical Research.
They clearly observed the ship for a fifteen minute period as it approached their own vessel. As it reached them the ship disappeared as suddenly as it had first appeared.
Muizenburg 1939: Muizenburg is a coastal suburb of Capetown. The Flying Dutchman was sighted here by German sailors on the eve of the Second World War.
After the war U boat commander, Admiral Karl Doenitz also confirmed that the crews of German U boats spotted The Flying Dutchman many times during the six year conflict.
Glencairn Beach 1941: On a calm day in 1941, a large crowd of sunbathers and swimmers enjoying the beauty of Glencairn beach near Capetown saw a galleon with red sails come close to the shoreline.
About to founder on rocks, the audience of bathers felt compelled to watch in horror as events unfolded. Just as the worst was about to happen the galleon vanished into thin air.
H.M.S. Jubilee 1942: In the midst of the Second World War, the British ship H.M.S. Jubilee was heading for the Royal Navy Base at Simonstown near Cape Town.
On watch were the second officer Davies and the third officer Nicholas Montserrat. Montserrat went on to become the famous author of ‘The Cruel Sea’.
At 9 PM the pair spotted a strange ship in the distance and signaled to it, to identify itself. The ship did not respond. Davies later recorded in the ship’s log that the vessel was a schooner of a type he did not recognize.
He also recorded that it was moving under full sail although there was no wind. To avoid a collision H.M.S. Jubilee had to change course at the last moment.
Both men were said to be profoundly affected by their experience .There is no question that they exaggerated the events which took place during wartime.
The Straat Magelhaen 1959:In 1959 the crew of the freighter Staat Magelhaen were sailing off the coast of South Africa when they were in a near collision with a sailing ship, later identified as The Flying Dutchman.
There are few people more superstitious than sailors. Who can blame them when their occupation is at the mercy of Mother Nature and fraught with danger and hazards?
It is no wonder that the Flying Dutchman ghost story has been embellished and added to over the years as the tale is told and retold.
A tale of a defiant captain challenging God and nature, the retribution exacted upon the Dutchman’s crew serves as a lesson to all of those sailing the seas.
Some sailors swear that Captain Vanderdecken comes ashore every seven years to search for a faithful woman. Others say that the crew of the Dutchman try to pass on messages to their loved ones.
Many believe that the restless souls of the Dutchman’s crew can’t move on until they find others to take their place. A fascinating and intriguing story, it is the subject of books, film and opera.
It would be easy then to dismiss the sightings of The Flying Dutchman as the fevered imaginings of superstitious sailors if it were not for one thing.
Sightings of this ghostly ship have been witnessed and recorded by the most impeccable of sources including, academics, writers, high ranking naval officers and even royalty.
These men have no reason to fabricate their experiences, indeed the opposite is true!
Do you find castles, hayrides or graveyards filled with phony ghosts, weapons, chainsaws and mazes amusing? Are you done with the monotony of life and are looking forward to experiencing real paranormal activity?
Do deaths, gore, torture and spookiness give you an Adrenalin rush? You, my friend, are one of those adventurous folks who love to dig into weird mysteries of the world.
Join us at one of the creepiest ghost hunts in some of the most haunted houses in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Top 5 Haunted Houses In Cincinnati, Ohio…
1) Stenton House:
The Dutch built Stenton House in 1850. This eerie Victorian mansion witnessed the suicide of a Dutchman and two young pupils.
The past occupants of the building have reported ghostly apparitions, spooky sounds of objects hitting the floor on the topmost story and phantom footsteps.
After the Second World War, the mansion was subdivided into multi-unit dwellings known as the Cornell Place Apartments.
As of now, the owners use this property as private residence. Some apartments were sealed for safety purposes.
Guest tours and photography is discouraged because the government respects the privacy of its corporeal as well as spiritual residents.
2) Tracy’s Home on Dunham Road, Amelia:
The Tracy family occupied this farmhouse during 1802 to 1803. A group of native Indians called Cherokees from the surrounding woods raided the house in that period.
The riot resulted in sudden death of the youngest girl of the Tracy family. Since then, her spirit has been chasing people away.
In 2005, the descendants renovated the house for visitors. Some parts of it are open for tours while rest of the house is restricted for the guests.
3) McClung House:
A sweet little deserted house on the Main Street with a dark history of homicide. Who wouldn’t want to explore it?
The McClung House built in 1870 had no supernatural history until 1901, when two lovebirds by the name of John and Rebecca McClung moved there.
John was a jealous, aggressive and dominating character. He forbade Rebecca from mingling with the neighbors.
She was not allowed to go outside without his permission. Often, the people saw Rebecca sitting by their bedroom window, admiring the outside scenery.
One day the neighbors heard her pleas for help. When the police arrived at the crime scene, they found John with a bloody log by the mutilated corpse of Rebecca.
However, John was later acquitted due to lack of substantial evidence. After the incident, many folks have seen Rebecca’s spirit walking around the graveyard.
A few neighbors have seen her sitting by the same window. She is still upset because John was not convicted for her murder.
4) Chambers Road House:
A deserted house in shambles, with unkempt lawn and a messy barn sets out the mood for a horror story. There are plenty of stories floating around this “supposedly” haunted place.
Two decades ago, a family of five occupied the house. The husband was mentally sick and as per the local tales, he shot his wife, two kids and horses occupying the barn. The youngest one escaped to a nearby tunnel. The father, who later committed suicide, eventually murdered him.
There are reports of ghostly sightings in the house, the barn and the nearby tunnel. You can see a few bullet holes and dry blood splattered across the walls.
The unnatural aura surrounding this place attracts ghost hunters and paranormal experts from all over the world. Some of them reported peculiar sounds like neighs, screams and gunshots after the sunset.
If you want to explore this place, be a little cautious and make sure, you are never alone!
5) The Handlebar Ranch:
Tiny Town AKA Munchkinville, formally known as the Handlebar Ranch has nothing to do with black magic, witches or murders, just a bunch of pissed off retired midgets.
It is a village of evil circus dwarfs, located towards the north of Cincinnati, near Mt. Rumpke. Like some bad rural myths, the stories surrounding this village pass on from one generation to another.
Annie and Percy Ritter, the last living owners of the house died in late 1990’s. Although we’re not sure where the midget rumors started, but Annie’s barely 5-feet-tall frame and unfriendly attitude towards teenagers might have something to do with it.
In 2002, this 30-acre piece was transferred to the Rumpke. At present, the place is in mess. All that remains of it is cemented walls, lonely wooden bridge, crematory, the wagon wheel gate and a church for devil worshipers.
We don’t recommend trespassing, unless you want to irritate the midgets.
With this, we complete our list of the top five haunted houses in Cincinnati, Ohio. They go beyond the bogus Halloween homes and incite true fear in the hearts of the bravest men. Do remember to visit them!
Bavaria 1921 and the end of a long cold winter. Who could possibly know then, that a small farm seventy kilometres from Munich and close to the small hamlet of Kaifeck, was about to provide Germany with one of its most enduring mysteries?
Almost a century later and the events of Friday 31st March still baffle amateur sleuths and paranormal investigators.
The Hintercaifeck mystery remains unsolved, posing far more questions than answers. Intriguing and puzzling, it provides the German police with a most frustrating cold case.
Hintercaifeck Farm was a small farm a short distance from the hamlet of Kaifeck. Backing onto a forest, the farm was relatively isolated.
Although it was small, the farm was successful and the occupants, although not rich, were certainly comfortably off.
The owner of the farm Andreas Gruber, lived there with his wife Cazilla, his widowed daughter ViktoriaGabriel and her children Cazilla who was 7 and Josef 2.
On the 31st March, Maria Baumgarten, a very unlucky lady, arrived to replace the Grubers’ maid who had left six months before. The cast of this mystery was complete and the scene was set for a very gruesome murder to take place.
Murder in The Barn
Sometime during the evening of Friday 31st March, the first two victims of this shocking crime, Viktoria Gabriel and her daughter Cazilla, were lured into the barn of the farm and attacked.
Possibly returning a cow to its stall and still wearing their day clothes, they entered the barn and met their deaths. Both mother and child had been partially strangled before being attacked with a pick axe.
The poor child did not die immediately and was found clutching clumps of her own hair which she had pulled out herself.
Sometime later that evening Andreas Gruber and his wife Cazilla entered the barn in their night clothes and were also killed. Their attacker then entered the house and murdered the small child Josef and the maid Maria, as they slept in their beds.
One of the most fascinating aspects to this case is the strange series of events which preceded the murders. The Grubers had been without a maid for six months before the unfortunate Maria arrived to meet her fate.
The previous maid had fled, convinced that Hintercaifeck Farm was haunted by a malevolent spirit who moved around the attic. Clearly nobody had warned the unfortunate Maria before she took up the post.
A few days before the murders Andreas Gruber had been disturbed by footsteps in the snow outside his home. The footsteps emerged from the nearby forest and led to his door, they then ended abruptly.
There were no visitors to the farm and the footprints did not belong to any of the occupants. A search of the farm revealed nothing. That evening Gruber heard noises from the attic above, again a search revealed nothing.
Over the next few days attempts were made to break into a shed on the property, a strange newspaper was found in the doorway of the house and a set of keys to the farm disappeared. Gruber was concerned enough to discuss it with his neighbors.
By the 4th April 1921, the absence of the family was raising concern and a group of neighbors arrived at the farm to investigate. What they discovered adds another bizarre twist to this story.
The animals on the farm had been tended to and were well fed, despite almost five days passing since the murders. There was food on the table in the house and a fire had been lit.
The murderer clearly felt confident enough to stay around for a few days, without being discovered. The bodies in the barn had been neatly stacked and covered with hay, Maria the maid was covered with a sheet and the toddler Josef, with one of his mother’s skirts.
Over 100 people were interviewed by Munich police determined to crack the case and solve the murder. Robbery was clearly not a motive as jewelry and coins were found in the house and would have been easily discovered.
Eventually, frustrated by the lack of progress, the police took the decision to decapitate the bodies of the poor victims, sending their heads to Munich to be examined by clairvoyants for clues.
They could offer no answers. The cold case was reopened in 1996 by police and again in 2007.
The final conclusion was that the original investigative techniques were too primitive and that too much time had passed to solve the case. They did state though that there was a prime suspect for the murders, but refused to release the name out of defence to the suspect’s family.
Viktoria Gabriel was widowed almost seven years before the murders took place, yet she had a two year old son, Josef. Viktoria was insistent that the father of her son was a local man Lorenz Schlittenbauer.
He denied that he was the father of the child and in turn accused Andreas Gruber of incest with his daughter. Viktoria was in the process of suing Schlittenbauer for alimony when she was murdered.
Was this Schlittenbauer’s way of avoiding alimony?
One of the first neighbors to discover the bodies, others remarked at his coldness when seeing them for the first time. Indeed, he busied himself feeding the animals and preparing himself food while they waited for the police to arrive.
Another theory suggests that Viktoria’s husband was not killed during the First World War as previously thought and incensed to discover she had a child by another man, resorted to murder.
Although there is no grave for Karl Gabriel, other soldiers testified that they had seen him die on the battle field.
Viktoria had drawn her life savings out of the bank a few weeks earlier and borrowed a sum of money from a friend in order to buy a farm. She later left this sum of money in the confessional of the local church, clearly her plans had changed.
Falling asleep in school one day, the child Cazilla told her teacher that she was tired because her mother had run sobbing into the forest the night before and the family had been up late searching for her.
Had Viktoria begun a secret relationship that had gone wrong?
Was it coincidence that Maria Baumgarten arrived on the very day of the murders?
The Grubers had found it difficult to fill the post. Did Maria take the post because she was in trouble desperately trying to escape from someone or something who discovered her destination?
Or is there indeed a supernatural explanation for the murders of this poor family. Was the Gruber’s first maid correct when she said the farm was haunted by a malevolent spirit?
The Hintercaifeck mystery is unlikely to be solved today. Lovers, husbands or the supernatural , you decide. One thing is for sure though, almost a century has passed and the answers lie hidden in the dim and distant past .