Harry Houdini’s Mission to Expose Fake Spiritualists

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Harry Houdini, whose name is synonymous with amazing escape acts, was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, illusionists of all time.

 

Houdini’s greatest and most memorable escape act was the “Chinese water torture cell”. In this escape, Houdini’s feet were locked in stocks and he was lowered into a tank filled with water.

 

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The mahogany and metal cell featured a glass front so the audience could clearly see Houdini. The stocks were locked to the top of the cell and a curtain hid his escape. To make the escape even more difficult, a metal cage was lowered into the cell so Houdini couldn’t turn, limiting his movement.

 

But Houdini was also well known for another, equally, popular achievement, his mission to debunk fake spiritualists, psychics and mediums.

 

In the 1920s, after unsuccessfully trying to contact his dead mother through a string of mediums who he found to be fakes, Houdini began investigating their methods and claims, appointing himself the crusader against them.

 

During personal appearances to promote his movies, Houdini would show slides of the various mediums and denounce their supposed supernatural abilities. He would also answer questions, from newspapers throughout the country, about false mediums and their methods of tricking unsuspecting guest who are desperate to believe they can finally contact their loved ones who have died.

 

Houdini’s crusade to prove spiritualists as nothing more than fakes cost him the friendship of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle, the famous author of Sherlock Holmes novels, was a firm believer in spiritualism during his later years, and refused to believe any of Houdini’s claims.

 

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Houdini

 

Doyle’s belief in spiritualism was so strong that he believed Houdini was a powerful spiritualist himself, and had performed many of his stunts by using his paranormal abilities.

 

Furthermore, he believed Houdini was using these abilities to block those of other mediums that he was debunking. However, the disagreement led to the two men becoming public antagonists, and Doyle viewing Houdini as a dangerous enemy.

 

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Before Houdini died, he made an agreement with his wife Bess that he would communicate the message “Rosabelle believe”, a secret code to her during a séance. Holding to their agreement, Bess held yearly séances on Halloween night for ten years after Houdini’s death.

 

Finally, in 1936, after the last unsuccessful séance on the roof of the Knickerbocker Hotel, Bess blew out the candle that she had kept burning beside a photograph of Houdini since his death and said “ten years is long enough to wait for any man.”

 

However, the tradition of holding a séance for Harry Houdini continues today and is held by magicians throughout the world. The Official Houdini Séance was organized in the 1940s by Sidney Hollis Radner, a Houdini aficionado.

 

Although, Houdini has yet to send a message from the beyond. This obviously adds to his belief that once the final curtain comes down, it’s lights out.

 

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. If you enjoyed this article, let me help you with any of your professional content needs including original blog articles, website content and all forms of content marketing. Please contact me at michael@mdtcreative.com and I will put my 15+ years of experience to work for you.

Do You Believe in Ghosts? Six of America’s Most Haunted Houses

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Do you believe in ghosts? Many people do, several don’t. According to the “Haunted House Report” posted by Realtor.com, 35 percent of the people surveyed claim to have lived in, or are living in a home that is haunted.

 

The alleged telltale warning signs that a house you are living in may be haunted are said to include having a cemetery on the property, a home which is over 100 years old, whether home has been the scene of a particularly gruesome crime or it’s near a battlefield and there is, of course, the giveaway sign, when a home keeps changing owners often and quickly.

 

So, with that being said, I’ve put together a shortlist of America’s six most haunted houses and their gruesome histories.

 

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Joshua Ward House, Salem Massachusetts

 

Well known for their macabre history, Salem, Massachusetts is no stranger to disturbing legends and the Joshua Ward House is one place with one of the most prominent of these legends.

 

The house was built by Joshua Ward, a wealthy merchant sea captain, in the late 1780s on a foundation built by the notorious former sheriff, George Corwin.

 

Sheriff Corwin was a prominent figure whose passion for torture fueled the unfortunate events that became the infamous Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s.

 

Nicknamed “The Strangler” because of his preferred method of torture, which included tying his victim’s neck to their ankles until the blood ran from their noses, Corwin is said to be responsible for the death of countless witches.

 

One of these so called witches was Giles Corey, a man who was accused of witchcraft. Corwin crushed Corey to death by placing heavy stones on his chest in order to extract a confession.

 

Before Corey died, he cursed Corwin and all of the sheriffs that would follow in his position.

 

As legend has it, since proclaiming his curse, every sheriff has died while in office or has been “forced out of his post as the result of an ailment that had to do with the heart or blood”. Corwin himself died of a heart attack in 1696.

 

Today, it is said that many of Corwin’s victims, including Sheriff Corey haunt The Joshua Ward House.

 

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LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

Built in 1832, the LaLaurie mansion is claimed to be haunted by several tortured slaves. In 1834, during a major fire at the manor, several of the neighbors were helping to save the contents of the home from the fire when they found tortured slaves chained up in the attic by the owner Marie Delphine LaLaurie, better known as Madame LaLaurie, a prominent socialite and, as it was later discovered, a serial killer.

 

The fire had started in the kitchen where, upon entering, an elderly female cook was found chained to the stove by her ankle.

 

According to the New Orleans Bee from April 11, 1834, bystanders found “seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated. They were suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other”, who claimed to have been imprisoned there for many months.

 

The home, which had been rebuilt to resemble the original, was owned by actor Nicholas Cage from 2007 till 2009.

 

LaLaurie’s life is a mystery after the fire, however, writer Harriet Martineau claims that after fleeing the New Orleans, during the mob violence, she took a coach to the waterfront and traveled to Mobile, Alabama on a schooner and then settled in Paris. She is rumored to have died in Paris, France in a boar-hunting accident.

 

Booneplantation

 

Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina

 

The Boone Hall Plantation was founded by Major John Boone and then sold to brothers John and Henry Horlbeck.

 

Like LaLaurie Mansion, the plantation is claimed to have housed mistreated and tortured slaves.

 

The Horlbeck brothers expanded the property’s brickyard and set some of their 225 slaves to work operating dangerous kilns for the local building industry beginning in 1817.

 

According to the legend, there have been several sightings of spirits within 20 feet of the plantation’s kiln. A slave girl and boy are the most commonly spotted of these ghosts.

 

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Dock Street Theater, Charleston, South Carolina

 

Originally built in 1809, as Planter’s Hotel by the Calder, the Dock Street Theater is the first building, in the Thirteen Colonies, that was designed for use as a theater.

 

There are claims that two entities continuously wander around the theater. One of them was Junius Brutus Booth, a famous actor and the father of President Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth.

 

The other spectre is a nameless prostitute the locals called “Nettie” who is believed to have frequented the area in the 1800s.

 

Nettie worked at the hotel which is where she was struck by lightning and killed instantly while standing on her porch.

 

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Farnsworth House, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

 

The famous Civil War battle at Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest during the four-year war. Named for Brigadier General Elon J. Farnsworth, the Farnsworth House was home to Confederate sharpshooters who would shoot Union soldiers from the windows of the house during the conflict.

 

The home later operated as a makeshift hospital, and currently functions as a nine-room bed and breakfast.

 

However, five of those rooms are said to be haunted by the ghosts of fallen soldiers, along with a midwife called Mary.

 

Many guests claim to have seen Mary sitting on their beds at night.

 

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Home of the Villisca Ax Murders in Villisca, Iowa

 

An old white frame house sits quietly on a residential street in the small town of Villisca, Iowa.

 

On the night of June 10, 1912, six members of the Moore family, who lived in the home, and two other children were brutally killed in what remains Iowa’s worst mass murder to date.

 

The parents Josiah and Sarah along with their four children Herman 11, Katherine 10, Boyd 7, and Paul 5, as well as two of Katherine’s friends Ina 8 and Lena 12 were all found with severe head wounds created by an ax.

 

The investigators on the scene believed that all of the victims except for Lena Stillinger had been asleep at the time of the attack. They also believed that Lena attempted to fight off her attacker because of the presence of defensive wounds on her arm.

 

While there were many suspects, Reverend George Kelly, a traveling minister and suspected pedophile, was twice tried for the murders but was acquitted both times. To this date, the case remains unsolved.
So, I ask the question again. Do you believe in ghosts? There seems to be a lot of people who do.

The White House – America’s Most Iconic House is Haunted

 

It is the most iconic house in the United States, if not the world. It is home to leaders of the free world. The most famous address in America, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is also the country’s most famous haunted house.

 

Guests, staff members and even Presidents themselves have all reported hearing unexplained noises, feeling the presence of ghosts and even seeing unexplainable apparitions.

 

Abraham Lincoln

 

The most frequently reported ghost sighting over the years at the White House has been the ghost of one of the most popular presidents of all time, the acclaimed 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, whose life was tragically cut short by a bullet from an assassin’s gun on April 15, 1865.

 

The first person to reportedly see Lincoln’s ghost was First Lady Grace Coolidge, wife of President Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929). According to her, the very tall and lanky former president was standing in the Oval Office looking out the window, across the Potomac to the former Civil War battlefields beyond.

 

First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969, reportedly felt Lincoln’s presence one night while watching a television program about his death.

 

However, the most notable sightings of Abraham Lincoln’s ghost were during the long presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945). This was most likely because President Roosevelt also presided over the country during a time of great turmoil and a brutal war.

 

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt used the Lincoln Bedroom as her study, and claimed she would feel his presence when she worked there late at night.

 

During her visit to the White House, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands heard a knock on her bedroom door in the night. When she opened the door, she reportedly saw Lincoln’s ghost , wearing his familiar top hat, and she fainted dead away at the sight.

 

One of the most notable sightings of Lincoln’s ghost came from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on one of his visits to the White House during World War II. Churchill loved to retire late, take a long hot bath while drinking a Scotch and smoking a cigar to relax.

 

On this occasion, he climbed out of the bath naked, except for his cigar and walked into the adjoining bedroom. He was startled to see Lincoln leaning on the mantle of the fireplace in the room.

 

Always quick with a comeback, Churchill simply took his cigar out of his mouth, tapped the ash off the end and said “Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage.”
Several psychics believe that Lincoln’s spirit remains in the White House to be on hand in times of crisis and to also complete the difficult work that his untimely death left unfinished. Whatever the reason for Lincoln residency at the White House, one thing is for sure, his is a much more welcome spirit than the others that roam the earth.

Zombies: The Popularity of the Undead

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With the recent increase in popularity of zombies, I thought it would be interesting to dig up (pun intended) some history about our “undead” friends. A zombie is defined as, “a fictional undead being created through the reanimation of a human corpse.”

 

The first zombie movie was White Zombie, released in 1932. The movie was based on the book The Magic Island by William Seabrook, and tells the story of a young woman’s transformation into a zombie because of a spell delivered by an evil voodoo master.

 

One of the most popular zombie movies, and the first film to depict zombies as reanimated cannibalistic cadavers, was Night of the Living Dead. Starring Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea, the film was a low budget production, completed for $114,000. The movie went on to be a financial success and a cult classic grossing $12 million domestically and $18 million internationally.

 

Night of the Living Dead eventually received critical acclaim and has been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry, as a film considered to be “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.

 

The undead have always been popular characters in horror films and television programs in one form or another. However, the recent increase in popularity is mainly due to The Walking Dead television program that premiered on October 31, 2010 on AMC and has gone on to consistently increasing Nielsen ratings. This has been unusually high for a cable series.

 

The term zombie comes from Haitian folklore, where it means a dead body that is reanimated through various methods, usually magic. However, the modern depictions of zombies don’t always involve magic but often popular science fictional methods like radiation, metal diseases, viruses and scientific accidents.

 

The zombie belief has its roots in traditions brought to Haiti by enslaved Africans, and their individual experiences in the New World. The belief is that the voodoo deity Baron Samedi would collect them from their grave to bring them to a heavenly afterlife in Africa (Guinea), unless they offended him in some way.
If this happened, they would be forever a slave after death, as a zombie. A zombie could also be saved by feeding them salt. Several scholars have pointed out the significance of the zombie figure as a metaphor for the history of slavery in Haiti.

The Haunting Of The Villisca Ax Murder House, Iowa

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Can homes take on the residual evil leftover from the events that happened within their walls? Many believe this to be possible, and also believe it to be the reason that ghosts haunt them.

 

This apparently seems to be the case with a non-descript old white frame home that sits on a quiet residential street in the small Iowa town of Villisca. The reason for the strange and frightening occurrences in the home are due to what happened on the night of June 10, 1912, when six members of the Moore family and two other children, who were visiting, were killed in what remains the state’s worst mass murder.

 

All eight victims, which included six children, had severe head wounds caused by an axe. Even though a lengthy investigation yielded several suspects, one of whom was tried twice and acquitted, the crime remains unsolved.

 

The killer or killers patiently waited in the attic of the home until the Moore family and guests came home from a “Children’s Day Program” at the Presbyterian church in town and fell sound asleep.

 

The Moore parents, Josiah and Sarah, were the first to be killed. Josiah received more blows from the axe than any other victim; his face had been cut so badly that his eyes were missing. The killer used the blade of the axe on Josiah, while using the blunt end on the rest of the victims.

 

Next, the killer went into the children’s rooms and bludgeoned Herman, Katherine, Boyd and Paul Moore in the head in the same manner as their parents. Then the killer proceeded down the stairs, to the guest bedroom, and killed Ina and Lena Stillinger, the guests who were spending the night.

 

Over time, many possible suspects emerged, including Reverend George Kelly, Frank F. Jones, William Mansfield, Loving Mitchell and Henry Lee Moore. George Kelly was tried twice for the murder. The first trial ended in a hung jury, while the second trial ended in an acquittal. Other suspects in the investigation were also exonerated.

 

Ever since the Moore house was opened to tourists, several years ago, ghost enthusiasts, curiosity-seekers and paranormal investigators have come to the house, some spending the night, all seeking ghostly sightings.

 

Some stayed alone, like the Des Moines disk jockey who claims to have awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of children’s voices when there weren’t any children present. Others have gone in groups and have left with mysterious audio, video and photographic evidence that suggests something supernatural lurks within the walls of the house.

 

Tours in the house have been cut short by falling lamps, moving objects, banging sounds and a child’s laughter, while psychics who have been in the house claimed to communicate with the spirits of the dead.
It is believed that sometimes evil can be so powerful that remnants of it will be left behind. This is never more obvious than in a place where such a vicious and evil massacre has happened, as in the case of the Villisca Ax Murder House.

Ed and Lorraine Warren: Paranormal Investigators

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Ed and Lorraine Warren’s investigations into some of the most interesting and controversial paranormal events of the past four decades have spawned best sellers and successful movies.

 

In 1952, the Warrens founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, the oldest ghost hunting group in New England. They are also the authors of several books about the paranormal and their investigations into reports of paranormal activity.

 

Popular cases

 

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Amityville haunting

One of the Warren’s most famous and well known investigations was into the recorded hauntings of a home in Amityville Long Island, New York. The events were the basis for the book The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson and the movie by the same name.

 

George and Kathy Lutz claimed their house was haunted by a violent, demonic presence that was so intense that it eventually drove them out of their home. Even though The Amityville Horror Conspiracy authors Stephen and Roxanne Kaplan claimed the case was a hoax, Lorraine Warren held to the statement that it was real.

 

The Amityville Horror has been questioned by several critics. According to Benjamin Radford, the story was “refuted by eyewitnesses, investigations and forensic evidence.

 

Demon murder

Arne Johnson was accused of killing his landlord, Alan Bono, in 1981. Ed and Lorraine Warren were called prior to the killing to investigate an alleged demonic possession of the younger brother of Johnson’s fiancée.

 

The Warrens determined that Johnson was also possessed, and at his trial, Johnson attempted to plead Not Guilty by Reason of Demonic Possession, but the plea was unsuccessful. The case was later covered in the 1983 book The Devil in Connecticut by Gerald Brittle.

 

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Annabelle

In another one of their more popular cases, in 1970, two roommates claimed their vintage Raggedy Ann doll was possessed by the spirit of a young girl named Annabelle Higgins.

 

The Warrens took the doll and told the roommates that it was being manipulated by an inhuman presence. The Warrens had a special display case built for the doll, because they claimed it kept getting out of all the other cases they tried putting it in, and put it on display at the family’s “Occult Museum”. This case lead to the loosely based 2014 film Annabelle directed by John R. Leonetti.

 

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Perron family

In 1971, the Warrens claimed that the Harrisville, Rhode Island, home of the Perron family was haunted by a witch who lived there in the early 19th century. They claimed Bathsheba Sherman cursed the land so that whoever lived there somehow died.

 

The case was turned into the 2013 film, The Conjuring and Lorraine Warren was a consultant on the production and also appeared in a cameo role in the film.

 

In 1986, The Warrens proclaimed the Snedeker house, a former funeral home, to be infested with demons. The case was featured in the 1992 book In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting. A TV movie that later became part of the Discovery Channel series A Haunting was produced in 2002 and a film that was very loosely based on the events, directed by Peter Cornwell, was released in 2009.
Whether or not you believe in what Ed and Lorraine Warren have accomplished or what they did as a profession, one thing I think everyone will agree on, they have really had adventurous lives.

Do You Believe in Ghosts? Six of America’s Most Haunted Houses

Do you believe in ghosts? Many people do, several don’t. According to the “Haunted House Report” posted by Realtor.com, 35 percent of the people surveyed claim to have lived in, or are living in a home that is haunted.

 

The alleged telltale warning signs that a house you are living in may be haunted are said to include having a cemetery on the property, a home which is over 100 years old, whether home has been the scene of a particularly gruesome crime or it’s near a battlefield and there is, of course, the giveaway sign, when a home keeps changing owners often and quickly.

 

So, with that being said, I’ve put together a shortlist of America’s six most haunted houses and their gruesome histories.

 

Joshua Ward House, Salem Massachusetts

 

Well known for their macabre history, Salem, Massachusetts is no stranger to disturbing legends and the Joshua Ward House is one place with one of the most prominent of these legends.

 

The house was built by Joshua Ward, a wealthy merchant sea captain, in the late 1780s on a foundation built by the notorious former sheriff, George Corwin.

 

Sheriff Corwin was a prominent figure whose passion for torture fueled the unfortunate events that became the infamous Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600s.

 

Nicknamed “The Strangler” because of his preferred method of torture, which included tying his victim’s neck to their ankles until the blood ran from their noses, Corwin is said to be responsible for the death of countless witches.

 

One of these so called witches was Giles Corey, a man who was accused of witchcraft. Corwin crushed Corey to death by placing heavy stones on his chest in order to extract a confession.

 

Before Corey died, he cursed Corwin and all of the sheriffs that would follow in his position.

 

As legend has it, since proclaiming his curse, every sheriff has died while in office or has been “forced out of his post as the result of an ailment that had to do with the heart or blood”. Corwin himself died of a heart attack in 1696.

 

Today, it is said that many of Corwin’s victims, including Sheriff Corey haunt The Joshua Ward House.

 

LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

Built in 1832, the LaLaurie mansion is claimed to be haunted by several tortured slaves. In 1834, during a major fire at the manor, several of the neighbors were helping to save the contents of the home from the fire when they found tortured slaves chained up in the attic by the owner Marie Delphine LaLaurie, better known as Madame LaLaurie, a prominent socialite and, as it was later discovered, a serial killer.

 

The fire had started in the kitchen where, upon entering, an elderly female cook was found chained to the stove by her ankle.

 

According to the New Orleans Bee from April 11, 1834, bystanders found “seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated. They were suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other”, who claimed to have been imprisoned there for many months.

 

The home, which had been rebuilt to resemble the original, was owned by actor Nicholas Cage from 2007 till 2009.

 

LaLaurie’s life is a mystery after the fire, however, writer Harriet Martineau claims that after fleeing the New Orleans, during the mob violence, she took a coach to the waterfront and traveled to Mobile, Alabama on a schooner and then settled in Paris. She is rumored to have died in Paris, France in a boar-hunting accident.

 

Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina

 

The Boone Hall Plantation was founded by Major John Boone and then sold to brothers John and Henry Horlbeck.

 

Like LaLaurie Mansion, the plantation is claimed to have housed mistreated and tortured slaves.

 

The Horlbeck brothers expanded the property’s brickyard and set some of their 225 slaves to work operating dangerous kilns for the local building industry beginning in 1817.

 

According to the legend, there have been several sightings of spirits within 20 feet of the plantation’s kiln. A slave girl and boy are the most commonly spotted of these ghosts.

 

Dock Street Theater, Charleston, South Carolina

 

Originally built in 1809, as Planter’s Hotel by the Calder, the Dock Street Theater is the first building, in the Thirteen Colonies, that was designed for use as a theater.

 

There are claims that two entities continuously wander around the theater. One of them was Junius Brutus Booth, a famous actor and the father of President Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth.

 

The other spectre is a nameless prostitute the locals called “Nettie” who is believed to have frequented the area in the 1800s.

 

Nettie worked at the hotel which is where she was struck by lightning and killed instantly while standing on her porch.

 

Farnsworth House, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

 

The famous Civil War battle at Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest during the four-year war. Named for Brigadier General Elon J. Farnsworth, the Farnsworth House was home to Confederate sharpshooters who would shoot Union soldiers from the windows of the house during the conflict.

 

The home later operated as a makeshift hospital, and currently functions as a nine-room bed and breakfast.

 

However, five of those rooms are said to be haunted by the ghosts of fallen soldiers, along with a midwife called Mary.

 

Many guests claim to have seen Mary sitting on their beds at night.

 

Home of the Villisca Ax Murders in Villisca, Iowa

 

An old white frame house sits quietly on a residential street in the small town of Villisca, Iowa.

 

On the night of June 10, 1912, six members of the Moore family, who lived in the home, and two other children were brutally killed in what remains Iowa’s worst mass murder to date.

 

The parents Josiah and Sarah along with their four children Herman 11, Katherine 10, Boyd 7, and Paul 5, as well as two of Katherine’s friends Ina 8 and Lena 12 were all found with severe head wounds created by an ax.

 

The investigators on the scene believed that all of the victims except for Lena Stillinger had been asleep at the time of the attack. They also believed that Lena attempted to fight off her attacker because of the presence of defensive wounds on her arm.

 

While there were many suspects, Reverend George Kelly, a traveling minister and suspected pedophile, was twice tried for the murders but was acquitted both times. To this date, the case remains unsolved.
So, I ask the question again. Do you believe in ghosts? There seems to be a lot of people who do.