Tag Archives: murder

Ghosts and Murderers on a Bus

Background: The interviewer and the informant recall a ghost story that circulated in their primary school in Qingdao, China. 

Interviewer: Can you retell that Beijing bus story?

Informant: Yep. There’s umm there’s a guy, and he went on a bus. umm and then the bus got to a station, and then several people came onto the bus, and then suddenly there’s an old grandma walking towards him. And she sort of forced him to get off the bus. He said, this isn’t my station yet. That grandma didn’t give a damn and was like, pulling him off of the bus. And then after they got off, she said to him, those guys that just got on, they were ghosts, you see, they don’t have feet……and then the next day he picked up a newspaper, he found that the bus rushed into a mountain valley, and everyone on that bus died. He felt like he passed the gate of hell ‘cause that grandma literally saved his life.

Interview: Ohh I remember those guys wore Qing Dynasty robes too, like the ones Qing zombies wore on TV!

Informant: Yep yep yep, and oh yeah then the next day when the police found the bus, they opened the gas tank and it was filled with blood…

Interviewer: whooo I still get chills listening to this story…

Informant: Yeah and I heard it was adapted from a true crime story. 

Interviewer: Oh really? I think xxx told me that story the first time, but then two years later I saw something very similar on Baidu Tieba [note: a popular blog site, the Chinese equivalence of Reddit]. 

Informant: Yeah yeah I saw the post too. It really blew up everywhere hahaha. I forgot where I heard about the true crime version, but it was actually a murder case. I think it was a guy, he also was taking a bus ride, and then a few other guys went onto the bus too, and then it was still an old woman who pulled him off of that bus. It was like she saw blood on those guys, and they probably just killed somebody, and they were trying to ditch the body or something like that. Anyways the next day the bus rushed into a valley too. Basically they controlled the bus driver and hijacked the bus, but it lost control and fell down the road.

Analysis: This was a very popular story among fourth and fifth graders in this primary school. I think the reason its horror works particularly well for this demographics is because that bus was the most common form of transportation for students at that age. It serves as a metaphorical cautionary tale to alert the young students of the danger with riding the bus alone. 

This is also interesting, because the ghost story is created on the basis of an urban legend. The two versions are essentially the same story, but with slightly different elements. This shows that folk tales are very prone to variation and multiplicity.

Haunted House on Clinton Street in Brooklyn

Piece:

Informant: “See that house right there?”

Collector: “Yeah.”

Informant: “Some guy killed his wife there and now it’s haunted. There have been like six people who have lived there since and they all sold the house within like three months of living there.” 

Collector: “Do you know for sure that the guy killed his wife?”

Informant: “No but that’s what they told me.” 

Context: Me and the informant were leaving a party at the informant’s friend’s apartment on Clinton Street in Brooklyn, NY. We passed a house with a For Sale sign a few doors down when the informant turned to me and told me the piece. 

Background: The informant is a student in New York City. The legend was originally told to him the first time he passed the house while visiting a friend who lives a few doors down from the house. He views the story as making a street that would otherwise be forgotten or insignificant into one that is memorable and interesting. 

Analysis: I enjoyed hearing the piece because it made the walk home much more interesting. It is common for people to invent stories when they notice police cars/commotion but are given no information as a way to trick themselves into feeling informed. I find this story to be an example of this. It is not conventional for many people to move in and out of a house in such an abbreviated period of time, leaving people searching for answers even more. This endows the house as a liminal space, one in which people are never fully settled, making it the perfect breeding ground for ghost stories and folklore more generally. It seems to function as a point of conversation and excitement for the informant and his friend group, coloring their everyday life without necessarily being considered dangerous or fear-inspiring.

Great Grandmother’s Murder House

Storyteller: “So my mom’s entire family is from New Orleans, which is essentially the most haunted city in the world…like there is so much tragedy and everyone…like if you grew up there you kind of believe in ghosts? Like you pretend you don’t but you do. No city can have that much tragedy and death and not have stuff wandering around. So my great grandmother had this really nice house. And I remember like being…sort of with it enough as a kid to be like ‘we are not rich, how did she afford this really nice house.’ And it was because it used to be a brothel and there was a murder there and so my family got it really cheap. So it was a murder house right? So the story was that one of the women that worked int he brothel was married. And her husband came in and dragged her up to the attic and they had a huge fight and he killed her. And there were these dark stains on the floor up there that everyone said was blood stains…that would not come out. Whether they were or not I don’t know, but that’s what I know this story was. So, basically they would always tell us that ‘Herald’, essentially, used to live in the attic because it’s where he killed his wife. And we were like ‘yeah whatever. Ha ha. Very funny.’ So my cousins and I are upstairs one day and we are playing in the attic and all of this weird crap starts happening. Like a door slams and a window that like…things like open and not a problem open and like weird weird stuff. And so we were like ‘oh you know what it is. It’s uncle M, he’s trying to scare us…because my uncle was notorious for scaring the kids all of the time. So we were like, ‘it’s just him.’ And then we were like ignoring it and then I looked out the window and my uncle M was downstairs. And we literally screamed and ran downstairs as fast as we could [laughs]. And to this day…NO explanation for what was happening in that attic. We were like ‘maybe it was like the uncle? or whatever…’ but could never prove that it was another human in our family.” [seeing my disturbed face she adds] “Yeah…it’s very upsetting! [laughs] I did not enjoy that! But yeah, that is the story of my great grandmother’s murder house.”

 

Background: The storyteller is from the south (specifically New Orleans) and she got to spend a lot of time growing up there. As a result, she not only has a lot of knowledge on the stories people told about the city, but she also had her own personal experience with a ghost in her great grandmother’s murder house.

Context: I asked her if I could interview her for this project. I knew that she was from the south and after collecting a couple stories from people who grew up in the south, I was fascinated with them and wanted to hear more. She gave me three stories…one of them included this first person narrative of her experience with what she still to this day believes was a ghost. I met up with her and another storyteller for coffee to go over the details.

Thoughts: Like the storyteller already pointed out, New Orleans is famous for being one of the most haunted places in the world. There really is so much tragedy that has occurred in that city throughout the years that it is not hard to believe that there are many ghost stories and legends that derive from it. It is scary to hear and see things out of the ordinary especially when we cannot figure out the realistic cause of it. Many people refuse to believe in such things as ghosts and live in denial with the fact that they may be real. Some things that cannot be explained frighten us.

Supernatual event at Lu Xun Middle School

Context
The informant grows up in Beijing. The story happened in a middle school in Beijing. We were talking about ghost stories when she brought up this legend.

Content
Informant: In our city, there is a school called Lu Xun Middle School. Because it is Lu Xun Middle School, it has a statue of Lu Xun. I don’t know in what position, but the statue is pointing at a direction, I think it’s left. Then, a student for some reason goes into the school at midnight. He says that when he goes in the school, the statue looks as if it’s pointing to the right, but the statue is still facing the same direction. Then, he goes into the building to fetch his things. After that, his hand was dirty, so he washes his hand. When he comes out, the Lu Xun statue is still pointing to the right. So he goes home. But the next day, he is told that someone is killed. He goes back to see the statue. It’s still pointing to the left. He finds out that the sink where he washed his hands the night before is filled with the blood of the victim.

Analysis
I did some research online. It turns out that the Lu Xun Middle School is furnished in a traditional style. It was built in 1901 and 2 of its alumni were killed in the March 18 Massacre. The violence was taken by Bei Yang Governments, who tried to suppress a demonstration that asked the government to stop signing inequal treaties to western countries. The famous writer Lu Xun called it “the darkest day in the history of the Republic of China”.
The school was named after the influential Chinese writer Lu Xun, who was honored for attacking conservative forces relentlessly by his writings at that time.

“Hitler’s Tunnel” in San Pedro

Main Piece: “San Pedro is just north of Longbeach and there is some nice areas and bad areas of the town. It’s not like Seal Beach either where every one is pretty communal, its definitely a little more stand offish over there. But located in San Pedro there was this tunnel that was incredibly scary called Hitler’s tunnel. The tunnel was essentially really secluded tunnel that ran like two miles long and it was below a graveyard that was directly across from a church. The tunnel would be big enough to fit a 6 foot person and then it would get bigger suddenly, and then go back to normal. The tunnel was so scary because if you didn’t have a flashlight or something, you would not be able to see anything because the only exit was the entrance. But the reason this tunnel is so notorious is that it is said that in the 50s some dude took a girl down there…raped here… and killed her. The story has it that if you go down there at night, you can hear the screams and the cries of the woman who was murdered.  We were curious to see if this was actually real so my friends and I went there all together. We entered the tunnel and at first it seemed quiet but then we started to hear what sounded like explosions coming from inside the tunnel. They were loud enough to make out, but not loud enough to tell exactly where they were coming from as the sound bounced around the tunnel. Then when we got to the end of the tunnel, we began to hear voices, and we had no other way to leave but out the entrance. So we all ran back to the entrance of the tunnel… And as we were leaving, we heard the voices again and I could’ve sworn I say what looked like eyes in the dark. It could’ve been my eyes playing tricks on me, but it felt so real.”

 

Background: KS told me that this was one of the spookiest things that he and his friends ever did. KS said that while he normally doesn’t believe in these types of stories and especially haunted ghost stories, the stuff that he experienced there was unsettling beyond belief. He said that his friends would try to get him to go again numerous other times, but he refused because it was such a traumatic experience. He originally heard this story through his friends at school, and it wasn’t until he actually experienced it that he really felt this intensely about it.

 

Context of the Performance: KS told me this story while we were at our apartment discussing some of the most haunted places in our neighborhoods. While he was telling me this story, my other roommate came in and was so interested in the story that he pulled up a chair and listened to the rest of the story. My other roommate said that he also had heard stories about this place, but nothing quite as intense as the one KS had recalled.

 

Analysis: This legend is really dark, but I find it very interesting. This tunnel as KS describes it, seems to be some kind of possible sewer line as he explained after the fact that it had manholes inside that you couldn’t lift up but where on the ground with ladders there as well. Additionally, the story of the woman being raped and murdered adds another dark element to an already eery place. I believe that it is entirely possible that this piece could be warning people about entering this place due to the danger that surrounds it. While it may not be specters that are threatening people, the fact that there is a tunnel with only one opening does breed the idea that if someone wanted to do something horrible, it would be very difficult for you to escape. And having this tunnel also be situated under a graveyard adds an extra layer of uneasiness, as it feels like walking through the tunnel could be disturbing the souls above you. This terrifying, albeit rather interesting tunnel, has created many stories that seem to simultaneously warn people about the dangers of disturbing the dead, and also the dangers of being unconscious of your surroundings.

Marjorie Jackson’s House

Context & Analysis

The subject, my mother, and I were getting coffee for breakfast and I asked her if she could tell me some stories about her childhood. The subject’s father (who has recently passed away) was a history professor in the Midwest. The family moved frequently because of this, which made it difficult for them to settle in a single area for too long. The subject stated that this was one of the most memorable urban legends, or ghost stories, that she knew of as a teenager living in Indiana. This legend is a classic example of the ‘neighborhood haunted house’ and also happened to be a traceable true story that was of large international interest. According to usatoday.com, Marjorie Jackson—an heiress to the Standard Grocery Chain—hid as much as $15 million in various places in her home—“in closets, toolboxes, garbage cans and vacuum cleaner bags” (usatoday.com). In 1977, Jackson was killed when two burglars broke into her home and shot her in the stomach. It is interesting that the subject did not point out the infamous nature of this story in her narrative, instead presenting it as an urban legend. While the “hole” aspect of the story seems to be more of an embellishment, the rest of her account aligns with the documented case of Jackson’s murder in 1977.

(Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/09/21/murdered-heiress-mystery/72590690/)

Main Piece

“When I was in high school there was this house that a lady was murdered in; her name was Marjorie Jackson, um, and the house…so people went in—supposedly she hid money in her walls and under her mattresses and stuff and she didn’t have any money in the bank so she hid it all over her house, so supposedly people [burglars] came in and after they heard those rumors and they killed her and there were holes all over the walls. So, like, me and my friends sometimes [laughs] would go to the house because nobody wanted to buy it so we would sneak in there and there really were holes all over and it was probably not safe to go in there cuz it was kind of [laughs] condemned. That was Marjorie Jackson’s house.”

Stonegate Mansion

Title: Stonegate Mansion

Category: Legend, Ghost-Story

Informant: Julianna K. Keller

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: 20

Occupation: Student

Residence: 325 West Adams Blvd./ Los Angeles, CA 90007

Date of Collection: 4/09/18

Description:

Stonegate mansion was owned by a businessman in the early 1970s. One evening, the owner of Stonegate discovered that his wife was having an affair. Overcome with anger he took out his aggression on his wife and daughter, killing them both. Upon hearing the cries of his employer, the Stonegate’s butler ran into the scene hoping to save her. Quick to hide his crime and appease his emotions further, Mr. Stonegate then murdered the butler as well. All of the murders took place in the upstairs parlor.

The mansion was later turned over to the state before it was sold to a private company that renovated it and now lents it out for parties and celebrations. The owners keep all parties exclusive to the first floor. Owners and visitors alike say that evil spirits haunt the second and third stories, warning people to keep away from the area of the infamous crime.

Context/Significance:

Stonegate Mansion is located in Fort Worth Texas. Known for its architectural design, The Stonegate Mansion features more than 12,000 square feet of gleaming hardwoods, marble floors, soaring ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook majestic oak trees and immaculate landscaping. The Stonegate Mansion is spacious enough for groups of up to 300, but intimate enough for parties of 20.

In 1972, Cullen Davis spent $6 million to build the five-bedroom, 11-bath mansion with an indoor pool and a 2,000-square-foot (190 m2) master bedroom. In its prime, the luxurious, contemporary home of courtyards, tunnels and balconies at 4100 Stonegate Blvd. was decorated with more than 100 oil paintings. The mansion was designed by Albert S. Komatsu and Associates.

Explaining its darker past, in 1976 a man in black, wearing a black wig, shot and killed two people there. Three witnesses described Davis as the shooter. But in a trial in Amarillo he was acquitted of the killing of his 12-year-old stepdaughter, Andrea Wilborn, who was murdered execution-style in the basement. Prosecutors also later dismissed charges related to the killing of former TCU basketball player Stan Farr, who police found dead in the kitchen, and the wounding of Davis’ estranged wife, Priscilla, and her friend Gus “Bubba” Gavrel. Davis’ oil-based business empire later crumbled. He moved out of the mansion in 1983 and declared bankruptcy in 1987.

 

Personal Thoughts:

I’ve never been to Stonegate mansion, but my roommate had her Senior Prom in one of its ballrooms. She says the estate is gorgeous and home to many celebrations in the area. The mansion doesn’t advertise the ghosts online, but she says that the stories are common knowledge to those who live in the area.

Mrs. Birdy Webkinz Glitch

The informant is an 18-year-old student, of Italian and American origin, who spends a lot of his time playing computer games.


 

Who is Mrs. Birdy?

BW: Mrs. Birdy was a character in the old online pay-to-play game, Webkinz–like Neopets and Club Penguin. Those kinds of games were very popular at the time, and the way it worked was you go to a store in real life and buy a stuffed animal called a Webkin, then you register it online and it gives you an online pet that you play games with and domesticate and care for and stuff.

And the glitch?

BW: Yeah, well, it was just a rumor, I think, but it spread a lot to everyone that played Webkinz. This was in… I was ten… so like 2007. And there was a rumor that the Mrs. Birdy character would climb in through your house and murder your Webkinz with an axe. Since the game is for little kids, it caused a lot of feared kids. I had to tell my mom, and she Googled it. The official Webkinz site had a whole page dedicated to the fact that it was a rumor and that nothing scary would happen to the kids’ Webkinz. I was still terrified, ’cause I was in the little kid bubble.. and then there’s all this worry about murdering my pets.


 

There are many forum sites either proliferating or desperately trying to end the fears about the supposed Mrs. Birdy murder glitch. It’s somewhat morphed into an issue of parenting and protecting children against the dangers of the internet.

 

Squidward’s Suicide

Squidward’s Suicide is an urban legend surrounding the Nickelodeon children’s television show, Spongebob Squarepants (referencing the character “Squidward”).


 

BA: So, the story goes, that there was an intern at Nickelodeon; I think he just started working there, and he was really excited about it, I guess. And during one of the episodes, when they’re watching the..I think it was the final cut before air, I guess… And they were looking at the timestamps, and they saw it was edited only a few seconds before they watched it–basically the times of them editing it didn’t match up, and they realized. So, it starts out kind of normal, but something’s off: the eyes of all the characters are hyperreal–like not real, but not exactly CGI. But that’s, “that’s whatever”. SO they keep watching, and it’s an episode where Squidward has a performance (Squidward is a musician). He really f***** it up, it was really bad. But the booing was really intense, it was very unsettling.

Do you know if that was intended by the animators, or if that part just showed up?

BA: Oh, no no no, it was not intentional. The part where the eyes were hypperreal, that was not supposed to happen. The part where the booing was really unsettling, that was not supposed to happen. But, whatever, it happens. So, he’s in his house. And he’s sobbing. Sobbing uncontrollably. Then those sobs turn to screeches, and again, very unsettling–oh, it’s something like… there’s a noise that happens, that doesn’t sound like speaker noise, if that makes sense. So, the animators hear that and they’re like “so, this is super weird”. And I guess the creepiest part is that there are frames that are intercut into the episode of, like, dead children, who are completely maimed with their eyes falling out. And it looks like a crime scene, except there’s no tape or chalk, so it looks like whoever did it took those pictures. And they played it back, and they could see the kid move between frames, and they could tell he was still alive. Then, at the end of the episode, Squidward kills himself, and we don’t know where all the changes to the editing came in.


 

There are several variations to this story: In some versions, the episode was sent on a disk from the serial killer in Scotland to Nickelodeon, where an intern played it and later gave it to higher-ups for investigation by law enforcement. There’s also a version where the disk was made by a disgruntled ex-employee of Nickeoleon looking for revenge by broadcasting images of murdered children on a children’s network. Either way, this legend has circulated on the internet and even inspired some animators to recreate the episode based off the legend, then post those images to falsely prove that the legend is real.

Brooklyn Doll

So my grandma moved from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn when she was six years old with her mom, like Brooklyn in New York, the city with her mom and 5 siblings, and the rest of her family stayed in Puerto Rico with the dad, and they were gonna move out later after the dad finished his Navy term. She moved into an apartment and her mom, like so my great grandma, really believes in ghost stories, so she had little plants, little cacti with the long leaves, and she believed those fended off ghosts for some reason. So she kept those around the apartment because when she purchased the apartment she got creepy vibes, as my grandma says. My grandma lived in a closet sized room with her sister and they didn’t really have all their stuff with them, so my grandma just brought books with her. She brought books, and there was a little shelf above her bed so my grandma put her books up there and her mom put a plant up there. So supposedly the apartment was protected from ghosts because of the plants. So then one day though they got new neighbors next to them; it was a wife, husband and dog, they had a dog. They had recently moved into building, and landlord came by my grandma’s apartment to tell them they would have new neighbors. The landlord came by and gave my grandma’s family a doll, and it was the first time they had met the landlord, as it was a friend of my grandma’s dad. My grandma thought the doll was a threat to her ghost-protected house, so she put it on top of the fridge away from everything. The landlord, when she gave it to them said it was supposed to protect from death, but then one night, like I don’t know, this is why I always get so confused, I think its my grandma’s exaggerations. My grandma said one night my great-grandma was out of the house, and so grandma had to watch over all the siblings. She was putting everyone to bed and turned off all the lights and all of a sudden the power went out in whole building. Everything was pitch black. The refrigerator stopped working, there were no phones, and my grandma didn’t know how to reach her mom. There was one circular window that shined directly on the top of the fridge exactly where the doll was sitting. So my grandma is looking around making sure everyone is ok in the house. So my grandma turns around and sees the light of the full moon shining on the top of the fridge and the doll missing. So then the landlord comes by, knocks on the door, and says very very creepily three deaths will occur. Because the doll is missing. She basically told them at the beginning that they couldn’t lose the doll because death would occur. And then…so then, and the landlord knew that my great-grandma put it on top of the fridge. And she checked to see that it wasn’t there and that’s why she told us that three deaths would occur. My grandma did not believe the landlord, and she was trying to be protective because her younger siblings were really scared, so then the landlord left. The next morning everyone woke up and my great-grandma was back, but then they were told everyone had to leave the building for some reason, and like everyone was being evacuated and no one knew why. The police was there. They were all standing out in the middle of the street, and they saw that there were three body bags in the middle of the street. The police told them that the people next door had been killed last night. The wife, husband and dog who lived in the apartment next to them had gone to get groceries from the store beneath the apartments, and there was an armed robbery. The robber shot the wife, husband and dog. And ever since then, my grandma has always believed in ghost stories and she gave my family a plant that is supposed to fend off ghosts.

 

Background information: Sarah is my best friend from home, Manhattan Beach. She knows this piece because her grandma has told it to her a few times and that is the reason Sarah has a demon/ghost-protecting plant in her own house from her grandma because her grandma is now very superstitious about ghosts ever since this happened to her. Sarah really likes this piece because it happened to someone who is very close to her, and although it sounds like something out of a movie—three deaths predicted solely because of this doll—it really happened to her and is pretty freaky, not something she can forget easily, especially since it happened to her grandma. Her grandma is from Puerto Rico, and to Sarah, as she mentioned above, she believes it may just be her grandma’s exaggerations, but she still remembers the story very clearly. The story was collected via FaceTime because Sarah goes to college at Middlebury in Vermont.