The Most Haunted Building in the Midwest, part I
Cincinnati, Ohio. 1896. In his many years as a hack, the coachman had learned not to pry too much into the affairs of white folks, especially not rich, young, good-looking white folks. He picked up these particular white folks outside Legner's Bar, at the corner of Fourth and Elm. He took note of the pale, trembling woman, the small, dark, nervous fellow holding her, and most of all, the angry blonde man with the piercing eyes. And then he looked straight forward."Can you take us across the river? Our lady friend has taken ill, and we wish to take her home to her family," said the blonde man, without emotion.
"Yes, boss," said the driver, and then to his horse, "Geddup." They headed across the new Cincinnati & Newport bridge and into Kentucky. His eyes fixed on the thriving markets and stately brick homes of York Street, the hack couldn't see the pool of dark, venous blood slowly forming at the young woman's feet.
In an hour's drive, they had passed out of Newport and into the surrounding farmland. "Stop here, driver," said the blonde man. There were no homes to be seen in the area. "Her house is just beyond those trees. We'll walk across from here; it's faster." As they descended from the cab, the driver noticed that the woman was now unconscious. The blonde man pressed a handful of coins into the driver's hand; without counting, he could tell it was more than enough to buy discretion.
As they driver pulled away, the two men shouldered their burden and headed up the hill toward a small grove. "Scott, she's so cold. Pearl's cold. She's dead! What shall we do?"
"Quiet, Alonzo! Let me think." There had been complications: Pearl's cervix had not dilated as expected, and the dental picks and forceps he'd used had done more damage than anything else. The gift that he'd intended was now inaccessible and mangled beyond use. He needed to find a suitable substitute that would please his Master. Of course! He reached into his kit and withdrew a filthy gum lancet. Small and fine, it was intended for flensing the gums to treat pyorrhea; it was not ideal for what he planned next, but it would do. He inserted the blade in the hollow of Pearl's throat and began to slice.
Scott Jackson was surprised by the sudden spray of bright red blood that splashed across the boughs high overhead. He giggled. "Whaddaya know, Lonnie? She wasn't dead, after all!" Alonzo Walling promptly vomited in the dirt.
The lodge members gathered in the abandoned abbatoir on the Licking river. Dressed in identical, hooded robes, it was all but impossible to tell one from another. Lighting a single kerosene lantern, they made their way to the cellar, to the site of the old dry well, into which the various sluices and grates above had drained when the slaughterhouse was in operation.
"'Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law'," announced a member whose robe was covered with an elaborate stole embroidered with a goat's head and pentagram. "We gather together to call upon our Lord, that He might bend to our will. Who among us has brought a gift to draw forth the Master?"
"I have." One of the lodgemen stepped forward to the edge of the well, and withdrew a leather satchel* from beneath his robe. He removed an item from the satchel and held it up in the flickering lamplight.
Pearl's head appeared pink and orange in the half-light. Her auburn hair had been shaved off, leaving the skull stubbled and glistening. Her eyes and mouth were closed and placid. She appeared as if she were sleeping, were it not for the red, meaty stump where her body had once been attached.
"Do you offer this gift freely, and of your own will?" asked the priest.
"What has been given freely may not be taken back."
The hooded acolyte dropped the head into the deep well. It struck the damp soil at the bottom of the sump with a soft splat. The gathered men waited and watched. Their heady pre-ritual cocktail of absinthe, hashish, and cocaine was having its intended affect. As they watched, it seemed as though a heavy, oily fluid -- the blood, lymph, and offal of thirty years' worth of slaughtered pigs, mixed with some chthonic ichor drawn from deep beneath the earth -- rose up around Pearl's head until it was completely covered. Slowly, slowly, the vile fluid drained away. The sump was empty. The gift had been accepted.
"Open the door in the name of the law! Mr. Jackson, this is Jule Plummer of the Campbell County Sheriffs Department. I have a warrant for your arrest, and to search the premises!"
"Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling, you stand before this court convicted of murder in the first degree. At the request of the Bryan family, I offer you one last chance: Tell us where the girl's head is, and the Governor has agreed to commute your sentence to life in prison."
Jackson spoke up: "If I told you that, it would bring down the wrath of the Devil himself." [link contains embedded .wav file]
Is there a building in Wilder, Kentucky cursed by Satan himself? Some sources say it's true. In part 2, we'll learn about the Kentucky mafia, and their involvement with the cursed building.
* A bloodstained leather bag was found in Jackson's apartment and entered into evidence at trial. It can be seen today here. <<Back.