10 Murder Victims Who Became Ghosts


With a lot of ghost stories, the people who were the bases for the ghosts are sometimes lost in the details. They are explained in generalities and not usually given names. The reasons for this are many, for example, perhaps the identity of the ghost isn’t known. Or perhaps, the whole story of the haunting is fiction. But there are cases where real people are murdered and after their deaths, there are claims that they still haunt the places with special meaning to them.

10. William Sketoe


It was coming to the tail end of the American Civil War at the end of 1864. In Newton, Alabama, there were rumors that the local Methodist minister, Bill Sketoe, was somehow involved with Unionist raiders. Without any proof, the captain of the local guard and some of his troops kidnapped Sketoe and brought him out to the side of the Choctawhatchee River. There they strung him up and Minister Sketoe prayed to God to forgive his killers. When they dropped him, they found out they tied the noose around a weak branch and as a result, Bill was able to touch his toes to the ground. So they dug a hole under his feet and he asphyxiated to death.

After Sketoe died, his executioners apparently died strange and unusual deaths. One was struck by lightning, another was shot and others were killed when they were knocked off animals. As for the hole that was dug at the feet of Sketoe, apparently it would never fill in. Even when someone put dirt in, it would eventually empty itself out.

While it might be possible that the townsfolk had a hand in keeping the hole clear of dirt, the lynching of Bill Sketoe is one of Alabama’s oldest ghost stories.

9. The Manson Murders


Probably the most well known of the murders on the list is the massacre at 10090 Cielo Drive. Sharon Tate, her friend Jay Seabring, a friend of Roman Polanski named Wojciech Frykowski and his girlfriend Abigail Folgers, were murdered by members of the Manson Family on August 9, 1969. The actress and wife of director Roman Polanski, was eight months pregnant when she was brutally stabbed to death in the home she and her husband rented. Manson and a number of family members involved with the murders were arrested and convicted.

Perhaps because of the infamy of the brutal murders, it and the areas around the home are thought to be the most haunted areas in the United States. While the home was torn down in 1994 and a new home was built in its place, the ghosts are still thought to roam about. For example, David Oman, who built a house in 1999 a few hundred feet from the murder site, said that workers heard weird voices and footsteps when no one was there. Also Oman said that one night he woke up to a ghostly apparition of a male at the foot of his bed, pointing in the direction of the murder scene. Oman later saw a picture of Jay Seabring and identified him as the apparition he saw. Other visitors claimed to have seen a bleeding naked woman outside. Oman has invited many paranormal investigating teams to come and visit the area to see if they can get any evidence of paranormal activity. Oman’s experiences were also the basis for his screenplay, The House at the End of the Street.

8. Lisa Posluns


On November 2, 2002, 38-year-old real estate agent, Lisa Posluns was working late on a Saturday night in her Toronto office. As she left her office, she was ambushed and led to a utility room. There, she was handcuffed, raped, stabbed and her throat was slit. Her body was found seven hours later, after she had been reported missing.

A custodian who worked in the building and had access to all the rooms in the building was Rui Marques, which made him an early suspect. However, DNA evidence cleared him. When the police interviewed him about who could possibly have done this, he told them about an experience he had one evening while cleaning the building a short time after the murder. He was polishing a black table when an apparition appeared in front of him, just for a few seconds and pointed to the black table. He instantly thought of a man named Nelson DeJesus, who always wore black.

The police looked into DeJesus and found that he had been harassing Lisa for months prior. His DNA matched the samples left on Lisa’s clothes. He was convicted and given a life sentence.

7. Ella Maude Cropsey


Ella Maude Cropsey, who went by the name Nell, was one of nine children in the Cropsey family that moved from Brooklyn, New York to Elizabeth City, North Carolina in 1898. After moving into town, the 16-year-old Nell started to date Jim Wilcox, who was the son of the sheriff. After about three years, in the fall of 1901, the relationship started to sour.

On November 20, Watkins went to the Cropsey house and asked Nell to speak in private on the porch. That was the last time anyone saw her alive. Of course, people were immediately suspicious of Wilcox since he was the last one to see her. He claimed he didn’t know what happened to her, he said he broke off the relationship and he left her crying on the porch.

While Nell was missing, a medium volunteered her services and said that she had visions of Wilcox attacking, killing her and then dumping her body in a deep well. However the medium was wrong; Nell’s body was pulled out of the Pasquotank River 37 days after she went missing. There was an autopsy and they found an injury on her forehead, so it was suspected that she was murdered. This head injury, along with the psychic prediction, had people in the town convinced Wilcox was the murderer; despite no solid evidence to support that theory. Wilcox was arrested and convicted, he spent 15 years in prison before he was pardoned. His life never recovered. Outside of prison, he couldn’t find work and drank too much. He ended up committing suicide.

It is unclear if Nell was the victim of a homicide. She could have committed suicide or it could have been an accident. However, something else that is interesting to note is that when Nell’s body was pulled from the river, there wasn’t much decomposition. During the month of December, the ice bill for the Cropsey family was three times the normal amount. Was it possible that they hid the body and put it on ice? Also, two of the people who were in the house on the night of the disappearance ended up committing suicide years later. In front of his wife and child, Nell’s brother drank carbonic acid, while Nell’s sister Ollie had a boyfriend visiting that night, he ended up shooting himself. Ollie herself became an eccentric and continued to dress like it was 1901 until her death in 1940.

Since Nell’s death, there have been reports of people seeing her ghost in the house where she once lived. Her ghost has been seen along the stairs and in one of the bedrooms. Also, it has been seen on the porch, where Wilcox claims he last saw her. Finally, her spirit has been seen roaming the river where her body was found.

6. Grace Brown


In 1905, 18-year-old Grace Brown was working in a petticoat factory in Cortland, New York. There, she met the owner’s nephew, 22-year-old Chester Gillette. By Spring 1906, the two were an item. In May 2006, Grace, who was just a small town girl, told Chester that she was pregnant. He offered to help her by paying for an abortion, but she didn’t want that. She wanted Chester to marry her, and he said he would. However, he never proposed and Grace moved back to her family’s farm. Grace would write to Chester and in July, he told her to meet her at a hotel for a pre-honeymoon trip.

Excitedly, Grace met Chester and they boarded a train, which travelled for about a day to Big Moose Lake, where Chester signed the registry at the Covewood Lodge under the name Carl Grahm from Albany. The next day, the couple rented a rowboat and it was later found capsized. Grace’s body was pulled from the lake and there were bruises found on her forehead. Chester was found at another resort two days later and arrested. He claimed Grace committed suicide, but the prosecutors argued he beat his pregnant girlfriend in the head with a tennis racket and left her to drown. He was convicted of the murder and executed in 1908.

The story of Grace and Chester was the basis for the classic novel An American Tragedy, which was adapted into the film, A Place in the Sun. Every year, on the anniversary of her murder, people travel to Giant Moose Lake where there are boat tours and a historical marker.

The lake, and the hotel where Grace and Chester stayed, are said to be haunted by the ghost of Grace Brown. There have been a number of people who have seen a ghostly apparition of a young woman. One story includes a rolling fog coming off the lake and standing there amongst the fog was the ghost of a young woman. All the people who have seen the ghost say there is a sense of uneasiness and sadness surrounding the spirit.

Another interesting aspect of the story is that Chester was only convicted on circumstantial evidence, yet he was executed for the crime. It’s said that the prison where he lived his last days is also haunted by his ghost.

5. Mamie Thurman


1932, Logan County, West Virginia, 32-year-old Mamie Thurman was living a double life. To some, she was just the wife of one of the county’s policemen. To others, she was a fixture at local speakeasies. It was also rumored that she was having an affair with a local businessman.

On June 22, 1932, a boy was picking blackberries when he came across Mamie’s body about 15 feet from the road. Her throat had been slit, then she had been shot twice in the head and her body was badly bruised. There were many suspects, including prominent people in Logan. Another suspect was a handyman employed by the businessman who Mamie was apparently having an affair with. That being said, no one was convicted of the murder.

Since her murder, Mamie’s ghost has been seen on Holden 22 Mine Road, close to where her body was found. The stories are that coal truck drivers will see a young woman wearing old-fashioned clothes, so they pick her up, but then she vanishes from their cab. Other times, she appears on buses that go to the mountain, at times she appears to be soaking wet. When they arrive at her stop, she is gone from the bus, but the seat where she sat is wet.

4. Karen Gregory


36-year-old Karen Gregory had just moved into her boyfriend’s home in Gulfport, Florida. Shortly after she moved in, he had to go away on business, leaving Karen home alone. In the early morning of May 23, 1984, neighbors heard a woman screaming, but no one called 9-1-1. Two days later, Karen’s boyfriend called the police and asked them to go to the house. Karen hadn’t answered the phone or been to work in two days. Once in the house, they found a gruesome scene; she had been raped and stabbed to death.

For a while, the case sat cold until two years later when a detective noticed that the neighbor across the road, firefighter George Lewis, had changed his story a number of times. They looked into him and found that a handprint left at the crime scene matched his. He was arrested, convicted and given a life sentence despite his claims of innocence. He appealed a number of times, but ultimately died at the age of 52 in prison.

As for the house in which Karen was murdered in, a new owner bought the house and claimed some spooky things happened. For example, there is a brown spot in the hallway where Karen’s body laid for two days that never comes clean. She would scrub it, but the stain always comes back. Another example is that the intruder came in through a window and whenever she tries to open the window, it shatters. The owner also claims she has seen a misty face in the mirror behind her. Her mother also heard loud footsteps, like someone running away from an intruder, but no one was in the house.

3. Mildred Ann Reynolds


On March 13, 1956, 23-year-old Mildred Ann Reynolds was supposed to visit her husband for lunch. He worked as a gym coach at the Avard, Oklahoma high school. However, along the way, on a rural road, her car was found in a ditch and it was on fire. Sadly, Reynolds’ body was in the front seat and everyone assumed it was a tragic accident that stole the life of a young woman.

While examining the scene there were a few things that were off. Like her right shoe was covered in blood and it was found over 250 yards in front of the car. Also, her coat was found 100 feet behind the accident. Then the car had burned through thoroughly, as if it was given help through some type of flammable material. Then it looked as if she could have been driven off the road, as there were witnesses who saw a second car and there was another set of tracks near the crash scene. Another odd finding was bullet casings that were found near the car. All the evidence seemed to point to murder, but no one was ever arrested in connection with the crime.

Since then, her ghost has been spotted at a nearby restaurant opened in 1996 in the location of the old gym where Mildred’s husband worked and where she attended school. The owners experienced strange phenomenon. For example, one day sitting at the counter was a young woman in green. The owner went to get a notepad to take the order and when she returned to the young women, she was gone. Other times customers complain about the smell of burning hair.

2. Miles Faucett


It was New Years 1888 and Miles Faucett was invited to Josiah and Elizabeth Potts’ home for a party in Carlin, Nevada. That was the last time anyone ever saw Miles. There was some suspicion about the Pottses because they were seen on Miles’ property and they were seen using his sleigh and buggy. The townspeople were sure that the Pottses had something to do with Faucett’s disappearance so they searched the property, but nothing could be found.

In September 1888, the Pottses moved from Carlin to Wyoming and the Brewer family moved into the old Potts’ home. Mrs. Brewer was a correspondent for the Elko Free Press and wrote under the name “Busy Bee”. On January 5, 1889, she wrote to the paper saying that she believed her house was haunted. The ghost wasn’t violent and nothing serious had happened; just a lot of strange noises, like rapping on headboards and banging on doors. However, where most of the noise came from was the cellar where jars of preservatives were being messed with.

On January 19, when the noises from the cellar got to be too much, they investigated and after a bit of digging, they found some human remains. The body had been cut up and partially burned. Due to items found in his pockets, the body was identified as Miles Faucett. The Pottses were arrested and sentenced to death.

The day before her execution, Elizabeth slit her wrists, but was saved by a doctor. The next day, she and her husband went to the gallows together. Elizabeth was a large woman and it made for a gruesome hanging. The rope severely cut into her neck, which caused blood to pour over her white dress. Elizabeth Potts is the only woman to ever be executed by the state of Nevada.

1. Cannock Chase Murders

 Ghostly Figure On Cannock

Between December 1, 1964 and August 19, 1967, four young girls ranging in ages from 5-9 were kidnapped, strangled and their bodies were dumped in Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, England. Out of the four girls, only a 9-year-old girl survived.

The murders horrified the community and one of the biggest manhunts in the country’s history was initiated. Police were led to 39-year-old Raymond Leslie Morris after his car was used in an attempted abduction of another young girl. They interviewed Morris, who looked like witness descriptions in the other kidnappings. Also, the police had interviewed Morris twice before in regards to the missing children. The first was that about some lurid pictures he had taken with young girls and the fact that he was the owner of a gray Austin A55 or A60, which was seen at the abduction site of 7-year-old Christine Darby. As a result, he was only convicted of that murder, but police were convinced he had a hand in the murders of 6-year-old Margaret Reynolds and 5-year-old Diana Joy Tift. Their bodies were found together, about 100 yards from the body of Christine Darby. On March 11, 2014, Morris died in prison at the age of 84.

Shortly after his death, visitors to Cannock Chase reportedly started seeing “black eyed children” in the area. One visitor reportedly heard a little girl giggle and then saw a small child, but her eyes were completely black. Michelle Mason was visiting the forest with her two sons, when she snapped a picture of her sons in a tree. When looking at the picture later, she made a disturbing discovery. On the far right of the picture there is the faint image of a young girl, with blackened eyes holding a hula-hoop.

Robert Grimminck is a Canadian crime-fiction writer. You can follow him on Facebook, on Twitter, or visit his website.

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