“THE LADY LAUGHING IN MY BEDROOM” and 3 More Terrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: More than a hundred years ago, reports described it as “the most weird and gruesome apartment in the world.” Why display an entire room full of grotesque items and open it to the public? (New York Charnel House) *** Kell’s Irish Pub in Seattle has a creepy vibe to it, even if the displays and decorations inside aren’t meant to be. Perhaps that’s because the building started its life as a massive mortuary. (The Beaux Arts Butterworth Building) *** Early one February morning in 1897, John Mars jumped out of bed from a sound sleep, and while the smell of breakfast cooking downstairs wafted up to the second level of the house, he inexplicably grabbed his pistol and went on a shooting spree of his own family. (The Act of a Mad Man) *** A four-year-old has a paranormal experience… and the man he grew into over 60 years later is still unsure of what happened to him. (The Lady Laughing In My Bedroom)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“The Lady Laughing In My Bedroom” by Geof James: https://tinyurl.com/yd4uddnx
“New York Charnel House” posted at: https://tinyurl.com/ybsfs68x
“The Beaux Arts Butterworth Building” by Meg van Huygen: https://tinyurl.com/y7h2mkyr
“The Act of a Madman” by Robert Wilhelm: https://tinyurl.com/y9757b7d
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(Over time links seen above may become invalid, disappear, or have different content. I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use whenever possible. If I somehow overlooked doing so for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I will rectify it in these show notes immediately. Some links included above may benefit me financially through qualifying purchases.)
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
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Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
More than a hundred years ago, reports described it as “the most weird and gruesome apartment in the world.” Why display an entire room full of grotesque items and open it to the public? (New York Charnel House)
Kell’s Irish Pub in Seattle has a creepy vibe to it, even if the displays and decorations inside aren’t meant to be. Perhaps that’s because the building started its life as a massive mortuary. (The Beaux Arts Butterworth Building)
Early one February morning in 1897, John Mars jumped out of bed from a sound sleep, and while the smell of breakfast cooking downstairs wafted up to the second level of the house, he inexplicably grabbed his pistol and went on a shooting spree of his own family. (The Act of a Mad Man)
A four-year-old has a paranormal experience… and the man he grew into over 60 years later is still unsure of what happened to him. (The Lady Laughing In My Bedroom)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
When this occurrence happened, I would have been about three-and-a-half years of age, and I have never forgotten it. This would have been in 1951 / 52.
My understanding is that this particular house came as a ‘job package’ with my father’s employment. I still can recall some parts of the house and its general interior layout.
At this time, my parents and my sister (younger than myself), were living at 36 Canal Street, Derby. I was four years of age when we moved to Willington.
I was never brought up with “bogey-man” tales or other happenings to cause some fear or to obtain obedience from me. Therefore, I cannot say that such imaginings were put into my head, for me to invoke an “event” later.
Despite my young age, I can recall this particular evening and event. The house was somewhat large, and it had a semi-spiral staircase, with a red-colored stair-carpet on the treads and risers. At the top of this stair case was a landing, which led to the bedrooms and bathroom.
For whatever reason, I always used to ask my mother to leave the curtains open, and occasionally the window to be partly open. It was one of these “sash” type of windows that opened/closed vertically.
On the adjacent wall to the window was the door to the landing. This door was in the area of the foot of the bed and to the right of the bed. The side of the bed was across from this wall, with the bed-head on the wall behind me.
There was a small table close to the head of the bed, where I always had a tumbler of water, as often I would awaken overnight and have a drink of water…..which continues to this day.
When in bed, and before the forthcoming event happened, I sometimes would hear, what I thought to be a voice of someone, who was speaking very softly…….something like a loud whisper. The way this voice spoke, it sounded to me as if this person was looking for someone, but in a more inquiring fashion.
Sometimes I never heard this “voice”, but it always came back; even if eventually.
There was just the one word spoke, but it was repeated. This sounded to my ears to be, “Jack? Jack?” These two words would stop for a short while and then the same two words were softly repeated. This may happen three or four times and then stop; as if the person had gone away.
I had no idea as to which gender this “voice” belonged. All of this caused me no issues whatsoever, and it certainly never frightened me. It was just there, from time-to-time, after I went to bed.
The incident which I am about to relate, I can well recall. My mother put me to bed, and as per usual, the curtains were left open and the window slightly “cracked” open.
I never heard the soft-spoken words of inquiry, and so I must have fallen asleep. Later I awoke, to what sounded like two cats fighting outside (we had no pets….but there were a couple of cats that came into the small garden); and during all this screeching and wailing from these cats, there was the sound of what appeared to me as being of empty tin-cans rolling falling onto a paved surface, and then rolling along this surface.
I imagined that the cats had run into such cans, and toppled these over. All of this certainly caused me no concerns. I had a drink of water and I must have gone back to sleep.
I was awoken by a lady laughing. She was in front of the bed-side table, and between the edge of my bed and the wall (where the door was located, which in turn was adjacent to the window, at the foot of my bed).
The lady was a nondescript color, being a dark-grey. However, I could see some patterns and frills on her dress. This was “bell-shaped”, front and back, but more so at the back; and something that would be seen in the late 1700s to early 1800s.
Her hair was pulled backward and in the fashion of “bun” at the back of her head. She appeared to have long-sleeves on her dress, that had a lace or other frill material close to her wrists. There seemed to be something like a “frill” or a lace collar to her dress. This lady had a bracelet on her right wrist.
However, the most significant detail of this particular lady, to me, was that she was laughing, but more so, by the way, that she actually laughed. Her laughing was very loud, and it could be best described as being in the form of what is sometimes referred to as ‘hysterical laughter’.
She had both her hands over her face and partly on her forehead, whilst she endlessly laughed. Throughout this laughing, she was “rocking” forward-and-back up again, from waist-level.
I do not recall if I was frightened, but even at my tender age at the time, I thought that something was amiss. I left my bed, and went into my parent’s bedroom, awoke them and told them that there was a lady laughing in my room.
And that is my story of the lady at 36, Canal Street, Derby. Nothing frightening, but I would love to know if something ever went awry in the history of this house, long before we occupied it.
Very many years later (I must have been around seventeen or eighteen at the time), I learned that this house had originally been built by a person that arrived in Derby from, what is now, Belgium.
My understanding is that this person was associated with, or was, a founding member of the soft-drink manufacturer; “Burrows and Sturgess”, of Derby. (That would require investigative authentication, which I have never performed).
This newly learned piece of news (at that time), made me prick my ears up, as it made me think (or I should say at least consider), was the “voice” that I sometimes heard when in my bedroom, which caused me no alarm or other concern not be saying “Jack? Jack,?”, but in fact, could it have been“Jacques?” “Jacques?”; or even being the shortened form of Jacqueline in the French / Belgique dialect?
(I have wondered whether the ‘person’ voicing “Jack” / “Jacques”, was actually looking for a“Jack” somewhere in the house, so calling out softly to get a response from “Jack”, to locate that person’s whereabouts).
Very many years later, I learned that my parents often heard “talking” elsewhere in the house, and persons moving about in the house, as well as furniture being shuffled about. However, there was never any evidence on inspection/investigation of any furniture that had been moved.
There were neighbors (I never knew them of course), who always had visitors and they made some noises. However these people left, and I was informed that the noises and inaudible “talking” within the house persisted on.
(My mother was somewhat concerned and rather uneasy at times about this house. Apparently, my father was not so inclined. This attitude of my father may have been related to the fact that during World War II, he served in the R.A.F. as aircrew in bombers, which could be a physically and psychological terrifying experience in itself. Consequently, he had little to no fears of “noises or “voices” emanating from elsewhere in the house. In later life, I cannot recall ever seeing or believing my father to be a fearful type of person).
I recall when in this house, and whether it was pre or post my experience of “the lady”, my aunt (my mother’s sister) visited us from Scotland. The only thing that I can recall was that my aunt, my younger sister and myself were in the lounge-room one night, with “Radio Luxembourg” playing loudly.
My parents had attended some function at Nottingham, and my aunt was “babysitting” my sister and myself. My aunt appeared to be rather distressed as I recall.
My parents returned home, and I can recall my father being the first to enter into the lounge-room. Both my parents were very surprised that my sister and I were still up-and-about, and also the radio playing loudly.The radio’s volume was reduced, and my aunt, who was now in tears, was speaking to both my parents and all on the far side of the room. I never heard one word of this conversation.
I was told, again many years later, that my aunt was very frightened on this evening, as she heard talking outside the lounge-room, along with other noises also (the above-mentioned neighbors had since left).
Therefore to ‘drown out’ these noises and voices, she had greatly increased the radio’s volume, and furthermore, she would not venture outside this room to put my sister and myself to bed.
I tried a number times, after learning of this incident, to get my aunt to tell me her experience of that evening. She adamantly refused to talk about it, and sadly, I never found out directly from the person concerned, what actually occurred. (Apparently, my aunt was always very frightened and alarmed about this house, after her first visit, before that mentioned episode).
We eventually left Derby and moved to the village of Willington, where my father originated. We lived at Willington until September 1962, when we moved to Stafford with my father’s employment.
Many years later, the subject of “36, Canal Street” came into the conversation with one of my father’s friends. My father went on to say to this friend, that the person who moved into the vacated house at 36 Canal Street, Derby when we left for Willington; once pulled my father to one side and asked him if the house was haunted?
Apparently, my father would neither confirm or deny this. This person then told my father that he and his wife had heard all manner of noises within that house, with people talking but “their” conversations were imperceptible.
On one occasion, late one night when he returned home from work, a lady had passed this man on the stairs. This lady said something to him, but he was very tired and unsure of what she had voiced; and didn’t realize this “passing on the stairs”, until he was on the landing.
Furthermore and most interestingly, he told my father that his daughter, who was about six years of age, was very frightened in the house, and that she had heard someone calling out, “Jack”. Furthermore, this little girl had seen a lady laughing very loudly, in her bedroom.
In June of 1899, newspapers across the country trumpeted the story of New York City’s newest sight, something so strange and macabre it would have rated the highest attention even in the heyday of PT Barnum. Reported first by the New York Journal and then picked up by the newswires, it was the story of a hospital room that was being decorated entirely with human bones, in order to present a specter of mortality that was intended to eventually rival such morbid monuments at the Paris Catacombs or Rome’s Capuchin Cemetery.
The masterminds of the project were a pair of doctors, Northway Meyer and Howard Neilson, both on staff as anatomy demonstrators at Flower Hospital at 63rd and Eastern (it would later merge with other hospitals to become the New York Medical College), and William Flater, the head nurse of the dissecting room. The trio had converted the anatomy lab into a veritable charnel house. A pyramid composed of bones from all parts of the human body and a surmounted by a skull were set on a long table as the room’s centerpiece, and were flanked by skulls hollowed into drinking cups atop what the newspapers described as “tripods of tibiae.” Next to this was a full skeleton, enthroned in a large chair, with his arm resting on the table and his gaze overlooking the pile.
The room also included signs lettered with toe and finger bones. These spelled out the names of Meyer and Neilson against a black background, and noted the initials of the institution’s proper name, NYHM & C, in large blocks: New York Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital. Various skulls and crossbones adorned the walls, and garlands of bones had already been hung, with additional planned so that the ceiling itself would be obscured by a sea of human remains. Finally, as one newspaper account explained, “up and down the walls, like ghastly white serpents, crawl coils of vertebrae.”
Wire service reports dubbed it “the most weird and gruesome apartment in the world,” and said that “if the feeling of dread for the specimens displayed can be overcome . . . (the display is) quite enough to excite the interest and imagination of the most case-hardened sight seer.” Sensational it was, but the project was also not in the least controversial. What was the point to this macabre display, or was it all simply the gratuitous fantasy of sick minds? Flater, who performed the actual labor of assembling the bones and was noted as “the artist whose eccentric inspiration is accountable,” was quick to provide a defense. It was meant to be didactic, a kind of learning aid, he explained. “Our bone room is intended to serve as a practical aid to students of anatomy,” he told reporters. “Human bones of every description can be found grouped about in artistic confusion,” he continued, and this would allow the anatomy lecturers to quiz students in novel ways on their knowledge of the parts of the human body.
Flater’s explanation struck many as a bit hollow. Was there really academic value in instructors pointing at bones hanging on wire from the ceiling as a means of pop quiz? The scholarly value of the room was not the only issue of debate, however. There were also questions about the exact provenance of the bones. Flater told reporters that they had been obtained several years before, when acquiring human remains was easier, and had been “lying around the college, many packed away in boxes and of little use to anyone.” No doubt the medical school had bones stored away, but whether they had quite so many was another matter, and one theory that made the rounds during the meeting of a local medical association involved the distasteful idea that the trio had stolen or otherwise obtained them from the potter’s field, or pauper’s cemetery, on Hart Island.
For a long time, Hart Island has been New York’s naughty secret. A mile long island at the eastern end of the Bronx, Hart has served many functions throughout its history, including acting as a Civil War prison camp, a tuberculosis sanatorium, and a Shutter Island-style psychiatric hospital. But most notably, it has acted since the late nineteenth century as a dumping place for New York’s impoverished dead, and holds the distinction of being the world’s largest pauper’s cemetery, with over a million interments. The first burial was in 1869, and the volume eventually grew so high that the dead were placed in large mass graves, three layers deep, with a level of sod between each layer—pits for children, for instance, were so vast that they held up to 1000 burials.
By the time the room at Flower Hospital was being decorated, there had already been 110,751 burials on Hart, so there were potentially plenty of bones to be obtained there. Bodies were delivered to the island by a boat named the Fidelity, captained by Edward McEvoy, who had received several demerits for misconduct while in the Navy. He would sail the East River to pick up bodies from the city morgue and Harlem Hospital, among others, and twice weekly during the winter and three times a week during the summer, drop them off on Hart. The Fidelity could hold up to 100 corpses, which were covered over on the deck by tarps so that passing boats would not be able to see the gristly cargo. On the island, they were received by superintendent of burials John Bopp, who then processed them with a team of 50 convicts from Riker’s penitentiary. It was a nauseating spectacle, and as a crew member from the Fidelity told a reporter in 1900, “it’s all the same after you’re dead, but if you want to know the advantage of passing away among friends, take a trip to Hart’s Island on burying day.”
It would have been scandalous to the hospital if it were to turn out that the trio had been obtaining bones from the graves on Hart Island for their project, but the suspicious past of Meyer and Neilson meant that the question would not go away easily. The pair had already come under media scrutiny in 1894, when the New York Times carried a story about how they were using narcotics to place stray dogs into comas in order to experiment with a potassium solution as an antidote to morphine poisoning. Meyer at the time was known by his true first name of Oscar, although when he went into professional practice he adopted instead his middle name of Northway, apparently in order to avoid confusion with the Oscar Meyer Wiener Company, which had been founded in 1883. At the time, neither of the two were even properly physicians, having yet to graduate medical school, and they instructed the paper to omit the title of doctor, since as they described it they were “simply students with an inquisitive bent.” They would administer morphine intravenously to the dogs until they fell into a coma (very quick for a small mongrel, up to four hours for a large dog), and follow that with a solution of permanganate of potash. The validity of their “experiment” was questionable, but at least none of the dogs died–or so they claimed.
Not surprisingly, the weight of both public and private opinion was falling heavily against Meyer, Neilson, and Flater. The latter was vehement in his insistence that not only was the display ethical, it wasn’t even intended to be morbid. “If the bones present a sight most gruesome,” he argued, “it is because of the nature of the subject and not because I had any idea of arranging such an effect.” Despite the claims of the trio that the room was simply a means to put the remains of the dead to good and practical use, the hospital’s governing board eventually mandated that not only would they cease adding to the display, they would remove what had already been constructed. Such a spectacle might be fine for the Catholic bone houses of seventeenth century Europe, but modern New York would not tolerate it. And with that—amid suspicions of grave robbing and professional misconduct–America lost its one and only attempt at a fantastic charnel house.
Kell’s Irish Pub in Seattle has a creepy vibe to it, even if the displays and decorations inside aren’t meant to be. Perhaps that’s because the building started its life as a massive mortuary.
Plus, early one February morning in 1897, John Mars jumped out of bed from a sound sleep, and while the smell of breakfast cooking downstairs wafted up to the second level of the house, he inexplicably grabbed his pistol and went on a shooting spree of his own family.
These stories are up next when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: BEAUX ARTS=====
If there’s a definitive go-to Irish pub in Seattle, Washington, it’s Kells in the Pike Place Market. Just about any local you ask (who doesn’t live the teetotal life) has spent an after-work happy hour on its Post Alley patio or a drunken St. Patrick’s Day or two in this creaky, spooky, old-fashioned, bottom-floor bar, perhaps partaking in the city’s largest collection of single malt scotch.
But not everyone who hangs out at Kells knows that there’s a great reason why it’s so creepy in there: Kells is in the ground floor of the Butterworth Building, as in E. R. Butterworth, who built Seattle’s first mortuary inside this building, and who basically invented the modern funeral as we know it—and the very words mortuary and mortician, for that matter. Kells occupies the former stables and funeral wagon garage.
Half a block east from Kells, the Greco-Roman sandstone arches at 1921 First Avenue were, as Seattle Met’s editor-in-chief James Ross Gardner wrote in 2012, “a passageway, of sorts, from this life into the next.” Beginning in 1903, when Butterworth & Sons moved into this snappy new building after bouncing around from the old Masonic Temple at Second and Pike to another location on Second and then another on Third, E.R. and company had a monopoly on the death industry in Seattle. For the first few decades that followed, just about everyone who died in Seattle sailed through the this archway.
Many of the dead came through without names or identification. The era in which Seattle was settled saw epidemics of tuberculosis, diphtheria, and Spanish flu, likely among others, and without proper burial services available—the case before Butterworth & Sons—dead bodies would regularly just appear on the streets of downtown Seattle. It got so bad that the city started offering undertakers $50 per body that they could take off the streets as a community clean-up effort. Butterworth saw an opportunity and took it, and it would make him a very wealthy man.
He hired John Graham, the English architect whose firm would later design the Space Needle, to plan out his grand five-story mortuary with a 200-mourner chapel, a crematorium, a columbarium for storing funeral urns, a casket showroom, and an elevator—the very first on the West Coast!—used for transporting bodies up and down this marvelous palace of death. Butterworth had Graham draw up eight different blueprints before he presented one that was to Butterworth’s liking.
The building was done up in the Beaux Arts style of the era, with four sculpted lion heads on the facade, facing First Avenue from three stories up. The aforementioned space that Kells now sits in held horses and hearses, concealed in the alley to hide the unsightly bodies from public view. The floors above were tricked out in mahogany, bronze and brass fixtures, elaborate stained glass, and general Victorian filigree. The spacious chapel had pews of Flemish oak, a choir loft, and a new-fangled system of light signals that a choir—should the family hire one—could follow to start or stop singing. Some of the services offered for Butterworth & Sons funeral packages were the transport of the body to the mortuary, washing the body, dressing the body, embalming, newspaper death notices, limousine and hearse service, casket (with optional crushed silk interior), fresh flowers, burial permit, air-sealed vault, and musicians.
“There was nothing like it in the United States,” Gardner said of Butterworth & Sons. “Maybe nothing like it in the world.”
Edgar Ray Butterworth never meant to work as an undertaker to begin with. Born in the Boston suburbs in 1847, he found himself working as a cattleman on the plains of Kansas when he encountered a grieving settler while traveling with his team. The man, whose wife and newborn child had both just died, had no lumber available for coffins on the prairie. Butterworth, it’s said, built a coffin for the guy with wood taken from his own wagon.
Everyone in turn-of-the-century Seattle knew E.R., who also served in the state legislature, and his oldest son Gilbert, respectively by E.R.’s signature long goatee, and his son’s high, classic cheekbones and all-around good looks. They trusted the Butterworths with their family members who’d passed on, although it’s unclear whether folks did because they wanted to or because they didn’t really have a choice.
As for its modern-day incarnation as Kells: It has ghosts. Everyone who even vaguely follows that sort of thing will tell you this. The most-sighted one is a young girl of about eight years old, with blonde or red hair. She supposedly shows up most when the traditional Irish music is going, appearing in the main room or on the stairs. Its less-famous ghost is Sammy, who will show up in the mirror on the back wall. People say you’ll see a man’s face in the mirror, looking right at you, but if you turn around to check him out, he vanishes. Turn back around to face the mirror and he’s there again, grinning at you.
There are also ghosts that never show their faces, according to local legend. There’s a small, ornate whiskey bar in a back corner of the restaurant, just a little corner bar that’s easy to miss, but if you keep an eye on it, the candles all around the bar will allegedly light up on their own. Glasses are known to break on their own, silverware will levitate, and disembodied women’s voices are heard. That same stairwell in the back, where the little red-haired girl hangs out, is supposedly home to lots of other spirits, too, who turn up in photographs via orbs—or maybe it’s just dust.
Mercedes Carraba, who once ran the now-defunct (full disclosure, ahem) Market Ghost Tours, told KUOW in 2009 that she spotted a pair of muddy, dirty hands pressed up in the windows of the First Avenue entrance to the building. The area is just kinda inarguably deathy, said Carraba, with a Duwamish burial site nearby and a 19th-century settler’s graveyard a block away.
That said, this building hasn’t been a mortuary or funeral parlor for a really long time. In 1923, E. R. Butterworth moved his business to the western slope of Capitol Hill, at the northeast corner of Melrose Avenue and Pine Street. The “new” building was even more souped up and deluxe, with a crematorium and columbarium, fireproof vaults, an even bigger chapel, and drawing rooms. Hearses equipped with “Cadillac motor equipment with special designed bodies,” pioneer historian Clarence Bagley, wrote of it in 1929, in addition to “funeral furnishings… from the most simple to the magnificent.”
E.R. passed the business on to his sons, who passed it on to theirs, and it remained in the family until New Orleans-based chain Stewart Enterprises bought Butterworth Funeral Home in 1998, making it one of the longest-operating family-owned businesses in Seattle history. The last Butterworth to run it was E.R.’s great-grandson, Bert Butterworth, Jr., who was the one who sold it. Kells moved into the former livery in 1983, and not much of the grandiose Victorian interior of Butterworth & Sons remains there, or even inside the building’s upper floors, for that matter. Other than the bar, the building has been more or less empty as long as anyone can remember. Except for the ghosts, if you count those.
Its deathy superstitions are still being kept alive by the building’s current owners, though. Since 2005, the Butterworth Block has been owned by the McAleese family, which also owns Kells, and the same year it was purchased, Karen McAleese saw something in the pub’s kitchen that she still can’t explain.
“He was a tall man who looked like he was part black, with a suit jacket on,” she reported to the Seattle Times. “He had very thin hands. He walked to the end of the bar and just kind of faded.”
Whether it’s Halloween or Saint Patrick’s Day, if you’re in Seattle and you feel like having an otherwordly experience, you just might want to spend it at an Irish pub and try your luck.
STORY: ACT OF A MADMAN=====
Mrs. Emma Marrs and her sister-in-law, Ida Marrs, were preparing breakfast the morning of February 13, 1897, in their home at 129 South Upper Street, Lexington, Kentucky. Around 7:45 Mrs. Marrs sent the servant girl upstairs with a bowl of warm water so her husband John could wash up. When she entered the room, John jumped out of bed with such a peculiar expression on his face that she quickly set the water down and hurried out of the room. She was halfway down the stairs when she heard a pistol shot from the bedroom.
Mr. and Mrs. Marrs and their two children, John Jr., age 5 and Helen age 15, slept in two beds in the same room. John Marrs Sr. had shot his son in the forehead as he lay in bed. The shot startled Helen awake; she saw what had happened and started screaming. John fired two shots at Helen one missed her the other went through her neck. Helen ran from the room as Emma and Ida approached the room.
Running into her mother’s arms Helen cried, “Oh, mamma, papa has killed me. Don’t go in there; he’ll kill you.”
Ida Marrs entered the room just as John Marrs smashed the head of his wounded son with the pistol. He turned the gun on his sister and fired. When the shot missed Ida, he threw the pistol at her head knocking her to the ground. The boy was still crying in pain; Marrs drew as a straight razor and with a wild maniacal laugh cut his son’s throat from ear to ear. He then did the same to his own throat, severing his windpipe and jugular vein.
Hearing the gunshots, neighbors forced open the door and rushed in. In the bedroom, now quiet, they found a gruesome scene—the young boy lay on the bed, shot, beaten and slashed. John Marrs lay on the floor in a sea of blood. In the hall, Helen was wounded and unconscious, Ida was in a state of shock and Emma was suffering from nervous prostration.
John Marrs had a history of mental illness. At age 22, he was courting Emma Davis and asked for her hand in marriage. When she refused he became infuriated and swore he would kill her if she did not marry him. Marrs was judged insane and committed to the Eastern Kentucky Asylum. After six months the doctors determined him cured and he was released.
Emma agreed to marry him, and they settled into a happy marriage. John had a successful career with M. Kaufman & Company, clothiers, and owned a great deal of real estate and interest in several building associations. He belonged to the Knights of Honor and the Odd Fellows and was a deacon at the Central Christian Church.
Around Christmas 1896, John was taken violently ill, having peculiar headaches. Since then he had not been in his right mind. He was given to spells of melancholy during which he would discuss suicide. Dr. Joseph Bryan examined John and advised the family to commit him to the asylum again.
The night before the murder he said to his wife and sister, “I’m not afraid to die, but I can’t bear to leave you all. I want my children to go with me.”
Thinking he was joking, one of them responded, “Why, what are you going to do with your wife and sister?”
“Oh, you must come too,” he said, “I want all of you.”
The Marrs family was one of the oldest and most prominent families in Kentucky. The funeral for John Marrs Sr. and John Marrs Jr. on February 14, filled the Central Christian Church with 1,500 mourners and many more stood outside blocking the streets for blocks. Father and son were buried in the same grave.
Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at email@example.com. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find all of my social media, listen to free audiobooks I’ve narrated, visit the store for Weird Darkness t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, phone cases, and more merchandise, sign up for monthly contests, find other podcasts that I host, and find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“The Lady Laughing In My Bedroom” by Geof James from My Haunted Life Too.
“New York Charnel House” posted at Empire Delamort.
“The Beaux Arts Butterworth Building” by Meg van Huygen for Seattle Curbed.
“The Act of a Madman” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder by Gaslight.
WeirdDarkness® – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… 1 Peter 5:6-7 = “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
And a final thought… “Value yourself and know your worth, you are as important as everyone on this earth. Every human being has a purpose, your life has value it is not worthless. You are beautiful and special – BE PROUD OF WHO YOU ARE! Live your life to the fullest and reach for the stars.” – Harry Bridgeman
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.