Murder Leaves a Mark - Presentation from Ghosts and Legends of Genesee & Lapeer Counties Book Release Party

Ghosts and old items have always been my thing. I love historical places and vintage stuff. Remnants of the past conjure images of days gone by. A Formica dinette table may offer me a glimpse into a 1960s kitchen. Mom in her apron, dad and two kids at the table waiting for breakfast on a Saturday morning…

Vivid imagination or a touch of psychometry? I don’t know. I do know I love walking through antique stores, flea markets, and estate sales. Something about dead peoples’ things… 

My love of the past and the paranormal naturally progressed into writing about history and ghosts.

But I confess I was not always a true crime aficionado. Joe is the true crime guy, he’s the one that finds the murders and weird deaths while I’m the one hunting for ghost stories.

When we find a location rumored to be haunted the first thing we do is dig into the history of the location to see if there was anything weird associated with the property. Was it built on top of an old cemetery? Was it built on top of a Native American burial ground or battle ground? Who lived there? Who died there?

What I discovered was a unique juncture where history, ghost hunting, and true crime often intersect. Numerous haunted locations are filled with tales of murder. It’s not surprising that locations, where horrible events and murders have taken place, are the ones that haunt us the most.

Some of the most notorious haunted houses are also “infamous” murder houses like: The LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana; the Villisca Ax Murder House in Villisca, Iowa; The Amityville House in Long Island, New York; and the Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, Massachusetts. 

People visiting these locations expect to feel “something”.

I’ve stood outside of the LaLaurie, what I felt left me with no desire to ever go inside. I’ve also been to the Lizzie Borden House, which for me had an overwhelming feeling of sadness about it. The entire downtown area of Fall River was strangely quiet, almost menacing, like it didn’t want people there at all. Which is odd since Fall River was once a highly populated and bustling East Coast city.

But what about the unknowns? The places you didn’t know were the scene of a crime until after investigating? There is no preconceived notion that you’ll encounter dark and menacing vibes yet sensitives often feel that something is “off” about the place. 

Paranormal investigators believe when something traumatic happens in a location dark energy can remain and those sensitive to it will feel the menace and often avoid the spot.  Murder location energy can range from “bad vibes”, to residual hauntings, to full on ghostly activity. 

Everything is made up of energy, from light bulbs, to spirits, to living people, to the rocks in the ground. And everything has its own frequency. Some people are tuned in to the right frequency to see, hear or sense spirits while others are not. 

I now know that I have felt certain types of energy since I was a child, specifically human emotions. 

When I was very young there was a store, closed for years, which we would pass on our way to and from many places. It was right on the corner of the main road by our house. It spooked me something awful. I couldn’t understand why. It was just an empty building. It didn’t look menacing. Finally, I asked my mom if we could take a different route home at night because passing that old store gave me the creeps. 

Later my mom told me about the robbery that happened there in the 1970s. The owner had been shot and stuffed in the cooler. No wonder the place was so spooky. I felt those bad vibes emanating from it.

The store was eventually remodeled and finally reopened in the mid-1980s. I would often run in to grab the newest flavor of bubble gum but I avoided the coolers at all costs. The store is still there and I still avoid it. My husband buys beer there. I stay in the car. You can read about it in Ghosts and Legends.

When I was a teenager there was a house on my friend’s street. I hated driving by it but I had to pass it to get to her house. I had no idea why I hated that house so much; it looked like every other house on her street, a normal middle-class suburban home. 

Finally, one day as we were driving by it I told her how the house creeped me out. She looked at me strangely for a second then said, “A guy murdered his wife there several years ago.” 

I was shocked, “Are you serious?” I asked.

“Dead serious,” she responded. 

Over the years this scenario has been repeated quite often. I’ll get weird feelings from a location only to discover that either a murder happened there or the location had once been a battlefield or cemetery. 

I’m not the only one that feels negative energy from murder locations. I interviewed several paranormal investigators about their experiences. On average 30-50% of the locations they have investigated have had known murders attached to them. Most of the investigators said they could feel malevolence.

Paranormal Author Nicole Beauchamp mentioned her visits to the Lizzie Borden House and the New Orleans apartment of Zack Bowen and Addie Hall: “Both of those locations had a very disconcerting energy about them. The energy in those two locations felt far different in comparison to other locations I had been to where more “tame” murders took place. I remember so vividly how being in Addie Hall and Zack Bowen’s apartment felt. I felt like I wanted to get out of there. The air was overwhelmingly stuffy and I found it hard to breathe. I felt extremely disoriented. At the Lizzie Borden house I found it extremely hard to fall asleep. I kept feeling as though someone was watching me. I had the worst sleep of my life that night and kept having weird visions. I felt an overwhelming sense of dread and despair.”

Investigator Emily R. feels that murder location energy is very dark and heavy. 40-50% of the locations she has investigated have been the scene of a murder or murder/suicide. 

Lianne P. has felt quite unsettled at haunted crime scenes.  She’s gotten sick to her stomach, been hit with instant migraines, and felt pains in her legs and arms. Sometimes she’s even had the feeling like she was stuck in place, like she couldn’t move at all. 

Deanna H. has sensed strong negative energy, anxiety, fear, and grief in places where murders have occurred. At Waverly Hills Sanatorium she felt intense anxiety and sadness where a nurse died. 

Sometimes a murder location simply becomes that creepy boarded-up building everyone avoids. Other times it get cleaned up and sold, looking good as new…on the surface. Sometimes the new owners know nothing of the location’s gruesome history. But when people do know what happened in a murder house, the real estate prices can really take a hit. 

Thanks in part to the popularity of true crime podcasts and ghost hunting shows people are really curious. They want to know if there are any dirty little secrets hiding before purchasing a new home. No one wants to find out their new house literally had skeletons in the closet. Some murder houses can stay on the market for years, decades even, because no one wants to live in a place tainted with such horrors (unless you’re an enterprising person who wants to open a spooky Bed and Breakfast).

The internet has made it really easy to search for crime locations- FOIA requests, newspaper archives, online obituaries, deeds being available in online records, there’s even a website dedicated to researching an address for you called Died in House- Currently, a search costs just $11.99.

Some believe a location can be cleared of negative energy through cleansing rituals. I do believe these can work…sometimes. I don’t think locations, where really gruesome things occurred, can be completely cleansed. I’ve been to several places where numerous cleansings have taken place and I still felt the menace.

You can tear out the bloodstained carpet and smudge the spirits away but the horror remains. 

Murder leaves a mark, far beyond bloodstains on the floor. Murder stains the metaphysical fabric of a location in ways that can’t be cleansed. 

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