"Death is no more than passing from one room into another." – HELEN KELLER

Lizzie Borden

Lizzie Borden. That name may sound familiar to some but others probably don't know anything about her. On Thursday, August 4, 1892 one of the most gruesome crimes ever committed in the United States occurred. Andrew J. Borden and his wife, Abby Borden were both slain. Abby was hit about 19 times in the back of the head with an axe. Her husband was hit at least 11 times. The main suspect in these murders: Lizzie Borden.

Why did she kill them? I don't think anyone knows the answer to that question. No one even knows if she really did kill them. What makes this such an interesting case is the circumstances around it. Lizzie Borden was a church-going, Sunday school teacher. No one could even think that she would be capable of murder. Though some actions that took place the day before the murder says otherwise. There were reports that Lizzie had gone to Smith's Drug Store to purchase some prussic acid. Eli Bence claimed that Lizzie told him she wanted the acid to kill insects in her sealskin cape.

Lizzie had stated that she was out on that day but wasn't at Smith's Drug Store. Later, she changed her story and claimed she never left the house. Another thing is that her Uncle John Morse arrived that afternoon intending to stay overnight but didn't have any luggage. Both he and Lizzie testified that they did not see each other until after the murders but Lizzie knew he was there.

Lizzie was questioned by the police as to her whereabouts and she gave them many different stories. It wasn't until August 7, when a witness reported that Lizzie had burned a stained dress, that she was formally charged with murder of her father and stepmother. During the grand jury's last week of its session, November 7th through December 2nd, the case was heard. On December 2, Lizzie was charged with three counts of murder (the murder of her father, stepmother and the both of them).The trial was set for June 5, 1893. The trial lasted fourteen days and it only took an hour for the jury to come up with a verdict: Not Guilty on all three counts.

Five weeks after the trial, Lizzie and her sister Emma purchased a 13-room house located on a fashionable residential area called "The Hill" and named it Maplecroft. The name was carved into the top stone step. At this time, Lizzie began referring to herself as "Lizbeth."

Lizzie died on June 1, 1927 from a long illness that followed complications from a gall bladder operation. Emma died 9 days later from a fall at her house in Newmarket, a house that she bought and moved to shortly after a dispute with Lizzie. They were both buried in the family plot along with their sister, mother, stepmother and father.

The Borden House is now a bed and breakfast/museum. You can actually sleep in the room that Abby Borden was killed in or sit on the sofa were Andrew Borden died on. There are reports that the inn is haunted. Some have heard a woman crying, footsteps on the stairs when no one else is in the house, doors shutting by themselves, etc. The house may be haunted but I feel the real attraction is the unsolved murders and the people who continue to this day to come up with a theory as to how Lizzie actually did it.

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The Bell Witch

One of the most well-known haunting in America took place in Adams, Tennessee, 1817. For nearly 200 years an entity known as "The Bell Witch" haunted the small farm community. Many say that "The Bell Witch" was a woman named Kate Batts. Kate was the mean neighbor of John Bell and is said she was wronged by him in a land purchase. On her deathbed she vowed to haunt John Bell and all his descendents.

For years, the Bells were tormented by the spirit, John Bell and his daughter, Betsy being the primary targets. No one ever really saw her but you definitely heard and felt her torment. She would read sermons, sang hymns, as well as pulled their hair, poked needles in them, yell at all hours of the night, snatched food from their mouths at mealtime and the list goes on. It is also said that this phenomena attracted a future president.

General Andrew Jackson, of whom John Bell at one time served under, heard about the infamous spirit and decided to investigate the witch and either reveal the hoax or send the spirit away. He gathered a group of men and made the journey to Adams. Many of the men followed the wagon on horseback as they approached the place, discussing how they were going to get rid of the witch. As they traveled over a smooth level piece of road, the wagon halted. The driver popped the whip and the horses pulled as hard as they could but it wouldn't budge. Gen. Jackson, soon then, ordered his men to dismount and remove the wheels and examine them. After determining that there was nothing wrong with the wheels, Gen. Jackson threw up his hands and exclaimed, "By the eternal boys, it is the witch." A metallic voice responded with "All right General, let the wagon move on, I will see you again to-night." Bewildered, the men looked in every direction to determine where the voice came from but didn't see anyone. At that moment, the horse started unexpectedly and the wagon moved smoothly, continuing its journey to Adams.

During their stay, it is said that they were subjected to the same torment as the Bells: covers being yanked off, slapped, poked by needles, pinched, etc. After one night, Gen. Jackson and his men hightailed it out of there. Jackson was later quoted as saying, "I'd rather fight the British in New Orleans than to have to fight the Bell Witch."

John Bell met his demise on the morning of December 19th. Two months before, he was struck with illness while walking to the pigsty of his farm. Some say he had a stroke because thereafter he had difficulties talking and swallowing. On that day in December, he failed to awake at his usual time and his family noticed that he was sleeping unnaturally. They discovered John was in a stupor and could not be awakened. When John Jr. went to get his father's medicine, he noticed it had been replaced with a strange vial that later, after been tested on a cat, was discovered to be poison. The witch bragged that she had given John a dose of it while he slept. John Bell died on December 20th. The witch was quiet until after his funeral when she began to sing loudly and joyously. This continued until all friends and family had left the grave site.

In 1821, the Bell Witch left the Bell household saying she would be back in seven years and made good on her promise. Seven years later, she appeared at the home of John Bell, Jr. where she told him of prophecies of future events, the Civil war, World War I and II for example. The ghost said that she would reappear 107 years later, 1935, but no one has ever come forward with claims of her making good on her word. A cave now sits where the Bell property once was. It is now known as The Bell Witch Cave. Some say they have seen apparitions and other unexplained things at the cave and other spots near it.

But was there an explanation for all these strange occurrences? One rational explanation was that it was a hoax, just clever pranks and tricks thought of by one person. Richard Powell, a schoolteacher, was in love with one of his students, Betsy Bell. But she was in love with Joshua Gardner, also one of Powell's students. It is said that he would have done anything to destroy their relationship, even create all the effects of a "ghost" to scare him away. Joshua Gardner did, indeed, break up with Betsy and moved away on account that he had been a primary target of all the witch's violent taunting. But no one really knows if Powell really was the culprit of this elaborate scheme or even how he was able to pull off all the remarkable effects, including paralyzing General Jackson's wagon. The only known thing is that he came out the winner and married Betsy Bell.

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Winchester Mystery House

Sarah L. Winchester was born on September 1839 in New Haven, Connecticut. She was a prominent beauty as well as talented. Despite her diminutive size, Sarah was well-known among the young men. She captured the heart of one particular young man by the name of William Wirth Winchester and they were married on September 30, 1862 in New Haven. Four years later, Sarah would give birth to their first child, a daughter on July 12, 1866. Within only a few days the child contracted a children's disease and died. Sarah would have no other children as she was grief strickened over this. Six years later, tragedy struck again when her husband died of pulmonary tuberculosis.

After suffering the emotional pain of the deaths of her one and only daughter and her husband, Sarah was prompted by a friend to go to a Spiritualist medium. She was told that her family was cursed by all those who were killed by the Winchester Rifle who were now seeking vengenance. This very curse took the life of her husband and her child and soon would take her too. She was also told to leave her home in New Haven and follow the setting sun. Her dead husband would lead her to her new home and that she would know it when she saw it. The medium also informed Sarah that she had to build a home for her and the spirits and to never stop building the house. If she was to stop, she would die.

Shortly after leaving the seance, Sarah sold her house and moved to California where she found a 6 room house currently under construction. A Dr. Caldwell was its current owner and she entered negotiations with him until she finally convinced him to sell the house and the 162 acres of land it sat on. She recruited local workers to do construction on her new home. Sarah had 22 carpenters working on her house year around, 24 hours a day. There were never any set plans for the construction of the house. Every day, Sarah would meet with the foreman and go over the day's plan that she had sketched.

There were a number of abnormalties: stairs the led to nowhere,closets that opened to blank walls, trap doors, double-back hallways, skylights that were located one above another, doors that opened to steep drops to the lawn below, and countless of others. And it was very obvious that she was obsessed with the number "13." There are walls that had 13 panels, nearly all of the windows contained 13 panes of glass, the greenhouse had 13 cupolas, many wooden floors contained 13 sections, etc. The reason for all the abnormalties, or to what Sarah believed in, was to confuse the bad spirits. It was a maze designed for them.

Everything seem to be going great until unexpected event occured. The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 destroyed most of the house. Sarah took it as a sign that the spirits were angry that the house was nearly finished. So she boarded up 30 rooms to show that the house would never be finished and also to trap those spirits that collapsed with the house during the earthquake.

Sadly on September 4, 1922, Sarah Winchester died in her sleep at age 83. She left everything to her niece, Frances Marriot. Even though Sarah's bank account dwindled over the years, there were rumors that there was a hidden safe that contained a fortune of jewelry and a solid-gold dinner set which no one has yet to find.

Since the house is such a labryinth, no one can actually get a correct estimate on how many rooms are actually in the Winchester Mansion. Some have come up with 145, others say 160. It took movers nearly six weeks just to remove all the furniture from the house. Now the house is consider a California Historical Landmark and is registered with the National Park Service.

Those who have visited the Winchester Mansion say it is haunted. Not only by Sarah's ghost but by other spirits as well. There are stories of people hearing footsteps, banging on walls, and even the sounds of construction. This house gave inspiration to writer Stephen King's novel Rose Red. Of course, there are the sceptics who believe there is nothing there at all. What do you think?

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Bunnyman Bridge

I'm sure some of you have even heard of Bunnyman Bridge from the show "Scariest Places on Earth." It is located in Fairfax, Virginia on Colchester Road. Now there are various stories about the Bunnyman but most conclude that he loved bunnies, of course, and also children. Some say he was a lunatic that escaped from a nearby asylum and nourished himself mainly on rabbits, leaving their dead carcasses to be found. Others say that he always dressed up as a rabbit when he killed his victims always with an axe and left them hanging near the bridge. The most common story that I have found is this:

In 1904, there was an insane asylum near a small town in Virginia. The townspeople didn't like it so close to them so they took a vote and decided to move the asylum somewhere else. While transporting the occupants, the bus broke down near the bridge and they all escape. They were all found and captured except for one. All the police found were dead rabbits which they concluded that was what he was eating to stay alive, but the guy was never found dead or alive.

Some have stated that if you go to the bridge and say 'Bunnyman' three times, he will make himself known to you in some way. But do know that even if he doesn't, you will still be watched upon entering the bridge. The local police installed surveillance cameras due to its fame. Here's the question: Do you dare to find out if the stories are true? Or maybe some of you already know.

Source: The Center for Paranormal Research and Investigation
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