Religion and Social Movements

A Haunted Murder Scene in Each New England State

New England has no shortage of haunted murder scenes, where the ghosts of murder victims move furniture in old taverns or float above gravestones at night.

The region has always embraced tales of the supernatural. New England ghosts, witches, devils and monsters in human shape populate the novels of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson and Stephen King. There’s even a name for the region’s special brand of horror: Gothic New England.

Here then are six haunted murder scenes in New England, one in each state. If you know of a haunted murder scene in your state, please share it in the comments section.

Union Cemetery

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The White Lady's murder scene? Union Cemetery at night.

One autumn night a man knelt by his wife’s grave in 400-year-old Union Cemetery in Easton, Conn. He missed her, and it comforted him to talk to her.

After a short while he looked up from the grave and saw a ghostly figure watching him. She had long dark hair and wore a diaphanous white veil and an old-fashioned white dress or nightgown.

"I wish my husband would have loved me as much as you love your wife," she said, and then she vanished.

Some people believe the White Lady was murdered. Her body, they think, was dumped behind the Easton Baptist Church next to the cemetery. Others believe she murdered her husband. Whatever the case, the White Lady is one of Connecticut’s most famous ghosts. People have seen her walking among the gravestones and floating above them. She also appears to motorists on Route 59.

Whether it’s because it abuts a murder scene or because it’s so old, Union Cemetery has been called the most haunted cemetery in Connecticut. The cemetery attracts so many ghost hunters the Easton police have closed it off to traffic at night.

Johnny Winter and Harry Reasoner are also buried in Union Cemetery, but so far as we know they do not haunt the place.

Easton, Conn.

Wood Island Lighthouse

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A lighthouse and a haunted murder scene: Wood Island Light.

In 1896, local sheriff Fred Milliken rented his chicken coop on Wood Island to Howard Hobbs, a drifter, to sleep in. The two men argued, and Hobbs shot the sheriff. He then went to the lighthouse keeper’s house and shot himself there.

Hobbs’ spirit haunts the murder scene at the Wood Island lighthouse, located off Biddeford Pool in Maine. People have heard moans and strange voices, seen dark shadows and found locked doors mysteriously opened.

The story doesn’t end there. One lighthouse keeper was so spooked by the haunting that he left the lamp unlit and rowed to the mainland. He found a room in a boardinghouse and jumped to his death the next morning.

20 Yates St., Biddeford, ME

The Lizzie Borden House

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The Fall River hatchet murder scene is now a popular bed and breakfast.

Lizzie Borden, a 31-year-old single woman, famously took an axe and killed her father and stepmother at their home in Fall River, Mass. Or did she? The debate continues since the couple was found murdered on Aug. 4, 1891.

A jury acquitted Lizzie of murder nearly a year later. Many thought she got away with the crime. Others think the maid did it, or perhaps Lizzie’s uncle, who provided an absurdly overdetailed alibi.

Whatever the case, Lizzie continued to live in Fall River, ostracized by the community, until her death at age 66. The murder scene was turned into a popular bed and breakfast in 1996. Guests most often request the room where Lizzie’s stepmother met her end.

Ghost hunters sometimes stay in the house to investigate paranormal activity. A floor will creak in an empty room, or doors will open and close mysteriously. Sometimes the proprietor smells a faint flowery scent, and once the hallway chandelier suddenly turned off and a shadow climbed the stairs.

Today, a popular rhyme persists about the murders:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

92 Second St., Fall River, Mass.

The Country Tavern

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The Country Tavern in Nashua, a murder scene long ago.

In 1741, a sea captain named Ford built a house in what is now Nashua, N.H. He brought his much younger wife Elizabeth to live there while he went to sea.

Once, after a 10-month absence at sea, he returned to find Elizabeth and her new baby. In a fit of rage he locked Elizabeth in a closet and killed the infant. When Elizabeth emerged to find out what he’d done, she attacked her husband. Capt. Ford then stabbed her with a knife and threw her body down a well.

In the 1980s, Elizabeth Ford’s farmhouse became a popular eatery, the Country Tavern. Her ghost supposedly haunts the murder scene, but in a playful way. She moves salt and pepper shakers, tosses dishes off shelves and runs her fingers through patrons’ hair. Sometimes she makes an appearance in a window on the second floor, gazing out over the property.

452 Amherst St., Nashua, N.H.

Biltmore Hotel

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The lobby of the Biltmore hotel, scene of murders and suicides during Prohibition.

In 1918, a rumored Satanist named Johan Leisse Weisskopf, financed construction of the Biltmore Hotel in Providence. He supposedly installed chicken coops on the roof to supply birds for ritual sacrifices and dug hot springs in the basement for purification rites.

During Prohibition, the Biltmore became a speakeasy frequented by Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. The hotel hosted raucous parties that supposedly resulted in the murders of several guests. Today, Biltmore guests say they hear laughing and dancing from an empty room, once, perhaps, a murder scene.

The most famous ghost, though, belongs to a wealthy guest who threw himself off the 14th floor of the Biltmore when the stock market crashed in 1929. Hotel guests say they’ve seen a man plummet past their windows, only to look down and see no body on the sidewalk.

11 Dorrance St., Providence, R.I.

College Hall, Vermont College of Fine Arts

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The ghost of Anna Wheeler haunts College Hall.

College Hall at the Vermont College of Fine Arts was built near an 1897 murder scene involving a jealous lover.

On a Saturday morning, 17-year-old Anna planned to meet her fiance, Jack Wheeler, a handsome 22-year-old stonecutter. They would take the train to Barre that day to watch the Decoration Day celebration. She lived on East Liberty Street where her cousins, the Bugbees, had hired her to do domestic work.

Mildred Brewster, 20, went to the Bugbee house and waited on the porch for 20 minutes before knocking on the door. The two women talked inside for 45 minutes, and a witness later testified to overhearing the conversation. Mildred said, “Jack Wheeler can’t be engaged to us both; we will have to let him decide.”

Mildred and Anna then walked past the Montpelier Seminary, now College Hall, toward Jack Wheeler’s house. Then Mildred took out a .32 caliber revolver and shot Anna, then herself. Anna died that afternoon, but Mildred lived to be charged with murder. A jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity, and she spent the rest of her life in and out of sanitariums.

Anna's ghost now haunts College Hall near the murder scene, closing doors, moving objects, breaking glass and throwing pictures off walls. Once she supposedly moved furniture to block the door of a locked office.

36 College St., Montpelier, Vt.

If you enjoyed this story about haunted murder scenes, you may want to read our story about six haunted houses in New England here.

Haunted murder scene images: Union Cemetery By Karl Thomas Moore - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46789828; Biltmore Lobby By Kenneth C. Zirkel - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21843548

 

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