Sunday, April 19, 2015

Undisclosed Business--Hurricane, WV


Growing up in Hurricane, I had no idea that there were so many haunted homes around the town...most notably the old McCallister/Umberger Mansion that used to stand where South Brooke subdivision is now located and of course the Rappold House off of Main Street.  Unfortunately, these two stories wouldn't come to my attention until well into my adulthood...but there was ONE ghost story that has been with me since we moved to Hurricane when I was three years old.

On a street corner sat a small white home that had been turned into a local business.  Every time we passed this building, I craned my neck to look out the car window and get a good view of this location.  I was looking for any sign of its resident ghost! The story that I always heard growing up was that a man had brutally killed his wife in the home, and that her ghost haunted a certain bedroom.  According to who was telling the story, or what mood they were in, the details would vary greatly. In some stories, the bedroom in which she died remained extremely cold all the time and the door to the bedroom would either refuse to remain shut...or would shut with great force, trapping anyone silly enough to actually go in there. Some would say that if you went into the room, you could still see the blood spatter on the walls, no matter how many coats of paint were used to cover it up.  And, of course, some would say that you could see the woman's ghost staring out the window of the house late at night.  There also seemed to have been some confusion as to exactly how the death took place---was she shot in the head, or did she suffer a blow to the head from an object such as an axe?

I am very lucky to be a member of the Upper Vandalia Historical Society and through it, several years ago I met the current owners of the building.  They were familiar with my blog and after a brief chat, they gave me permission to research and post about the house, given that I stuck to the facts, only. My research resulted in an all-too-common occurrence when it comes to researching urban legends and ghost stories---truth really is stranger than fiction!  To protect the owners of the property, the current occupants, and of course, the many friends and family of the victims still alive and living in this area, I'm choosing not to share the exact location of this building nor the names of those involved.  All information below is from a newspaper article found in the Huntington-Herald Dispatch, dated 20 December 1969.

A 31 year old woman was living in the neat little rental house on the corner with her two children--a ten year old daughter and a 13 year old son.  She and her 36 year old husband, married since 1955, had separated and he was apparently still living in Kanawha County.  However, on the night of December 18, 1969 he showed up at the house after the kids and several visiting family members had gone to bed. Police were called to the home around 11:30 pm that night and found evidence of what was quickly deemed a murder-suicide, which doesn't seem to have been investigated further.  What they found was the bodies of the husband and wife lying on the kitchen floor. Police chief J.W. Smith noted that a .32 caliber automatic was found lying beside the man's body.  The wife was shot once in the head and a second bullet had gone through her arm into her chest.  The man had been shot both in the head and the chest. When asked if there might have been a third party involved, police declined to comment.

After one mention in the local paper, the matter seemed to be dropped. The wife was buried near Falling Rock and no mention of the husband's final resting place was given. The memory of the terrible events, however, could not be completely erased, and live on through its urban legends.  Whether or not the house is actually haunted, however, I can't say.  I can, however, honestly say that I've never actually spoken with or found anyone who had an experience there, and it seems as if some vital elements to the ghost story, such as the room where it all happened, proved to be inaccurate. There was one former occupant of the house that I did manage to speak to a few years back, and according to her, there wasn't anything wrong felt with the property.

I don't feel comfortable sharing further details of this story to those who are just curious about it, but if you recognize this case and have pertinent information you'd like to share, please feel free to email me at theresarhps@yahoo.com. 

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