Murder Mystery Haunting in Florida

Crystal River, Florida - location of the haunted Florida adventure

Hello again, and happy wintery spring for New York. Seriously, I don’t think winter knows how to give up the ghost here. Anyway, I wanted to tell you one of my personal stories tonight. It is probably one of the strangest experiences I have had in my life. It lasted two weeks and was witnessed by other members of my family. It also revolves around a murder mystery.

 

My grandfather purchased a house in Crystal River, Florida as a vacation home when I was about 10 years old. He got it for a steal, but it came with quite a history. According to what I was told the man who lived there before had a history of making his wives disappear. His first wife supposedly was a bit flighty and family members believed she just took off. But then he remarried and his second wife went missing as well. This woman, her family said, would not just have run off. A murder investigation was initiated, but they could find no body. Now enter my grandfather in all of this, buying the house and waltzing straight into an episode of C.S.I. He cooperated and even let authorities spray luminol all over the master bedroom. From what he told us, police did find microscopic traces of blood everywhere in the room.

Haunted House in Florida

My Grandfather’s Haunted Florida Home

The belief at the time was that the second wife’s body was buried somewhere on the property, but no one could make any headway. This case supposedly went on for years. This would have been in the mid to late-eighties. The case was still open as far as I know as of a few years ago. Once things quieted down, our family planned a trip down to Florida to do what all families with children do – visit Disney! I was 11. My sister was 5. We also went down with my aunt Patty and my cousin, also 5 years old.  My parents, my aunt, and the kids went down first, to be followed by my grandfather and his wife a week later. It would turn out to be the strangest two weeks of our lives.

Things started out small and innocuous at first. My mother would wash the dishes every night after we went down to bed. On the first night she thought she caught a shadow flitting past the edges of her vision, passing through the doorway from the dining room, and heading down the hall to the master bedroom. She simply rubbed her eyes and thought nothing of it. Below is a sketch I attempted to show you what it looked like. I offer my sincerest apologies for my terrible sketching skills. The other strange thing was that clocks just didn’t work well there. Grandpa had complained about it and we noticed none of the clocks kept good time.

Shadow Ghost of Florida

Shadow Ghost of Florida

On the second night, she noticed the same thing around the same time, but continued to dismiss it as tiredness or fuzz. The following night I was laying in one of the spare bedrooms. Beside my bed was a small analog (not digital) alarm clock. I do not remember if it was a wind-up or not, but it was giving off a regular ticking sound. I began to notice that the ticking was no longer regular. It would speed up, going “ticktickticktick” and then slow down to a sluggish “tick….tick…tick………tick…tick”. I immediately felt a rush of fear hit me and I turned to look at the clock, which was a mistake. The hands were swinging back and forth, spinning slowly in its face one way and then another. Terrified and alone I did what any kid would. I pulled the covers up to my eyes.

The light overhead began dimming and brightening and I remember wanting to cry out but being too afraid to make a sound. I began to notice a darkness underneath the doorway that seemed to sort of ooze underneath the crack of the door. It rolled under the door and began to climb up the door until I could see clearly a shadowy figure standing in the room. It hovered about a foot or two off of the floor and stood about five feet tall. Atop the body was a vague shape of a head, and the beginnings of arms. But the bottom of the arms, and the bottom of its torso just tapered off at the bottom, coming down almost to a rough point at the bottom. The lights were really going crazy now and I could not move at all. I was utterly frozen in fear. Just as this strange shadowy figure began to come closer, two things happened simultaneously. My mother flung open the door to my room, and the shadowy thing compressed itself and slid beneath my bed. It sounds rather unbelievable I admit but it simply was what I saw. My mother laid down on the mattress with me and I held my breath, knowing that that thing could still be under the bed with us.

I could tell something was bothering her, and she was searching for the right words, but what she said would take me back. She asked me:

“Have you been seeing anything strange in this house?”

I wanted to scream a resounding “yes!”, but was too gripped by fear of whatever it was under the bed to verbalize it. Instead I nodded, and slowly pointed to my bed. She admitted to having seen a ghost yet again passing through the dining room and now knew it for what it was. I was grateful to her for walking in when she did. We slept that night in the same bed with the lights on. It was the first time in years that I was so frightened I wanted to curl up in bed with mom. I thought I had gotten too big for that, but fear is powerful.

The next morning, I wanted to tell myself it had only been a dream and I pushed the events far from my mind. My sister and I decided to go into the master bedroom and play dress-up. There was a walk in closet full of women’s clothes. We thought they were Anne’s, my grandfather’s wife. But in retrospect, we don’t know if it may have been the missing woman’s clothes. The house had only recently been purchased so who knows.

Anyway we wanted to look for more clothes, so I pushed the hangers aside to expose the walk-in part of the closet. Deep in the recess of the closet stood that shadowy figure again. It began slowly drifting forward. My sister ran. I was completely frozen. I locked eyes with it. I know I did even though it didn’t exactly have eyes. It was just a dark, cloudy, grayish mass where a head should be. But I felt that we were looking right into each other. It kept approaching ever so slowly. My mind was screaming “Run!” but my feet simply would not move. I couldn’t even tear my eyes away from it. It was only about four feet from me when my sister came back into the doorway screaming my name and telling me to run. Somehow the noise broke the tension and I was able to bolt after her, grabbing her hand and running both of us all the way out the front door.

Both my little sister and I did our best to put that event out of our mind and enjoy the vacation day but it loomed over us like a giant pink elephant that no one wanted to discuss. However just a couple of hours later in the afternoon, our cousin Diane came flying down the long driveway toward the house screaming that the shadow was chasing her up the driveway. I didn’t see it that time, but after what we had seen I could not doubt it. We decided to go and tell mom. It was too much for us kids to handle. I believe she didn’t want to frighten us, so she and my aunt downplayed the incidents and tried to allay our fears. One or the other of us saw the figure at least once daily for the remainder of the time we were there.

The scariest moment I think was on our return from Disneyland. It was late at night and we were driving back in the rented van. There were three rows of seats so I got the middle row all to myself. My sister and cousin were in car seats in the back row. I suddenly got the strangest and most urgent urge to open the window in the car. This was one of those complicated windows where you had to push in and then push out a latch. The urge was so strong that without really thinking about it, I reached over to grasp the window latch. My hand passed through something that felt both damp and tingly, like a fog cloud laced with static electricity. And it was freezing cold. I yanked my hand back immediately in shock, which is when I realized that there was a deep, dark, shadowy area there that seemed darker than the rest of the night time car shadows. As soon as it was noticed, it began to edge towards me. I remember asking my mother if I could come and sit up front, to which she said no, so I positioned myself as far away from the spreading shadow as I could.

At the time we were there, there were two cows on the property, most likely from the prior owners. so my mother had to get out to feed them on our way up the driveway. She stepped out, picked up the bucket of feed, and began to approach the cows. Both came eagerly toward the fence, happy to see food. But both suddenly stopped in their tracks a few feet from the fence and began to back up. When I saw what had made the cows so unsettled, I nearly screamed. The shadow-lady was standing right behind my mother’s shoulders with one roughly formed appendage actually draped over her shoulder, its gray shadowy form contrasting with my mother’s blazing white Disney sweatshirt. My mother slowly turned, following the cows’ gazes and let out a shriek like I have never heard her make before. She dropped the feed and ran into the car.

Ghost over my mother's shoulder

Ghost over my mother’s shoulder

As my aunt and my mother discussed the merits and possibilities of finding a hotel at 2 AM in the middle of nowhere, the shadow took up its spot on the middle seats again and then apparently thought better of it and crept back to be with the younger kids. My aunt saw it there in her rear view mirror but was too shaken to say anything. It was finally decided that my aunt would check and clear the house. If she saw the ghost, we would go in search of a hotel. We waited an anxious 15 minutes. She came out, giving the OK sign. But the specter was standing behind her in the doorway almost as if to tease us.

It became a bit insistent that night. I walked into the house and tried to make a beeline for the bathroom only to see the shadowy form in the doorway. So I decided to run all the way to the other side of the house o the other bathroom. But she was waiting for me there as well. I ended up huddled on the couch shaking for more reasons that one. It took me forever to finally fall asleep. It was the last night that we would be in the house as we flew back the next morning. I was sleeping on the pull out couch (because there was no way anyone was getting me back into either bedroom again) when something awoke me. There was a thump from the kitchen.

I walked in to find a paperback book in the middle of the kitchen floor, laying on its spine and somehow forced open to a page. I knew where this book had come from. It had been laying on the bar counter. There was an open window from the living room to the kitchen with a bar counter. Somehow this book had sailed off of the bar counter, had passed over the large kitchen counter below it, and had landed in the middle of the floor. It was clear this book could not have naturally fallen there. I knelt down and began to read the page that was open. I remember it was one of the Agatha Christie books and what I was reading was about someone hiding their wife’s body. A noise from the bathroom startled me and I abandoned the book, burying myself fully underneath the covers, not really wanting to know, hear, or see anything more. That night, both me and my mother had the same dream, that there was a body under the windmill in the back yard.

In retrospect I believe this spirit may have been that of the missing woman who was trying to lead someone to where her body was buried. I believe she tried the adults first but since they ignored her, she came to us kids looking for someone who would pay her a little attention. It is one of my biggest regrets that I could not overcome my fear to help her but I was simply too young and too scared to handle that.

We went back years later for another vacation. I was about 16 at this time. We found the house oddly infested by fleas so badly that we had to bomb the place before we could sleep in it. We were up all night bombing, cleaning, and spraying just after getting off the flight, so we were all exhausted when we were finally able to fall into bed. My mother and I slept in the master bedroom. I do not remember this and apparently slept through it, but something kept shaking the bed we were on as if to try to wake us. When my mother would sit up it would stop. Just as she began to fall asleep again it would start up. The only other thing that happened was to my cousin Jenny. She was in the bathroom brushing her teeth when the light suddenly not only dimmed but went red as it the tungsten inside the bulbs was barely lot. The lights flickered and she ran out of there.

As far as I know, the mystery surrounding the missing woman was never solved. I did manage to locate the house finally but have not been able to find record of the investigation with the scant amount of information I remember from back then. None of us ever forgot our trip there, though my grandfather still insists adamantly that there is no such thing as ghosts and that the house is not haunted. He did agree once that clocks don’t work there which is about as close to an admission I think I am ever going to get from him. He sold the house a number of years ago. It was also sold in 2010 by the next owners. Perhaps I may try to contact the current residents and ask them if they have had any experiences. It certainly left an impression on me and to this day I wish I had followed her wherever she was trying to lead us. Maybe we could have helped solve that mystery.