* * *
Newman and MacLachlan went downtown to the county courthouse and searched the records for the owners of the house. After a couple of hours, Newman had compiled a short list of former owners. They were:
1869 - Patrick Clayton
1885 - William Trip
1894 - Elijah Whittle
1902 - Linda McConnell
1918 - Clint Everton
1925 - Jacob North
That only went back to the mid 1800s and they found out there were other records they could look at if they wanted, though those records would take some time to examine.
* * *
Sims talked to people in the neighborhood and learned the place was called, by some, the Massacre House. No one was really sure, however, why it was called that. Rumor had it the house was haunted and had a bad reputation.
* * *
Miss Carpenter went looking for old newspaper articles about the house and Academy Avenue, starting with when North had purchased the house and working her way back. She found an article in the Monday, July 30, 1923 Providence Journal that read:
MURDER MOST FOUL
Police Officer Suspected
Massacre House Claims New Victim
A police officer is suspected of murdering his wife, Mary Everton, in the infamous â€œMassacre
Houseâ€ on Academy Avenue.
Police were called to the residence at 430 Academy Avenue at 11:50 p.m. Friday by Officer
Clint Everton with the Providence Police. They found Everton hysterical and a cellar covered
in blood, according to sources in the Providence Police Department.
Everton claims that a shadowy figure whom his wife had allegedly been seeing in the house
since 1918 dragged the woman from her bed and down into the basement. By the time Everton
could arrive, he claims, she was gone and the basement was a bloody mess.
All of the basement windows were locked. Neighbors claim they heard nothing until Everton
started screaming around midnight. Police arrived soon after.
Police have taken Everton into custody under suspicion of murder. Everton will undergo
psychiatric evaluation and testing.
He is a veteran of the Great War.
This is not the first time strange incidents happened at the so-called â€œMassacre House.â€
In 1911, Alexander and Theresa Scott were committed to Butler Hospital, both of them
hopelessly insane, after living in the house for two years and losing eight children to the
place through death and disease.
In 1902, two women who lived in the house were committed to Butler Hospital after the
house was found ransacked and the women in terrible shock in their bedrooms. Both women
reportedly died in 1904.
In 1897, Elijah Whittle died in the home of mysterious circumstances. His wife and son were
killed by his own daughter in 1895 and Whittle was severely injured. His daughter committed
suicide soon after.
A family of squatters died mysteriously in the house in 1882.
The house was originally built in 1869 by Patrick Clayton, who lived on the property by himself.
On his death in 1875, over 40 bodies were found in the basement, apparently his victims. That
earned the place the title â€œMassacre House.â€
* * *
Nurse Helms went to Butler Hospital and learned her name was on a list of people whom Jacob Northâ€™s brother was allowing to see the man. Before that, only family was allowed to see him.
She found herself in one of the small visiting room with a large orderly. Jacob North was brought in wearing a straitjacket. He was a relatively handsome man of about 40 with short cut hair and a mustache. He had lost a bit of weight since being in the hospital and his hair was messy.
â€œOh, hello,â€ he said. â€œCan I â€¦? Hello. Is this another session? Weâ€™ve been having lots of sessions. Weâ€™ve been having lots of sessions.â€
â€œNo, this isnâ€™t a session, I just wanted to talk to you, see how youâ€™re doing since youâ€™ve been in here, in the hospital,â€ Nurse Helms said.
â€œThe doctors say Iâ€™m better. They say Iâ€™m better. They say Iâ€™m better.â€
â€œOkay. Do you remember the last thing that you saw before you came here?â€
â€œThe last thing I saw? Um â€¦ there was â€¦ I need to get home! Can you get me out of here so I can go home?â€
â€œYou want to go back into your house?â€
â€œI need to go home.â€
â€œI need to get back there. I donâ€™t want â€¦ I guess I donâ€™t want to go â€¦ I donâ€™t want to go, but I need â€¦ I need to go. I need to get back there.â€
â€œWhy do you need to get back there?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know! I donâ€™t know. I â€¦ I just â€¦ they â€¦ I â€¦ I â€¦ sheâ€™s there! You know? Sheâ€™s â€¦ I donâ€™t know who, I donâ€™t where she is but sheâ€™s there. I saw her.â€
â€œSheâ€™s in the closet.â€
â€œIt was in the dark and sheâ€™s waiting for me. I have to get back to her. Iâ€™ve gotta go home. Youâ€™ve got to get me out of here! Youâ€™ve got to let me go home!â€
â€œYouâ€™ve got to let me go home! Let me go home!â€
The orderly walked over and put a hand on Northâ€™s shoulder and then gave Nurse Helms a look before removing him from the room.
* * *
Dr. Bitters went home and made several telephone calls to other parapsychologists. He also checked through his pile of the New England Journal of Parapsychology magazines, but couldnâ€™t find any mention of the house on Academy Avenue. None of the other parapsychologists had heard of it either.
* * *
They all met for lunch at a diner on Smith Street in order to assess what theyâ€™d learned. They ordered meals and ate, then talked. Sims told them heâ€™d learned the place was called the Massacre House but no one knew why. Miss Carpenter noted it was for a good reason and that she knew why. She told them what sheâ€™d learned from the newspaper article from 1923. Newman asked about Linda McConnell but that name was not in the article.
MacLachlan noted he and Newman had a list of the previous owners of the house back to the 1800s. They went through the list. The name William Trip was one that was not in her newspaper article. They discussed the names. Since McConnell was also not on the list, Newman figured she and Trip were the ones to look for.
Nurse Helms told them of her visit with Jacob North and that the man claimed he needed to find some woman in the house. He didnâ€™t name her but she suspected it might have something to do with Linda McConnell. They went over the list of names and dates again. Newman noted that William Trip was the only one who didnâ€™t die in the house. They guessed Linda McConnell was one of the women that went insane.
They talked about the figure they had seen in the house. Sims said it looked like death.
Newman copied his list and gave a copy to everyone.
They split up after lunch to do more research.
* * *
MacLachlan and Miss Carpenter both went back to the Providence Daily Journal offices to look for more information on the house. They found more articles. There were four of interest.
The first was dated April 17, 1911. It read:
Parents Finally Committed
Eight Children Dead in Massacre House
Alexander and Theresa Scott were committed Sunday after years of losing children
in the so-called Massacre House.
At 4 p.m. Sunday, neighbors complained of womanâ€™s screams from the house.
Police arrived to find Scott in the parlor, smoking his pipe, while his wife lay in
bed upstairs and merely screamed and screamed. Both were removed from the
house and committed to Butler Hospital. According to doctors, they have both
suffered from extreme shock and are unable to provide for themselves further.
The Scotts moved into the house at 430 Academy Avenue in January of 1909 as renters.
They had eight children who ranged in age from 2 to 17. Only six months after they started
renting the house, their youngest, Ian, age 3, died. Autopsies performed on the boy could
find no trace of anything suspicious.
â€œIt was like the life was drained out of him,â€ Dr. Emmet Horton, County Coroner said.
Though it was a terrible loss, it seemed like it might be the only one. Then their second
youngest, Tiffany, age 5, died in early 1910. More deaths followed, with another child
dying every few months. City and State Agencies investigated both the house and the family,
though nothing definitive could be found either in the location or parents.
Their last child, Erin, age 19, died in February of this year, leaving only the parents.
When asked why they simply didnâ€™t leave the house, Alexander Scott simply replied
â€œWe canâ€™t. We canâ€™t leave!â€ His wife never commented during the investigations.
This is not the first time something strange has happened in the house. In 1902, the owner
of the home, Widow Linda McConnell, and her companion Gloria Littlefield were committed
to Butler Hospital after living in the house for only seven months.
In 1897, Elijah Whittle, the only survivor of the Whittle Massacre, died in the home of
mysterious circumstances. The murder of his son and wife by his eldest daughter in 1895, and
her own attack upon her father, left him severely injured for the rest of his life. His daughter
died some weeks after the massacre in 1895.
In 1882 a family of squatters died in the house.
The house was originally built in 1869 by Patrick Clayton, who lived on the property by
himself. On his death in 1875, over 40 bodies were found in the basement, apparently his
victims. That earned the place the title â€œMassacre House.â€
The second was dated Sept. 23, 1902. It read:
More Madness in Massacre House
Widow and her â€˜Friendâ€™ committed
On Monday, the Widow Linda McConnell and her â€œassociate,â€ Gloria Littlefield, were
both removed from their home at 430 Academy Avenue and committed to Butler Hospital.
Police were summoned to the neighborhood by concerned neighbors when the two women
had not been seen for almost a week. When policemen entered the house, they found both of
the women in one bed together upstairs.
Neither of the women seemed surprised by police in the house. Both were terribly undernourished
and the house was reportedly a mess, with rotten food in the ice box and cupboards in the kitchen.
Other rooms were filled with debris as if the house had been ransacked. When asked who had
done that to the two women, they would only reply that â€œThat woman who wants to kill us all.â€
Both of them complained of something â€œsucking and drawingâ€ from them and of someone else
in the house who could not be seen.
Both women have been referred to Butler Hospital and committed. Doctors say that they have
high hopes for a complete recovery for both of the women.
Widow McConnell and Miss Littlefield purchased the house in February and lived in it ever
since. Rumors abound that the two are more than simple friends and neighbors claim that the
two have become stranger and stranger as the year progressed.
The house was originally built in 1869 by Patrick Clayton, who died on the property in 1875.
After his death, over 40 bodies were found in the basement, various tramps, traders, and travelers
who had been murdered by Clayton over the six years of his residency.
In 1882, a family of six was found dead in the then-abandoned house. No cause of their death
could be found.
In 1875, Elijah Whittleâ€™s daughter Prudence murdered both her younger brother and her
mother and badly injured her father. She was jailed but committed suicide before she could
be moved to Butler Hospital. Whittle died in the house in 1897.
The third was dated Sunday, May 16, 1897. It read:
Strange Death on Academy Avenue
Survivor of Family Dies Mysteriously
Elijah Whittle, age 43, died mysteriously in his home at 430 Academy Avenue on
Initial investigation of the death shows no injury or damage to Mr. Whittle, who
was found in his bed by his nephew early on Saturday. Police do not suspect foul play.
Mr. Whittle had lived in the house only three years.
This has not been the first strange occurrence at the aptly-named â€œMassacre House.â€
In 1895, Elijah Whittleâ€™s eldest daughter, Prudence, then 17, murdered both her younger
brother Jason and her mother, Joyce Whittle. After severely injuring her father and leaving
him for dead, she was captured by police and sheriffâ€™s deputies. She claimed sheâ€™d heard
something in the basement floor and had to kill everyone. She took her own life before
she could be moved to Butler Hospital.
Others who had rented the house between 1885 and its sale to Whittle in 1894 also made
complaints of smells and strange sounds in the basement, especially from the basement
floor, as if something lay under it. The sounds have been attributed to the stream that
runs nearby. Renters continue to complain of sickness in the house.
In May of 1882, a family of six squatters in the house were found dead on the site, none
of them with any marks on their bodies.
The name â€œMassacre Houseâ€ comes from 1875, when over 40 bodies were found in the
basement of the house, then owned by Patrick Clayton, a farmer and landowner. Clayton
was also found dead in the house at that time, possibly by the poison he had administered
to so many innocents he had killed before.
The fourth article was dated Friday, June 21, 1895, and read:
DAUGHTER GOES MAD!!!
Attempts to Kill Family
Police and Sheriffâ€™s Deputies reported to the home of Elijah Whittle on Thursday after
his eldest daughter, Prudence, age 17, killed both her younger brother Jason, age 14,
and the childrenâ€™s mother, Joyce.
â€œIt was a bloody massacre,â€ Sheriffâ€™s Deputy Harmon Devol stated to this reporter.
â€œShe apparently went mad.â€
According to officials, sometime during the morning hours, Prudence Whittle used
a carving knife from the kitchen to first stab her younger brother repeatedly. When her
mother attempted to intervene, the young girl murdered her as well. She was found by
her father when he returned from his work on their farm that afternoon and attacked
him. Mr. Whittle, though severely injured, was not killed.
Police have remanded the girl to the County Jail, though it is thought that she might
have to be committed to Butler Hospital before the week is out. It is reported that she
has already tried to commit suicide twice and she must be restrained.
She is reportedly convinced that â€œthat woman with the black hairâ€ is coming to get
her and kill her if she does not return to their house and â€œfinish what I started.â€ She also
reportedly said â€œThe footsteps are in the basement! It is under the basement!â€
Elijah Whittle does not know what might have caused his daughter to seemingly go mad,
though he did state that the family have been beset with illness since he purchased the home
on Academy Avenue in 1894.
The house itself has an evil reputation. Called â€œThe Massacre Houseâ€ after several dozen
dead bodies were found within in 1875, a family of squatters also died in the house in May
* * *
Dr. Bitters went to the library to find out anything he could about the area. He found a book entitled Dark History of Providence by Mary-Anne Carden with a publication date of 1910. It detailed some of the stranger things in Providence, as well as odd tales of the city. Most were vague and only recounted stories without filling in any particulars. Others had some remarkable and disturbing details. Though the book was badly written, he found a chapter about a woman named Abigail Hardy who was allegedly a witch and lived in Providence. The passage read:
Abigail Hardy was one of the more feared witches of the Providence area.
The woman was thought to have come to Providence from Salem, Massachusetts in
1690, just before the Salem witch trials that would cause so much death. She settled in
a swamp in what is now the Elmhurst neighborhood of the city in a place thought by
the Narragansett Indians as cursed. She used gold to hire men to build a tiny structure
though she was never accosted for her riches. Then she terrorized the people who lived
Stories indicate that Abigail, though she was thought to be in her 60s when she first
came to Providence, kept her long black hair and wore nothing better than dark, dirty
clothing. She acted as a midwife in the county, though many didnâ€™t use her services for
fear of her calling up the devil upon them.
Stories passed down through the years indicated that she had strange and fearsome
powers. She could make people or animals sick with just a word and the locals feared her
casting her evil eye upon them. The stories claim she could change into a bat when the moon
was right and that she always knew when folks were in their homes. It did no good to hide
from the woman as she would seek out those folks if she had a mind to. It was said she could
cause terrible blight on farmersâ€™ crops if she was of a mind to and that once, she told a manâ€™s
heart to stop beating and he died, writhing, in the road.
She was said to consort with the devil and some claimed she had the ability to call down
terrible creatures from the stars to carry her wherever she wanted to go. This seems to be a
common story for there are many tales of her going to Providence proper and back to her own
house, some miles away, in mere minutes, though the stories and rumors conflict on many
of the details. One tale claims that she raced a man from Providence to Woonsocket, he on
horseback, she merely on foot. He left Providence and allegedly, when he reached Woonsocket,
she had already been there the better part of an hour.
She made many enemies in her life and extorted many goods from the locals, all of them
fearful of her terrible powers. One of them must have finally had their revenge.
In 1730, after her absence of about a two months from Providence, a gang of men went to
her house. They found the place abandoned and, from the wildlife that had entered the house
already, they assumed she had been gone for almost as long from her home as she had been
missed from Providence. Doubtless, one of the people she had slighted had murdered her and
most likely deposited the body in the swamp, where it would never been seen again. Or perhaps
she had just wandered off to die, as the woman was at least 90 or 100 years old, if rumors can
In any case, her shack was left to rot and collapse over the years, still feared by many and
avoided by all. It must have collapsed into ruin at some point or other, though no one is sure
exactly where it might have been.
* * *
Newman returned to the county courthouse but found there were no blueprints of the house due to its age. He did find a few old maps of the area around where the house was located from 1881, 1904, and 1925. He guessed where the house was probably located on each of the maps.
* * *
Nurse Helms went to the hospital to look for information on Linda McConnell. She learned that the woman had been admitted in September of 1902 and died two years later. She was admitted with an associate, Miss Gloria Littlefield, who had also died some two years after her admittance.
* * *
Sims went looking for William Trip. He learned that the man had been a landowner and owned many rental properties. He guessed that Trip had rented out the house for some years before heâ€™d sold it as well. Then he went to the gun store and purchased more bullets. He was also able to purchase a small bottle of corn liquor.
* * *
Newman went to the library after he found the maps. He discovered Dr. Bitters there, reading a book. He had some trouble getting the manâ€™s attention so he got a stack of books and slammed them down on the table in front of him, startling him badly. The man cursed.
â€œWhat are you reading?â€ Newman asked the man.
â€œI found a book with something about a witch named Abigail Hardy,â€ Dr. Bitters said. â€œThereâ€™s a lot of stuff.â€
â€œWas there a witch in that house?â€ he asked.
â€œIt was talking about this witch who caused terror to her neighbors,â€ Dr. Bitters said.
He told him what heâ€™d read: of her being a consort of the devil and the speed which she travelled. Newman asked if it was the same house and Dr. Bitters confessed he didnâ€™t know, though he noted she had come from Salem in 1690. He said it was guessed she was murdered or wandered off to die. When he asked when she died, Dr. Bitters told him it was 1730.
Newman told him heâ€™d return to the courthouse to find out more about that plot of land. He looked for records of earlier owners of the house and learned that the property had been owned by Abigail Hardy in 1690 and possession had reverted back to the City of Providence in 1731 upon her disappearance.
* * *
They met again that evening and talked about what they had learned. Newman shared the information that Abigail Hardy had lived on the property or very near it from 1690 to 1731. MacLachlan shared the 1923 article with Newman. He showed him other articles in which people noted that some voices came from under the basement floor. Miss Carpenter said a woman with black hair told Prudence Whittle to kill her family and the Scott family had been unable to leave the house. She also noted Clayton poisoned everyone. Dr. Bitters pointed out Abigail Hardy had been described as having long, black hair. He also related it was said she always knew when people were in their homes.
Miss Carpenter guessed Abigail was telling people to kill for her.
Sims had a plan: pop the drain cover off and drop a stick of dynamite down the hole.
Miss Carpenter, on reading the 1902 article, thought there was a woman in the house as well as someone else. Sims was convinced something was under the house. He noted he could operate heavy machinery. Miss Carpenter guessed Abigail Hardy was buried under the basement and the house was built on her grave. Dr. Bitters pointed out no one found the body and the house was filled with wildlife. Miss Carpenter guessed it fell down and then the present-day house was built atop it in 1869 by Patrick Clayton.
Sims hypothesized there might be a tunnel that went under the house, perhaps where the streams ran in the area. He guessed the drain led to it.
Nurse Helms had taken the book from Dr. Bitters and read about Abigail Hardy. She pointed out the woman terrorized anyone who lived near her and scared away anyone who came near her. Dr. Bitters wondered if the house was not atop her old house but close to where her house used to be.
Newman said it sounded like when Elijah Whittle bought the house, after the daughter went crazy, he stayed there. He had lived there for three years. Miss Carpenter pointed out a couple lived there for years and the children died every few months. When they were asked why they didnâ€™t leave, the couple had said they couldnâ€™t leave.
â€œMaybe the witch they killed is lonely,â€ Newman said.
They talked some more about the articles. Sims pointed out the stream that ran through the area disappeared underground there. They discussed the swamp that was there and Sims noted they needed to dig down. He also pointed out burning the place down probably wouldnâ€™t do anything. Miss Carpenter noted they couldnâ€™t just burn the house.
â€œWeâ€™re not supposed to just go around shooting radios,â€ Dr. Bitters said.
â€œSorry, Doc,â€ Sims said.
They discussed excavating the basement, Miss Carpenter saying perhaps Abigail Hardy had been buried down there. Newman said they needed salt and fire. MacLachlan wondered about using iron and suggested rock salt in shotgun shells.
Miss Carpenter wondered about the cement floor of the basement, which seemed somewhat extravagant. She wondered if it was due to the fact that the land was on a swamp at the time.
They decided to meet for lunch again the next day after investigating some more. They also made a plan to get picks, crowbars, sledgehammers, and shovels to possibly excavate the basement.
* * *
Newman found a gun shop and talked to the owner about getting several shotgun shells filled with rock salt. The man was willing to do so for him but they wouldnâ€™t be ready until the next afternoon. Newman asked him to make him a dozen.
He returned to the library to find books on the supernatural, witches, and ghosts. He found that such evil things could not stand the Lordâ€™s Prayer or the crucifix. Salt could be very effective against them and their servants were black cats and bats. They could fly through the air either on broomsticks or not. Being polite to a witch and not angering them seemed to be the best defense, though he read they were often burned or hung. It seemed that they were no more resilient than anyone else.
* * *
MacLachlan found a gun shop and purchased a 1911 .45 semi-automatic pistol and a small box of bullets.
* * *
Miss Carpenter also bought more bullets, a sledgehammer, picks, a quart of lighter fluid, and matches that evening. Sims bought shovels.
* * *
The next morning, Saturday, March 13, 1926, MacLachlan and Miss Carpenter met at the Providence Journal again and continued to search the newspaper morgue for more articles. They found two.
The first was actually from the Providence Journal and Advertiser, the precursor to the Journal, dated Friday, May 19, 1882. It read:
Squatters Found DEAD in Massacre House!!!
A family of squatters was found dead in the farmhouse at the end of Dagon Street in
the Mount Pleasant and Elmhurst neighborhoods Thursday.
The identities of the family are not known and there was no identification on any
of them or in the house. The family consisted of a father and mother, two daughters of
teenage years, and two sons of grade school age.
None of the bodies appeared to have been injured in any way and no one knows how
long they might have been living in the farmhouse, which is relatively isolated. However,
Sheriffâ€™s deputies confess that the amount of ash in the fireplaces and behind the house
indicate that the family might have lived there for as long as the entire winter, if not longer.
The farm is relatively isolated though it can be seen from houses on Dagon Street and
other nearby roads. The squatters were not working the nearby fields and it is said that
they had black cloths or curtains to keep anyone from seeing lights from the house at night.
That a family could live so long in the proximity of others seems unthinkable.
The farm was previously the residence of Patrick Clayton, who build the house and farm
in 1869 and drained the swamp in the immediate vicinity to create his farm. Clayton died
in 1875 and was found to have been a mass murderer when over 40 dead bodies were found
in his basement, covered in lime. The farm has laid unused since that date, which is also
when the name â€œMassacre Houseâ€ was attached to it.
The second, also from the Journal and Advertiser, was dated Tuesday, March 16, 1875. It read:
Forty-Three Bodies Found
Bloody Basement Massacre!!!
Patrick Clayton Prime Suspect
A terrible secret was revealed when Patrick Clayton, owner of a farm just off Dagon
Street in Mount Pleasant, died. He had been murdering strangers for years!
Bill Perkins alerted authorities that Patrick Clayton was dead when he arrived at the
farm and could not find his employer. Perkins has worked for Clayton since he established
the farm in 1869. Clayton was found in the parlor sitting in a chair facing the fireplace, a
disturbing expression on his face. He appeared to have finally succumbed to a wasting disease
afflicting him for some years.
What alarmed authorities and sent both Providence Constables and Sheriffâ€™s men to the scene
was an odd odor coming from the basement of the house. There, police were horrified to find
a reported 43 bodies laid out on the floor, some of them apparently years old. The entirety of
the floor and the bodies were covered in lime; Clayton must have used it to keep the smell
from making the house uninhabitable.
None of the men had markings or injuries upon them, leading to speculation of Clayton
poisoning them. Some of the bodies are far too old for a proper examination however. Numerous
traveling bags and paraphernalia, no doubt the possessions of the men he murdered, were found
in the attic.
Clayton lived alone on the farm since he established it in 1869. Neighbors have noted that he
had been in ill-health since establishing the farm and house, the latter built on some foundation
that had stood there before.
* * *
Newman got his rock salt shotgun shells, putting the shells in one pocket and carrying the normal shells in the other. He made sure the shotgun was loaded with the salt shells. He also picked up a small crucifix, some table salt, a rope, and a small rucksack to carry things in.
* * *
They all met at the house after noon that day.
They discussed the two newspaper articles, Miss Carpenter telling them Patrick Clayton built the house on a foundation that was already existing in a swamp and the drained the house. She guessed it was built on the witchâ€™s house.
â€œTime to set it on fire,â€ Newman said. â€œWeâ€™re done.â€
â€œThatâ€™s what Iâ€™m saying,â€ Miss Carpenter said.
â€œI said that earlier,â€ Sims pointed out.
They headed into the house. As they passed the parlor, they heard the scratching noise again. Sims cursed at the room. Miss Carpenter looked into the parlor and could see the record was on a the floor next to the record player. The turntable was turning and the needle was upon it, scratching away. Everyone else headed for the basement.
â€œThe recordâ€™s on the floor,â€ Miss Carpenter called. â€œIt got moved to the floor.â€
Newman went into the parlor and put the record on the turntable and put the needle onto it. â€œVenetian Moonâ€ started to play. They all headed down into the basement. There was a bad smell down there. Miss Carpenter put down several items by the stairs.
â€œSheâ€™s coming,â€ Miss Carpenter said cryptically.
â€œAbigail, if you donâ€™t want us to tear up the basement, give us a sign,â€ MacLachlan said.
There was a creak from the ceiling above as if someone was walking around in the living room.
â€œWe need something more specific!â€ MacLachlan said.
Miss Carpenter headed up the stairs, followed by Nurse Helms. They looked towards the parlor but saw no one in the hallway.
â€œBe done with this!â€ Sims yelled.
He swung the sledgehammer at the concrete right next to the drain, and then continued to work on breaking the concrete.
â€œYou know what happens when you break concrete trapping a witch, right?â€ Newman said.
â€œWe might be letting her go!â€ Miss Carpenter said from the top of the stairs.
â€œShe wonâ€™t be trapped,â€ Newman said
â€œHuh?â€ Sims said, bringing the sledgehammer down on the concrete floor again.
â€œWe might be letting her out,â€ Miss Carpenter said. â€œIt might make it worse.â€
Sims continued working on the floor.
â€œI want to see it!â€ Dr. Bitters said.
â€œStill?â€ Miss Carpenter said.
Nurse Helms seemed nervous. She didnâ€™t feel this was the correct way to approach the ghost that haunted the house. She thought the ghost needed help and she said so. Sims noted they couldnâ€™t help her from up there. They needed to get down to her.
The grate went flying as he broke away the concrete around it. He put down the sledgehammer and looked down the three-inch hole. Miss Carpenter called down she left a flashlight down there. Sims picked it up and shined it down the hole. The pipe there looked like it went down about 10 inches and then opened up after that. The flashlight was not powerful enough to show him what might be below, however.
Newman and Dr. Bitters started to look around the walls for any kind of passage or secret door that might somehow lead below. Dr. Bitters warned Sims to be careful not to fall down. Miss Carpenter suggested taking down the clotheslines in case the witch tried to hang anyone. Sims thought that a bad idea as loose rope would be easier to hang someone with.
The door at the top of the steps suddenly slammed shut. Miss Carpenter called down it had done so on its own and almost hit her in the face. She asked Nurse Helms to try the door and sheâ€™d cover her. Nurse Helms pushed the door open. No one was there. Miss Carpenter suggested they remove the hinges. She tried to do so with her knife but was unable to get the pins out.
Sims asked for help but MacLachlan just watched him work. A large crack formed in the floor and a large chunk of concrete fell into the darkness. leaving a two-foot-wide hole. He grabbed the flashlight again and shined the light below. There was some kind of chamber under the basement. The floor was wet mud and he could make out no other details.
â€œHey, youâ€™re a little guy,â€ Sims said to Newman. â€œSee if you can squeeze down in there.â€
Newman just shook his head.
Sims looked around for a rag and soaked a little in corn liquor. He lit it and tossed it down into the hole. The wet mud partially extinguished the flame so it didnâ€™t make a whole lot of light, but it did illuminate the chamber around it. He couldnâ€™t make out much more than the mud that made up the floor of the room.
â€œShould I continue?â€ Sims asked.
â€œKeep going, big man!â€ Newman said.
â€œMake it a little bigger,â€ Dr. Bitters said.
Sims went back to work as Newman and Dr. Bitters continued to search the walls.
It was about 10 minutes later when there was a loud crack and the concrete seemed to shatter like glass, crumbling under Sims and MacLachlan, who stood nearby. MacLachlan leapt and landed on the part of the floor that had not collapsed. Sims fell to the chamber below along with a good portion of the floor, landing hard on the muddy ground below. The sledgehammer fell to the ground nearby.
â€œThat hurt!â€ Sims cried.
Newman ran to the furnace and tied off one end of the rope heâ€™d brought.
Sims stumbled to his feet as the light bulb in the basement above suddenly popped and burned out. He was flung into darkness and could hear movement somewhere nearby.
â€œHelp me out, guys!â€ he cried frantically. â€œGet me out of here!â€
MacLachlan grabbed the flashlight and pointed it down at Sims, then pointed it around him to see what might be down there.
Sims cringed as something pulled itself out of the muddy floor. It looked like it might have once been a man but time and the elements had done their terrible work upon the dead body that was somehow now struggling towards him! Even as it pulled itself free of the mud, bits and pieces fell from it as it seemed to be falling apart. He felt himself chilled to the core.
â€œBig rat!â€ he shouted. â€œBig rat! Big rat!â€
A rope fell from the hole above and struck him in the head as Newman tossed the free end down into the hole. Sims frantically grabbed at the rope. A popping noise came from the corpse stumbling towards him and the thingâ€™s outstretched arm fell away from the rest of the rotting body. More pops and one of its legs shattered underneath it.
â€œGet me outta here!â€ Sims screamed.
He climbed up the rope as the terrible dead body collapsed under its own putrescence. When he reached the top, Newman grabbed him by the back of his jacket and then pulled the rope up as well. Miss Carpenter ran down to the foot of the stairs. Sims pulled out the corn liquor and started to pour it around the hole in the floor. Newman told him to stop and get some wood from the shelves and toss them down. MacLachlan suggested they throw them down and then light them on fire.
â€œWe need to kill whatâ€™s down there!â€ Sims said.
Newman and MacLachlan both started to rip the wooden shelves from the walls towards the back of the basement.
â€œWhatever is down there probably wonâ€™t be affected by fire,â€ Miss Carpenter said. â€œItâ€™s not â€¦â€
â€œEverythingâ€™s affected by enough fire!â€ Sims said.
The ceiling creaked above them again. It sounded like someone was walking around in the parlor. Miss Carpenter ran back up the steps. Sims drew his pistol and pointed it down into the hole.
â€œYou do whatever you want!â€ he said to the others. â€œIâ€™m making sure nothing comes out of there.â€
He could see, in the dim light of the basement, that the corpse that was lying on the ground under the hole was no longer moving.
â€œI think that was a sign she didnâ€™t want us to do that, fellows,â€ MacLachlan said. â€œWe need to just part ways and tell him this is crazy.â€
â€œHe wanted to know why he went crazy,â€ Nurse Helms called down. â€œThis is why!â€
â€œNow thereâ€™s a gaping hole in the basement as proof,â€ MacLachlan said.
â€œYeah, thereâ€™s something bad down there,â€ Sims said. â€œWe need to just â€¦ I donâ€™t know.â€
â€œSkedaddle?â€ Miss Carpenter said.
â€œIf you want, Iâ€™m game!â€ Sims said.
There was another creak from above. Dr. Bitters wanted to explore the chamber. Newman and MacLachlan continued to rip down shelves, smashing some of them into kindling. Sims nursed his back. He was covered in mud that smelled like death. He fired a round into the corpse below. It didnâ€™t move.
MacLachlan went up the steps to where the women stood. They told him they had heard noises from upstairs. Meanwhile, Newman ripped down the clotheslines, took one of the boards and poured lighter fluid on it, and tied it to the clothesline. He lit it on fire and lowered it down into the chamber below. It didnâ€™t illuminate a large area though he could see the rotted, fetid corpse lying in the mud.
â€œI bet itâ€™s William Trip!â€ Newman said.
He could see there was a large bullet hole in the corpseâ€™s back.
â€œWell done,â€ Newman said. â€œYou killed a dead man.â€
â€œHey, it was moving!â€ Sims said.
The room below was obviously large, possibly as large as the house. Newman started to swing the burning wood in a large circle to better illuminate the chamber. In the passing light, he thought he saw an open coffin on one side of the chamber. The floor appeared to be completely covered in mud. He pulled up the burning wood, which was going out, and put it on the floor. He grabbed three large, intact shelves and tossed them down into the chamber, trying to make sure they landed flat. All of them did so, all of them landing flat almost directly beneath him.
â€œDoes someone else want to go down?â€ Newman said.
â€œIâ€™ll go with you,â€ MacLachlan said.
Dr. Bitters said he wanted to go down.
â€œYou want to go down first?â€ Newman asked him.
Dr. Bitters nodded.
â€œSims, you want to pass him your gun?â€ MacLachlan suggested.
â€œAw, Hell,â€ Sims said. â€œIâ€™ll go down too.â€
Miss Carpenter told them that only three of them should go down.
Newman led the way, asking for a flashlight. MacLachlan tossed him the one he carried and Newman climbed clumsily down the rope. It took him a while to get to the boards, whereupon he called up for a flashlight. MacLachlan climbed down next. Dr. Bitters started to climb quickly down after them as Miss Carpenter came down to the foot of the stairs again.
Another body leaned in the far corner of the room, they could see as they shined their two flashlights around. The body had long, dark hair and a dress that was in rags. It appeared to be tightly clutched in rigor mortis, the hands drawn together like claws. Closer to them was a trough of a casket without a top. It looked like it was full of liquid of some kind. In the far corner nearest the corpse was running water flowing through one corner of the room. In the corner further away was a rotten table with a chest atop it.
Newman picked up a plank and laid it at the end of another plank, then picked another, laying it down, as he made his way towards the table and the chest. MacLachlan also had a flashlight and shined it around, standing on the only remaining plank. Sims watched from the lip of the hole.
They heard a splash and MacLachlan shined his flashlight towards it. Something sat up in the trough, splashing water out and over the sides. The head of the horrible, pickled corpse turned with a creak of muscle and ligaments to look at them. It appeared to be a desiccated woman, her light colored hair pulled back from her rotten face. Her nose was completely gone, leaving only two holes and her eyes had swollen in their sockets. Her flesh clung tightly to her bones and her mouth seemed little more than a slit.
â€œNo!â€ Dr. Bitters said.
He dropped to the ground and pulled his legs up into the fetal position, tucking his head down and looking at nothing.
Newman stopped crossing the room on boards and lifted up the shotgun, which had been tucked under his arm. He pointed it at the corpse which looked at the other two men. Sims slid down the rope, giving himself some rope burns and landed over Dr. Bitters.
In the upper basement, Miss Carpenter ran to the edge of the hole and peered down. She had her gun in her hand. Nurse Helms ran down to the foot of the stairs.
MacLachlan drew his pistol and fired at the dead woman who was climbing out of the trough. The gun roared but the bullet missed, ricocheting off the stone wall. The body stumbled towards them through the mud. Newmanâ€™s shotgun roared as he blasted away at the corpse with one of his rock salt shells. The blast nearly knocked the little man off the board he was standing on and blew a hole in the dead womanâ€™s shoulder. She stumbled back but then started to walk forward again. The stink of rotten flesh and brine filled the room.
MacLachlan fired again, this bullet striking the dead woman in the right hand, which was reaching for him. The fingers of her hand seemed to splay around uselessly but the awful corpse continued to move towards him and Sims. Newman fired another blast from his shotgun, aiming at the womanâ€™s head. The blast struck her in the face and tore away part of her skull. She again stumbled but did not fall as something dripped from her cranium. Sims drew his own pistol and fired at the womanâ€™s head as well, blasting it apart. The corpse stumbled backwards and fell into the mud.
MacLachlan leaned down and patted Dr. Bitters on the shoulder. The doctor remained in the fetal position and didnâ€™t respond. Newman reloaded the shotgun with two more rock-salt shells. Then he headed for the chest.
Above, Miss Carpenter laid down on the floor of the basement next to the hole and leaned down into the pit, looking around. She grabbed the rope to allow her to lean further down. Nurse Helms saw it and rushed over to grab the womanâ€™s feet.
As Newman crossed the room, he felt a chill go down his spine. He looked around but nothing was near him and there was nothing that might be the source of the terribly cold draft. He felt unnerved.
Miss Carpenter suddenly felt an overwhelming desire to jump down into the subbasement. She let go of the rope and pushed off the floor as hard as she could. Nurse Helms, holding onto her feet, felt herself get pulled forward but held onto her feet, screaming as she fell. The two landed solidly in the mud below, just missing Dr. Bitters. MacLachlan was quite startled.
Nurse Helms grabbed the rope and climbed back up as quickly as she could. Miss Carpenter grabbed the flashlight out of MacLachlanâ€™s hand. She shined it around the room, noticing the strange corpses and the trough. She saw Newman making his way slowly towards a table and chest in the far corner.
She suddenly turned to Sims, her eyes glazing over and her jaw going slack, and pointed her gun at him.
â€œWhat are you doing?â€ Sims said.
She shot him point blank with her pistol. He tried to dodge out of the way but the bullet struck him in the left hand. The man swooned and fell to the ground. Miss Carpenter shook her head.
Newman ignored it all and continued to cross the room. He reached the old, rotten chest and saw it had a latch but not a lock. He opened the latch and then pushed open the lid.
Miss Carpenter looked in horror at what sheâ€™d just done.
â€œIâ€™m going to have to ask for the flashlight back because one of us can actually use it now,â€ MacLachlan said.
He quickly moved to Sims to try to help him without luck. Miss Carpenter shoved her pistol into her purse and tried to bind the manâ€™s wounds as well.
â€œThe witch is down here!â€ Miss Carpenter said.
At the top, Nurse Helms looked down at the carnage below. She started to dig in her bag for medical supplies.
Sims blinked his eyes and found Miss Carpenter leaning over her. His last memory was of her shooting him so he flung her away from him, his gun still in his hand. He stood up and pointed his pistol at her.
â€œWhat?â€ he yelled. â€œWhat the Hell!?!â€
â€œThe witch!â€ Miss Carpenter called.
â€œYou shot me!â€ he shouted.
â€œYou know people go insane down here!â€ she shouted back.
His eyes suddenly glazed over and he shot her. The bullet struck her in the lower abdomen snapped her spine. She collapsed to the floor and, a moment later, they heard the death rattle in her throat. MacLachlan ran to her and grabbed up her flashlight.
Dr. Bitters opened his eyes, finally, but didnâ€™t move. He had heard the yelling and shooting around him.
Across the room, Newman looked into the chest. He saw a few coins and two rotten books, both of them bound in some kind of leather. He tucked everything into his rucksack. The books had nothing on the front or the spines.
Sims shook his head and looked around.
â€œI donâ€™t know why I just did that â€¦â€ he said. â€œWell, I mean she did shoot me.â€
MacLachlan stood over Dr. Bitters.
â€œWell, apparently sheâ€™s hearing voices,â€ MacLachlan said. â€œDoc. She just shot that guy. Then he angrily got up and shot her back, which was seemingly acceptable, but he seems off. They both seemed off.â€
Suddenly, MacLachlanâ€™s eyes glazed over and he turned towards Sims and shot him. Sims didnâ€™t even see it coming. The bullet struck him in the gut and the man went down with a cry, a surprised look on his face. MacLachlan looked at the body and then ran to the rope and started to climb up it frantically.
â€œWe need to get out of here!â€ he cried.
* * *
Nurse Helms was horrified to see all of them shooting each other. She ran out of the basement and up to the kitchen with the intention of finding a knife and cutting the rope.
* * *
Dr. Bitters stood up.
â€œHurry up!â€ he said to the man. â€œI want out of here!â€
Newman continued to make his way towards the rope, still staying on the boards as best he could. Dr. Bitters could see the two pistols in the stinking mud but didnâ€™t want to touch them, afraid that he might be possessed or worse. MacLachlan continued to climb.
Dr. Bitters, waiting to climb up, looked down at the three dead bodies clustered not far away. Then he realized there should only be two bodies there. Someone else was lying on the floor. The third body stood up and he recognized it as the thing heâ€™d seen in the pantry. The dead woman had long, black hair, sightless eyes, and her jaw hung slack. She had long fingernails that looked almost like claws. She rushed him.
â€œGet her!â€ he yelled.
Newman started advancing on the two, holding the flashlight under the shotgun and aiming the gun at her. MacLachlan took one look at the witch and started climbing up the rope faster. Dr. Bitters drew the butcher knife heâ€™d taken from the kitchen and tried to grab Simsâ€™ gun from out of the mud. The dead woman rushed him and rent at him with her claws, tearing at his clothing and raking across his chest.
Newman rushed forward and tried to club the horrible, dead woman in the head. He only struck her a glancing blow to the shoulder. Bitters put Simsâ€™ big pistol into the dead womanâ€™s face and fired, blasting a huge hole in her face. Her jaw cracked and sagged on one side but she continued to claw at him.
â€œGet this crazy bitch off me!â€ he screamed.
MacLachlan had reached the basement above and looked back down to see the horrible woman attacking Dr. Bitters. He aimed his pistol at the woman and shot her, hitting her in the left shoulder. There was a snap as one of her bones broke but she didnâ€™t react at all to the horrible wound. She tried to bite Dr. Bitters, ripping at the manâ€™s neck but only succeeding at tearing at the collar of his shirt and jacket. She growled like an animal.
Newman shoved the shotgun into the side of the terrible dead womanâ€™s head and pulled the trigger. There was a click and nothing happened. He had two dead shells. Both of them were completely surprised. Dr. Bitters shot the horrible woman in the other side of the face again, blasting away with Simsâ€™ gun. Part of her skull was shattered but she didnâ€™t fall.
* * *
Nurse Helms reached the foot of the basement stairs and heard a gunfire from below. She was alarmed to see MacLachlan standing at the edge of the horrible hole, gun in hand.
* * *
MacLachlan fired down into the hole, missing the horrible witch. The awful thing glared at Dr. Bitters.
â€œNo,â€ she hissed. â€œShoot him.â€
She pointed at Newman. Dr. Bitters looked at the man, his eyes glazing over. He brought Simsâ€™ gun to bear. Newman swung the shotgun at the gun, knocking it out of Dr. Bittersâ€™ hand and sending it flying into the room. It disappeared into the darkness and he heard it splash into the mud. Dr. Bitters looked around and then walked towards Miss Carpenterâ€™s gun lying in the mud, going by Newman as if he wasnâ€™t there.
* * *
Nurse Helms crept to MacLachlan with the intention of stabbing him in the back. He didnâ€™t seem to hear her approaching him.
* * *
MacLachlan fired down into the hole again, narrowly missing the witch. The mud splashed where the bullet struck it. She looked up at him.
â€œJump!â€ she hissed.
MacLachlan leapt into the hole, crashing to the mud below and hurting himself badly. He stumbled in the mud, his face slamming into the board that was there.
Newman punched Dr. Bitters in the back of his head. Dr. Bitters shook his head as he came out of the terrible influence heâ€™d been under. He found that he had a little .32 pistol in his hand. He turned and opened fire on the witch. The first bullet struck the horrible dead woman in the head, blowing away more of her skull.
* * *
Nurse Helms turned and fled. She ran up the basement stairs and out of the house.
* * *
MacLachlan stood up, trying to gather his wits. He looked around and silently prayed to God to survive the horrible place. The horrible dead woman rushed Dr. Bitters and slashed at the man, tearing at his flesh and cutting him badly. Dr. Bitters shot the gun again wildly but missed her completely.
MacLachlan and Dr. Bitters both fired at the witch. Dr. Bittersâ€™ bullet missed completely. MacLachlan shot her in the head, the bullet ripping away her left ear. Newman reloaded the shotgun as Dr. Bitters fired another wild shot. He screamed wildly as the witch turned and headed away from them as quickly as she could, stumbling on legs that probably hadnâ€™t moved in years.
Newman slammed the shotgun closed, put it to his shoulder and fired at the dead woman. The blast splattered mud right next to her. Dr. Bitters fired as well but his last bullet missed and he kept pulling the trigger, sending the hammer home on used shells over and over again. MacLachlan crossed the room towards the witch, walking right into Newmanâ€™s line of fire. Newman fired the second barrel anyway, striking the witch in the right kneecap. The blast shattered her knee and separated her leg, the lower half flying away from her body. MacLachlan cried out as a little of the blast caught him in the buttocks.
The witch hit the ground, landing in the mud, her head and shoulders in the water of the stream that ran under that section of the basement.
Dr. Bitters flung the gun at the witch but missed completely. It disappeared into the water.
MacLachlan ran to the witch and fired the last bullet in the magazine through her lower back. She didnâ€™t move. He quickly removed the magazine from his semi-automatic pistol and started to put bullets into it. Newman put two more rock-salt shells into his shotgun and closed it.
Newman searched the corpse but found nothing on her disgusting putrefying body. Then MacLachlan poured the remains of his bottle of gin over her. Dr. Bitters stumbled to the witch and started stabbing the corpse with his knife over and over again.
Newman shined his flashlight around the room. He checked on Sims and Miss Carpenter. They were both very dead. He quickly searched their bodies and took their wallets and bullets they had in their pockets. He also managed to find Simsâ€™ pistol.
MacLachlan lit the witch on fire, the gin not burning terribly hot. He turned the bottle around and beat the horrible dead body until it broke, then used the broken bottle to mangle her remains. He burnt his hands somewhat on the flaming alcohol.
â€œWe should crush their heads so they canâ€™t come back like that,â€ MacLachlan said, pointing at Sims and Miss Carpenterâ€™s corpses.
* * *
Nurse Helms ran from the house, sprinting down Academy Avenue heading towards Smith Street. She saw approaching lights and heard the police sirens so ducked between two houses and continued her frantic flight from the terrible house.
* * *
Newman climbed up the rope and only then could hear the approaching sirens in the distance. He looked down at MacLachlan, who was also struggling to climb up the rope.
â€œDo you want to burn the bodies?â€ he said.
â€œBurn it!â€ MacLachlan said.
Newman dropped the kerosene can into the mud below.
â€œLet the good doctor do it,â€ he called down.
Dr. Bitters recovered the kerosene and dumped it onto the witchâ€™s body. He used the electrical device from his cameraâ€™s flash equipment to ignite the kerosene.
â€œBurn everything down there!â€ Newman called as MacLachlan climbed up.
* * *
In the sub-basement, Dr. Bitters looked at the water that was flowing in the corner. He guessed the stream came to the surface somewhere. He climbed into the icy water and let the current take him away, taking a big breath before doing so. He surfaced a minute later where the stream came out of the ground. He quickly fled.
* * *
Newman and MacLachlan could see something burning in the sub-basement. However, the bodies of Sims and Miss Carpenter, directly under the hole, were still unlit.
â€œBurn all of the bodies!â€ Newman called down.
There was no reply.
â€œDoctor!â€ Newman said.
There was no reply. Newman shined his flashlight down and saw no one alive. He moved around the hole and was able to see the body of Abigail Hardy was on fire. He guessed that Dr. Bitters might have dumped all of the kerosene upon it before lighting it. He saw no sign of Dr. Bitters.
â€œLetâ€™s go back down,â€ Newman said.
â€œGo back down?â€ MacLachlan said.
â€œWe need to spread the fire,â€ Newman said.
The sirens were getting closer.
Newman climbed down the rope while MacLachlan took longer to get down. Newman ran over to the burning corpse of Abigail Hardy and tested the depth of the water. It looked to be pretty deep and was flowing quickly.
â€œLetâ€™s go!â€ he said.
â€œLetâ€™s go!â€ MacLachlan said.
They leapt into the water, holding their breath. It was terribly cold. Newman came out of the water a block or so away where the stream came to the surface. MacLachlan never came up. His body was later found floating in Woonasquatucket River.
* * *
A newspaper article in the Providence Journal on Monday noted that a man and a woman had apparently shot each other to death in the basement of a house on Academy Avenue after excavating a sub-basement and defiling several corpses there. The bodies were not identified as they apparently carried no identification.
* * *
Newman visited Winston North on Monday, March 15, 1926, and told him they had returned to the house on Saturday and broke into the sub-basement against his personal wishes. He said the floor had collapsed and they got into a firefight with something which might have been the reason why his brother went insane. He suggested he sell the house and told the man he didnâ€™t have to pay him.
He sold the 22 16th and 17th century gold coins heâ€™d found in the chest for over $2,000.
He also read Abigail Hardyâ€™s Book, which one of the two tomes heâ€™d taken turned out to be. The thin, leather-bound book was crudely made and put together. It was held together with stitching that appeared to be woven from some kind of hair and the clasp appeared to be bone. There was a leather bookmark connected to the cover with brass gewgaws upon it. The book was both her journal and diary though no dates were given. It included some tales of her life as well as an indication that, with the right spells and magic, she could make herself a god, though time and the essence of innocents was required to do so. There also appeared to be several spells.
The other book was thicker and so ancient that the engraving on the cover was almost impossible to make out. It was written in Latin.
* * *
Dr. Bitters never sought out Winston North for his pay but did receive a check for $20 in the mail from the man some days later. Also in the envelope was an unsigned note that read â€œPlease never contact me again.â€