Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Murder Castle "Ghost Audio"

It was about four months ago now that I went into the basement of the post office on 63rd street - the one built over a portion of the site where the H.H. Holmes Murder Castle stood. Pictures and video are available here.

I was officially just there as a historian, but naturally I did a bit of ghost hunting while I was at it. I had an audio recorder running as I sat in the old tunnel, which runs right into the castle footprint. For lack of a better idea, I started whispering the names of the known victims who likely died there (there are only a few known ones, really, not dozens or hundreds).  I didn't hear anything at the time, but when I played the recording back, there was this voice - the sort of thing ghost hunters refer to as EVP ("electronic voice phenomenon")



I've no idea what that is - the only "logical" explanation is water running through the pipes, but it sounds awfully human for that. If it's a ghost, the most likely candidate would be Pearl Conner, who disappeared along with her mother, Julia, around Christmas, 1891. As near as I can transcribe it, she's saying "Sorry Beefalow," which sounds like the worst Chef Boyardee product ever. There's a recipe linked at the site above.

Others, however, have suggested that it's "buried deep below." Women, in particular, tend to hear "Why did she go," which would be presumably a reference to her mother, who had been carrying on an affair with Holmes (according to her ex-husband, to whom Holmes subtly bragged about it). Assuming it's a ghost, it could be any of these things; perhaps the lack of vocal chords makes it hard to form the sounds one intends to.

The three women whose names I'm whispering - Emeline Cigrand, Julia Conner, and Pearl Conner - are the three people I'm most confident Holmes killed in the castle. Anna Williams and Emily Van Tassel might have been killed on the north side, and the whole thing with Minnie Williams is just weird: alone among his wives and lovers, she seems to have had some idea of what was going on, and is the only woman he called his "wife" who vanished. That she killed Anna herself, as Holmes claimed, isn't exactly impossible, and the possibility that she ran away instead of being murdered isn't out of the question. Those are just about the only known Chicago victims. Most of the stories you hear about there being dozens or hundreds more come from 1940s pulps.

What DO you hear in the audio? "Why did she go?" A toilet flushing? I'm not normally one to get too interested in equipment readings; they usually require a of imagination to make you think they're ghosts, and most can be explained away without too much trouble. That's why I generally throw in a terrible recipe or something along with the "evidence" - as a researcher, this isn't the sort of thing I take too terribly seriously. But little imagination is required with this one.  Here's a recipe for Sorry Beefalow!


5 comments:

Linnea said...

I went on the Chicago Ghost Tour last night and you played this EVP for the whole group on the bus. I was very shocked when I heard the singing in the background. I cannot seem to make out what the voice is saying, but to me it sounds as if it is saying, "Sorry, deep below." This is just a guess, but no matter what is being said, it is a creepy phenomenon.

Linnea said...

I went on the Chicago Ghost Tour last night and you played this EVP for the whole group on the bus. I was very shocked when I heard the singing in the background. I cannot seem to make out what the voice is saying, but to me it sounds as if it is saying, "Sorry, deep below." This is just a guess, but no matter what is being said, it is a creepy phenomenon.

Rick Hermes said...

I'll just throw this out there as a theory, Benjamin Pitezels wife sent their oldest daughter to Philadelphia to identify his body upon Holmes request. Maybe it's one of the younger daughters asking why she had to leave.

Adam Selzer said...

That she did, Rick! But ALice P and her sister Nellie were then killed in Toronto, not at the castle. The other daughter survived, and the baby would have been too young to talk at the time. I'm not sure, offhand, where the family lived in Chicago, but I think they might have been out of Chicago by the time Alice went to Philadelphia, which would have been around late summer of 1894. Holmes and co. were pretty much out of the castle by then. Still, many people seem to hear "why did she go" in the recording.

Lynn Amstutz said...

To me, this sounds like a little girl saying: "Down the chute you go" which would make sense given the fact Holmes used "the chute" regularly to "process" his victims. Oie, this one gives me chills!!

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