Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Murderous Ghost

Eastern Kentucky. June, 1938.

Carl Pruitt came home one evening to find his wife in bed, enjoying the company of another man. The other man escaped through a window; Mrs. Pruitt was not so lucky. Carl strangled her with a length of chain, then committed suicide.

Not surprisingly, the Pruitts weren't buried side-by-side. They weren't even buried in the same cemetery. Mrs. Pruitt rested in peace, it seems, but Carl did not. Weeks after his internment, a strange pattern began to appear on his tombstone. The pattern looked like a chain, and as it expanded, it formed a cross. Then, the pattern ceased to grow.

About a month after the cross formed, a boy named James Collins was riding his bike, with some friends, past the cemetery where Carl lay.  Collins threw some rocks at the now-famous tombstone, chipping it in places. As he rode on with his friends, he lost control of his bicycle. The speed increased, and Collins and cycle crashed into a tree. Somehow, the bike chain encircled Collins' neck and strangled him.

Collins' friends told the story of Collins throwing rocks and damaging the tombstone, but examination showed it to be sound - no chips anywhere.

A few weeks after Collins died, his grieving mother paid a visit to Pruitt's tombstone and destroyed it with a small ax. The following day, when hanging the family laundry, she slipped - and the clothesline, which was a chain, caught her around the neck. Despite her efforts to free herself, she strangled slowly.

It is said that after Mrs. Collins' death, the tombstone reappeared, unmarred.

Evidently, while the news of these mysterious deaths had spread, it was insufficient to prevent others from attempting to damage Carl Pruitt's cursed tombstone. After the second tragic death in the Collins family, a local farmer drove his horse-drawn wagon past the cemetery, with three family members. The farmer, claiming that he didn't fear ghosts, pulled a revolver and shot the tombstone several times. The horses bolted. The rest of the farmer's family jumped from the wagon and landed safely, while the farmer attempted to control the horses. As the wagon came to a bend in the road, the farmer was thrown from his seat - and caught his neck on a chain in the traces. He was slightly more fortunate than the other victims; rather than strangling, his neck broke.

The Pruitt tombstone showed no signs of damage, of course.

The police were now called in to investigate (but what could they have done about the events?). One of the officers laughed at the local superstitions as the two of them searched the area, photographing the tombstone. Finally, they left the cemetery and drove away - and then officer who had laughed took a look in the rearview mirror and saw a light coming from the cemetery, in the area where Pruitt's tombstone was located. This officer happened to be driving, and he noticed that the light was coming closer all the time. He increased his speed - and the car ran off the road, rolling many times.

The other officer was injured, but not seriously, and he checked on his partner, to find him dead. When the car went off the road, it roared between two posts, which had a chain hanging between them. The chain had, of course, attached itself to the officer's neck, so that he was almost decapitated.

This latest tragedy was more than enough for most of the inhabitants of the area to stay well away from the cemetery. Unfortunately, one resident, Arthur Lewis, decided to prove that the rumors were just that - rumors. He didn't believe that the tombstone was unlucky in any way, so he decided to destroy it.

Lewis did have the good sense to tell his wife what he planned to do. He set out one night, hammer and chisel at the ready, and made considerable noise breaking the tombstone. However, even more noise was heard when he began to scream hysterically. Quite a few men living near the cemetery checked for the source of the noise, and found Lewis dead.

With the chain from the cemetery gate around his neck.

And Pruitt's tombstone was in pristine condition.

Pruitt soon had the whole place to himself. All the other bodies were reburied elsewhere, and Carl's grave became completely overgrown. Finally, strip mining obliterated the grave in 1958.

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