Top Three Thursday- Spots to Find/Become a Dead Body

As morbid as it sounds, I want to fill you in on some danger zones. Places I’m convinced are hot spots for either murder or victim disposal. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

3. Dumpsters in Back Alleys

Woman's body found inside burning dumpster near Town Center area in  Virginia Beach | 13newsnow.com

I’d recommend avoiding creepy alleys in general, but don’t go near the dumpsters. This was a lesson Batman and his parents learned the hard way.

2. Rivers

Authorities identify body found in Trinity River behind Fort Worth sex shop

Some people find boating or tubing down the river relaxing. Maybe it is. But keep an eye open for dead bodies. I mean, have you done a tally of the corpses pulled out of rivers on Dateline? It’s unsettling.

3. Jogging Trails

Trail Running or Road Running? The Pros and Cons of Running on Different  Surfaces | Shape

I’m sure you saw this coming, but jogging trails top my personal list of dead body hang outs. I’m not sure if people get murdered while jogging or if they just drop dead from the sheer craziness of it all. Maybe it’s just a prime dumping ground after the deed is done. But if my carcass ever turns up on a jogging trail, tell the police that I was murdered elsewhere and dumped. I’d never visit a place like that on purpose, because I have no desire to find a dead body.

Top Three Thursday- True Crime Memes

Let’s be honest. 2020 has been a total rip-off full of plot twists none of us saw coming. Sometimes, my anxiety is off the charts, and prayer and a good laugh are the best medicine. Here are three of my favorite true crime memes. Hopefully, they brighten your day!

3. Maybe this is why I’m single…

2. Check yourself.

  1. It’s true.

How many of you watch an embarrassing amount of true crime documentaries? Which is your favorite?

Top Three Thursday- True Colors Series

In honor of my debut novel, The Purple Nightgown, that is set to release March 1, 2021, I want to share my top three favorite books in the True Colors series so far. I haven’t read all of them yet, but I’m working on it. That being said, this list may change as time goes on. I’ll also drop a cover image for The Purple Nightgown at the bottom, so you can share in my excitement!

Stories in the True Colors series follow historical true crimes, so if history and killing is your thing, this series would be a perfect choice. I had the honor of writing a book based on a blog post I wrote in January. Here’s the web address in case you’re interested in a little research before diving in.

Deadly Resolutions

3. The Green Dress by Liz Tolsma

In Boston, 1886, Harriet Peters commissions Sarah Jane Robinson to make her a new dress. Both widows are struggling to make ends meet, and they strike up a quick friendship. Harriet feels sorry for Sarah Jane, who has suffered so much loss in her life. But Harriet’s friend, Dr. Michael Wheaton, has concerns that death seems to follow Sarah Jane in mysterious ways Still, Harriet can’t imagine any deceit in her friend, who she comforts through the deaths of her daughter and nephew.

Will Harriet’s trusting nature lead to her own demise as a persistent stomachache starts to plague her?

2. The White City by Grace Hitchcock

While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard.

Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?

  1. The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

On Blackwell Island, New York, a hospital was built to keep its patients from ever leaving.
 
With her late father’s fortune under her uncle’s care until her twenty-fifth birthday in the year 1887, Edyth Foster does not feel pressured to marry or to bow to society’s demands. She freely indulges in eccentric hobbies like fencing and riding her velocipede in her cycling costume about the city for all to see. Finding a loophole in the will, though, her uncle whisks Edyth off to the women’s lunatic asylum just weeks before her birthday. Do any of Edyth’s friends care that she disappeared?
 
At the asylum she meets another inmate, who upon discovering Edyth’s plight, confesses that she is Nellie Bly, an undercover journalist for The World. Will either woman find a way to leave the terrifying island and reclaim her true self?

And here is the cover image for The Purple Nightgown. It was a blast to write, and I’m hoping you enjoy it. 🙂

Picture

Top Three Thursday- Serial Killers That Creep Me Out

Happy Thursday, friends! Hope you’re doing well despite the craziness going on in our world. It’s a comfort to know that no matter what happens, God is on the throne.

Still, it’s so easy to fall into the mindset that the evil permeating our society is a new thing. Well, it’s not. The Bible says there is nothing new under the sun, and those words are so true. To prove it, I’m going to share my list of the top three serial killers in history who creep me out to the point I could never write a full blog post about them for fear I wouldn’t sleep for weeks. Coming from me, that’s a big deal, since I typically go back to sleep hoping to finish scary dreams and see how they play out. You never know when you’ll stumble across a marketable plot for a thriller. *wink*

Without further ado, here are the psychos that keep me up at night.

3. Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer - Murders, Victims & Death - Biography
The Milwaukee Cannibal

Jeffrey Dahmer killed 17 young men between 1988 and 1991.

Though people close to his family described him as a happy child, Dahmer was never normal. One of his favorite pastimes as a pre-teen was collecting roadkill, cleaning it, and saving the bones. Somehow, I don’t think that’s anything well-adjusted happy children do. But I don’t have kids, so I could be wrong. Boy, I sure hope I’m not.

When he started killing, Dahmer lived in his grandmother’s basement, but killing people with her around got a little inconvenient, so he rented his own apartment with the money he earned working at the Ambrosia Chocolate Factory. (Talk about a twisted Willy Wonka.) With newfound privacy, his killing spree began in earnest. After each murder, he handled the bodies much like his had his childhood roadkill projects then stored their organs in the fridge for later. (I’ll leave it at that, since I’m sure his ‘Milwaukee Cannibal’ moniker spares me the need to go into detail.)

The aspect of his crime that gets me every time is a 14-year-old boy named Konerak Sinthasomphone. Dahmer had lured him and drugged him, and somehow the kid got away. He burst through the apartment door and onto the sidewalk. When he flagged down a pair of police officers and a group of people, he was too disoriented to make much sense. Dahmer came out after him, and assured the officers that he was caring for poor Konerak. A few bystanders urged the policemen to take the boy to safety. But they handed him back to Dahmer, and Konerak suffered the same fate as the others. So close. I can’t begin to imagine how those police officers felt after the truth came to light.

2. Albert Fish

When cannibal child killer Albert Fish killed a girl in Irvington
Werewolf of Wysteria

Albert Fish once boasted that he “had children in every state.” Now, when he said that, he meant it in the same way that Hannibal Lecter would ‘have someone for dinner.’ This guy died in 1936, but he still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Since I don’t want to think too much about him, I’ll give you two of the many things that unsettle me about this man. First, after killing and consuming a little girl named Grace Budd, he wrote a letter to her mother describing everything. Second, when the time came to strap him into the electric chair, it took two jolts of the juice to kill him. It’s reported that he helped the executioner strap him in, because he was so excited to feel the electricity course through him. But due to the needles he’d buried beneath his skin, the first hit of Ben Franklin’s elixir didn’t get the job done.

Enough of him! Yikes!

  1. John Wayne Gacy
Timeline: Suburban serial killer John Wayne Gacy and the efforts ...
Pogo the Clown

Now, if you know me at all, it should come as no shock that a killer clown tops my list of nightmare-inducing maniacs. Since I first saw a clown at the green age of four, I’ve been terrified of the sadistic monsters. Truly, if you have to paint a smile on your face, something it wrong.

John Wayne Gacy posed as an upstanding member of the community by day and dressed as Pogo the Clown for children’s birthday parties. (Why do parents think clowns are a good idea? Never understood that one.) He killed 33 young men that police are aware of and buried them under his house. Gacy himself lost count when he ran out of room beneath the home place and started dumping bodies into the Des Plaines River.

All I can say to that is, “Typical clown behavior.”

I left most of the gory details out of these crimes. You’re welcome! I’m sure if you wanted to find out more, the internet would provide you plenty of reading material. But I can’t let my mind dwell on these guys for too long, because . . . nightmares.

There are plenty more psychopaths that make my skin crawl, but these three never fail to turn my stomach. Have you ever watched a documentary or read a book on a true crime that kept you up at night? Tell me about it below!

The Horror Hotel

H.H. Holmes and his Chicago hotel

Close your eyes. WAIT! Forget I said that. If your eyes are closed, you won’t be able to keep reading. So, imagine the Chicago World’s Fair with your eyes wide open. The year is 1893. You’re looking forward to all the brand new sights and sounds at what is being called the Columbian Exhibition. Patriotism swells in your chest as you hear the Pledge of Allegiance recited for the first time by a group of school children. Your taste buds nearly explode as you sample Juicy Fruit gum, Vienna sausages, and Aunt Jemima pancake mix. Okay, so if you’re anything like me, your digestive system will explode after eating a Vienna sausage, but despite the fact that those questionable cylinders are nothing more than mystery meat, they’re still a novelty. And you’re the first person in your neighborhood to get a serious bout of Montezuma’s Revenge from the sodium-laden weenies. Check you out!

Something about Chicago resonated with you the day you arrived, and you gave up your room at the Sauganash Hotel and opted for a long term rental at a new building owned by H.H. Holmes. You’ll search for a job eventually. After all, you’re a responsible adult, but for now, why not enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of the World’s Fair?

After a long day of sensory overload, you want nothing more than to crawl between the cool sheets of your hotel room bed and catch a solid seven to nine hours like the doctor recommends. You take the steps to your room, but when you reach to top, you freeze. A dead end. Something is not right with this picture. Stairs are supposed to lead somewhere. Or maybe you’re already in bed. Already dreaming. You pinch the flesh on your arm. Hard. No you’re definitely awake. A purple welt is rising on your arm to prove it. Have you fallen through the looking glass?

An artist’s rendition of the interior of the Holmes Mansion, showing the staircases with no destination, the basement used for surgical experiments, and the gas chambers.

Unease prickles your skin. No, something is incredibly wrong. You descend the steps two at a time and run down the hall on your left, stomach twisting. Those little sausages won’t stay down much longer. The muscles between your shoulder blades knot and snarl. This has to be a dream. You pinch yourself again, hoping to wake up. Nope. Still in the creepy hallway. By this time, your breathing is ragged. There has to be a way out of here. Where is everyone? If only you could someone for directions out of this waking nightmare. But it’s too quiet. Like a crypt.

Numbers on the doors farther down the hall grab your attention. You take a step closer. ‘205.’ Slowly, your muscles untangle, and you pull your room key from your pocket. Your room number, ‘213,’ is stamped on the smooth brass. A breath you didn’t realize you were holding gushes from your lungs. Exhaustion has always had the habit of playing tricks on your brain.

You find your room, unlock the door, and open your carpetbag. Time for jammy-jams and dreamland. Once you dress for bed, you slip between the sheets. Your feet have been trapped in shoes and stockings all day, and the linen feels cold against your tired, swollen toes. Ahhh. You chuckle to yourself. How could you get so worked up just trying to find your room. What a ninny.

Maze-like floor plan of the hotel.

A low, metallic click echoes from the pipes in the wall. Maybe between now and the next World’s Fair some inventor will find a way to keep pipes from knocking. Wouldn’t that be nice? You sink deeper into the mattress, and the springs squeak. Wait a minute. Your eyelids snap open. That smell. You sniff the air, and terror’s cold, wart-covered hand sinks it’s fingernails into your chest. Gas. You try holding your breath, but the unmistakable fumes curl up your nostrils. You yank on the door knob, but it doesn’t budge. This can NOT be happening.

The window.

You run to the far wall and pull up on the sash, but your finger catches on a jagged nail poking through the wood frame.

Trapped. You ignore the pulse in your finger and run to the door.

If you don’t get out of here soon– No. Can’t let your mind go there. You bang on the door, but the silence that answers you leaves a two ton weight on your chest. Or is that feeling a by-product of the gas? As many visitors have flooded the White City for the Exhibition, surely, the room next to yours is occupied. You pound your fist on the wall and scream for help, but your cries end in an oxygen deprived gasp.

Nothing.

Black specks crawl at the corners of your vision, and a strange sense of calm wraps you in a warm blanket. The shadows cast on the wall by streetlights and the lace curtains fade. Everything goes black.

Investigators discovered the remains of animals as well as human in the Horror Hotel. One corpse belonged to a child who couldn’t have been more than seven years old.

When investigators searched what had become known at the ‘Murder Castle,’ what they discovered would chill the blood in their veins. A trap door in the bathroom floor of Holmes’ private apartment lead to a chute that was used for a little more than laundry, if you catch my drift. One room was lined with gas fixtures. (Who knows. Holmes could have inspired some of Adolf Hitler’s grisly methods.) The walls were lined with metal to kill any sounds originating from inside the deadly chambers.

It wasn’t until officers descended into the basement that the full impact of Holmes’ dirty deeds manifested.

Crematory

An operating table, bloody clothes, various surgical tools, homemade torture devices, and a crematory.

H.H. Holmes had attended medical school and developed an unsettling fascination with dead bodies. While studying in Michigan, he stole cadavers from the laboratory and took out insurance policies on the people whose bodies he purloined. Then, Holmes would burn or mutilate the bodies and plant them for police to find. Talk about a morbid insurance fraud tactic, but it worked. Though he settled in Chicago as a pharmacist (several of his customers died after taking pills he dispensed, btw), his curiosity for more . . . involved ‘medical’ procedures never waned.

After incapacitating his victims in the gas chamber or with the more hands-on method of holding a chloroform soaked rag over their faces, he’d dump them down the chute and dissected them in his basement research lab. Curiosity sated, he sold his victims’ organs on the black market and their skeletons to medical institutions.

It is estimated that he killed 200 people in his horror hotel between 1892 and 1894, but that number can’t be substantiated. Only 9 of those victims had a solid link to Holmes and his Murder Castle. Among these 9 were women who disappeared while working as his stenographers. When his employees vanished, it led the police to Holmes’ doorstep.

Still, during the course of the Chicago World’s Fair, thousands of people went missing, so speculation abounds as to the actual number of men and women who died at the hand of H. H. Holmes in his Horror Hotel.

While researching for this post, I discovered a fictional story based on the true events surrounding H.H. Holmes and the Chicago World’s Fair. Honestly, I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet, since I absolutely loved Grace Hitchcock’s book ‘The Gray Chamber.’ This one’s going on top of my TBR pile, and I’d like the chance to add it to yours. Comment below, and one participant will win an eBook copy!

Stuff of Nightmares

Annie Andrews (middle) with her mother and younger sister, Jessica.

Some people enjoy watching horror movies. The sensation of a tingling spine and racing pulse gives them a little thrill. But when the credits roll, and the TV flickers off, it’s only stories. They can curl beneath the cool sheets, close their eyes, and know none of that can happen. It’s all make-believe. Right?

Well, sometimes the truth is scarier than fiction. Such was the case for Annie Andrews and her family.

The year was 1986. Annie and Jessica’s mother had passed away, leaving them grieving and often alone while their father worked to pay the bills. Their mother had been the glue that held the family together, and Annie wished she could talk to her one more time.

One day, the phone rang, and Annie answered. A neighborhood boy, Danny LaPlante, had begged her number from mutual friends. Without being a total skeez, he told her she was pretty and how much he’d like to get to know her. All the things girls want to hear. After several phone calls, he asked her out for ice cream. It sounded innocent enough, and Annie hoped to somehow fill the void her mother left behind. Maybe a boyfriend was the answer. She agreed, and they made a visit to the ice cream parlor together.

Like teenage girls–or any girl, for that matter–Annie’s mind built Danny into a dream boat he could never hope to be. When she met him face to face, disappointment soured the ice cream. As kindly as possible, she ended things with the anti-Prince Charming.

Needing her mother more than ever, Annie, along with Jessica, grabbed an Ouija board and candles. It was time for a seance. She had to talk with her mother. Tell her good-bye. Let her know how much she was missed. Candle flames bobbed, casting light against the grimy basement walls. Nothing. The planchette didn’t move. It was all just a bunch of baloney

Later that night, when Annie lay in bed, a knocking sound tapped the walls. When she searched the house, everything seemed normal. But the thumps persisted. Was it her mother? Had the seance actually worked?

As months progressed, the tapping continued intermittently. Probably just a friendly greeting from their dear departed. But when the girls started finding personal items and furniture moved around the house, a creepy crawly feeling settled it. Whatever was happening was more sinister than their mother’s presence.

After their father left for work one day, strange sounds filtered from the basement. Together the girls trekked the creaking steps. When they reached the concrete floor, words written in what appeared to be blood dripped from the walls. ‘I’m in your room come find me.’ This wasn’t Mother. The girls ran screaming from the house, looking for a neighbor to call their father and alert him.

The girls’ father, Brian Andrews, hadn’t heard the noises. He believed his daughters’ hysterics were their way of acting out after losing their mother. When he checked the writing on the basement wall, he found the cryptic message had been written in ketchup. Yep, nothing more than a cry for attention.

For the next few days, things in the Andrews’ home returned to a semblance of normal. No more noises, ketchup messages, or misplaced furniture. Annie breathed a relieved sigh. Fear’s clutches loosened their hold. But all good things must come to an end, and one night another message appeared on the wall. Again, the girls ran from the house in an attempt to escape the unknown menace within.

Seeing the girls’ terror, Brian Andrews entered the house with his daughters, planning to find another staged work of art from Annie and Jessica. But when he stood still in the foyer, sounds from upstairs snagged his attention. Slowly, he moved to the second floor. The noises grew louder with each step. Light seeped under a bedroom door, and a shadow played from somewhere inside the room.

Brian pushed open the door. Panic rippled as Danny LaPlante, dressed in the clothing of the deceased Mrs. Andrews turned to face him. The teenager carried a hatchet, poised to strike.

LaPlante chased the family through the house. Once he’d captured Brian, Annie, and Jessica and tied them up, he told them to start praying, because they were going to die. Their prayers were answered when one of the girls broke free of her ligatures and helped her sister and father escape through a bedroom window. They called the police. It was over. Or it should have been, anyway.

Police arrived at the scene, and what they found left them scratching their heads. Messages written on the walls and coins glued to the ceiling. Weird. But they didn’t find Danny LaPlante. Still, the Andrews family was understandably uncomfortable with the idea of returning home and stayed away for nearly two weeks. When they gathered the courage to go back, Danny LaPlate was standing in the window–waiting for them.

Again, the police stormed the Andrews home. They searched the place top to bottom, and in the basement, an officer found something odd behind the washing machine. When they moved it away from the wall, shock prevailed. A hole in the plaster led to a space between the inside and outside walls. Danny LaPlante crouched inside his hiding place, and he didn’t come out quietly.

Danny LaPlante

Eventually, they coaxed him out and arrested him. In the space behind the wall, lay a sleeping bag, beer, and food wrappers. He’d been living there a while. When the whole story came to light, it was discovered he broke into the Andrews’ home for the first time after Annie decided they weren’t a match. He’d watched the seance Annie and Jessica had performed nearly a year earlier. In that moment, he had seen the girls’ vulnerability and determined to terrify them. Annie would pay for spurning his advances. Turns out Annie Andrews’ radar was working. I’d like to say she dodged a bullet, but after the horror movie she and her family survived, that wouldn’t be a fair statement.

I’d also like to say that Danny LaPlate was sentenced to some serious hard time, and they all lived happily ever after, but the story doesn’t end here. Due to the fact Scary McCreeperson (a.k.a. Danny LaPlante) was a minor and no physical harm was done, Annie’s ex-boyfriend spent a few months in a youth detention facility. Then, before the trial, his mommy paid his bail.

Court was scheduled for December 1987, but before Danny could be tried for his crimes, the unthinkable happened. LaPlante disappeared.

Then one day, Andrew Gustofson returned home from work to find his pregnant wife had been shot in the head, and their two children drowned in separate bathtubs. The evidence pointed to Danny LaPlante. Police tracked down the seventeen-year-old triple murderer. It was still unclear whether the killings resulted from a robbery gone wrong or something more evil.

This time, justice was served and the judge sentenced LaPlante to three life sentences. Good call, Judge!

Despite the fact this seriously disturbed man will never breathe free air again, I can’t imagine Annie Andrews is able to crawl into bed at night, knowing the monsters on TV are little more than figments of a writer’s imagination. She knows monsters are real. And sometimes, they live in the walls of your home.

Deadly Resolutions

A new year is upon us. For some that means making resolutions that will last until sometime next week. For others that means pulling out a Twinkie and a Coke and laughing at those who are trying once again to turn over a new leaf. Maybe you’re one to make resolutions and like Kelly from The Office, you plan to get more attention by any means necessary. Maybe you’re like Creed and want to perform the perfect cartwheel (and your idea of perfect is a little ambiguous.)

Statistically, losing weight is the most common resolution made this time of year. Couch potatoes flock to gyms and produce sections for their annual appearance–much like the one day in February that Punxsatawny Phil pokes his fuzzy head out of his burrow to tell us if we have a whole six weeks left of winter or if there are only six weeks left of winter. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that kind of the same thing? Seriously, there is no way for this groundhog to fail. How does one find a job like this?)

If you are the type to make resolutions, I’d like to caution you not to go overboard like British sisters, Claire and Dorthea Williamson did at the turn of the century.

Claire and Dorthea were orphaned by a wealthy father, and their inheritance left them more than comfortable. Still, money doesn’t buy happiness. But it can put you on the road to good health, and as far as the Williamson sisters were concerned, that was almost the same as happiness. While summering at the Empress Hotel in British Columbia, they stumbled across an advertisement for Linda Hazzard’s book, Fasting for the Cure of Disease. While neither sister was sick, per se, they did suffer from rheumatism and swollen glands at times. #thestruggle

In a quest for health, the sisters had already given up their corsets and eating meat. (I understand the corset burning, but nobody better come between me and my steak.) When the Williamsons realized Linda Hazzard ran a clinic for natural health in Olalla, Washington, they packed their bags and checked themselves in, determined to undergo what Linda Hazzard referred to as ‘the most beautiful treatment.’

Hazzard’s Institute of Natural Therapeutics in Olalla

Set in the lush Washington countryside, Hazzard’s Institute of Natural Theraputics’ scenery was almost as inviting as the promises of improved health. They dreamed of breathing in fresh air, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and sampling the homemade broth Linda Hazzard promised contained healing properties. But when they arrived, Linda informed them that the sanitarium was undergoing renovations and wasn’t ready for their extended stay. Instead, they were put up in a Seattle hotel where she began feeding them broth made from canned tomatoes. One cup twice a day was all the food they were allowed. In addition to the meager portions, they were also given daily enemas in the bathtub that lasted hours on end. (If you don’t know what an enema is, ask your mom. But whatever you do don’t watch the YouTube videos unless you’ve got a strong stomach than I do.) When the girls grew weak and fainted, canvas supports were brought in to hold them up for their ‘treatment.’

By the time the facilities were ready for patients two months later, Claire and Dorthea Williamson weighed just 70 pounds according to a concerned neighbor. Unfortunately, the Williamson family was unaware of the sisters’ stay at the Hazzard Institute. More than once they’d discouraged the girls from extreme health fads, and since they’d manage to rain on this parade too, Claire and Dorthea kept their newest health resolution to themselves. Their childhood nurse, Margaret Conway, who was visiting family in Australia received a mysterious telegram. The message contained nothing but gibberish and only a few words. Concerned, she hopped on a boat to the Pacific Northwest to check on Claire and Dorthea.

While on her way to the Hazzard Institute, Margaret ended up on the bus with Sam Hazzard, Linda’s husband. (As an aside, Sammy Boy served jail time for bigamy after marrying Dr. Linda. Yeah. He was a real peach.) While on the ride to Olalla, Sam dropped a truth bomb. Claire was dead. Dr. Linda Hazzard later explained her passing as the result of a course of drugs administered to Claire while she was still a child. Hazzard believed the drugs had shrunk Clair’s intestines and caused cirrhosis of the liver. According to the good doctor, Claire was too far gone by the time she arrived at the Institute for the ‘beautiful treatment’ to do her any good.

A photo of Dorthea when Margaret found her. Yikes!

Now, Margaret wasn’t a doctor, but the whole think made no sense. Claire had been healthy and vibrant before her stay at Hazzard’s Health Institute. How could she be dead? When she stopped at the Butterworth’s Mortuary to view Claire’s body, it didn’t even look like the woman Margaret used to know. The hands, face, and hair color looked like they belonged to a different person. After her trip to the funeral home, she hurried to the sanatorium to check on Dorthea. Shock set in when her gaze fell on her former charge. Weighing in at 50 pounds and with bones jutting out at every joint, Dorthea was little more than a shell of her former self. Strangely enough, Dorthea Williamson didn’t want to leave, even though she was obviously starving to death.

When Margaret tried taking matters into her own hands, she was distressed to find that Linda Hazzard had been appointed executor of Claire’s fortune and sole guardian of Dorthea. In addition to Linda raking in the Williamson inheritance, Dorthea had declared Sam Hazzard her legal power of attorney. The Hazzards had helped themselves to Claire’s clothes and around $6,000 in the family jewels. As cringey as it sounds, Linda Hazzard gave her report on Dorthea’s mental state while dressed in Claire’s clothing. Talk about sick.

Nothing Margaret said could convince Linda Hazzard to let Dorthea go. Linda flashed her dark eyes and shook her head, perhaps conjuring a curse in keeping with her rumored dabbling in the occult. Was she hypnotizing her patients. Were they so helpless under her control that they were willing to sign their lives away then starve themselves to appease her?

Finally, Dorthea’s uncle, John Herbert, came to the rescue. He payed Linda Hazzard $1,000 to free his niece. With Miss Dorthea Williamson safely away, Herbert started investigating Dr. Hazzard’s deadly sanitarium. He found his nieces weren’t an isolated case. In fact, Hazzard was connected to several deaths of wealthy people. People who had signed their fortunes over to her before dying of starvation. In total, the death count at Linda Hazzard’s health spa is guessed to be around twelve, though some believe the number is significantly higher.

Linda Hazzard’s mug shot. Huh…looks like she didn’t eat her own broth.

In 1911, Linda Hazzard was tried for the death of Claire Williamson. Nurses and servant from the facility testified against her, claiming the Williamson sister cried out in pain during treatments, suffered through never ending enemas, and were forced to take scalding hot baths. Not only was she accused of physical starvation, but financial starvation as well. There were also unproven allegations that Hazzard had a little side deal with Butterworth’s Mortuary and had swapped Claire’s body for a healthier one to hide just how shriveled the poor woman had become.

Linda Hazzard never took responsibility in any of the deaths on her watch. She believed that dying during a fast was the result of organic imperfections. Not starving. So basically, anyone who died, must have an underlying condition that would have killed them anyway. She believed the trial was a battle between traditional medicine and her more natural methods. However, the jury didn’t think Claire had an underlying condition. They found Ms. Hazzard guilty, sentence her to hard labor, and revoked her medical license. While on the chain gain for two years, Linda fasted to show the validity of her methods.Then, for some strange reason, the governor of Washington pardoned her.

In 1920, Linda Hazzard returned to Olalla to build her dream sanitarium which she referred to as a ‘school for health.’

In 1935, the health institute caught fire and burned down. Three years later in her early 70s, Linda fell ill and started a fast to get herself back to health. It didn’t have the effect she’d hope, and she died soon after. Today, ivy scaled ruins of the Health Institute are all that remain of Linda Hazzard’s dreams of better health for the masses and a chubby pocketbook for herself.

What’s left of Linda Hazzard’s ‘School of Health’

So, friend, if you want to kick off the new year with fresh health goals, I’m proud of you. But please, don’t go to extremes. Don’t strive for perfection at any price, because history has taught us that the price could be too high.

Baby Fever

Cute Little Ice Cream Shop . . . or Death Trap?

Happy Friday, friends! As I pondered which story to share next, I remembered this little gem from not so very long ago. 2012 to be exact. Maybe there’s something wrong with me. Well, I think we all know there’s something a little wrong with me. Why else would I have such an unsettling fascination with this kind of stuff? But I’m talking about a different issue entirely. I’m taking a deep breath as I share my secret with you. Please, don’t judge me too harshly, but . . . I’ve never had what some call ‘Baby Fever.’ Apparently, this is not normal. I work in my church nursery fairly regularly, and hear women ooohing and aaahing over wriggling, crying bundles of joy. They talk about how they can’t wait to have a baby, or another baby depending on their circumstances. I get weird looks when I don’t share in their wishing upon stars. For one, I’m not married, so having children isn’t on the to-do list. For two, I know my limitations. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like kids, especially after they’re verbal enough to tell you what they need. I’m no Miss Trunchbull, snapping my whip and making disobedient little boys eat entire chocolate layer cakes. But I haven’t experienced baby fever like most women my age and younger. And I certainly never suffered a severe case like ice cream parlor owner Estibaliz Carrazna. When this tale is told, I think even the maternal ladies in my church will find their case of the fever to be mild.

Estibaliz Carranza

Owning or working at an ice cream shop would be a dream come true. How could you be stressed or annoyed while surrounded by something as wonderful as ice cream? When have you ever been treated like a second-class citizen by someone scooping your mint chip or cookies n’ cream? Never, right? Well, apparently, Estibaliz Carranza, owner of an ice cream parlor in Vienna, Austria never got the memo regarding the love affair between ice cream and happiness. Not only did she fail to appreciate the blessings of ice cream, she failed to make the necessary repairs to her slice of paradise, and the parlor fell into a state of disarray. Business slacked, but the business school graduate didn’t see a problem. I’d say the education system failed her, but hey, that’s just my opinion. Looking back, I’m sure she wishes she’d kept the place up though.

Married to Holger Holz, Estibaliz appeared to have it all. I mean, she owned an ice cream parlor for crying out loud. Still, there was something missing. A baby. More than anything, Estibaliz yearned to be a mother. To hold a baby in her arms and shower it with love. But after years of marriage and no children, she started an affair with ice cream machinery salesman, Manfred Hinterberger. Estibaliz divorced her husband Holger, but due to financial constraints the pair continued living together. After Manfred dumped Estibaliz for another woman in 2008, her ex-husband found joy in taunting her. Telling her she would never be a mother and would die alone. This played on the business owner’s deepest fears and insecurities. Before long, Holger was no longer in the picture. Financial problems or not, she couldn’t bear living with him.

Estibaliz, Holger, and her new BF, Manfred Hinterberger

Before long, Manfred returned, begging Estibaliz to take him back. Though her trust in him was a thing of memory, her desire to hear the patter of little feet over-rode the fact he was a scoundrel. Despite her career, she believed being a mother was her main purpose on earth, and Manfred was her ticket to fulfillment. Time passed, and no children came, no positive pregnancy tests, nothing. Tick tock, tick tock. Her biological clock trudged on and her anxiety soared. If she didn’t have a child, how on earth was she supposed to live her best life? The life she was destined to live? Soon she ended her relationship with Manfred. What use was he anyway? She wasn’t getting any younger, and there was no time to waste. Like seriously, no time to waste. She was 32 years old for pity’s sake.

With a new man in her life and hope for a happy ending, a pipe burst in her Vienna ice cream shop and dumped cold water on her dream. Estibaliz called the repairmen, and they hurried down the basement to address the issue. They noticed patches of uneven concrete on the floor, but they needed to dig the floor up anyway to get to the pipes. No doubt they’d leave the basement floor in better shape than they found it.

Basement floor

The workers didn’t think much of the janky floor until their tools hit metal. Something wasn’t right. What they found beneath the basement floor was the very thing no human being wishes to find in his lifetime. A freezer filled with the disembodied remains of two men. The decomposing bodies were later identified as belonging to Holger Holz and Manfred Hinterberger.

The infamous cellar

In an ironic twist of fate, Estibaliz learned she was pregnant the day her two victims were found and police hauled her off to the pokey. She would finally have the child she longed for, but would be unable to care for it.

After the discovery of the bodies, many creepy details came to light. And if you know me at all, you know I love creepy details.

  1. When Estibaliz finished shooting each of her former significant others in the back of the head, she brought their bodies to the basement where she used her trusty chainsaw to make fitting them in the freezer easier. To drown out the mechanical drone of the saw, she made sure the ice cream maker was churning out fresh treats. When neighbors asked about the racket, she blamed it on the antiquated ice cream equipment.
  2. Here’s another detail that made my skin crawl. After dismembering Manfred, Estibaliz made a beeline to the nail salon. She got a manicure, because her nails were ‘wrecked’ after her night of hacking up the man who burst her dream of motherhood. I guess when you’re out looking for victim number three it doesn’t do to have jagged fingernails.
  3. The body parts of her victims were not only found in small freezers in the basement, but in garden containers. She had filled the pots with concrete to cover the smell of decomposition.
  4. The father of her child actually married her in 2011 while she was in prison. Yikes! That takes guts . . . or something.
  5. Carranza was so violent that women’s prisons in Austria weren’t equipped for her brand of crazy. She is serving time in a men’s prison staffed by nurses, therapists, doctors, and prison guards.

Well, now you know the story of the Ice Cream Killer and perhaps have a better handle on just how mild most cases of ‘Baby Fever’ are. Of course, this begs the question: If Estibaliz Carranza would kill a man who didn’t give her what she wanted, what would she do for a Klondike Bar?