Friday, October 27, 2017

Scary October: Lavinia Fisher

It's October, which means every Friday, I bring you a new spooky story!

In the history of serial killers, the vast majority have been white and male. A very, very, very small number of them have been female. Lavinia Fisher is often recognized as the world's first female serial killer. But was she?

Lavinia and her husband lived in Charleston, South Carolina, where they owned the Six Mile Wayfarer House, which was reportedly near the Marsh and Cooper River.

The Six Mile Wayfarer House was an inn that was open to travelers. Occasionally, the local police would receive reports of people disappearing after staying there, but the Fishers were popular locally. Nobody ever suspected that there might be something going on at the inn. But legend says there was...

Locals say that Lavinia would poison guests, then drop them through a trap door under their beds after they'd fallen asleep. However, despite what you'll find online, there's no actual proof that Lavinia ever killed anyone. She was arrested in 1819 and the official account of her arrest states that she and four others beat a man "in a most inhuman manner." He got away and the next morning, that same group beat a traveler, cut his head in several places, and robbed him. Lavinia, her husband, and three others were arrested and held in this jail:

Despite appeals, Lavinia Fisher and her husband were hanged for the "highway robbery" of David Ross, a charge that had been downgraded from attempted murder. Until the very last minute, Lavinia was sure she would be pardoned.

Lavinia Fisher's ghost is one of Charleston's most famous. People have reported many sightings at the jail where her cell was. On tours, women are advised to cover or remove their jewelry, since Lavinia reportedly likes things that sparkle.

Her ghostly presence is often seen from the outside, standing in this window:

Check out last week's post on the University of Montevallo. And if you have suggestions for next year's Scary October, leave them in comments!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mystery Monday: Bella and the Wych Helm

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

In April of 1943, four young boys in the woods discovered human remains buried in a European tree called a "wych elm." Found in the tree were a human skull, an almost complete skeleton, a gold wedding ring, a shoe, and fragments of clothing.

Crime scene and police sketch of victim. Source:

The medical examiner identified the skeleton as female, placing the death at 18 months or more prior. He said to fit into the tree, she would have had to have been alive when placed in there. Rigor mortis would have made it difficult for the body to fit after death.

Despite the description the police issued, the woman has never been identified. There have been reports and speculation, but no match. But at Christmastime, graffiti began appearing around town.

Source: News Limited

Early graffiti referred to her as either "Bella" or "Loubella," which indicated someone might know the victim. This led to an early connection to a prostitute named Bella who had gone missing in 1941. But there were no family members to help match the victim.

The case lingered until 1953, when a journalist reignited interest. The journalist received a letter from someone named "Anna" who claimed Bella was a spy, killed because she knew too much. Some have speculated she might be this woman:

Clara Bauerle was a cabaret singer and German movie actress who was also a spy. However, this blogger says she has proof Clara died in a German hospital in 1942.

Occasionally, the graffiti reemerges in the area where Bella's remains were found, but that can easily be hoaxers. Unfortunately, we still have no idea who the remains belonged to...or if her name was even Bella.

Do you think the graffiti artists knew something?