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Zombieland, Pennsylvania

Zombieland

Hillsville, Pennsylvania

Along the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania, in Lawrence County, just north of the small Italian immigrant populated village of Hillsville is a unsettling quiet and eerie region locals call “Zombie Land”. Mainly “urban legend” than actual historic folklore are tales of the macabre, mystical beasts, deaths, and grisly murder. There is definitely a feeling of “odd” and “something not right” when entering this several mile strip of heavily wooded spots meeting farming, transportation, and industrial works along Lawler Ford Road a.k.a. “Zombie Road” or Route 224.

The Virgin Mary:

It begins around the old St. Lawrence Catholic Church which has long been converted to a private residence and its accompanying graveyard along route 224. There is a alcove with a statue of the Virgin Mary who has a creepy air about herself. Legend has it, she will greet visitors with open arms when it is safe to enter Zombie Land, and have praying hands when it is not. In the 1990’s it was reportedly vandalized and a plexiglass (or glass) window was installed to protect the statue.

St. Lawrence Church and Graveyard:

Some say the gravestones behind this church glow at night. Others say it is at the Presbyterian graveyard down the road. We’ve been to both, and outside of solar-powered grave lights, there is no glow. Others say it is a historic stone in the older part of the graveyard behind the old Church (St. Lawrence) that has a particular shine that reflects off the full moon or light from the house (old church). We unfortunately during our night visit did not see that section, although we did explore the two graveyards – seeing no glow, but experiencing the eerie ambiance.

The Hilltown Bridge:

Just down the road from the St. Lawrence Graveyard north is the Hilltown Bridge. The original Bridge in March 1913 was swept away and has since been replaced by a new concrete monster. It was torn down again in 2007 and replaced with a modern concrete span. It is from this bridge that reports of unexplained lights moving around it and underneath, like the Will o’ Wisp has been reported. Also some say one can hear screams and gun shots from the bridge at night. It has also been reported to be a “crying bridge” with sounds of a crying baby underneath, with the urban lore that a mother tossed her child over the edge. It has reports of suicides being conducted from its rails.

The Killing Fields or “Murder Swamp”:

Just north of the Hilltown Bridge are the “Killing Fields” where at night many report hearing screams and gunshots. In the woods bordering the railway some say there are “ghost whistles” to be heard late at night. If one parks near the rails, strange things will happen to the car. It is also reputedly where a serial killer dumped more than a dozen bodies with decapitated heads in Zombie Land. From 1921-1942, between Mahoningtown and New Castle, over 15 bodies were found in the swamp and may have been the same serial killer who conducted decapitations in Cleveland around the same time. There are many stories of the Italian Immigrants who settled in the area also killing many farmers, authorities, and residents leaving them in the Killing Fields to decay. It was in 1907 when several Italian men in Hillsville, believed to be associated with the Italian mafia/mob who proclaimed that “No person in the Hillsville district, either Italian or American, will give the slightest assistence to any officer desiring the prosecution of Italian offenders.” and it was then that a Hillsville farmer allowed an officer named Sealy Houk to use his phone to effect an arrest of an Italian found to have killed his cow. It is believed that the officer was killed and dumped in the “Killing fields” of the region, discovered by a train passing by. Three days after Houk’s body was discovered, three Italian mob men went into the fields killing and pouching animals, aggrivating and attacking (murdering at least one – William Duff) farmers who tried to stand in their way.

The Mines:

There are said to be various mines in the area used by the mafia from Youngstown to dispose of bodies. While travelling through area, we only saw signs for “Limestone” mines.

Skyhill Road Bridge:
(aka Frankenstein Bridge, Hookman’s Bridge, Ghost Bridge, Graffiti Bridge)
A few more miles down into Zombie land on Skyhill Road is a small bridge that was built in 1917 crossing off the Coffee Run River. It also has been replaced in 2013 changing the eerie attraction. It became to be believed to be haunted by the “Bridge People” and the “Hook Man”. Apparently they were mutated zombie-like people who lived nearby that were bothered by people hanging around the bridge so would hunt them down to maim or kill them. It is believed that if one writes someone’s name on the bridge, the “Bridge People” or “The Hookman” would go murder them. The bridge is covered with peoples names and symbols. The Original bridge had wood railings where the graffiti would be, but now a metal railing, the graffiti is on the asphault itself. Oddly, underneath the bridge are lover’s dedications and love notes scrawled on the walls. The Hate is above, the Love below. We also saw the corpse of a dead deer lying halfway on the ground and in the water, half-wrapped in a garbage bag like an offering to the Bridge people. Someone else writing about the Bridge also stated there was a dead deer but that was back in 2016, so a different dead deer. It is said a young boy leaped from the bridge killing himself as a suicide.

The Zombie Torch:

Right around the corner from the bridge west is the Eternal Flame dedicated to the Zombies that haunt the woods. The mutant colored metal pipe protruding from the ground is just a stone’s torch from the road – it is a iron pipe venting fumes from the natural gas field below. If one lights the torch it will anger the Bridge People and the Hook Man, summoning them to cause death unto the one who lit it.

The Blood House, Bridge People, Hook Man:

Deep in the woods near the bridge and torch is the purported home of the Bridge People and/or Hook Man. It is said also to have been the home of a wicked witch named “Mary Black” who snatched and murdered children of the area, buring them in the fields. It has long been burnt down and demolished by authorities and no longer exists. Others state that the Blood House is located off of Erskin Quarry Road and had a small graveyard attached to it. Some say the Witch was a woman who went crazy and hung her children. Others say it all happened when some mental patients escaped and settled in the area. Others say the “Bridge People” were mutant-like residents of the woods who suffered from “hydrocephalus” or “water on the brain” that settled in the area along the Mahoning River to avoid being harassed for their deformities. They were also nicknamed the “Light Bulb Heads”. A escaped mental patient nicknamed “Zombie” who was a serial killer supposedly lived in the woods along this road. Some claim that his bloodied hospital gown was once found on the road and murdered local kids. Other paranormal investigators call the “Bridge People” as the infamous legendary “Shadow People” of lore. There is some belief that the “Hook Man” came from the Killing of Seely Houk written about above.

The Railroad Bridge:

Along Coffee Run, at Robinson’s Crossing, just north of the Manoning River, within Zombie Land, not too far from all the haunted locations is a Railway Bridge still in use by CSX trains was the scene of a grisley rape and murder of a 12 year old girl named Shannon Leigh Kos. Her boyfriend and two other 20 year old boys brought her there, raped her, and stabbed her to death. They attempted to burn her body, but her remains were found by the bridge three days later. The sick criminals – William George Monday (21), David Christopher Garvey (20), and Perry Sam Ricciardi II (20) were arrested and convicted. There are purported rumors that Robinson’s Crossing was once a popular “lover’s lane” but police reported many arguments and spats, domestic violence calls, etc. were popular there as well as abandoned dates they had to come to escort home. Rumors of suicides at this spot as well as the other bridges are also common.

The Glowing Green Man:
There are legends of a green man who had been burned in an industrial accident that lived in the area. Others say he was a local handyman who was electricuted and had a light green glow to his skin. According to Jim Mosley, the Green Man not only existed but was someone whom he had met on occasion through his wanderings in Zombie Land and spent many evenings drinking with him at the local pub. His real name was Raymond Robinson.

A zombie land facebook fan page exists here: https://www.facebook.com/ZombieLandHillsvillePA/ and t-shirts are sold at a local beverage shop.

Recommended Reading/Bibliography:

  • Associated Press 2000 “Accused told police of Killing”. The Associated Press. Website referenced on 11/12/18 at http://www2.sharonherald.com/localnews/recentnews/0011/ln111600f.html
  • Lawrence County Memoirs n.d. “Zombie Land – Hillsville PA” website referenced 11/12/18 at http://www.lawrencecountymemoirs.com/lcmpages/1073/zombieland-hillsville-pa
  • Reddit 2016 “Gruesome Murder of a Girl I Knew NSFW” by u/nebbles1069. Website referenced 11/12/18 at https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/462b6r/gruesome_murder_of_a_girl_i_knew_nsfw/
  • Penn Live e2016 “From Hell’s Hollow to Zombie Land: 13 western PA places with haunting legends. Website referenced 11/12/18 at https://www.pennlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2016/10/haunted_western_pennsylvania.html
  • Summers, Ken 2011 “The STrange History Behind America’s Creepiest Zombie Road Legends … and How You Can find them”. Website referenced 11/12/18 at http://weekinweird.com/2011/09/26/home-zombie-roads/
  • Tinsley, M. Ferguson 2000 “This time, Zombie Land tale is true”. Post-Gazette Staff. Website referenced 11/12/18 at http://old.post-gazette.com/regionstate/20001031zombie1.asp
  • Torisk, Emmalee C. 2013 “Urban legends haunt Zombieland” : Vindy.com. Website referenced 11/12/18 at http://www.vindy.com/news/2013/oct/29/urban-legends-haunt-zombieland/
  • Warren, Louis S. unknown “The Hunters Game: Poachers and Conservationists in Twentieth Century America”. Website referenced 11/12/18 at https://books.google.com/books?id=OfeB1wAdQHwC&pg=PA30&lpg=PA30&dq=killing+fields+hillsville&source=bl&ots=GdJ2Dgjuqh&sig=A0EsgLm8cPefd44V8l6owSsq0IQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiZocuBqtDeAhUp11kKHYObBIsQ6AEwFXoECAsQAQ#v=onepage&q=killing%20fields%20hillsville&f=false

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Elizabeth Bathory the Blood Countess

Elizabeth Bathory the Blood Queen

* August 7, 1560 – August 21, 1614 *

Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed was a late 16th century Hungarian countess who became legend for her mass serial murders of her servants after which she would bathe in their virgin blood in order to retain her beauty and youth. (She was also known as the “Blood Countess”, “Countess Dracula”, or the “Blood Queen” and more accurately as Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian and Alžbeta Bátoriová in Slovak) She, along with four collaborators, were accused of killing over 650 victims who were primary young female girl servants, but was only convicted for 80 of them, involving no trial or conviction. She’s become the focus of vampire myth and legend, high in popularity with Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia whom Bram Stoker’s Dracula is based.

She was born to George and Anna Bathory in 1560 raised at the Ecsed Castle with links to the Voivod family of Transylvania. She was also the niece of Stefan Bathory, former King of Poland and Duke of Transylvania. She was raised very literate and scholarly, having been fluent with Latin, Greek, and German as well as being obsessed with the study of science and astronomy. She was a very knowledgable woman who often intervened on behalf of destitute women. In 1575 she wed Ferenc Nadasdy, potentially as a political arrangement, in the little palace of Varanno. They then moved to Nadasdy Castle in Sarvar, spending much of her time alone while her husband studied in Vienna as well as when in 1578 he became the chief commander of the Hungaran Troops during the war against the Ottamans. Her husband gifted her the Csejte Castle that is located in the Little Carpathians near Trencsen which came with a country house and 17 adjacent villages, agricultural lands, and outcrops of the Little Carpathians. While he was away at war, she managed the castle and estate affairs which involved providing food, sustainability, and medical care for the Hungarian and Slovak peasants. She had to defend her husband’s estates that were on the route to Vienna during the height of the Long War which lasted from 1593 to 1606. This was a difficult feat as the castle and village previously had been plundered by the Ottamans. In 1585 she gave birh to her daughter Anna, then a second daughter named Ursula, and finally a son Tomas – both of whom died at a young age. In 1594 she gave birth to Katherine, then a son Paul in 1597, and finally Miklos. Her husband died in battle at the ripe age of 47 in 1604 C.E. It was shortly after his death that the local church and villagers began to complain about atrocities purportedly done by Elizabeth. Rumor had it that one of her handmaidens had accidentally cut herself and splattered blood on the countess. As the countess wiped off the blood she was impressed with the fact her skin looked younger, lighter, and rejuvenated beneath it. It was rumored then that she went on a murder spree killing her servants and bathing in their blood to become younger. It took the Hungarian authorities some time to respond and investigate the accusations. By 1610 she was under investigation of murder. Testimonies from over 300 witnesses it was proposed she had killed mainly the adolescent daughters of local peasants lured to work in the castle as maidservants, then she moved on to killing daughters of lesser gentry who were sent to the castle to learn courtly etiquette, and many others were believed to have been abducted with estimates of over 650 victims. Even with testimonials and minimal evidence, the government bypassed a trial and execution for fear of the public scandal it would cause the noble family (who at the time was ruling Transylvania) and would cause her property to become siezed by the crown. They debated sending her to a nunnery but realized she needed to be under strict house arrest and released King Matthias’ debt to her. December 1610, the authorities arrested Bathory and four of her servants who were believed to be accomplices. They reportedly only found one girl dead, one girl dying, and another girl wounded with others locked up. King Matthias requested the death sentence for her, but again, for fear of affecting the noble family’s reputation, was dismissed. Her associates were tried and punished in 1611 even though Bathory did not appear at the trial. Dorota Semtész, Ilona Jó, and János Újváry were found guilty and served the death penality by having their fingers ripped from their hands before being burnt at the stake. Janos was beheaded before burnt at the stake as he was deemed least guilty. Katarína Benická was sentenced to life imprisonment as was only accused of dominating and bullying the other women. After these trials, Elizabeth was placed under house arrest and walled up in a set of rooms in the Csejte Castle of Slovakia where she remained for four years until she died. She was discovered dead on August 21, 1614 after several plates of food were discovered untouched. She was buried in the castle’s churchyard but after villager outcry she was moved to Ecsed interred at the Bathory family crypt.

 

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Dexter: Seasons 1-3 (NR: Showtime, 2006-2010)


Dexter: Seasons 1-3

* NR/Showtime: 2006-2010 * http://www.sho.com/site/dexter/ * Starring/Cast/Staff: Michael C. Hall … Dexter Morgan (48 episodes, 2006-2009); Julie Benz … Rita Bennett / … (48 episodes, 2006-2009); Jennifer Carpenter … Debra Morgan (48 episodes, 2006-2009); Lauren Vélez … Lt. Maria Laguerta (48 episodes, 2006-2009); David Zayas … Angel Batista / … (48 episodes, 2006-2009); James Remar … Harry Morgan / … (48 episodes, 2006-2009); C.S. Lee … Vince Masuka (47 episodes, 2006-2009); Christina Robinson … Astor Bennett / … (43 episodes, 2006-2009); Preston Bailey … Cody Bennett / … (32 episodes, 2007-2009); Erik King … Sergeant James Doakes (24 episodes, 2006-2007); Desmond Harrington … Joey Quinn / … (24 episodes, 2008-2009); Geoff Pierson … Captain Tom Matthews (20 episodes, 2006-2009); and many more.

A great series on Showtime about a serial killer named “Dexter Morgan” played by Michael C. hall who works for the Miami Metro Police Department as a blood splatter analyst, utilizing his job to hid his uncontrollable addiction to gruesomely kill his victims he believes need to die. The series is based on Jeff Lindsay’s novel series “Darkly Dreaming Dexter”. The Fourth and Fifth season are in the works. The show follows the life of Dexter, day to day, as he goes from work, struggles with his internal demons, carries on relationships, and seeks to lash out his addiction to find the heartbeat of life in killing his victims. Dexter was a young boy who was adopted by a Miami cop named Harry Morgan from a blood bath murder scene of his mom. Harry, knowing Dexter would be changed from the incident for life, nurtured the murderous thirst in his son harnessing it to kill only those who deserve it – other killers who have escaped the legal system or were never suspects in the first place. He was taught by his father how to hide the evidence and to get away with the crimes while holding up a facade of normalcy. Slowly Dexter unravels the mystery of his family, his mother’s murder, and his psychotic father. Dexter learns to fake normal emotions which leads him into a torrid love affair with Rita. Fine to Dexter, his relationship with Rita goes slow, as she is slowly healing from past rape and abuse damages from her former husband, who is later released, and becomes ravelled up in Dexter’s madness. Through Dexter’s crazy life, working as a police scientist, he helps unravel the case of notorious murderers, the first of which is the “Ice Truck Killer” who turns out to be of his blood relations that his adoptive sister Debra gets involved with. Dexter continues to play normal, but police Sargeant James Doakes suspects something is wrong with Dexter which spirals him down to become a victim of Dexter’s insanity. As Dexter unravels his past he has to come to terms with his future. He kills his brother and pursues a deeper relationship with Rita. The Madness continues in Season 2 when Rita gives Dexter the ultimatum of joining Narcotics Anomynous thinking Dexter’s addictions is drugs rather than killing. Through the sessions, Dexter finds confidence in another addict, a con artist named Lila who becomes Dexter’s sponsor and mistress. Dexter’s murderous remains become found and he strives to frame someone else for his murders as Dexter becomes known as the “Bay Harbour Butcher” a name Dexter abhorrs. Now that Dexter has Rita’s ex-husband permanently out of his way, his love affair with Lila is discovered, and Rita dumps Dexter. As Dexter and Rita patch things up, Lila is outcasted, which drives her madly insane – out to get Rita and her children until she starts to discover Dexter’s real addiction is not recovery from drugs. Lila saves the day from getting Dexter discovered as the murderer, and joins Dexter’s list of people to “off”. In Season 3, Rita discovers she is pregnant with Dexter’s child. They decide to get married and have the baby. Dexter becomes allied with a district attorney who also has a thirst for blood, murder, and vengeance. Teaching Miguel Prado how to kill, Dexter quickly resents having told his darkly secret and struggles to erase his mistake. While struggling to hide his urges from Rita, trying desperately to be normal, Dexter is whirlwinded into a world a cloak and dagger as him and Miguel go on a killing spree until Miguel doesn’t listen to Dexter and runs astray risking everything. Dexter cleans up his “mistake”. This leads Dexter to become a victim of the infamous “Skinner” killer who he barely escapes from before walking down the aisle with Rita. Interesting enough, this series has become quite controversial through the conservative world because it has become blamed for making murder attractive, killing people o.k. and for influencing the youth. There has been a few missing person cases that have been linked to the series as having influenced murders in real life. In December of 2008, filmmaker Mark Twitchell in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was charged with murder of 38 year old John Altinger whose body is still missing. He filmed footage of the “House of Cards” a horror-romance that is similar to Dexter’s clandestine murders, where he allegedly snuffed Altinger. The Detective on the case was quoted to have said “We have alot of information to suggest he definitely idolizes Dexter”. Twitchell also had apparently created a series of facebook statuses where he suggest that he had alot in common with Dexter Morgan. He has been released even though still suspect for the murder. In November of 2009, Seventeen year old Andrew Conley was arrested in Rising Sun, Indiana after killing his 10 year old brother Conner. Andrew told investigators that he identified with the character “Dexter”. The series is addicting and compelling, hard to walk away from, and quite captivating. Very enjoyable and thought provoking. Rating : 4.5 stars out of 5.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UJz0O2NjOo

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National Museum of Crime and Punishment (Washington, DC)


Museum of Crime and Punishment

National Museum of Crime and Punishment * www.crimemuseum.org * 202.393.1099 * 575 7th St, NW * Washington, D.C. 20004
A fun and exciting museum covering the technology and science behind fighting and solving crimes, with displays of the heroes of law enforcement, and the dark side of the criminal mind from the middle ages on witches and pirates, to the western outlaw, the 20’s mobster, and serial killers throughout time. Learn to understand crime and its consequences through the eyes of the criminal and the crime fighter to the point of solving the mysteries and mentality of cracking the puzzle. Some great artifacts are within the collection, including: Bonnie & Clyde’s Death Car, John Dillenger’s Car, Celebrity Mug Shots, Famous Firearms, Electric Chairs, Guillotine, Lethal Injection Machine, Cold Cases in America, Al Capone’s Jail Cell, 10 Most Wanted List, Interactive crime scene lab, complimentary fingerprinting for kids, Lie detector test, simulated FBI Shooting range, High Speed Police Chase Simulators, Safe Cracking, Computer Hacking, Harley Davidson Police Motorcycle, Police Lineup, Crime photography, Interactive Memory of a Crime, Personal Safety Challenge, Neighborhood Community Watch, and much more. There is a section on the Notorious History of American Crime (solved and unsolved by greed driven pirates, Wild West gunslingers, gangsters, serial killers, and today’s cyber criminal); interactive games and arcades on crime fighting training showcasing everyday heroes from law enforcement and the crime-fighting skills needed to capture the bad guy, with bomb squad technology, police chase simulators, and famous firearms); A walk through Jail and demonstrations on Punishment – the Consequence of Crime with full-scale model police station, booking and mug shot rooms, actual jail cells, and capitol punishment instruments; Patrons also get to wander into the world of Forensics with the CSI Experience – from the role of witness to a new crime investigator of a CSI unit investigating the scene of the crime while learning forensic science technology as fingerprinting, DNA testing, and facial reconstruction. The America’s Most Wanted Studio I didn’t have time to explore, but its an entire level of the museum dedicated to the year-round filming studios of the television program “America’s Most Wanted” where one can experience the personal history of host John Walsh and see how community involvement in fighting crime led to dramatic results of over 1,000 fugitives getting captured because the show. I really enjoyed this museum greatly and highly recommend it as a not-to-miss stop on your trip to D.C. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Visited 2/18/09.


Forensics Lab at the Crime and Punishment Museum

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Friday the 13th (2009: R)

Friday the 13th (R: 2009)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0758746/
Rated R for strong bloody violence, some graphic sexual content, language and drug material. Director: Marcus Nispel; Starring: Jared Padalecki … Clay Miller; Danielle Panabaker … Jenna; Amanda Righetti … Whitney Miller; Travis Van Winkle … Trent; Aaron Yoo … Chewie; Derek Mears … Jason Voorhees; and many more.
Alot of people have been stating this is the re-make of the first, but in many senses, especially taking place in today’s date, it seems like more of a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th – or perhaps a combination and a take-off somewhere in between. Certainly prior to Jason in Space, and Jason vs Freddy. But styled to where one could see it be a remake of the first, but in that sense it would disclude the other 11 series. The story takes place on some young friends searching out a cash crop of weed near Camp Crystal Lake. Whitney, Mike, Richie, Amanda, and Wade camp near the old camp and while finding the weed, discover a potato sack face covered killer named Jason. Rumors throughout the area about Jason as a killer already, these kids could of avoided their mishap as the first campfire tale told of him (which certainly discludes its being truly a remake of the first). Six weeks later while another 6 students come out for a weekend retreat at Trent’s father’s cabin involving sex, booze, pot smoking, and water skiing; they run into Clay who is looking for his lost sister. Before long they stumble (or he stumbles upon them) Jason who goes out to hack-n-slash them. Jason finds a hockey mask along his adventure and becomes the hockey-mask evil reborn we all familiarize with Friday the 13th. Jason is killed in a not-so-supernatural method with of course lead into a sequel of him coming back after being chained to the bottom of the lake. Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.


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