Eerie Erie

With Halloween quickly approaching, the spooky vibes are all around us. But if you’re from Erie, PA you may have spooky vibes all year round as Erie has some weird s**t going on all the time. As many avid Netflix watchers know, a series about the infamous Erie “pizza bomber” was created under the title Evil Genius. After the popularity and buzz of the show brought light to crazy ‘ol Erie, a Mercyhurst student took to Twitter to share even more eerie things that take place in a very “normal” town. She pitched the idea of a new show called “Eerie Erie”, I wanted to dive a little deeper and explain more about the weird things that happen and throw in some more spooky facts about Erie as well. Here’s her thread from Twitter:

https://mobile.twitter.com/wagnerolivia/status/1000089145954504704?s=12

Her list includes some more recent events such as murders and people going insane, but she also talks about the supernatural and even vampires. Now that’s some spooky sh*t. I recognized her show idea name though, my father had a book in our house with the exact same name Eerie Erie: Tales of the Unexplained from Northwest Pennsylvania by Robin S. Swope. I decided after seeing the thread on Twitter to revisit the book and see if it had anymore chilling stories. It did. Here are some of the wild and spooky stories that I have collected through the Twitter thread, the book and from the mouths of past and present Erie residents:

 

Pizza Bomber

-If you don’t know this one, where have you been? I’m not gonna waste my time writing out what happened when you can watch the incredible telling of it on Netflix in the show Evil Genius. I will say though, do this with caution as you will likely become obsessed with figuring out your own idea of how this seemingly normal group of characters pulled off such an elaborate crime. Most of the buildings and sites that are apart of this story are still in Erie and able to be visited, including right where the bomb went off.

 

Vampire Crypt

-I genuinely did not believe this story when I first read it in the Twitter thread, I jokingly was telling my father (who was born and raised in Erie) about this dumb story that I had heard when he surprisingly told me that it was in fact true. There is a rumored vampire crypt in the Erie cemetery. From the book Eerie Erie, I discovered that the story goes that there is one crypt within this large cemetery that has no name on it but only a place that looks as if it had been burned and replaced with a simple letter ‘V’. The ‘V’ of course stands for "vampire". The origin of how this undead being living in a locked crypt was that a wealthy businessman began to become sick after a trip to Romania. He eventually died from “consumption”, a.k.a. Tuberculosis. After he was buried by himself in the crypt, weird deaths began being reported around the neighbourhoods that surround the cemetery. Bodies were found completely drained of blood and even had the stereotypical bite marks on their necks. The maintenance man reportedly was the one to have figured out what the crypt was holding and set fire to it and scraped the family name off and inscribed a letter ‘V’ instead. The crypt was then chained and locked so that no one would ever open it again. Although trying to break into the crypt is a feat that would be almost impossible even today, there is a story that in the 1930's a teen boy was able to break into it and steal the ring off of the dead body inside. After flaunting to all of his friends that he did it, they all came over to his home to get a look at it. When his mother came to get him from his room, she found him dead with his eyes wide open and mouth open wide in a screaming motion. He was also found missing his complete ring finger that once had the ring on it. If I were you, I would not try and attempt to open the crypt this spooky season.

 

Axe Murder Hollow

-Basically, this whole story revolves around a ghost farmer who haunts the woods where he brutally murdered his wife and her lover. This folktale has been told since the 1950's according to some and the wooded area by Thomas Road has been a hot spot for young people to go and possibly get a scare, but most definitely get a makeout session in. There are reports of strange things happening by this stretch of woods but nothing is confirmed. Some of the stories include cars not starting or stalling, hearing noises, grass not growing on the wooded side of the road, and even that if your car stalls on the third bridge you are doomed to death by the ghost farmer himself. Although local law enforcement has no record of a farmer killing his wife and her lover anywhere, the spooky legend lives on till this day.

 

Mercyhurst Gates

-The large and ornate gates that stand outside of Mercyhurst University were not owned by Mercyhurst originally. They hold a dark past because of their famous and insane original owner. The gates were purchased in 1950 by Brandon Smith (designer of Weber Hall) off of the property of Henry K. Thaw. Thaw was an heir to a multi-million dollar coal mining company in Pittsburgh, he is infamously known for the very public murder of Stanford White, architect of Madison Square Garden. On June 25, 1906, Thaw and his wife Evelyn Nesbitt (famously known for being the Girl in the Red Velvet Swing) attended a show at Madison Square Garden. Thaw was enraged because of the way Stanford White had treated his wife. Evelyn had told Henry that she had been very drunk and unconscious when Stanford had “taken advantage of her”. After hearing this, Henry K. Thaw went into a jealous and angry rampage against White. He shot the man on June 25, 1906 on the rooftop theatre in front of the entire crowd. This crime led to what was then considered the “trial of the century”, where Thaw was the first person to use the defense of temporary insanity and was found not guilty. He then fled to Canada but was later found not guilty and no longer insane in 1915. Somehow the gates of this insane murderer's past property are now the gates that welcome you to the university.

 

Storm Hag/Ghost Ships

-There are many, many, many stories about weird things happening while on the open water of Lake Erie. Some of which are those of ghost ships that appear and disappear into thin air right in front of people’s eyes. There are also stories of boats reporting that there are rough seas only on the water directly by them or reports of seeing a sea “demon”, which is the legend of the “Storm Hag”. She appears randomly and without warning, reportedly living on the bottom of the lake. She has bright yellow eyes, long tallon-like nails and sings a song to lure fishermen to be eaten alive by her. Although there is no scientific knowledge of this sea demon creature, there are plenty of stories of her doings.

 

Misery Bay

-This story dates back all the way to 1813 when the men of the battleship Niagara were becoming infected with smallpox, to control the spread of the disease and to mercy those who were dying slowly and painfully, Oliver Perry ordered his men to take those who were sick and carry them to the frozen over Little Bay (known as Misery Bay now) where they could attach cannon balls to the chest of the men and send them to a watery grave. Most of these men were still alive when they were sent under the ice. Many say that if you go to Misery Bay or Beach 11 (the closest beach to the Bay) that you may see the ghosts of the betrayed men who were killed too soon.

 

Buffalo Road/Bayfront Parkway Indian Burial Grounds

-If you go to Penn State Behrend you know exactly where the Bayfront Parkway and Buffalo Road are, both very, very close to campus. Well, you should probably know that in both of these locations were very, very, large burial grounds for Indians so have fun sleeping tonight knowing you are most likely being haunted! Unmarked graves are no stranger to the Erie area so don’t be surprised if your home is on top of one and may be being haunted by those who inhabit it.

 

Happy spooky season, if you dare to visit these sites this year don’t be afraid if there are some strange occurrences, apparitions, technology failure, or the place just gives you the chills. Have fun, be safe and make good choices this spooky season in eerie Erie.