The ever-intriguing and mystical Ouija board has been a source of entertainment since the beginning of its existence. Although forms of the Ouija board have been around since 1100 AD in China, it was introduced commercially in 1890. It was during World War I that it became associated with the occult when American Spiritualist Pearl Curran popularized the use of the Ouija board — also known as the spirit board or talking board — for divining purposes.
The Ouija board is a flat board game printed with the 26 letters of the alphabet, the numbers zero through nine, and various common, short words like “yes” and “no.” The players place their fingers on the planchette, ask a question, and are “guided” by “spirits” to spell out an answer to their question.
In modern days, one can find Ouija boards on the shelves of any Target or Wal-Mart, not exactly locations that scream demonic possession or evil spirits. But still, while the scientific community chalks the phenomenon of the Ouija board up to the ideomotor effect (which is essentially a person making movements unconsciously), some groups who are part of the Christian Church have called it witchcraft, an object that’s “far from harmless” and that “reveals information that should only be in God’s hands.”
As for your average Joe, people seem to be split, as they are on most things, with some thinking the Ouija board foolish, some having no opinion, and the spiritual among us fearing it. But whatever your stance on the controversial Hasbro product, it has been at the center of several creepy crimes, begging the question: silly play-thing or sinister devil’s tool? The following 15 true stories of people who blamed their crimes on the Ouija board should help you decide where you stand.
15. Satan Told Him to Do It
In this case, the criminal is viewed only as a victim by his mother, who said it was Satan that led him to kill his best friend and accomplice’s mother and sister in 2007. According to Joshua Tucker’s mother, before slitting 13-year-old Elizabeth Schalchlin’s throat and stabbing 41-year-old Ellen Schalchlin 90 times, Tucker had played with a Ouija board for 45 minutes. He and the victim’s’ brother, Donald, had become friends, bonding over their mutual Satanism, and Donald had bought the Ouija board just the day before. The day of the murders, they had asked it if they should become serial killers and were drinking booze and cough syrup. When they asked the board whom they should kill first, it spelled, “mom.” Donald did not participate in the murders but did help try to clean up since his mother had managed to dial 911 during the attack. When police arrived on the scene, Joshua was speaking in tongues, and the boys tried to flee, unsuccessfully.
14. Teen Satanists
Innocent-looking hitchhikers Bunny Dixon, 16, and Elizabeth Towne, 18, were picked up by Vietnamese exchange student Ngoc Van Dang in 1987 in Orlando. But this story is probably not going where you think it is because it was Ngoc that wound up the victim. When he pulled over for the girls, their boyfriends were hiding in the bushes and sprung out with guns. They robbed him and put him in the trunk of the car before driving him to a secluded area, where the evil teenagers carved an inverted cross into his chest with a butter knife, then shot him seven times to kill him, an offering to Satan. Of course, being dumb teenagers, they were ultimately caught for their horrific crime, and they explained to police that they were carrying out the wishes of a dead 10-year-old boy named David. David had communicated with them via a Ouija board and had told them to steal a car, rob someone, and flee Florida to join a carnival in Virginia.
13. Evil Has No Age
During a mother-daughter Ouija board session in 1933, Dorothea Irene Turley operated the planchette, which told her 15-year-old daughter Mattie to “shoot daddy after he milks the cows.” Dorothea even told Mattie that she wanted to marry a handsome cowboy, and getting rid of her husband Ernest was the easiest way. To ensure they were doing the right thing, the two confirmed the wishes of the Ouija board with a deck of playing cards. Going along with her mother’s evil plan, Mattie then fired a shotgun at her father, Ernest Turley, and he later died from his wounds at the hospital. Mattie said she did it because “the board could not be denied,” and she was later sentenced to a state reformatory and paroled after three years there.
12. Demonic Possession
Gary Gilmore became famous when he demanded to be executed for his crimes, which included the double murder of two men in Utah in 1976. He got his wish when, the next year, he was put to death via firing squad. But he lives on in infamy partly because his younger brother, Mikal Gilmore, wrote a book called Shot in the Heart about their family. Their mother believed that after playing with a Ouija board as a little girl, a demonic spirit had attached itself to her family, and she blamed it for the death of her sister and the paralysis of her other sister. She eventually decided that the evil spirit had taken over her son, Gary’s, soul after he began to have bad nightmares that he was being beheaded. They started the same night that his mother saw the demon standing over him in bed. She later saw him in their home again just before Gary started getting into trouble. And ultimately, the demon summoned by the Ouija board was to blame.
11. Whole Town Goes Crazy
Would you believe that in March of 192o, the entire town of El Cerrito, California went into mass hysteria because of a Ouija board? The madness began with seven people who had been playing with a Ouija board and then acted “mad” until they were arrested. In the days following, the madness seemed to spread somehow, with more and more people acting crazy. Even some police officers joined in; one of the officers stripped off his uniform and ran into a bank screaming. One teenaged girl said she was running around naked because she could communicate so effectively with spirits. A bunch of mental health experts were brought in to examine all 1,200 of the town’s residents, and it was determined that the town was experiencing some kind of shared hysteria, so the city government banned the selling or possession of Ouija boards within the town limits.
10. Jury Convicts Based on Ouija Board
This peculiar case involves the members of a jury, whose verdict was overturned because it came to light that they had used a Ouija board to make their decision and convict insurance broker Stephen Young of murder. Young had been sentenced to life in prison for the 1993 double murder of newlyweds Harry and Nicola Fuller in what was suspected to be a robbery. During his trial, the jury was sequestered at a hotel, and one night after some drinks, four of the jurors snuck out, met up in a room, and made their own Ouija board to play with. Attempting to communicate with the spirits of the victims, the jurors wound up with “Harry” being spelled out by the board, and later, “vote guilty tomorrow”. They brought the remaining jurors up to speed on all of this the next morning at breakfast, and they all agreed that Young was guilty. But they were found out, a retrial was called, and Young was again found guilty.
9. Six Go AWOL After Ouija Board Predictions
While stationed in Augsburg, West Germany in 1989, a group of six U.S. Army intelligence officers began to experiment with the supernatural. The men all had top-secret security clearance, making their activities with tarot cards, ESP, and the Ouija board all the weirder. They contacted a number of spirits that allegedly predicted earthquakes and wars. In the spring of 1990, the Ouija board began to tell the men that the Rapture was coming, and they needed to “leave, just leave.” That summer, all six men boarded a flight from Munich to Atlanta and went AWOL. They wound up in Gulf Breeze, Florida, a place known for its UFO sightings. The group wanted to meet with a psychic friend of theirs there but were arrested within five days of deserting. All six were discharged and made to forfeit half a month’s pay.
8. Worst Mother-in-Law Ever
In 2001, a woman named Carol Sue Elvaker was driven to murder by a Ouija board. The Oklahoma woman had no history of mental illness, domestic issues, alcohol or drug abuse, or strange behavior, but for some reason, she fatally stabbed her 34-year-old son-in-law while he slept. Elvaker, her daughter Tammy, and her two grandchildren were playing with the Ouija board, which “told” Carol that her sleeping son-in-law Brian was evil and needed to die. Believing that God was speaking to her through the Ouija board, she stabbed him once in the chest and attempted to harm the children, as well, because God also told her that they were evil. Then she took off with Tammy and the children in the car, attempting to crash it to kill them all, but it was only Elvaker, herself, who wound up hurt. Then she ripped off all her clothes, jumped over the median, and somehow ran into the woods with her two broken ankles.
7. Prison Riot
There was an incident in a California jail in 2000 in which a group of inmates, all documented gang members, spent an entire night crafting their own makeshift Ouija board, and then got such good use out of it that they freaked themselves out. Three of the inmates began praying to Satan, thinking the devil had possessed them. The madness spread, it seemed, until three days later, people were screaming, crying, and flailing about. Some even claimed they were seeing dead loved ones. The scene was growing increasingly chaotic and unstable, with many prisoners believing they were possessed. So authorities called in priests, who blessed 29 inmates and sprinkled them with holy water. Jail officials conducted interviews and determined that the men had not been feigning their fear; they truly believed they had been possessed.
6. Master Manipulator
In 1929, New York tribal healer Nancy Bowen and her friend, Lila Jimerson, used a Ouija board to try and find out who had killed Bowen’s husband. During a séance, the board spelled “They killed me” and the name “Clothilde.” It just so happened that Jimerson knew a woman named Clothilde Marchand. Following the séance, Bowen began to receive sinister letters in the mail, all claiming that Clothilde was a witch, that she had cursed Bowen’s husband, and that she had killed him out of jealousy. Bowen became convinced that this Clothilde woman was coming for her next, so she used the address given by the “Ouija board” and showed up at the Marchand home, where she bashed Clothilde’s head in with a hammer and stuffed chloroform-soaked paper down her throat after her hexes had failed to get the job done. As it turned out, Jimerson was having an affair with Clothilde’s husband, and she manipulated Bowen into killing her to have him all to herself.
5. Tortured Souls
The Ouija board was the source of all kinds of trouble for an elderly couple in 1935. It all began when the wife consulted her Ouija board, which told her that her 78-year-old husband was cheating on her with the neighbor and that he’d given her money. Over the next few weeks, she tied him to the bedposts with wires, whipped him with ropes, wounded him with a burning poker, and stabbed him with a knife in the legs. When she put a gun to his head, he finally confessed. Pleased with this, she left the gun on the nightstand, and the freed man took it. He then shot her four times in the back before she could change her mind and continue to torture him. Her motive had been the Ouija board, and his, the fear for his life. She lost hers, and his actions were ruled a justifiable homicide.
4. Satanic Sacrifice
Teenagers Michael McCallum and Pierre Antoine had a room in McCallum’s London flat that was a shrine to Satan. In 1995, the two played with the Ouija board in the room, along with two other teens they had lured there, Michael Earridge and Stephan Curran. When the board spelled out the word, “kill,” Earridge attempted to leave. McCallum wouldn’t allow him to and hit him before stabbing him 11 times with a foot-long combat knife. Curran was not attacked but simply watched the scene in horror. Earridge succumbed to his wounds and died in what was suspected to be a sacrifice to Satan. Both McCallum and Antoine had mental conditions that played a role in their sentencing. In the end, McCallum accepted a plea of manslaughter and was put indefinitely in a mental hospital, while the schizophrenic Antoine was found unfit to plea.
3. The Ouija Board Made Him a Stalker
A creepy case of both Ouija boards and stalking took place in Boston, Massachusetts in 2006, when a teenager who has managed to remain unidentified, found herself prey for a vicious college student. Her stalker, known only as Chris, belonged to the occult, and had an interest in Ouija boards. His victim had grown up down the street from him, and even though they were a few years apart in age, they were friendly with each other. One weekend, while he was back from college, his Ouija board, which he was using alone, spelled out her name and hinted at the fact that she needed protection from evil forces. Believing this, and since he already had a crush on her, he figured he would protect her. But what happened was that he was caught staring into her bedroom window, following her on walks, and showing up at places she went. It escalated to full-blown stalking, and although he never physically hurt her, he was guilty of the crime of stalking.
2. The Carrolls, Part One
The Carroll family will make up the final two parts of this list, as they were at the center of two very messed-up Ouija board crimes. The first took place on Christmas Eve of 2014 in England. Paul Carroll was attempting to communicate with the dead when the family dog, Molly, was allegedly possessed by an evil spirit. To rid himself of the possessed canine, Carroll, who suffered from learning disabilities, killed her. He drowned poor Molly, dismembered her body, and dumped it in the drain outside. When workers came to unclog the drain, they found Molly’s body and called the police. Paul Carroll was arrested and charged with animal abuse, a charge to which he pled guilty. But that was not the end of it for the Carrolls…
1. The Carrolls, Part Two
A few weeks later, in the earliest part of 2015, the Ouija board made another menacing appearance in the lives of the Carroll family. Soon after her husband’s guilty plea, Paul Carroll’s wife Margaret and her daughter Katrina (his step-daughter) broke out the family Ouija board once again. And once again, the game proved to be sinister. This time, it told the mother-daughter duo that they were going to die. So naturally, the next day, Margaret and Katrina swallowed prescription drugs and set their house on fire in an attempt to end their lives before fate could. They ended up surviving but had to be hospitalized as they were in critical condition. Somehow, even though explosive gas canisters were present in the blazing house, no one else was injured in the debacle. But the mother and daughter were arrested for arson and sentenced to four years in prison.