Nobody likes funerals, and only a little more enjoy spending any inordinate amount of time in cemeteries. Although peaceful and full of history, cemeteries are for the dead. The living tend to keep away, especially during the night. Many folktales abound about haunted cemeteries or hitchhiking ghosts who request to be dropped off just outside of the gates to a cemetery. While many in the professional ghost chasing world argue that most cemeteries are unlikely to be haunted (after all, how many of your memories involve cemeteries?), few people are listening. Cemeteries remain and will probably always remain reservoirs of mortal dread.
In the following fifteen cases, criminals used or tried to use this collective fear of cemeteries to their advantage. Some of their victims were killed in cemeteries, while others had their bodies unceremoniously dumped among the headstones of other fallen people. At least one murderer killed himself inside of a cemetery. These cases will definitely give you chills, maybe even nightmares, and it will definitely not help anyone who has an irrational fear of cemeteries.
15. From Suspect to Victim
Before his body was found in a Paulding County cemetery, Frank H. Tracy, Jr. was wanted in connection with the death of Hannah Fischer, his former girlfriend. On February 9, 2016, Fischer, 21, was found dead inside of her Paulding, Ohio apartment. Fischer shared the apartment with Tracy, 47, who immediately became the number one suspect and the subject of a statewide manhunt. Before his own murder, U.S. Marshals put up a $1,000, then a $5,000 reward for any information that could lead to his arrest.
A little over a month after Fischer’s murder, Tracy’s body was discovered in Rochester Cemetery by a mushroom hunter. Tracy’s assailant had shot his victim once in the head before covering his body with a blanket. Interestingly, Paulding County Coroner Joseph Kuhn released to the media his finding that Fischer had died from a similar gunshot wound to the head. Obviously, with such information, police investigators were forced to face the possibility that both were killed by the same unknown gunman. Amazingly, before the end of March, the Paulding County Sheriff’s Department named Bradley Gillespie, 42, as their chief suspect. Thanks to witness testimony and several pieces of evidence, including the murder weapon itself, Gillespie was charged with both murders in April 2016.
14. Cheerleader Taken Too Soon
Years ago, the story of Jessica Lyn Keen appeared on Unsolved Mysteries. Like the other cases presented on that program, Keen’s murder elicited many more questions than answers. On March 16, 1991, the 15-year-old native of Madison County, Ohio was abducted and raped. Despite being brutally manhandled, with her clothes mostly torn off, Keen managed to escape to Foster Chapel Cemetery. Unfortunately, her assailant caught up with her and struck her several times with a blunt object. After that, the unknown killer left the Westland High School cheerleader to die
Prior to her murder, Keen’s life had been a struggle. Her mother Rebecca believed that Shawn Thompson, Keen’s 18-year-old boyfriend, was the reason behind her daughter’s failing grades. This belief led to many quarrels between Jessica and Rebecca. Things got so heated that Jessica began staying at Huckleberry House, a safe house and crisis center in the Ohio city of Columbus. Jessica stayed at Huckleberry House for twelve days, and on the day she was set to return home, she was snatched at a COTA bus stop on Summit Street.
Keen’s case went cold for eighteen years. Then, thanks to DNA technicians at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification, investigators were able to match DNA found on Keen’s body with Marvin Lee Smith, a convicted felon whom authorities found living in Burlington, North Carolina. In February 2009, Smith admitted that he had raped Keen before murdering her with a 70-pound tombstone that he had managed to extract from the cemetery grounds. After reaching a plea deal that charged Smith with aggravated murder, rape, and kidnapping, an Ohio court sentenced Smith to 30 years to life.
13. Far from “In the Clear”
By his own admission, Daniel Furlong, 65, is a heartless predator. During a taped confession, Furlong told authorities that he was the man responsible for murdering 11-year-old Jodi Parrack in 2007. Furlong readily admitted that he did not know Parrack, but that did not stop him from luring the young girl to his garage under the pretense of needing an extra hand. Once she entered the garage, Furlong grabbed Parrack, zip-tied her hands behind her back, then threw her in the stern of a boat that he kept in the garage.
Furlong kept Parrack in the boat for several minutes. He molested her, but did not rape her. Realizing that he could not afford the risk of letting Parrack go, Furlong placed a bag over her head and slowly suffocated the preteen to death. After that, Furlong dumped the girl’s body in Michigan’s Constantine Township Cemetery. At this point, Furlong believed that he was “in the clear.”
Although police did find DNA evidence on Parrack’s body, they spent years trying to find a match. Finally, in August 2015, Furlong was arrested and charged with Parrack’s murder. This break only came after Furlong had been charged with the abduction of a 10-year-old girl from the town of White Pigeon. Like Parrack, this victim was lured into Furlong’s garage and held against her will. Fortunately, the 10-year-old managed to escape. A DNA swab taken from the White Pigeon abduction matched DNA found on Parrack’s body, thereby sealing the prosecution’s later case. Furlong plead guilty to 2nd degree murder in November 2015.
12. From Murder to Suicide
In January 2016, Richard James Galecki, 49, became the primary suspect in a fatal shooting that took place at an Edible Arrangements store in Schereville, Indiana. The victim, 37-year-old Alessandra De Moraes-Emiliano of Merrillville, Indiana, was Galecki’s ex-wife. According to video footage captured by the store’s cameras, at about 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 2nd, Galecki walked into Edible Arrangements and shot his ex-wife several times before leaving in a rented Toyota Corolla with an Ohio license plate.
At the time, Galecki was scheduled to stand trial in March for the unrelated crime of sexually abusing a minor. After searching his Crown Point home, investigators zeroed in Galecki as their gunman, especially after it became known that Moraes-Emiliano had been open about how much she feared her ex-husband.
Galecki saved Indiana taxpayers money when, twenty-four hours after murdering his ex-wife, he committed suicide in a Calumet City, Illinois cemetery. A later autopsy revealed that Galecki had shot himself in the head, more than likely with the same gun he had used to kill Moraes-Emiliano.
11. Father-In-Law As Grim Reaper
If there’s one thing that people hate more than cemeteries it’s in-laws. While your mother-in-law may make inedible meatloaf and your father-in-law never stops snoring after six o’clock, at least they’re not Karapet Kalajian, 71. On Sunday, January 3, 2016, Kalajian shot and killed 60-year-old Misak Minasyan and 59-year-old Hripsime Minasyan inside of Ontario, California’s Bellevue Memorial Park, which, despite its name, is a cemetery. Afterwards, Kalajian killed himself.
Upon arriving at the scene, police discovered that both victims were well-known to the shooter. Hripsime Minasyan, a resident of North Hollywood, was the sister of Kalajian’s deceased wife, while Misak Minasyan, also of North Hollywood, was Kalajian’s brother-in-law. Police also uncovered the tantalizing fact that Kalajian’s wife had died on January 3, 2011 and was buried in Bellevue. According to eyewitnesses, when three family members in their 60s approached a grave, Kalajian left his parked truck and shot two of them. The third, who required the use of a walker, was left unharmed.
When Cumbria Police were called on June 16, 2015, the caller claimed that they had found the dead body of a male inside of Upperby Cemetery. The responding officers probably assumed that the corpse would belong to an adult. As it turned out, the deceased was 14-year-old Jordan Watson. A post-mortem examination showed that Watson had died from multiple stab wounds to the head and neck. The police, especially Detective Superintendent Andrew Slattery, were quick to denounce the murder as “appalling.”
As bad as the murder was, the truth may be even more shocking. According to investigators, Watson was lured to the cemetery, which is near St. John the Baptist Church, by George Thomson (19), Brahn Finley (19), and Daniel Johnston (20). Watson was friends with Thomson, an older boy who liked to dazzle Watson with various money schemes and his impressive weapons collection. However, Thomson had an ulterior motive in befriending Watson—Watson’s 14-year-old girlfriend. Obsessed with the underaged girl, Thomson decided to murder Watson in order to get him out of the way. Weeks prior, he began plotting the murder alongside Johnston and Finlay. For his part, Finlay owed a debt to Thomson after having previously ripped off the youth during a small-time drug deal.
Hours before committing the premeditated murder, all three men posed for a selfie. By the time Cumbria Police released the photo, Thomson and Finlay had received life sentences, while Johnston had been convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
9. Pet Cemetery
In Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, the dead don’t stay dead. Driven by grief, Louis Creed buried first his cat Church, then his son Gage in a secret Micmac burial ground in order to grant them resurrection. Things did not go well. In St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, the body of Dorothy Thompson was not granted a second life until 2012.
Back in 1985, Thompson, then 63, was an heiress who owned Azalea Original Pet Cemetery in the tiny town of Toca. Five years prior, she had hired a 26-year-old repairman named Brandon Nodier in order to do some repairs around the cemetery. Within the year, Nodier was the cemetery’s lone caretaker and a close associate of Thompson. On December 1, 1981, Nodier was given a 99-year lease for the cemetery, with one provision being a monthly rent of $20. The move confused Thompson’s friends.
Unbeknownst to Thompson and others, Nodier was a con artist with a previous conviction for burglary. According to his later trial, Nodier coveted Thompson’s property and wealth and he was willing to go to extreme lengths to attain them. In April 1985, Thompson went missing. Almost three weeks later, fishermen near Myrtle Grove discovered her partially nude corpse. She was weighed down with chains and had a plastic garbage bag secured with metal wire around her neck.
For years, Nodier was the prime suspect, and yet he eluded arrest due to the lack of evidence. Then, in 2009, the case was reopened after a witness told police that Nodier had confessed the crime to him on numerous occasions. In 2012, Nodier plead guilty to manslaughter and accepted a 10-year sentence as part of a plea agreement. Nodier also admitted that he had murdered Thompson inside of the cemetery itself.
8. Delayed Justice
Like Richard Galecki, Michael Rodriguez had a troublesome relationship with his wife, Patty Rodriguez. Again like Galecki, Rodriguez decided to do something about it. In 1979, Rodriguez stabbed his estranged wife 108 times while the pair were inside of Lackawanna, New York’s Holy Cross Cemetery.
After the murder that Friday morning, Rodriguez enlisted the help of Donna Williams, his 19-year-old girlfriend. At the time, Williams was not only pregnant, but was also living with Rodriguez.
According to her, she helped to clean the blood off of Rodriguez after he had confessed his crime over the phone. Furthermore, Williams testified that Rodriguez had killed the mother of his two children out of rage. As for the murder weapon, Rodriguez told Williams back in 1979 that he disposed of it by tossing it in a creek.
The case went cold for thirty-five years. Finally, in 2014, a jury found Rodriguez guilty of his wife’s murder. He was initially sentenced to 25 years to life. However, in December 2015, officers at the Auburn Correctional Facility found Rodriguez dead, the victim of a self-inflicted hanging.
7. Missing Mersina
In the early morning hours of November 2, 1997, Angelo Gorgievski discovered the murdered body of his fiancé, Mersina Halvagis. By Mr. Gorgievski’s side were police officers and his own father. Halvagis’s corpse was found not far from her own grandmother’s grave in Australia’s Fawkner Cemetery.
The previous day, after finishing his shift at Epping Target, Gorgievski called Halvagis’s cellphone but could not get a hold of her. During their last chat, Halvagis had asked to borrow Gorgievski’s car in order to visit her grandmother’s grave. Fearing that the 25-year-old had met some sort of accident, Gorgievski called Halvagis’s parents. They hadn’t heard from her either.
Police investigators later deduced that Halvagis was silently praying by her grandmother’s grave when she was attacked from behind. Her assailant, Peter Norris Dupas, stabbed Halvagis several times in the neck, stomach, and chest. Halvagis put her hands up in defense, but it was all to no avail. All told, Dupas stabbed Halgavis over fifty times.
By the early 2000s, the world knew that Peter Dupas was a serial killer. After the 1999 slaying of 28-year-old Nicole Patterson, Dupas received a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Then, in 2004, Dupas was convicted of the 1997 murder of 40-year-old Margaret Maher. This conviction earned him another life sentence.
Six years later, a former cellmate of Dupas’s approached authorities and told them that Dupas had admitted to the murder of Mersina Halvagis. According to this witness, Dupas had gone into detail about the crime, and when the news circulated around the Sirius East Unit at Port Philip Prison, a Greek inmate (Halvagis had Greek ancestry and was a member of the Greek Orthodox religion) threatened to kill Dupas. In late 2010, after deliberating for three-and-a-half days, a jury found Dupas guilty of Halvagis’s murder. He was again sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
6. No Remorse
Although not as cold as New England or the Midwest, Tennessee in December can still cut the heat from your breath. Spending any unnecessary time outside is downright foolish. For 51-year-old Tony Rector, being outside wasn’t a choice. A married father of six, Rector was homeless in late 2015. On December 29th, Rector’s murdered body was discovered in the Soddy Presbyterian Cemetery in the town of Soddy Daisy, Tennessee. A later autopsy showed that he had been struck several times with both blunt and sharp objects.
The investigation lasted a little over a month. Tennessee detectives were forced to transverse the state, but wound up locating their suspects in Hamilton County. In February 2016, three men— Chad Massengale (30), Roy Henderson (26), and Dekota Burchard (27) — were charged with the murder. All three were well acquainted with the law. Henderson and Burchard were already incarcerated on separate charges when they were accused of murder, while Massengale had prior convictions for drug and driving offenses. In 2007, he came close to being charged with second-degree murder (he was accused of trying to run over his girlfriend), but a district attorney dismissed the case.
At the trial, a motive appeared in the form of revenge. Specifically, eyewitnesses testified to the fact that Rector was known to grope women.
5. “Princess Doe”
On the warm day of June 15, 1982, a gravedigger named George Kise discovered the remains of an unidentified white female near the rear exit of the Cedar Ridge Cemetery in Blairstown, New Jersey. The body was discovered on its back, with a face that had been beaten beyond recognition. The victim was estimated to be between the ages of 14 and 18, and was reported to be around five-feet two-inches tall. Medical examiners also discovered the presence of defense wounds and alcohol in the victim’s blood system.
Dubbed “Princess Doe” by the Blairstown Police Department, this victim has yet to be identified. Over a year later, on June 30, 1983, “Princess Doe” became the first individual to ever be entered into the FBI’s computer warehouse for all unidentified bodies. Since that time, police in New Jersey have pieced together a few clues about “Princess Doe.”
First of all, it is likely that the girl was a runaway or some kind of vagrant. One tip from police officers in Ocean City, Maryland indicated that the victim may have been a hotel worker in that resort community. Even more recent DNA testing has composed a profile of “Princess Doe” as a vagabond youth who may have been born in Arizona. Similarly, DNA analysis has concluded that “Princess Doe” spent a good deal of time in Long Island and New York City before her death.
4. Unsolved and Unloved
Mobile’s crime rate is 91-percent higher than the rest of Alabama. Even within the Deep South, which is one of America’s most violent regions, Mobile stands out for its many violent crimes. One such crime occurred sometime during the night inside of the city’s Church Street Graveyard.
At 7 a.m. on November 3, 2016, Mobile police officers were dispatched to the cemetery after a groundskeeper found the dead body of a male inside of the graveyard. The man, whose name has not yet been released, appears to have been shot multiple times. Making identification harder is the fact that the victim was reportedly a homeless alcoholic with no known family members.
So far, Mobile police not revealed much information about any suspects or motivations. Interestingly, the Church Street Graveyard is one of the more famous burial grounds in the entire city, especially considering its connections to the history of Mardi Gras in Mobile.
3. Multiple Gunshot Wounds
42-year-old Wayne Anthony Watford failed to wish his son Darion a happy birthday that Sunday. Two days later, during the early morning hours of March 1, 2016, Suffolk, Virginia police officers found Watford’s body inside of the city’s Pleasant Hill Cemetery. The medical examiner quickly deduced that Watford had been murdered via multiple gunshots to his back.
According to Darion Watford, his father was an ex-con who had served multiple stints in jail, but was not the type of man to have enemies. A few days later, police announced that they were interested in an 18-year-old suspect named Karlton L. Boone. A month later in April, Boone was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia by Federal Marshals and charged with First Degree Murder, Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Boone is currently being held in jail in Fulton County, VA.
2. Nine Months Pregnant
It is protocol to suspect the living spouse when their partner is found murdered. This seems to be what happened when the body of 24-year-old Nermin Masoud Abu Ziyyad
was found inside of a Muslim cemetery in the Israeli city of Lod. The details released in the media about Ziyyad’s death are nothing short of horrific. First of all, Ziyyad had been brutally beaten prior to her death. At some point, Ziyyad’s killer bound her hands and physically removed her unborn son from her womb. The remains of the unborn child were found next to Ziyyad’s body.
Israeli investigators quickly pieced together the fact that Ziyyad’s husband, who was already under house arrest in preparation for a different murder trial, ordered the murder of his wife when she traveled to see him in Rahat. It is believed that Ziyyad was murdered in Rahat, then quickly disposed of in a family plot in Lod. As for the motive, Israeli police officers declared that the man was jealous that his wife would fall prey to other men while he served time in prison. The murdered boy would have been the couple’s third child.
One English serial killer made a picturesque churchyard his dumping ground. Stephen Port, 41, was found guilty of murdering four men in London in November 2016. At the trial, it was revealed that Port met his victims through various gay hookup apps, including Grindr, and brought them back to his flat in the London neighborhood of Barking. There Port secretly plied his victims with a lethal dose of GHB, a common date rape drug.
For over a year, between August 2014 and September 2015, Port preyed on young men in London, eventually murdering Anthony Walgate (23), Jack Taylor (25), Daniel Whitworth (21), and Gabriel Kovari (22). All of these victims were left inside of St. Margaret’s Church in Abbey Green.
On his various public profiles, Port presented himself as a much younger and Oxford-educated Royal Navy veteran. Port also misrepresented his looks by hiding the fact that he is bald. Police suspect that Port may have murdered more individuals, some of whom are listed among London’s missing persons.
In an odd twist, just a few days after Port’s conviction, a fifty-year-old man was discovered dead in the same churchyard. This death is not likely connected to Port.