Happy Halloween, Daily RFT readers!
Don't waste your time with phony ghost stories. St. Louis has plenty of "real" tales of hauntings, possessions and more.
Here are three of our favorite St. Louis ghost stories. Click the title to read the full story.
1. The Bubblehead Family Maybe they were the result of experimental drug testing gone wrong. Maybe years of inbreeding caused them to look like that. Either way, a family of swollen-headed spirits haunt Carrico Road just south of the Missouri River in unincorporated Florissant -- or so says the urban legend.
Around Halloween, teenagers and ghost hunters travel what's now known as Bubblehead Road looking for the ghosts that attack visitors in a flurry of rage or allow themselves to be picked up as hitchhikers, depending on the story.
Before you decide to hunt the ghosts of Bubblehead Road, know this: Neighbors who've dealt with loud ghost hunters for 40 years will happily report your trespassing to St. Louis County Police.
"We've issued so many tickets and violations out of there over the years," says Officer Randy Vaughn, who patrolled the area in the 1990s. "Kids won't leave it alone, especially in summertime and around Halloween."
2. The Devil's Wine Box After losing her entire family in Nazi concentration camps, Havela, a Jewish immigrant from Poland, fled to America with little to call her own but a small wine box.
Far from a treasured keepsake, Havela warned her family never to open the box and spit through her fingers when she spoke of it. Everyone who's owned it since -- including it's current keeper, a museum director in Kirksville -- says inexplicable and awful things happen to anyone near it, including apparitions, terrifying visions, failing health and strange smells.
Now known as the Dybbuk Box for the Yiddish word for a malevolent, dislocated spirit, the box is shielded from the world in a gold-leaf and acacia ark, surrounded by Torah scrolls and other religious artifacts and protected by a family in northeast Missouri.
To see a fictional account of the box's powers, watch the movie it inspired: The Possession, starring rapper Matisyahu.
One last story, after the jump! 3. The True Story of The Exorcism The real-life story behind the best-selling novel and famous movie The Exorcist starts in St. Louis.
Legend tells of an ill thirteen-year-old boy who, in the late winter of 1949, traveled to St. Louis from suburban Washington, D.C. Convinced the child was possessed by the Devil, Jesuit priests from Saint Louis University performed a grueling month-long exorcism on the boy, at last freeing the teen from Satan's grasp in the psych ward at Alexian Brothers Hospital.
The identity of the boy is closely guarded, but the home where he lived still stands -- a two-story brick colonial in a tidy Bel-Nor neighborhood north of St. Louis.
The home was for sale eight years ago, and the realtor worried its possessed past would make it hard to sell. But Mark Willingham, the home's owner from 1991 to 1999, brushes that off:
"Way I see it, the place was blessed so many times during the exorcism, it's probably the safest home in all St. Louis."