America's Most Haunted: Six Seriously Spooky Sites

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Having recently bought a 103-year-old house with some scary stories of its own, I approached this subject with some trepidation. After doing the research, I probably won't sleep for days.

The Ghost of Nyack

What do you do when you've just bought a haunted house? The people of Nyack, New York knew that the 5,000 square foot Victorian house was haunted, but Helen and George Ackley were only informed when they moved in. Strange things happened to them over the next 20 years.

One ghost would wake my wife up every morning for school by shaking her bed. When spring break came, my wife made a loud announcement before going to sleep that it was spring break, there was no school and she wanted to sleep in. Her bed did NOT shake the next morning.

While painting the living room Helen saw one of the ghost looking in approval of the color. She always got the feeling that the ghost liked the renovation they had done on the house.

When the Ackleys sold the house in 1990, Jeffrey and Patrice Stambovsky put $32,000 in escrow, then backed out of the deal when they learned the house was haunted. Helen Ackley refused to refund the deposit, and the Stambovskys sued. In what has been called the Ghostbusters ruling, the New York Appellate court ruled that the haunting should have been disclosed to potential buyers, since it is unlikely that a normal home inspection would uncover such a condition.

The Clutter House

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Herb Clutter of Holcomb, Kansas designed his two story brick home with five bedrooms and three bathrooms for his growing family in 1948. In November of 1959, Herb and wife Bonnie and their two teenagers were found bound and shot to death. In addition, Herb Clutter appeared to have been tortured. Richard Hickock and Perry Smith were convicted of the crime. They had heard the Clutters were wealthy, but they only found $50 cash for all their trouble. Smith and Hickock were hanged in 1965. The crime was documented in Truman Capote's novel In Cold Blood. Some say the ghost of Nancy Clutter, Herb Clutter's popular teenage daughter walks the halls of the home at night. The house was up for auction in 2006 but was withdrawn when no bids were sufficient.

The Stanley Hotel

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The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has hosted numerous celebrities, including Stephen King, who was inspired to write The Shining after staying at the Stanley. Many believe the Stanley is haunted, but the spirits are benign. Founder F.O. Stanley's presence in felt in the billiard room, which was one of his favorite haunts when he was alive, as well. His wife Flora loved music, and can sometimes be heard playing piano in the hotel's music room, even though she died decades ago. The sound of children can often be heard on the fourth floor, where the servant's quarters were in days gone by. Stephen King stayed in room 217, but hotel employees say that the most haunted room at the Stanley is room 418. (image by Rob Lee)

The Horror of Amityville

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The house at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York was the scene of six murders in 1974. Ronald "Butch" DeFeo Jr. shot and killed his parents and four siblings. See crime scene pictures here. DeFeo is serving six consecutive life sentences, while his wife Tracy has a website maintaining his innocence. The next year, George and Kathleen Lutz bought the house and moved in. They stayed only 28 days. The Lutzes reported a long list of malevolent paranormal phenomena, the basis of the book The Amityville Horror, which was made into a film in 1979. Since that time, many of the Lutz's claims have been questioned.

The Crescent Hotel

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The 78-room Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas was built in 1886. It was a popular destination for those wishing to bathe in the area's healing springs. Later it was a women's college, a junior college, a hospital for a quack who sold the cure for cancer, and once again a hotel. It boasts several different stories of resident ghosts, many featuring doctors, nurses, and cancer patients.

Cheesman Park

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Cheesman Park is an 80-acre park in Denver, Colorado which began as a cemetery. It became the final resting place of many criminals and paupers. A nearby smallpox hospital contributed more of the deceased. In 1893, a part of the cemetery was made into a park, and the graves of some paupers were dug up for removal, often haphazardly so that many body parts were left behind. Around 2,000 bodies were never moved. When Cheesman Park opened, visitors and nearby residents reported ghosts roaming around. Voices can be heard when no one else is there, and specters are seen at night. (image by pbo31)

Update: For those of you who've asked, the Winchester Mystery House was featured in the post 10 Notable Staircases. Waverly Hills Sanatorium was the subject of its own post last year.

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October 30, 2008 - 3:00am
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