10 Strange and Disturbing Mysteries from Asylums
There are few creepier places on Earth than old, abandoned lunatic wards, insane asylums and mental institutions. For most of our history, these have been horrifying places, filled with sub-par care and mysterious circumstances. They're not just the perfect setting for horror stories; even in real life, there are unsettling facts and events that surrounded him. Here are 10 of the most disturbing.
#1 - Willard Asylum’s Mystery Dead And Their Suitcases
When the Willard State Psychiatric Hospital closed in 1995, the workers found tons of suitcases, with the personal belongings of people who had lived and died there. For many, these are the last remaining signs that these people ever existed--they are long forgotten, and these items are all we have to remember them by. Why some of them are empty is anyone's guess.
#2 - The Faces Of The Nazi’s Euthanasia Program Propaganda
One of the most horrifying events in human history was the Nazis' ongoing euthanasia program, wiping out the mentally disabled, mentally ill and physically disabled as part of their general policy of killing anyone who didn't fit in with the so-called "Master Race". As propaganda to the German people, the Nazis produced propaganda films, describing the life of "endless torment" these people had to go through. For the most part, we don't know who any of these people were, as they were coldly listed with the briefest of notations in any official records--barely even treated as human.
#3 - Who's Buried in the Numbered Graves of Letchworth Village?
Letchworth Village was a New York asylum that opened in 1911. Until 1967, however, people who died there were simply buried in unmarked graves, with only numbered steel markers to indicate who was who. Many of those grave markers have since been uprooted, and most of the records are incomplete--we have very little idea who is buried in which plot.
#4 - Shumei Okawa
Shumei Okawa was one of Japan's most notorious war criminals, but when he went before a 1946 military tribunal, his odd behavior--randomly swaying, crying and smacking the person in front of him--led him to be sent to the Matsuzawa Hospital for the Insane. He spent 10 years there before disappearing into relative obscurity, never being convicted for his crimes. It remains controversial as to whether or not he actually was insane, or if he was putting on a show to avoid conviction and a lengthy prison term.
#5 - The Corpse Stain
The Athens Lunatic Aslyum in Ohio has a very creepy reminder of a horrific story. Margaret Schilling disappeared on December 1st, 1979, and the staff chalked her up as a loss. 42 days later, her naked body was found in a sealed-off ward on the top floor, her clothes neatly laid beside her. She had decayed so much that her body left a stain on the concrete floor--a stain that remains there to this day. Locals claim they can still see her in the window on some nights. What happened to her and how she died remain a mystery to this day.
#6 - Foxborough State Hospital's Lonely Burial
Foxborough State Hospital was a hospital for dipsomaniacs, inebriates and the mentally insane from 1893-1976. 1,100 people were buried in one of two cemeteries on the property, but there was one more, isolated grave. Rumors had spread that someone had died of something exceptionally infectious--so dangerous, that the hospital staff felt they needed to continue isolate, even after death. A local historian, tracking down the urban legend in 2010, actually found an unmarked grave behind an abandoned building, confirming at least some aspects of this story. Who the person was, what they died of, and what convinced the staff to bury him so far away from everything else remain lost to time.
#7 - Van Ingraham and the Fairview Developmental Center
Van Ingraham was committed to the Fairview Developmental Center in California as an eight year old with severe autism, where he remained until he died at age 50 in 2007. The hospital claimed he died due to a fall out of bed, but the neurosurgeon who treated him had his doubts. An investigation followed, and it turned out that hundreds of cases of patient abuse had been filed against the center, and Ingraham's occasional bruises and black eyes weren't just a sign of hazards of living at the center. No criminal chargers were ever filed, but Ingraham's family did win an $800,000 settlement. No one has been arrested or held accountable for any of the alleged cases of abuse, and no serious investigations were ever performed.
#8 - Thomas Hayne Cutbrush
Was Thomas Hayne Cutbrush really the notorious Jack the Ripper? At the time of those famous killings in London, Cutbrush was working as a clerk--and slowly spiraling into insanity. He was absolutely convinced a doctor was attempting to poison him, and anyone who disagreed or tried to help him were clearly part of the conspiracy. This ultimately led to him stabbing a young girl on a midnight roam through the streets of the town, and he was committed to Broadmoor Asylum. It's often claimed the Jack the Ripper killings ended at the same time Cutbrush was incarcerated, and the description of the two DOES match.
#9 - The Mysterious Accuracy of Starry Night
Starry Night is one of Vincent Van Gogh's most famous works. He painted it during a stay in the Saint-Paul de Mausolee Asylum, shortly after his ear was mysteriously mutilated. Researchers have discovered, over 100 years after the painting was made, that Starry Night almost perfectly depicts turbulence, down to the tiniest mathematical details. This wasn't something that was really studied in any great detail until the 1940s; Van Gogh was painting in the 1880s. The pattern is repeated in other paintings, as well. No one quite knows how Van Gogh was able to paint a rendition so precisely.
#10 - Charles Whitman's Brain
Charles Whitman was the ex-marine who, in 1966, climbed a belltower and started shooting at the University of Texas. His killing spree, murdering 16 people and wounding 32 more, was one of the most chilling crimes in American history. After death, doctors removed his brain and found a tumor, perhaps explaining his motivations. During a routine audit in the mid-1990s, however, the brain had mysteriously vanished, along with about 100 others the university should have had. It has since come out that 40-60 of those brains were destroyed due to degradation, but they claim Whitman's brain wasn't one of them--and, in fact, that they never received it to begin with. What happened to Whitman's brain? Everyone claims someone else had it last, and we may never know the answer.