On the steamy summer evening of July 13th, 2019, we carried our equipment up the sidewalk to a beautiful house set among other beautiful old houses. We were in the heart of southeastern Atlanta, to investigate a house occupied by several college roommates who had been having experiences with a potential entity they called "Julia".
We unpacked our gear, and Erin and Sam went downstairs to the basement to do baseline while Meridith and Kristin stayed upstairs to hear the clients' experiences and take notes.
The reports were varied, and sounded very interesting:
We spent about 30 minutes in the basement, asking "Julia" questions. We had a green grid pen light pointed at the wall that began flickering as if in answer to our questions. Unfortunately upon further investigation at home, the device was still behaving oddly and we had to chalk it up to a malfunction.
We performed EVP sessions in the downstairs bedroom and upstairs bedroom, and collected plenty of recordings and footage to review.
Upon review, we found we had no convincing EVPs or video footage. Our sensitive also felt no impressions and got no messages, and thus we had no evidence of any sort of haunting in the house.
We are glad we were able to provide some peace of mind to the clients. While we can't be sure "Julia" is not there, our extensive investigation turned up no sign of her.
The Covington House is a white, split-level suburban home, on a subdivision street corner. It is backed by trees, and a solid 6 foot wooden fence. The client invited us to investigate the house due to her experiences as a child. This house was her childhood home, and her parents still live there. As a child, the client experienced the intense feeling of being watched while in her bedroom. The feeling was so severe, she could not sleep, and eventually moved down into the basement where she experienced relief from the sensation. The client's mother occasionally still hears disembodied footsteps in the upstairs hallway, near the client's old bedroom.
We began by setting up base camp with the monitor and camera box. Next, we placed our four 1080p night vision cameras: one in the client's old bedroom, one looking down the hallway, one looking out onto the front porch landing, and one facing the living room. We had all of the reported active areas covered.
We began our EVP sessions in the client's old bedroom, then moved to the master bedroom, workout room, then living room. In the workout room, Meridith thought she saw something dart behind the team down the hallway, but was unable to catch it with the hand-held camera. We reviewed the footage from the camera pointed down the hallway, and didn't see anything there. We took a short break, then moved downstairs to finish up in the basement.
Evidence review revealed nothing out of the ordinary. There were a few sounds, but we decided they were either house settling noises, or breathing/moving noises from the team.
Although we didn't catch any audio or video evidence at the Covington House, it was a good investigation to help the client, and to test out our new equipment. Next week, we will be doing an overnight investigation at Blood Mountain Cabins in Blairsville, GA.
“The ‘magic’ of Magic City is Sloss furnaces.” - John Nixon, associate director of Sloss Furnaces
In 1881, Colonel James Withers Sloss began construction on what would be known as Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham has a large supply of iron and Sloss took this opportunity to use the railroad system to revolutionize the industrial world of the south. He found the best engineers to help him with construction and design of the facility. What truly put Sloss on the map as a factory was the installation of Whitwell stoves, which were the first of their kind built in the United States and were of higher quality of those found in the north. Because of this boom of industry, Birmingham grew almost over night which gave it the name of “Magic City”.
However, this place was not without its fair share of trouble. Not long after it opened employees began getting injured or even killed while on the job. Because of this, the Furnaces has become a Mecca for those fascinated by the paranormal and the stories surrounding it have interwoven themselves into the fabric of Birmingham.
Sloss Furnaces has been a popular destination for many ghost hunting reality TV shows. In Ghost Hunters the team experienced silhouettes of men in hats, being poked, and even getting an entity to respond to a question while in the tunnels below. Ghost Adventures had a more dramatic visit to Sloss with Zak Bagans confronting a spirit known as ‘Slag’ in the boiler room. Kevan Walden of Alabama’s Most Haunted claims he was slapped in the face during an investigation.
Legends also surround the previously mentioned character known as James “Slag” Wormwood. According to local stories Slag was a foreman on the night shift that was known for his ruthless behavior. His crew was often overworked and were put in very dangerous situations. One fateful night in 1906 (some sources cite ‘October 1899’) Slag lost his footing while on top of Big Alice (the highest blast furnace) and fell into a pool of molten iron. It is believed that he became dizzy due to the methane gas but many believe that he was pushed by disgruntled employees.
This is the source of many of the ghost stories surrounding the old factory. Residents of Birmingham often will tell tales of feeling like they were being pushed or grabbed while wandering through the furnaces. However, did Slag even exist?
A quick look into death and census records show no trace of a James Wormwood living in Birmingham, Alabama at this time let alone any cause of death. In an article written by Kyle Cobb Jr of Last Gasps Paranormal he believes that the Slag legend was born from the tragic death of Richard Jowers.
Richard Jowers tale differs from the folk lore. Richard (also known by his fictional name Theophilus Calvin) was a dearly loved assistant foundryman at Debardeleben Coal and Iron who fell into a furnace while assisting the repair of a melting bell. The workmen tried to retrieve what was left of him using pieces of sheet iron attached to a glass pipe but were only able to find a few parts of his body. According to stories, the heartbroken workers banned together to assist his widow and children. They built them a new house, routinely gave them money, and the millworkers would buy sandwiches from Mrs. Jowers for lunch to help provide for her family. Through the power of this community the Jowers family never went hungry or cold.
This accident took place on September 9, 1887 and shortly there after employees began reporting eerie encounters of a spectral presence believed to be Jowers. In spite of this his memory lived on in his coworkers and loved ones as “something of a folk hero” for thousands of men who dug ore, mined coal, and ended the furnaces.
If it is true that the heinous character of Slag was based off of Richard then that might be one of the biggest tragedies of Sloss Furnaces. Though the confirmed accidents and deaths are not much better.
The first confirmed deaths occured in November of 1882, only a year after Sloss Furnaces had begun operation. Two black laborers, Aleck King and Bob May, were removing ore and coke that had burned into the brick walls of furnace Number One. When they were lowered into the interior of the furnace and began their task the materials in the hearth were still smoldering. After inhaling the smoke and gas the two fell to their deaths. This story has worked its way into the folklore of Sloss but their names are usually omitted.
Unsurprisingly within the same week in 1882 a gentleman known as Samuel Cunningham committed suicide at Alice #1 by going to the top of the stack and diving into the furnace below as his co-workers looked on in horror. His reasoning for ending his life has been lost to time but it is speculated that like many mill employees during this time period the strain of performing dangerous tasks and living in deplorable conditions fed his depression.
The next notable event was written in The New York Times. On February 4, 1892 a hot blast stove was being erected when a scaffold inside the stove collapsed and dumped 8 men 58 feet down to the bottom. Two of the eight died, the rest were in injured, but many more were in critical care.
Perhaps the other story that feeds into the Slag legend is that of Joseph Webb. In 1897 Webb’s boiled body was found in a water vat. The night previous he was at a bar but had left to go home. The mysterious part is that the furnace was not on his way home which led many of his friends to suspect foul play. He was last seen caring a brand new pair of shoes for him and his wife which were also found with his body.
The list of accidents and deaths that occurred at Sloss from when it opened and until it closed in 1971 is so long that it could never be covered in one brief article on the subject. However this does make one wonder why anyone want to work in such a place.
Sloss Furnaces opened its doors in 1881 to a deeply troubled and struggling America. The Civil War had taken a hard tole on the south and it had left it’s economy in ruin. Millions of slaves were finally free but were not considered equal by the white Americans or the Federal Government. Jim Crow laws were enacted which caused Black Americans to often be paid less, had a harder time finding work, and had less access to learning skills due to not having the access to get the education. They were free and could vote, but they still were not as valued simply because of their skin color and status in society. In fact if an African American worker didn’t have a job or money on themselves if they were stopped by the police they were be arrested as a vagrant.
They wanted what anyone would want: to be treated fairly and to make the money to help their children have the opportunities they never had. They found this at Sloss Furnaces. Unlike many places of employment Sloss did not segregate their employees, paid all of them fairly, and every employee regardless of race was able to advance in the company.
A quote from a gentleman known as Alonzo Gaines said in his interview in 1984 captures this perfectly. “I used to look forward to going to work, because I could work beside a white man and he would talk to me like I was a man instead of an animal.”
Sloss furnaces was a place where many tragedies occurred so that is grounds for vibrant tales to grow. When we look at history and what life was like for an industrial employee during this time period it surprisingly does not seem all that peculiar. During its years of operations many tragedies around the country would take place. The Pemberton Mill Collapse of 1890, The 1905 Grover Shoe Factory disaster, The Triangle Factory Fire in 1911, and countless others. Sloss clearly had its fair share of tragic deaths but it’s reasonable to believe that these were products of the time and not from any of the boogie men the legends have created.
Today Sloss Furnaces remains a fixture of Birmingham but has reinvented itself. It now stands as a museum for a reminder of a complicated past not too far away but also a haven for artists in the community, education, festivals, and even weddings. It almost seems like magic that such a place could transform Birmingham once more.
Sloss Furnaces was a pig iron and steel production facility, built in 1881. Unsafe working conditions, long hours, and lack of worker protections led to a number of violent accidents and deaths over the years. It's no surprise that hauntings have been reported for decades, and that Sloss Furnaces is a hot destination for paranormal research groups. Being only two hours away, BCPI could not resist checking out this amazing historic site.
March 9th, 2019 was a very windy day in Birmingham, AL. The wind whipped through the stacks and boilers, occasionally causing an eerie whistle. Alongside the wind, there was a lot of background noise, with the nearby highway and almost constant freight trains running past. While we did get a couple opportunities to do EVP sessions without other people around, most of our audio recordings were compromised, either by the wind, or the background noise. This investigation was a daytime trip because reserving Sloss for an overnight investigation is quite expensive. We believe activity can be just as intense in the daytime as overnight, so we weren't worried that being there during the day would affect the outcome.
The first room we checked out was the Power House. As we stepped onto the landing after climbing the stairs, we were hit with a sudden wave of intense psychic activity. Our designated sensitive, Amber, wrote down what she was feeling. The feeling was so intense that we all talked about it while it was happening, which is usually against the rules. We prefer that if anyone experiences a psychic event, they write it down, and don't talk about it until after the investigation, so that other members' opinions are not affected during the investigation. But this time, the feeling was so heavy and so terrible that we couldn't help but talk about it. We are unaware whether this particular room had a death associated with it, but we would not be surprised if one or more people died there. You can read more about each member's personal experiences in a forthcoming post.
We set up to do an EVP session in the Power House, placing our DVRs on a saw table. Among other things, we asked if anyone had something bad happen to them in the room. We hoped to be able to confirm the psychic experiences by capturing a relevant EVP. Unfortunately all of our audio recordings from this session were compromised by background noise. We did catch some interesting "whispering", but can't be sure whether it is part of the background noise or the strange watery sounding backdrop this particular DVR had. (EVPs are best listened to with headphones.)
Next, we set off to find the Boilers. On our way, we encountered interesting sights that made for great photos. We stopped to check out different locations, with our DVRs running the whole time just in case, but we did not encounter that deathly feeling on the way to the Boilers. We stopped at a small brick building and tried to see inside, but it was too dark. We decided to use the night vision on the handy cam to peek in. When Erin asks if she should use the night vision to look in, a voice appears on the audio recordings. Listen for it at about 5 seconds:
We found the Boilers, and set up for another EVP session. At this site, several of us again felt the strong negative feeling that we felt in the Power Room. For some of us, it was even worse. After investigating, we learned there are myths and stories about people falling, or even being pushed, into the molten metal, where their bodies would dissolve completely. There are many gruesome stories about different locations all over the facility, but that is best saved for an upcoming article.
Overall, we had a great time checking out this historic site, and introducing ourselves to its ghosts and memories. Right next to Sloss Furnaces is a brewery called Back Forty Beer Co. where we went to have a drink and talk about our experience, and try to shake off that feeling of violent death.
Personal experience write ups by all members in attendance.
Brief History of Sloss Furnaces and its reported hauntings.
On its surface, Fayetteville appears to be much like any small town on the outskirts of a major city, but it still has retained many of its historic buildings and charm. This is something Fayetteville takes great pride in and it shows. Murals and historic plaques decorate the historic square and many of the businesses around it adopt names that incorporate what the building was in a former life.
The full history of Fayetteville and Fayette County is a long one. It was hit hard during the Civil War, Reconstruction, and hit with several natural disasters. Yet, the first and second Creek war would be monumental, and possibly the most important, for the future of what is now Fayette County. After all, if this had not occured none of these places would exist today.
The first Creek War (1813-1814) is recognized as part of The War of 1812 since the Creek Indians allied themselves with Britain in hopes they would be able to keep their homes from the increasingly growing American Nation. They also aligned themselves with another native tribe the Shawnee and their leader Tecumseh in a final effort to keep the invaders off of their land. The Creeks that disagreed with the war or simply wanted no part in it were killed in their sleep or burned alive. A few of those Creek did escape this fate and did ally under the Georgia militia in hopes that a compromise could be made.
The Choctaw and Cherokee also allied themselves with the American forces since they had been long foes of the Creek tribe and also possibly in an effort to keep in the good graces of the Americans so they too wouldn’t be removed from their homes. Unfortunately history will tell us that this did not go in their favor. When the Americans won the war the Native Americans land was seized, Choctaw and Cherokee included.
The Creeks that did fight on the American side under Chief McIntosh were also forced off of Georgia land but were allowed to stay in a small area between the Georgia and Alabama border thanks to what is known as the Treaty of Washington of 1826.
This would not last long though. The final act of Jackson’s cruelty wouldn’t be fully enacted until the Indian Removal act was passed which would result in the Second Creek War of 1836. Infact, one of the ancestors of the first family to own the Creekwood house fought in this war. His full name is lost to time and is only referenced by his first and middle initials in any government record.
The Creek tribe was reduced to one narrow strip of land and starvation was rampant due to lack of resources. White settlers were either defrauding them or stealing their already small amount of land outright. However the Creek had no intentions of leaving their land and decided to put up a fight. It was quickly stamped out by the American army and the Creek were forced to join the other Native Americans on what is known as the Trail of Tears.
The land that the Creekwood house now sits on was part of the 1821 Land Lottery. The rules of the lottery are a bit long winded but depending on a male’s age, relationship and veteran status determined how many ‘draws’ they got to buy land. Though the property around the home was mostly bought up by the Adams family, it was actually Samuel Williamson who purchased the stolen land. It was his only purchase leading to a reasonable conclusion with the rules of the lotter that he was bachelor 18 years of age or older.
Fayetteville itself wouldn’t be founded until 1823. Both Fayette county and Fayetteville are named after Marquis De Lafayette, a French nobleman who aided Washington during the Revolutionary War. It wouldn’t be long after its creation that business and residences would spring up and create a thriving small town.
Unfortunately on Easter Sunday of 1982 the courthouse would be firebombed by Henry Turner and Charles Harris in an effort to get rid of a burglary charge. They were apprehended but the top floors of the building and the documents they contained were destroyed. Because of this there is a huge gap in property records, birth certificates, death certificates, and many other pieces of useful information about the history of the land Fayette county occupies. So there is a monumental gap between the purchase of the land in 1821 and the building of the house in 1984.
The Creekwood house itself is a mile or two from Fayetteville tucked away in the small forest slowly being claimed by developers, but still quiet and remote enough that a radio will crackle with static while driving through the winding roads. It is a young home, only being 35 years old, but it sits on ancient land with a long history both known and unknown.
A warm light shines from a window through the trees in the dark still night filled with stars. Full of many mysteries and stories that were and are to come.
Cary, Caroline “The Day Our 1825 Courthouse Was Firebombed”
Encyclopedia Britannica, “Creek War”
Lynch, John “History of Fayetteville”
Reeves, Frances “History of Fayette County, Georgia 1821-1877”
All photos used solely by permission of client
Only two of us knew the reason we had come to investigate what we chose to call "the Creekwood House" on February 9th, 2019. The three others had not been looped in. This was so that anything they picked up intuitively wasn't something they remembered being told by Meridith and Erin.
The client, a 33 year old woman, described the situation as this: The Creekwood House was her home from about 13-23 years of age, and was still her mother's house. Sitting in the small tile-floored office as a teenager, the client would often feel like something big and black was standing in the doorway, staring at her. It caused a deep sense of fear and dread, and she often would wait for it to go away before leaving the room. She couldn't even bear to look toward it. The office was connected to the living room by double doors, and the client could have left through those doors instead, if not for her sense that the living room felt so creepy as well. The big black figure was never seen with the client's eyes, though admittedly she never tried to look very hard at the doorway when it was there. She simply "knew" it was there.
In addition to the large black figure based in the house, the client reported the feeling of being watched, resulting in intense fear, while outside at night. It seemed like whatever it was watched from a specific place in the woods near the corner of the house.
Upon arriving, the client had asked us to park on the street, and walk up the long driveway to the house. The house was a white and green Cape Cod, set back against dense woods. The deer and squirrels rustled the brush nearby. Once all BCPI members had arrived, and greeted the client and her mother, we made the house's living room our Base Camp. The living room was a cozy-looking place, decorated with lighthouses and a Thomas Kincade painting. There was a full reclining sofa and a reclining armchair, a fireplace and wooden rocking chair. The cozy welcoming aesthetic was completely at odds with BCPI members remarking how uncomfortable and downright creepy the living room felt. Apart from the office, the rest of the house did not share this peculiar on-edge feeling. We performed a baseline EMF test to see if any of the electrics were seriously out of balance and therefore influencing us. High EMF can cause hallucinations, illness, and discomfort. But after running the K2 meter all over the room, everything seemed normal.
After doing a couple interviews of members to release on our social media pages, we settled in for our first EVP session of the evening. Kristin set up a flashlight to require only the tiniest touch to turn the light on, to serve as something we could ask the entities of the house to interact with. Erin set up the nightvision camcorder to have an angle to see the whole team, only to find out that when she turned the lights off, the nightvision was not working. It had worked perfectly during testing but now was only showing a black screen. Erin attemped to fix the problem, but nothing seemed to help - not turning it off and back on, making sure the battery was secured, or turning nightshot on and off again. She gave up and the camera was left to record the black, with a tiny light from the K2 showing on it. The EVP session proceeded.
During evidence review, we discovered an EVP that only a couple of our DVRs picked up – someone saying something just after Erin says the camera is set up. Only Meridith and Erin's DVRs picked up the voice, and this was also around the time when Meridith began to feel warm hands on her shoulders (the room was rather chilly, so the feeling was very distinct). What does it sound like to you?
With the session in the living room concluded, we moved to the office/sewing room. This was the room where the client used to feel something watching her. It used to have a large oak desk and bookshelves, but now had been converted into the client's mother's sewing room. There was lots of equipment, cloth and patterns and there was standing room only for the five of us. Erin tried the IR camera again, but no luck. We asked questions for a while, before deciding to take a quick break. Erin took the IR camera and switched out the battery, even though the other one was full. The camera worked, and even worked once switched back to the original battery. The nightshot worked perfectly the rest of the night.
We moved upstairs to the client's old bedroom, and everyone agreed that compared to the eerie living room and office, this room felt so much nicer and safer. The client did report that she used to carry a cat with her up to her bedroom because "cats keep spirits away". We did a baseline and an EVP session in the bedroom, and decided to start chatting about random things a bit, because occasionally entities will chime in on a simple chat.
That session concluded, we moved out to the front yard, and stood exactly where the client said she always feels something watching her. The video from this section is lost, seemingly never turned on to begin with. We stood in the woods, in the pitch black. The K2 meter and two DVRs lay on the pine straw and leaves in front of us. We asked several questions, but it seemed as though nothing was there at all. Sam got the feeling that something had moved away from us toward the fence. Plenty of deer and smaller animals live in that area, so it's hard to be sure what was seen or heard. But, when we reviewed the recording, we found this from the time we were outside:
It would seem someone was indeed outside the house as well as within. What do you think it's saying?
Our sensitive team member, Amber, picked up a lot of information without knowing anything about this site previously. For example, in the house, she noticed a big, black presence that caused feelings of deep dread and anxiety. This was very accurate to what the client reported experiencing.
Throughout the investigation, we seemed to have trouble with our electronics, from the night vision camera not working, then suddenly working again, to strange electric sounds and surges picked up through the DVRs.
There appears to be definite activity in the house and on the land outside of it. We have no way to tell at this point whether it's once-human entities, or land spirits, or maybe even one of each. Regardless, there seem to be two different entities, one inside and one outside. Returning to the Creekwood House in the future might be a good idea, to see if we can get to the bottom of it, now that we know where to focus.
Creekwood was an interesting location. I did not have any personal experiences and did not have the same feelings as some of my teammates, but we did end up getting some compelling evidence when I thought for sure we wouldn't have any. Just goes to show that even when things appear quiet, there may just be something waiting for the opportunity to communicate.
My first impression of the Creekwood House was that most of the rooms were quite welcoming, sans the living room and office/sewing room. Those rooms had a different feel altogether. When we started our first EVP session, I got the creeping sense of a tall, broad, dark shadowy figure behind me, whispering in my head. A sense of dread and lightning trickled down my spine, and my body felt frozen with a foreign invader that seemed to be an exo skeleton preventing me from moving. The room was very cold, but I was quite warm. The feeling took about 30 minutes to subside, slowly diminishing over that time, but didn’t leave me completely until we finished our EVP sessions in the living room and office.
I felt like we were being watched in the bedroom from the window facing the side yard, where we did our last EVP. The room itself felt safe, but it felt like something was creeping on the outside of the house. I felt the same in the sewing room, with the big windows facing the yard.
I came to the Creekwood house with low expectations; I was hoping to experience something paranormal, but I was prepared to sit in the dark and not feel/see/hear anything, especially since this was my first investigation. That did not happen. From the weird glitches that happened with our equipment to feeling extremely weird and heavy in the living room to feeling watched while we were outside, the Creekwood house delivered and was an incredible first paranormal investigative experience. I am glad that our sensitive Amber gave me a grounding necklace before the investigation, it made me feel safe during the weirdest moments of the investigation.
Forward: I would like to thank Daniel Ellis, the author of Corpsewood: A True Crime Like No Other, for taking the time to answer my meticulous questions and authoring a wonderful book about this horrible tale. The link to purchase his book is below in the citations.
As Raymond William’s pick up truck stammered down the dirt path his heart was as heavy as the cold. His visit was not to be the usual one today. A close friend of Joey and Charles had passed away and it was up to Raymond to deliver the bad news.
Raymond perhaps would have called his friends, that is if their home had any electricity or a landline. However, the two eccentric men on the mountain insisted on living off the grid. Any appliances, like their refrigerator, were powered by kerosene and their home warmed by the four chimneys.
Raymond approached the home he had been to many times before but something was not right. The four chimneys were cold and smokeless. On a day this cold shouldn’t there be at least one fire going? As he got closer to the home he noticed that the Jeep wasn’t anywhere to be seen.
A feeling of dread came over him as he exited his truck. Just as he was trying to find a reasonable explanation for all this, he saw the black metal door to the house wide open. A window shattered by a bullet hole, the stench of death thick in the air.
It would seem that Raymond had only found more bad news.
Photo credit: Pamela Purcell
Charles Scudder first met Joey Odom in 1959. Joey, at the time 21, was working at a bookstore and was approached by Charles who was looking for a specific book. It is unknown what book Charles was looking for in particular, or if he found it, nor what the conversation was that spoke which would cause a passionate and unbreakable spark between the two. What is known is that this chance encounter would change the courses of their lives forever.
On paper the two should have never worked. Joey was a working class effeminate gay man who had strong ties to his Catholic upbringing and Charles was a well educated self proclaimed atheist with a fascination with the occult. Charles was extroverted, Joey was more of a homebody. Charles was horrible at reading people, but Joey could spot a phony from a mile away.
However when two people who are very different fall in love they become something greater than the sum of their parts. This was clearly the case with Odom and Scudder.
Shortly after their relationship began, Charles ‘hired’ Joey as a live-in cook and housekeeper. Joey thrived in this environment and took delight in helping to raise Charles’ children (that he had from a previous marriage) and caring for them while Charles toiled away at his job as a professor at Loyola University. This is a ‘job’ that Joey adored and thrived in. He loved cooking for others, taking care of them and their loved ones, and had always had a fondness for children though he never had any of his own.
Charles was far from the stereotypical stuffy professor archetype. He was notorious at Loyola University for pranking his fellow professors by surprising them with a shrunken head or a rubber snake. He also loved eye catching clothing, extravagant necklaces, and even dyed his naturally dark hair vibrant purple.
For a while things were great. The University turned a blind eye to Charles’ sexual preferences, something that would have been rare in that time, and Charles found great satisfaction with his work. However times changed and there seemed to be more and more ‘red tape’ and he was growing tired of the usual university politics a professor often encounters.
The children were now all grown and Charles’ and Joey’s parents had passed away so they had the urge to do something new. Chicago living had grown tiresome after all and they both wanted to take a chance and try ‘going back to the basics’.
But where were two non-monogamous eccentric gay men to go?
The pair did some soul searching. They wanted a place in a hilly country, with ‘the glamour of four seasons but without super cold winters’, and most importantly a ‘measure of isolation’. Eventually they were able to find a plot of land at a reasonable cost out in Chattooga County, Georgia.
On Scudder’s 50th birthday he handed in his resignation to the university and the two packed up the few items they wanted to keep, and took themselves and their two beloved dogs, Beelzebub and Arsinath, out to their new home.
Joey Odom (left), Charles Scudder, Beelzebub (right)
Upon their arrival to the property the couple found a dead horse in the winding road up to where they would break ground on their home. Perhaps other people would find this ominous or at least be slightly disgusted by it. Instead the two had a laugh about it, christened the drive “Dead Horse Road” and eventually would name their own home “Corpsewood Manor” in reference to their little inside joke.
The two broke ground on their new life, living in a camper while they meticulously laid brick after brick. By the end of their first summer there the first floor had been built and during the second year the second floor was complete. After that they built a chicken coop topped with a guest house (which would be later known as ‘The Pink Room’ when a friend gave them antique pink house paint) and an apiary.
Though the two wanted some isolation, it wouldn’t be long before the two found their ‘tribe’ in this strange island of misfit toys. An aging nudist, a devout Catholic woman, a group of rough motorcyclists, a young couple with their children, and many others. They would entertain their visitors often and provide wine, food, and a good song on Charles’ harp.
Even outside their friend group they were well loved in their community. Though one could expect rural people to be unwelcoming of unique individuals, but Joey and Charles were known as “the nicest couple of fellas you’d ever want to meet.”
Corpsewood was known to throw parties for the inner circle they knew well but how debaucherous they truly were seems to be in speculation. Many sources that can be found will weave a tale of wild sex parties fueled by LSD. However more reliable sources, people in the community and those who knew Charles and Joey personally, tell a different story.
The Pink Room was more of a facility to entertain guests since Charles disliked having people in the main house. There were mattresses provided but only so those of who were too inebriated to drive home had a safe place to sleep for the night. Charles did embrace the Church of Satan ethics of free expression and doing what one pleased, but never encouraged and was quick to throw out a guest who was causing trouble.
The three story chicken coop, The Pink Room was on the top floor.
Photo credit: Orrin Grey
Charles was in possession of LSD, but it had been obtained legally before it was outlawed. He never partook himself, he didn’t believe in using drugs and even abhorred Joey’s seldom cigarette, but would offer it to those who interested because he believed that if someone wanted to do such a thing they should do it in a place of safety.
And that is what Corpsewood was for many people. A place of safety and hospitality.
However this would unfortunately change when Kenneth Brock stumbled into their lives. Brock had happened upon the property while out hunting. Charles took a liking to him and told him he was welcome to do so. Brock would return to the property often, at first just for hunting but eventually for company, a glass of wine, and a good conversation.
It wasn’t long until Brock told his roommate West about the ‘satanists up on the hill’. Eventually West would venture out there to meet the them but over time a sinister plot began to develop between the two. After all, the two were unemployed and needed money. Charles and Joey seemed to have some and were out in the middle of nowhere. If something were to ‘happen’ to the two would anyone really go looking?
On the cold night of December 12, 1982 Brock and West picked up West’s nephew Wells and his girlfriend Teresa Hudgins for a trip out to Corpsewood Manor. Unbeknownst to the owners and the two new additions this was not going to be a friendly visit.
Wells and Brock’s ‘drug’ of choice was huffing paint thinner. While the group of them were up in the Pink Room with Charles they began passing the bag around. Charles, of course declined, but was still dedicated to being a good host for the group. Joey and the dogs remained in the main house, cleaning up from the dinner they shared only moments prior.
Brock would eventually pull a gun out on Charles, to which Charles responded by making a mock gun with his finger and thumb and saying “Bang, bang.” in an effort to diffuse the situation with comedy.
It worked momentarily. Brock did put the gun down but would pull a hunting knife out when Charles had gotten up to adjust the kerosene lamp. He grabbed him by the hair, held the knife to his throat, and violently threw him to the mattress.
Once again, Charles tried to diffuse the situation via comedy by saying “Okay, what kind of game do you want to play? I’ll play your game.”
Brock made it clear that this wasn’t a game by tearing apart a bed sheet and tieing Charles’ ankles. West then picked up the gun and began to help Brock in restraining their victim.
At this moment Teresa realized what was happening. Crying, she begged the two to stop it but was threatened by West into submission. Charles, concerned, asked Teresa if “she was okay”. Wells responded that he “should be worried about himself.” before a gag was placed in Charles’ mouth.
The robbers then aggressively asked Charles where ‘the money was’, to which Charles responded after they pulled the gag out that there wasn’t any. Which was true, the two did live mostly off the land and only had a small amount in a bank in town. He stated he was more than happy to help in anyway he could, and that this was all unnecessary.
Unsatisfied with his answer, Brock got the gun from West and decided to take his chances with Joey. During this time Wells would try to plead with his Uncle West to abandon this plan, that he didn’t need to do this and all of them could just leave.
They were all interrupted by the sound of several gunshots from the house. Brock emerged from the house proclaiming “I killed that man and those dogs!” The light in Charles’ eyes dimmed as he stared blankly at the floor.
Once Brock returned they dragged the entire group back to the house to put on display what had happened only moments prior. When Charles arrived in the archway that led to the dining room he stopped. Joey Odom lay on the floor, blood pooled under him from the gunshots in his head and arm.
He let out a muffled scream but Brock pulled his hair back, forcing him to look a head. Teresa started to cry once more and Wells tried to comfort her in an effort to keep everyone else alive.
Charles was forced to step over Joey’s lifeless body on his way to the study before being thrown down on the couch. In front of him by the wood stove were the now lifeless bodies of his beloved dogs. The pair still curled up around the warmth, never having gotten up before meeting their end.
Teresa would make another attempt to leave before both she and Wells were commanded to sit in a chair in the study. Brock and West started asking Charles again where the money was, and of course the answer had not changed.
At this point Brock and West started tearing apart the study in an effort to find anything valuable. Charles slowly gazed around his home, a place once full of laughter and love now coated in blood. His gag had been loosened and had dropped under his mouth. He looked at his faithful dogs, the ones he always used to refer to as ‘his beauties’ as they now lay lifeless on the cold floor. Slowly, he turned his head to see Joey, who he had loved for so long and so deeply. The man who helped him raise his children and who he built this wonderful place with.
With defiance, Charles stood up from the couch. West shoved him back down, but Charles stood up once more and began walking towards his fallen partner. West screamed at him to come back, but still Charles continued while muttering “I asked for this.”
The blast of the gun rang out in the small home and Charles was hit in the back of the head. He crumpled, but was still determined to get to Joey. That was when another shot was fired and Charles fell backwards into a bookcase.
West then approached and finished the job.
Brock and West ransacked the house, only finding minor items of value before departing into the night with the Jeep owned by Joey and Charles. Unfortunately Brock and West would not be brought to justice until after they had taken the life of Kirby Phelps and would only continue to slander Charles and Joey in their trial.
The story to that is long and painful to those that knew Charles and Joey. Justice would be served though when both men were given life sentences for their crimes. However, the damage was irreversible.
The rough bikers would forever feel a twinge of guilt for not being there to protect their friends. The devout Catholic woman staring blankly out her kitchen window, a second cup of tea instinctively made for Joey growing colder by the moment. The married couple who had to console their weeping children when they broke the news that they wouldn’t be able to visit the manor anymore to hear Charles’ harp or to play dolls with Joey. The aging nudist would keep watch over Corpsewood before he himself departed from this world, leaving the estate to slowly and quietly be reclaimed by the wilderness.
Though their home now lies in ruins, one can not help but hope that Joey and Charles are still there in some way. Laughing together on their patio by the rose garden, the air lightly sweet from Joey’s freshly baked raspberry tart. Their hearts and glasses full as they welcome their visitors.
In researching this case I was surprised to find a lack of articles detailing the life Joey Odom and Charles Scudder before they met their end. Even more upsetting: the information I did find was clearly only derived from the claims West and Brock made in court or from the media frenzy that happened around the trial. It is not wise to trust the words of heartless murderers. As a result, I wanted to share the tale that I had the pleasure of learning about through my various sources cited below.
All too often in cases involving a murder we become obsessed with the crime itself and tend to forget the victims. Hence why it isn’t detailed that fully in this post. There are far better writers than me who have fully covered the events that transpired that December night and the trial there after. I’ll let them tell you the story in excruciating detail.
Joey and Charles were loved dearly. Who had favorite songs and foods. Who had hopes and dreams. Who, when they tragically departed, left a large hole with marred edges in the lives of those who treasured them.
Let’s do our best to remember them for who they were, not how they died.
Ellis, David “Corpsewood: A True Crime Like No Other”, 2016
Grey, Orrin “House of Horror: The Brutal Murders at Georgia’s Corpsewood Manor”, 2019
Petula, Amy “The Corpsewood Manor Murders in North Georgia”, 2018
Scudder, Charles “A Castle in the Country”, 1981
West v The State, 1984
January 18th, 2019 found the Black Cat crew hiking down a dark dirt trail under a mostly full moon. The destination was Corpsewood Manor, in Trion, GA. Corpsewood is well known in the area and by the paranormal community as the house where Charles Scudder, his partner Joseph Odom and their two dogs, Beelzebub and Arsenath, were brutally murdered in 1982.
The path was pitch black save for our flashlights, and there was a slight mist in the air that gave the woods an eerie glow. Our destination was about 15 minutes away from where we parked, deep into the woods. No car could go down this path, as someone had created dirt barriers to prevent such a thing. With burritos in hand, and glow sticks around our necks, we charged forward, not letting the darkness or remoteness of the area deter us.
When we arrived, we were greeted first by the ruins of two brick columns to either side of the path. A slight turn to the left, and a lifting of our flashlights, and we spotted a large, brick, two-story structure.
We entered the group of structures, all ruined ever since a fire had ravaged the abandoned house years ago. We set up base camp in the middle of the structures, along the back wall of the house proper. First things first, having left at 3:30 pm and it now being almost 6, we were very hungry. We sat down to enjoy our to-go burritos and bowls from Willy's. We turned a DVR (Digital Voice Recorder) on while we ate and chatted about the location. The atmosphere, as we kept remarking to each other throughout the investigation, was calm and peaceful and not the slightest bit creepy.
One team member got the impression of someone asking "Did you bring anything for us?" We reassured the location that we did indeed bring offerings for them - wine, cigarettes, and big Milkbones for the two dogs.
After eating and getting our gear prepared, we each began to wander around the ruins. Kristin did baseline readings on the whole location, and her EMF meter found nothing out of the ordinary. Amber, on her first time out on an investigation, operated as a Sensitive. She knew very little about Corpsewood or the murders, which was deliberate to make sure whatever she picked up was new to her. She checked the manor out and wrote down all of her impressions, several of which were very accurate and interesting. Erin and Meridith walked around taking pictures, with Erin holding a flashlight up to help light Meridith's shot.
So far it was a much quieter night than one would expect from a location where something so terrible had happened. Unexpectedly, the whole team felt very at ease while in Charles and Joey's house.
After wandering and checking things out, we sat down to do an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) session and see if we could catch the gentlemen or the dogs speaking to us. Unfortunately, during the EVP session, our K2 meter never left the green light, and we only captured a strange sound somewhere between a car horn and a train whistle.
Our EVP session finished, we explored a little more and took a few more photos before we packed up and headed out. We shared a toast with Charles and Joseph with the remaining wine. Before leaving, we picked up a lot of trash, such as beer cans and bottles disrespectfully left there.
Once we got home, we all began to review our footage and recordings. Kristin discovered two Class B EVPs which occurred while we were first arriving and setting up. Click here to check them out.
We will go back to Corpsewood someday, to take better photos in the light and perhaps to pick up the smashed glass right outside the front door, because Amber received that it "causes the dogs' feet to hurt." As good a reason as any to go back!