Did we capture a real ghost??

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I took this photo on a beautiful spring day in the Unitarian Church graveyard in Charleston, South Carolina.. 

Do you see the lady in the black dress holding a purse walking by the fence?

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 Here's a closer look . . . 

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This graveyard is rumored to be haunted by one of the first serial killers . . . . could this be her?  

Jeff and I visited Charleston in April of 2004 and we walked everywhere downtown. We found on one of the main streets there was this little doorway that looked very spooky. There was a black wrought iron gate and a plaque on the brick that said it was the Unitarian Church graveyard. We ventured down the curvy winding path which was bordered by lots of plants and low hanging trees. As we got further down the path it opened up into a huge graveyard that was overrun with weeds and grass. Looked like no one had done landscaping for years.

Me, Jeff and  Boo Boo walked all over and I took pictures everywhere. There were beautiful plants, even pretty blooming weeds everywhere we looked. We checked out so many old tombstones using our imaginations to wonder what diseases and tragedies placed these souls here.

After we returned home, I was looking at the pictures and we found the one above. It looked like there was a man in a gray suit walking thru the graveyard in the left side of the photo, but then again we thought . . . maybe that is just a couple tombstones that line up to look like that . . . So a friend is looking at the picture and said "who is that lady in the back by the fence?"

What lady? . . . . then we saw her or at least what looks like her. It appears that by the black wrought iron fence, there is a profile of a woman with her hair in a bun, a white lacy blouse, and a black dress with a bustle in the back. On her arm appears to be a purse of some kind. On close inspection you can even see facial features. Also somewhere around her head area is a orb like object that Jeff claims he can see facial features or a pig snout in it . . .

A few weeks later, we returned to Charleston and went back to the same cemetery at the same time of day. We figured out the man was a couple of tombstones. We went back to the same exact spot where I took the picture of the lady and there was nothing there that could have made this image up. I took dozes more pictures of the same area in the same way and nothing showed in the pictures.

We went on a ghost tour and found out that Lavinia Fisher was buried in that graveyard as well as the judge that sentenced her execution. It is apparently a famous Charleston tale. Is that Lavinia we caught? Who knows . . . but legend says she was a beautiful brunette and that she walks the graveyard looking for the judge. One version of the story of Lavinia is below as I found it online.



Story below is by Nanci - someone I met thru the internet

who researches historical ghost stories.

 The "ghost" photos were taken by me and Jeff in April of 2004.



Entrance to the Unitarian Graveyard

In April 2003 I took a ghost tour in Charleston, SC.  I expected the tour to be intended to scare little children with silly ghost stories.  To my surprise our tour guide (John with "Ghost Hunt") was a historian who told us events based on actual documented facts.  He took us to the Unitarian Cemetery and Church and told us a long in depth story of Lavinia Fisher.  I was so intrigued with his story that I decided upon returning from my vacation I would learn more about her.  Unfortunately I'm finding there is not much information available on Lavinia Fisher.  As a little side hobby I have decided to collect as much research as possible.

                                                                        - Nanci

In 1819 John Peeples was traveling from Georgia to Charleston.  He was tired from his long journey and had heard The Six Mile House just outside of Charleston was a nice place to stay..  John stopped by the inn and inquired about a room for the night.  He was warmly greeted by the most attractive woman he had ever set eyes on.  Records claim she had a head of  long flowing black hair and all records concur, this woman, Mrs. Lavinia Fisher, was a very beautiful woman.

Lavinia informed him there was not a room available for the night but she would like him to join her for lunch and tea.  Her charms were quite seductive and John welcomed the company and a chance to relax for a moment.  John was mesmerized by Lavinia.  He had never had the pleasure of such intelligent and charming company.  During his meal he noticed Lavinia's husband (also named John) staring at him.  His eerie glances made John feel  uncomfortable.  But John was captivated by Lavinia's charm and beauty; he opted to ignore her husband's bizarre behavior.

During the meal Lavinia asked John several questions about his trip.  She wanted to know where John was from, where he was heading to and the purpose of his travels.  John was quite flattered with all the attention and gladly provided answers to all her questions.  Lavinia had excused herself from the table and returned with some tea and good news.  A room had suddenly become available.  It was a small room but if John would like to stay it was his for the night.  John was quite tired and decided to take the room for the evening.  Lavinia then poured John a cup of tea and excused herself again for a moment. 

Joun was probably one of the few people back in 1819 who did not care for tea.  He did not want to be rude and decline the cup of tea.  When Lavinia excused herself for a moment he poured the cup out as to give the illusion of having drank the cup.  Lavinia returned to show him to his room and John was happy to get a much needed rest.
John went up to his room and started to fondly recall his lunch with the beautiful and charming Lavinia Fisher.  While replaying the conversation in his head he started to get a little uncomfortable.  Why did Lavinia ask how much money he was traveling with?  Why did she want to know if someone expected him the following morning?  Why was her husband staring at him all evening?  Some reports state that John felt uncomfortable with all the information he provided Lavinia.  Others state he was uncomfortable before arriving at The Six Mile House because of men who unexplainably disappeared before arriving there.  

John had decided he did not want to sleep on the bed.  He felt safer in the chair by the door.  If he were to be robbed he would be able to surprise them with a defensive attack from behind.  John dozed off in his chair and awoke to an odd noise.  The bed he should have been sleeping in disappeared!  The floor boards underneath the bed opened up and he could see a long fall to the bottom.  

A third report states that John was not suspicious of anything.  He was traveling with his dog and the noise of the floor boards opening and the bed being lowered alarmed the dog who in turn woke John up in time.  Regardless to which story actually happened, John jumped out the window and was able to get on his horse saddled up outside and sped in to Charleston as quickly as possible.

Spot in the back corner, very close to where we took our picture, where Lavinia is said to have been buried in an unmarked grave.

John of course went straight to the Charleston authorities.  They found multiples sets of bones underneath the bed.  They also discovered the tea to have a type of herb that would knock someone in to a deep sleep for hours.  The Fishers and possibly a few other "assistants" were convicted of murder and sentenced to death.  

Lavinia's husband, John, was hung first.  Lavinia was counting on her charm and good looks to spare her life.  She asked to wear her wedding gown when she appeared before the courts.  Lavinia was set to persuade the judges in to sparing her life.  However, the public wanted this muderous woman dead!  They had filled the court room and the surrounding streets.  Hundreds of people tried to cram in to the court house to make sure this woman paid for her acts.  The judges had no choice but to sentence her to death.  They knew anarchy would start the moment they reduced her sentence.  

Quite outraged by the judges' decision not to spare her life Lavinia shouted "If ye have a message ye want to send to the Devil, give it to me - I'll carry it!"  Most reports state that rather than wait to be dropped during her hanging she jumped and hung herself the moment the noose was placed around her neck.

Lavinia was burried in the Unitarian Cemetery.  It was the only place that would take her body.  The only condition was that Lavinia be burried in the back  away from sight and without a headstone to record her existence.

View of the Unitarian Church

thru the graveyard.

The cemetery today is quite run down and overgrown with weeds.  All of the old cemeteries in Charleston are well maintained, weeds are pulled from the graves.  Rumor is that groundspeople are afraid to take care of the Unitarian Cemetery.  Strange sightings often occur.  Lavinia is said to haunt the cemetery.  Ironically one of the judges who sentenced her to death is buried in the same cemetery.  Lavinia is said to have her strongest presence where she was buried and near his grave.  Her presence is also said to be felt in the old jail she was housed in on Magazine Street.  Lavinia is quite possibly the most active Charleston ghost.  She may be America's first serial killer. 
We know of Aileen Wuornos as America's first female serial killer.  But she was executed on 10/9/2002 and Lavinia Fisher was executed on 2/18/1820 (at age 27).  While Aileen portrayed more of the definition eptiomized by Jack the Ripper (stone-cold predator who murders for the joy of the kill and often with sexual or sadistic overtones) she was not by definition America's first serial killer.  The true definition of a serial killer is one who murders more than three people. This certainly would qualify Lavinia as a serial killer. 
Thanks to Stephanie M. in Wisconsin for this bit of information (8/03):
Our tour guide told us that the tea Lavinia made killed the people not put them to sleep.  When John *Peeples* heard them talking outside his room he heard them both say they wanted to "take care of it."  John Fisher's way was dropping the bed, Lavinia's was making them breakfast and serving them tea that would kill them.  But as stories go things get changed around an we really don't know exactly what took place.

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