Tornado at Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery?

As I type this, a severe storm with some tornado sightings is ripping through the Chicago area, including downtown. The worst of it seems to have passed me (about half a mile West of the loop) a few minutes ago, but a few tornadoes were reported, including as close to me as Logan Square. Not sure about damage yet, but it looks like downtown is out of the danger zone.

However, the news just mentioned something about a funnel/tornado sighted near 147th and Cicero – right near Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, the abandoned cemetery that is reputed to be among the most haunted locations in the world.

I can’t imagine the storm could damage it too much more than the vandals already have, but we’ll keep you posted if we hear anything. Could some underground energy or ley line or somesuch business have attracted the tornado to the area? I’m no expert on that side of things, but something tells me they might be talking about this storm in paranormal circles for some time.

We’ll keep you posted if there are any updates on damage in the area.

Belle Gunness Update!

Rich Vitton of the Forest Park Historical Society has sent us an update on Belle Gunness, the murderess about whom we blogged earlier in the week. Belle, if you’ll recall, was exhumed from her resting place at a cemetery in Forest Park to see if the headless corpse was actually hers.

According to Andrea Simmons, who is handling the DNA testin in Indiana, there’s about a 50-50 chance that the tests will work out. DNA samples have been sent to five different labs, but they feel that there may not be enough DNA left for conclusive results.

But fear not – there’s a backup plan! Permission has been obtained from Gunness’ descendants to exhume Belle’s sister, who is buried in California, so that more DNA can be extracted.

Also buried in California is another target for exhumation – the body of Elizabeth Carlson, who was awaiting trial for poisoning at the time of her death. Many believed at the time that she wasn’t Elizabeth Carlson at all, but Belle Gunness herself!

Here is a rare picture of Belle’s sister sent to us by Rich. It may give us some idea as to what Belle would have looked like as an old woman:

The results of the test should be known in May or June!

Rising from the Suburbs….Belle Gunness!

Belle Gunness, the female blue beard, has finally been dug up.

We usually think of Gunnesss as an Indiana serial killer; we have plenty of our own around here, so we don’t mind letting them have this one. Sort of throwing them a bone, if you will. It was in Indiana that Belle set up a farm where she would lure wealthy bachelors with lovelorn classified ads, then murder them and feed them to her hogs. How many men she killed isn’t known; some suspect that it was upwards of 100.

But there’s a Chicago connection – Belle was, in addition to being a killer, an insurance fraudster. One of her first major schemes involved burning down a candy store that she and her husband ran at Grand and Elizabeth in Chicago in the 1880s (right around the same time that her male counterpart, HH Holmes, was getting his start). From there she moved to the suburbs. After she died in a fire at her Indiana farm, which also killed her daughters, she was brought back to Chicago, where she lay buried in Forest Park. Until now.

The body found at the Indiana farm was headless. The head was never found – the only things to identify Belle were a couple of dentures. Most people don’t lose their heads in fires, and no one chops their own head off and hides it before dying. There has, therefore, long been speculation that Gunness’ death was faked, and now we’re going to find out for sure:

Chicago Tribune: Belle Gunness exhumed

This isn’t the first time that stories of a faked death have led to exhumation; Jesse James was dug up a year or so ago to see if it was really him (which it certainly was). I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but I do enjoy a good faked death story; they tend to seem much more plausible than conspiracies that require thousands of people to keep a secret. Some skeptics claim that no one has ever successfully faked their death, but there’s sort of a catch: if we knew about it, it wouldn’t have been successful! Of course, they won’t be able to say that at all if the headless corpse is someone other than Gunness!

Will Roosevelt’s Ghost Endorse a Candidate for 2008?

A few days before Super Tuesday, we ran a miniature investigation in the Florentine Room of the Congress Hotel, a hotel reputed to be haunted by Theodore Roosevelt himself, to see if we could get his ghost to endorse a presidential candidate.

While Roosevelt may or may not haunt the hotel, he does have a lot of history there. It was in the Florentine Room in 1912 that he jumped onto a table and announced that he was leaving the Republican party, since they weren’t going to nominate him for a third term. Six weeks later, he was back in the same room, forming the Bull Moose Party, which was officially called The American Progressive Party. It was probably the most liberal major party that had been formed at that point, and served to draw a good deal of the liberals who had been Republicans at that point out of the GOP. He didn’t win the election, but the Bull Moose Party DID come in second, beating President Taft pretty handily. As a side note, his nomination was seconded by Jane Addams of Hull House.

We here at Chicago Unbelievable feel that Col. Roosevelt has been TOTALLY, UNFAIRLY ignored by the “mainstream” media this election cycle. And, though we don’t find it likely that he actually haunts the place, we thought we should give him a chance to say his thing. We really have no idea who he’d endorse today – we can find things he’d like about all three of the major candidates. Alas, if his ghost was there, it kept its mouth shut.

However, during the investigation (which was conducted during one of our tours), a guest named Kayla Hendricks took this picture:

Some say that they see the face of an angry Roosevelt in the flash – he’s back, and he’s PISSED! In reality, this is probably just a psychological trick – our brains are trained to look for shapes like faces in random noise like this (and the fact that we’re happy to tell you this is one way you can tell that we’re REAL ghost hunters here at Chicago Unbelievable, not quacks!) But you never know…

We’ll be back in the Florentine Room several times between now and election day – plenty of time for TR to make an appearance!