This article by Rebecca Styn was originally published in the Erie Reader on Oct. 17, 2012.
The leaves have all changed color, the days are getting shorter, darkness swoops in early and the nights get colder and grow longer. During the Halloween season, popular tales and legends resurface once again. Through these stories, people delight in the chance to entertain their primordial fears.
Every region, city, and town has its tales. In New York City, it is said that the Empire State Building is haunted – over the course of the building’s history, it is documented that there were 14 suicides that were attempted from the observation deck as early as its construction. And it is said that those that died after leaping from the deck still haunt the building today.
Erie is no different.
From the Gudgeonville Bridge, where a little girl named Darlene fell 225 feet face-first off the cliffs by the bridge and still haunts the land around it today, to Axe Murder Hollow, where a young mother and her children were hacked to death in their own home by her husband, in a jealous rage. Legend has it that the husband still roams the area and oftentimes appears on a rainy night where you can actually see his ax glistening in the rain.
So, as All Hallow’s Eve approaches, we welcome you to read about some other chilling tales – some proven true, some steeped in legend and myth – about odd occurrences in our area.
Just be sure to leave a light on.
The Vampire Crypt
Located on 21st and Chestnut streets, the Erie Cemetery has existed for over 160 years now. Within its fenced boundaries lies a classic stone burial ground that showcases many ornate and elaborate burial structures. However, one crypt stands out from them all.
Although its real name is “The Brown Vault,” (offering no initial air of mystery), it’s become known over the years as “The Vampire Crypt,” mainly because of the strange “V” carving above the entrance. To further add to the mystery, no names are inscribed on the vault, and unlike all of the other crypts, The Vampire Crypt appears darkened, as though exposed to fire.
According to Robin Swope, author of “Eerie Erie, Tales of the Unexplained in Northwest Pennsylvania,” there are many stories and myths that surround the vault. “Stories have told of a wealthy man who fell ill after a trip to Romania and soon after returning to Erie, died suddenly,” Swope explains. “He was buried in the crypt and within a week strange things started happening. Dead bodies were found in the suburbs that surrounded the graveyard – their blood had been drained and there were classic teeth marks on the neck.”
Other tales suggest a young teen had broken into the vault to find a desiccated corpse in a rotted wood coffin. To prove he had been there, the teen stole a ring off of the withered body and went to show his friend. The next day, a group of friends showed up at the teen’s house to get a look at the ring, but when his mother went to get him, she found him dead, colorless with eyes wide open and mouth frozen open in terror – with his ring finger literally ripped from his hand.
In actuality, the crypt is owned by the Brown family – though no Browns are buried there. Within its walls are seven bodies all with the last name Goodrich, and the last recorded burial was in 1880. But the mystery still remains though as to why a “V” is on the front of the vault, and why no names are listed anywhere.
Legend has it that vampires – should they truly exist – don’t reveal their real names, and since they are evil, whoever knows their true names has power over them. As for what could still reside within its walls, nobody really knows. It’s been decades since anyone has entered the “cryptic” walls.
Read more Eerie Erie stories by checking out the rest of the article here.