One never left my mind: what emerged from the house where 15-year old Mabel Mayer was murdered in 1927, a crime that after decades is still unsolved? Let's see what stories began to circulate at the time. Under the heading of 'The Horrible Experience Of Mr. John Smith", a California newspaper reported: "The people of Oakland are pretty well convinced that a house where a murder was committed last week is haunted. The experience of a certain electrician as recounted by the worthy A.P. was terrifying enough. John Smith, electrician, said he passed the murder house recently and a tall, heavy set man, garbed in a gown like a black kimono and wearing a 'strange looking thing on his head', walking out and started after him. Smith said he ran as fast as he could."
Who wouldn't? But there's more. Who was the mysterious, distraught and mentally unhinged woman who appeared out of nowhere, approached two families that stood in the front of their homes talking and that knew nothing of the murder at the time? She could not remember where she lived but muttered that 'May' lived across the street from her, saying: "Oh why did they do it? I told them not to". When questioned what she meant, she abruptly left.
And what exactly was that 'strange looking thing' on the head of the black garbed, heavy set man? Another newspaper from Nevada, admittedly far away from the crime scene, described the strange looking thing as being 'about his head'. At least here we learn more from Smith: "He declared that a few days before the murder a hold-up was staged in front of the house." But the weirdness didn't stop there. Something seemed to be not quite right with the murder mansion the newspapers noted, and it became branded as a 'spook house'. "The house seemed to fall into the depths of disrepute today. Mrs. Ruby Swain, clerk, declared she was the last tenant of the place and moved out recently because she could not stand the strain of wierd (sic) noises and the oppressiveness of the place..."
1. Modesto News-Herald, 7 July 1927.
2. Modesto News-Herald, 6 July 1927.
3. Reno Gazette-Journal, 5 July 1927; Modesto News-Herald, 6 July 1927.