Moving into their dream home was the thrill of a lifetime for Toni and Tom. They had driven by this house for five years always hoping that one day it would be theirs’. Then one day it was.
The house was everything they had ever dreamed of and more than they would had ever expected. After a month of peaceful living, Toni began to hear noises and voices coming from the house. They were too soft to tell exactly what they were saying.
Time went on and the noises and voices continued to grow stronger. She could make out a few words. ‘Mary,’ she heard. ‘Mary, please, no.’ She was still unable to tell where they were coming from. She doesn’t know anyone named Mary. And her husband claims not to hear anything at all.
Toni decides to do some research on the house and grounds. She finds the house is well over one hundred years old and was at one time a house for orphans of the great depression. There were no murders recorded, but there were many deaths of the orphans. They were assumed to be of natural causes. The woman that ran the home was named Mary Swenson. This explained the name she kept hearing, but not the pleas for help.
She told Tom about her findings and he was impressed with her research, but still denied hearing any voices. This concerned Toni, ‘Why would she be the only one hearing the voices or the noises?’ The noises she had realized were running through the halls. At first she had thought they might be the ghost of the children playing, but later decided they were someone being chased. She wasn’t sure if they were running out of fear or play, but she knew she had to find out.
One day while looking for pictures in a hall closet she noticed a door in the back wall. She moved all of the boxes out into the hallway too get better access to the door. Slowly she opened the door. Entering she found chains attached to the walls. In the corner of the room she saw an old desk, on the desk were notebooks filled with children’s names, ages and dates beside them.
Toni wasn’t sure if these were arrival dates or death dates. She gathered up the books and left the room. She decided not to show Tom until she could figure out exactly what they meant. Not sure why he would lie about not hearing the noises, she decided not to push him on the issue.
Several nights later, they were lying in bed and there was a loud bump outside the bedroom door. Tom jumped and she knew for sure he heard it. They looked at each other and Tom jumped to his feet. ‘I know you heard that.’ Toni said with some satisfaction. Tom just looked at her with fear in his eyes. He slowly opened the door to find nothing there. He checked the whole house and found no one or nothing. She decided it was time to tell him about the room and the research.
Listening intently, he finally admitted he had been hearing the voices. ‘I have been afraid to tell you about what I have been hearing, but the voices have been growing stronger. What do you think we should do?’ Tom said. ‘I don’t believe all of the bodies where never found. I think there are some hidden in the house. We need to find them and give them a proper burial. I believe that Mary is torturing them in death as she did in life and I’m not sure how to stop her.’ Toni replied.
They spent the whole night searching the house and found nothing. They knew they were missing something, but what? The outside of the house was the only thing they hadn’t checked. Toni knew there was a cellar in the back yard and it would be the next thing to check.
They found the cellar locked with an old fashion lock. It looked like it had been there for more than fifty years. Using an axe, Tom was able to easily break the lock. Upon opening the doors, they were met with an old dang, musty stench. This smell made Toni feel sick. She knew this had to be the place, she could feel it in her heart.
Carefully checking the walls, they found loose cinder blocks. Tom ran to find a crowbar to help him remove them. Returning he found that Toni had already removed two blocks. He was impressed with her conviction. They could see there was a large opening behind the wall. They continued to dig at the blocks until they had removed enough to walk through.
Lying in the far back left corner were a stack of bones and clothing. This reassured their suspicions about the murdered children. Now they were not really sure what to do. They decided to call the police.
At first the police detectives had a hard time believing the stories of the voices and noises in the house.
But after seeing the stack of bones, it was hard to completely dismiss their stories. The crime scene investigators spent the next few weeks excavating the cellar. They found a total of twenty bodies they guessed the ages to be around six to twelve years old. The lead investigator told them that they would know better after their DNA research and this could take up to two months.
After three months of silence the voices started again. ‘Mary, please, no.’ It was still a child’s voice. Toni knew they were missing something. She called the crime scene investigator to see if they had gotten anywhere on identifying these children. The investigator told her there was no way of knowing who these children were because there were no medical records for the orphanage. He could however tell the children were tortured to death. From the looks of the remodeling of the breaks, they had been tortured for many years. They were looking for more information on Mary Swenson. He told her he would call when he had more information.
This information only deepened Toni and Tom’s sadness for these children. They decided to search the house again, not sure how their search could be any more productive than the investigators, but they had to try something. They started in the basement.
After looking at every board on the wall and floor for four hours, they found a very small piece of cloth sticking out of a wall in the attic. Tom used the crowbar, he had been carrying with him, to pry a hidden door open. The stench that filled the attic was a musty, moldy, sickening sweet air. This made Toni physically ill.
She regained her composure and walked into the room with her shirt collar pulled over her mouth. This room was different from the hidden closet room. It had no lights so it was hard to see the overall room with just flash lights, but what they could see was enough to answer a lot of questions.
On the floor in the far left hand corner where a stack of pictures, Toni carefully thumbed through them and found forty-five children’s pictures with names at the bottom of each. There was a large picture of a stern faced woman hanging above a small desk tucked into the right corner by the door. They believed this to be Mary Swenson. She looked to be in her mid to late thirties. On the desk lay old surgical tools, when Toni touched the desk she began to feel sick again.
Tom shined his flash light into the far right hand corner and heard Toni scream a horrified scream. He looked back to where the light was shining and saw a skeleton, with hair still on it, hanging by a rope attached to the ceiling. He knew right away this was the child that was crying out for help in the house. Tom rushed to Toni, who was still crying, and led her out of the room.
The following morning, Tom called the investigator and informed him of all they had found the night before. Within two hours the house was crawling with crime scene investigators and local police. The lead investigator was overwhelmed by all of the material and especially the skeleton they had found. He confirmed their fear of the skeleton being a real child. Toni could not shake the sick feeling that she had had since the night before.
When the spot lights were set up in the room they revealed blood stains all over the floor and two of the walls. The desk area was clear of blood, but had plenty of detailed notebooks that explained everything she was doing to these children.
Mary was a doctor that decided to focus her studies on children and that is why she started the orphanage. She used the children to practice surgeries on without sedation. She found the mind could deal with a lot of pain before causing you to pass out. There were records of removing spleens, lungs, kidneys and anything else she could before causing death.
All of this proof was all they needed to understand the child’s voices pleading for help. After the crime scene team finally left the house for the last time, Toni spoke to the children. ‘You are safe now. It is time to go to heaven. Mary can’t hurt you anymore.’ ‘Thank you.’ Was all she heard and a small blond haired, blue eyed little girl appeared in front of the two of them. She smiled and was gone. They never had another disturbance in the house, but neither of them ever forgot the ordeal.Story Credit: Laura G. | Belle Fourche, SD.