RICHMOND, VA.–Special.– There stands on Decatur street, near Sixth, not a stone’s throw from the southern banks of the James, a three-story and attic, gable-roofed, until recently used as a dwelling, which is declared to be haunted. The house in question is a familiar sight to probably every resident of the Southside, although its exact age–and it is said to have been erected more than 100 years ago–is seemingly known to no one.
There is a story which was recalled today when the report that the house was haunted became current, that the first owner thereof met an untimely end in the same house years ago–the exact year could not be recalled by those who remembered the tragedy. The victim, Dr. Philip Williamson, was murdered in cold blood, struck down in the dark by a hidden assassin, and the house looted.
Dr. Williamson, an eccentric bachelor who devoted his life to a series of inventions, was seldom seen to leave his hom, but often would vanish, and his whereabouts would be unknown until he would again be seen zealously at work. This work was carefully guarded and no one was let into the secrets thereof. This extraordinary character never visited his neighbors, and he made it plain that he did not care to be disturbed. It was never known whether he had kin in this part of the country; certainly there were none who claimed relationship to him in Manchester.
His murder ever remained a mystery, although there were those who were inclined to the belief that aged man took his own life. The matter was thoroughly investigated by the constabulary of the city at the time, but not a clew was found that would help to unravel the mystery.
According to reports which have been drifting into the Third Police Station for several nights past–the climax of which was reached last night, or early this morning, rather–the murder of Dr. Williamson is being nightly re-enacted in the house of mystery.
At first reports of an indefinite nature which reached the ears of the police were given little credence, and it was left to John Ransdell, a reputable colored citizen who lives in the neighborhood, to precipitate an investigation.
Ransdell rushed hatless and breathless into the police station, at Fourteenth and Stockton Streets, shortly after midnight this morning and declared that murder was being committed in the house. His manner was so positive that he had no trouble in convincing the police of his sincerity, and Policeman Wescott was sent post haste to the scene of the supposed murder.
Upon approaching the house nothing unusual was to be seen by the officer: no sign of life was to be observed and a light which Ransdell said he would swear upon a stack of Bibles he saw in a room on the third floor, had disappeared. Policeman Wescott visited every room in the house, but his search was unrewarded.
NIghtly, at about midnight, it has been reported to the police, and other recitals tally minutely with that of Ransdell, blood-curdling screams emanating, it would appear, from the lips of a lost soul, have been heard in the house, in the same room in which Ransdell delcares he saw the mysterious illumination last night, and which sent cold shivers up and down the spines of their hearers.
The clanking of chains precede and follow the cries of distress, and the “dull and thickening thud” of a falling body concludes the harrowing episode. The light vanishes, to be seen a moment in another room , after which it disappears entirely. The same evidences of what is declared by those who are inclined to be superstitious are bordering on the supernatural, are enacted exactly as described above, about midnight or shortly therafter, each night.
How long this has been going on was not ascertained today, but Ransdell declares that following a report which reached him yesterday, he determined to see for himself at the very opportunity. That opportunity offered itslf last night and Ransdell was scared out of seen years growth
It is the purpose of the police to watch the house tonight and, if possible, solve a mystery that is causng many sleepless nights.