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Shady Lady Ghost Stories of (Mostly) New York and New Jersey
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New York Stories

The Ghostly Impresario

David Belasco's penthouse above New York's Belasco Theater was the scene of many a wild party before his death in 1931. According to the theater's stagehands, he's still having them.

The Ghostly Impresario

The Spring Street Ghost

Shaking his head in wonder at what he thought was some sort of religious experience, the man left the visitation in the loft space and went out to the bathroom, which was in a hallway that ran along the space in which he had been sleeping. When he returned, the figure was still standing at the far end of the loft. He could not tell at the distance if it was male or female.

The Spring Street Ghost

Murder in Greenwich Village: A Rafe and Masie Story

The street was very, very dark and very, very empty. Suddenly, Masie felt too alone and hustled out the Bedford Street end of the block. Looking behind her down the short block she had just left, she saw nobody, but felt someone was there in shadow. She could see the lights of busy Bleecker Street, where pedestrians were turning into Bedford, and her fears were calmed, but she wanted to know if she had imagined the whole thing.

Murder in Greenwich Village

Madam Jumel and Her Two Husbands

Visitors to the mansion report meeting the ghost of Aaron Burr. But the first husband of Madam Jumel has caused the most ruckus. Stephen Jumel seems to have been a very, very angry ghost. He communicated to Hans Holzer and Ethel Myers during two rescue seances, the information that he had been murdered by his wife, Eliza. The ghostly Jumel claimed that he had been injured in an accident with a pitchfork after which Eliza ripped off his bandages and watched him bleed to death.

Madam Jumel and Her Two Husbands

He Wore a Double-Breasted Suit

It was November 16, 1940, and the man who would be known as The Mad Bomber walked into the Consolidated Edison office, dropped his toolbox, and walked out again. The small bomb never exploded. The Bomb Squad of the NYPD found no fingerprints or other evidence. It was wartime, everybody was busy, and after a cursory investigation, the case went away. But the Mad Bomber did not go away for 16 years.

He Wore a Double-Breasted Suit

The Bank Street Ghost

The new owners of the Greenwich Village house and their two servants regularly heard footsteps going up the stairway and walking across the second floor, followed by a light tapping sound. The occurrences happened during the daylight hours. Nobody was ever done any harm. The occupants just grew used to having a restless spirit as a housemate.

Ghost Story: The Bank Street Ghost

The Body In The Hudson

On Sunday, July 25, 1841, Mary wore a white dress, with a blue scarf and a leghorn hat, and carried a parasol. She told her fiance, a boarder in her mother's house at 126 Nassau Street, that she was going to visit her aunt, Mrs. Downing, uptown on Jane Street. Daniel Payne promised to meet her that evening at the omnibus stop on Broadway and see her safely home. Daniel never met Mary at the omnibus stop. Her body was found three days later in the Hudson River near the shore of Hoboken, New Jersey. She had been tied with strips of her own clothing.

True Crime: The Body In The Hudson

Anna's Rooftop: A Rafe and Masie Story

A short story set in 1970s Greenwich Village and Coney Island.

"Then one day, for some reason, she was restless, and the three green walls seemed to close in on her. In a decisive move, she turned her chair to face north and the Van Gogh apartment building with its many windows. For the first time, she considered how Anna's rooftop must appear to her neighbors; especially at night in lantern light, it was a tiny stage and every event on it an act in a small play. What dramas of the City had the Van Gogh witnessed on Anna's rooftop?"

(Excerpt from "Anna's Rooftop")

Short Story: Anna's Rooftop

She Looked Like Marilyn Monroe

On August 20, 1974, Mary Smithers, a schoolteacher who lived at 118 Waverly Place, complained of a leak coming through the ceiling of her top floor apartment. She and Mr. Johnson, the super, went up to investigate the source of the leak and found the body. There is nothing quite like New York in an August heat wave. It was 100 degrees. The horse flies had found the body first.

She Looked Like Marilyn Monroe

She Went Out The Window

A true crime story of the New York art world in the early 1980s.

The Defenestration of Ana Mendieta.

"The panty-clad sculptress came out a 34-story window with a sill as high as her chest. The windowsill had on it a goodly layer of soot, bearing no footprints, and not mussed in any way. She landed on the roof of the Montien Thai restaurant on Broadway in Greenwich Village, or what they now call NoHo."

(Excerpt from "She Went Out The Window")

True Crime: She Went Out The Window

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I And My Annabel Lee

A short story set in the Great Depression on Staten Island.

I thought he didn't come home at night, but then one cold day Mrs. Harper came downstairs. She said, "Annabel Lee, you've got to get your father inside to sleep now. It's getting cold for the porch and he could freeze to death out there this winter."

"The porch?"

That night I stayed awake until I heard him stumble up the back steps. He fell heavily onto the floorboards. I thought he might be hurt, but when I opened the back door, he was curled up, snoring softly. I was wearing one of the white gowns I had inherited from my mother. I loved sleeping in them. I believed they still smelled like her after no matter how many washings and bluings. My hair was as long and dark as hers had been. It fell to the backs of my knees. I stooped and started pulling off one of his shoes. He woke all groggy and started singing.

I was a child and she was a child
In this kingdom by the sea
But we loved with a love that was more than love
I and my-

He broke off the song and said harshly, "Girlie, what the hell do you think you're doing?"

He jumped up fast as if he were sober. He smacked me hard enough to send me flying backward onto the porch floor. The back of my head slammed down on the set stone border at the top of the steps. I was stunned, by the smack, by the fall, by the concussive sound of my head hitting hard stone. I had never in my life been hit. He stood over me and pulled off his belt. He was snarling and breathing hard, as would any wild animal. He reared back, holding the strap as a whip, and I could feel it coming at me. I shut my eyes tight, but it didn't come, the lash.

(Excerpt from: I And My Annabel Lee)

Short Story: I And My Annabel Lee

Pretty Polly

Pretty Polly

It is 1843 in the small crossroads settlement of Graniteville on Staten Island, New York. Did Polly Bodine murder her sister-in-law, Emeline Van Pelt Housman, and her baby daughter, Ann Eliza? Did she then set the house afire?

And will Pretty Polly hang for it?

Pretty Polly

Pretty Polly

An Excerpt From


Isaac Kruser takes a stick and begins poking through the smoldering pile in the corner. At a closer look, he sees what sends him screaming bloody, blue murder into the night. The baby daughter's skull is crushed. Emeline's throat bears a thin line as if cut. Her left arm is broken in two places. There is a jagged wound along the forearm. Emeline's skull also has been fractured. Her right wrist wears a black silk kerchief tied in a sailor's knot. The bedclothes are stained in blood.

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