Coronavirus is killing haunted houses, but we still have real horror stories to scare you – Detroit Free Press

Many traditional Halloween activities are a risk to spreading COVID-19, so here are some suggestions the CDC has stay safe this spooky season. USA TODAY

This year, we're bringing the fright to you.

Yes, the pandemic already isscary, with coronavirus infectingmore than 35 million people worldwide, including the president of the United States. And if that weren't enough, there was a foiled plot to storm the capitol and kidnap the governor.

Butfor some of you, Halloween is a time for terror the safekind anyway.You feel so frightened your pulse races, you break out into a coldsweat and tremble.

"I don't know why people want to be scared,"said Karin Risko, director of City Tour Detroit, which runs some scary outings. "Maybe it's a fascination with the unknown. Maybe, it's just something a little bit out of our control that we want to dabble in."

The company is offeringonly limited "Notorious 313: Haunted 6th Precinct Tours." The tours take people inside the long-time former Detroit Police 6th Precinct building, which, had holding cells and some believe is haunted.

Articles and books have long tried to explain why we want to be scared.

One theory: It induces a sudden flight or fight response. The body releases dopamine, which gives us a kind of mental and physical high. It's a new experience that we ultimately know is safe.

Another theory:Spooky places force us to facesocial anxieties and unsettled issues.

Still, this year has beena tough one for the spook business. Coronavirusprecautions havelimited what some attractions nationwide can do, and many, like Haunted Detroit Tours out of Clawson, announced they aren't opening for the season.

Brett Molitor, the past president of the Haunted Attraction Association in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, estimates as many as 30 to 40 percent of the 1,600 to 1,700 haunted houses nationwide have shut down or cut hours.

It has been so bad this year that "Fear Finder," a free, 40-page haunted house guide that has been publishingout of Pontiac since 1993, didn't print this year, owner Edward Terebus said.Last year, it circulated about300,000 copies.

Still, you don't have to go to ahouse that's been set upto scare you. There are an estimated 1,200 homes inMichigan where spooky stuff has happened and you might not know it, according,awebsite that keeps track ofthem.

So, for folks wholike to have spine-chilling moments but are too afraidto face the real scare of catching the coronavirus the Free Press found a few placesin metro Detroit were frightening things really happened.

Andif you want to know about them, we will tell you withas many gory details asthe editors of a family-friendly news company will allow.However, if you've already had enough horror this year, just stop reading now.

Nearly 100 years ago, in a headline stripped across the top of the Free Press, a 34-year-old man had been arrested in connection with a gory, and mysterious crime: "POLICE JAIL FRIEND OF VICTIMS IN AX KILLING OF SIX IN CULT HOME."

Benny Evangelist, who was referred to in the July 4, 1929 report as a "divine prophet" of a "weird cult," his wife and four children, who ranged in ages from 18 months to 7 years old, were "hacked to death." He also has been refered to as Benjamino Evangelista.

Police found a short, stainedax and knife in the suspect's barn.

Funeral Procession of Benny Evangelist of Mich. and his family of six who killed by an Axe Maniac.(Photo: P & A Photos)

They also found in Evangelist's St. Aubin home in Detroithis severed head on the floor next to a chair in which his body, fully dressed,was slumped. The murderer, the report said, worked with "demonic frenzy."

In other accounts, Evangelistwas seated before a desk, which also served as an altar. Hishands were folded as though in prayer.

The other victims were mutilated, too.

Evangelistwas a wealthy real estate operator, the report said. He also was a religious fanatic who offered religious readings for a fee, calling upon supernatural forces for healing.

And his physician described him as "insane."

In addition to bodies, authorities found bloody footprints in the home and finger and thumbprints on the door.Butno money, jewelry, or papers were missing.

The home at 17850 St Aubin in Detroit, Michigan which was the scene of the murders of 6 people.(Photo: John Collier, Detroit Free Press)

Decades later, another St. Aubinhome this one acreamy yellow bungalow with brown trim at 17850six men were laid out on the floor and shot. Five were on the second floor and one was in the basement.

It was the city's worst mass murder, the Free Press reported in 1990, since the early 1970s.Described as a robbery gone bad, the six men were killed in what the headline called "an hour of carnage."

The robbery take, investigators estimated, was small,less than $2,000 in cash, perhaps 3 ounces of cocaine, some clothes, and electronic equipment. And gold jewelry,other drugs,nd more than $700 ended up beingleft behind.

Here's what happened:

Atabout 3:30 p.m. on April 4,Steve Owens crack dealer and police informant visited his new girlfriend at her home in anotherneighborhood.The couple decided to go roller skating.

Butfirst, Owens wanted to go to his home onSt.Aubinto shave and clean up.

Meanwhile, a former girlfriend made her own plans for an evening with Owens.Hisex, who wasknown to carry a gun, and threemen decided torob Owens.At 9:30 p.m., Owens and his girlfriend arrived at the house as Owens' ex walked up, too.

Several people, includingteenagers, were inside the house. Owens' expulled a pistol. Others had guns too.Exactly how the killing startedis unclear.Butby most accounts,people were held at gunpoint in the house and the situation unraveled.

One by one, captives were herded upstairs and then shot.

Two young women handed a police desk officer a plastic bag.

Inside was a skinned human head that had been ina freezer inside a brick house on Jean Street in Warren. The head's piercing blue eyes and dental records confirmed the victim was 15-year-oldStephanie Dubay of Clinton Township.

This wasanother gruesome crime in1990 and itset off an investigation that beganJuly 11 and suggested the horrific killing like the one in 1929 was influenced by the occult.

At the house, policefound the rest of Dubay's mutilated body in four trash bags, partially buried in a backyard and another in a bag in the garage, tossed in the front seat of a tan Monte Carlo.

They also found Jaime Rodriguez Jr., who, at the time, was 22, and his cousin, Agustin Pena, just16.

The cousins, who were charged, ended up in prison.

Robert Dubay Stands Friday at the grave of his daughter Stephanie, in Clinton Grove Cemetery in Mt. Clemens. Earlier, 16-year-old Aqustin Pena was found guilty of murdering the teenager.(Photo: Detroit Free Press file)

The gory slaying, the reports said, was a ritualistic crime and a"meticulous mutilation."

The Warren house was under policesurveillance for drug activity.

It wasknown as a place teens frequented. Dubay, who ran away from home afterher mother refused to let her get a rose tattoo, ended up there.Shehad just finished the ninth grade at Zoe ChristianAcademy in St. Clair Shores.

A few days later, the teencalled her mother to say she had been tattooed, with a"666" over herleft breast.

Rodriguez also found his way to thehouse. He also was tattooed with a "666," and he had another mark: a five-pointed star.Rodriguez had a criminal history. He servedsix months for trying to set fire to an inhabited house. He also kidnapped a 16-year-old girl from Saginaw and forced her to drivehim to Warren.

Pena also had police run-ins. He carriedaknife, marijuana, and"The CompleteBook of Witchcraft."

They killed Dubay together.

Theautopsy showed Dubay was stabbed 10 times.Herright index finger was severed so it could be worn on a necklace, reportedly as part ofareligiousobservance, Lammas Day on Aug. 1, which also wasRodriguez's22nd birthday.

After killing Dubay, Rodriguez phoned a girl and told her to come over. Rodriguez opened the freezer door to show her the girl's head.The girl later said she recognized the head from the blue eyes.Rodriguez, she said,offered to give the eyesto her.

She ran out the door.

Butshe returned with a friend to take the skull to the police station.

Leslie Allen Williams is serving life in prison for CSC, kidnapping and murders he committed in Oakland and Livingston Counties in 1991.(Photo: Detroit Free Press file)

A man with a criminal past who was described as muscled, mild-mannered, and nice,walked throughcemeteries talking to tombstones.He also turned outto be a confessed serial rapist and killer:LeslieAllenWilliams.

On a Sunday in1992, awitness reported seeing a manon top of a womanat Hillview Memorial Cemetery in Springfield Township. An Oakland County deputy went to check it out, and arrived just as Williams was leaving in a car.

The deputy chased him a short way until Williamscrashed onAndersonville Road.

The deputy opened the car's trunk, found a35-year-old woman and probably saved her life.

Aplastic tie was wrapped around her neck. Shetold the deputy she was placinga wreath on her mother'sgrave when Williams approached her.Williams had made some small talk and then threatened her with a gun. He said:"I'm going to rape and kill you."

Williams then, a 38-year-old paroleewas charged with abduction and attempted rape. And then he confessed to killing four teenage girls and several unsolved or unreported sexual assaults. He admitted to digging graves, where he dumped his victims.

His case garnered national attention and touched off a debate about Michigan's parole system.

Leslie Allen Williams is shown in a Dept. of Corrections photo from the Offender Tracking Information System (0TIS.) Williams is serving life in prison for CSC, kidnapping and murders he committed in Oakland and Livingston Counties in 1991.(Photo: Michigan Department of Corrections)

Williams' previous convictions include kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct, and from 1970, when he broke into a Milford home near where his grandparentsraised him, until 1983, when he was sent to prison, he got breaks.

Buthis cemetery slayings were the stuff of nightmares.

Years later, thrill-seekers would go to the areas where he supposedly buried the bodies because they thought they might be haunted. In one"Blair Witch Project"-style YouTube video, ghost hunters drovedown East Buno and Child's Lake roads.

In the video, the ghost hunters stopped, got out of the car, and headed down a nearby trail.

They thought they heard footsteps and screams.

Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or Free Press archives contributed.

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Coronavirus is killing haunted houses, but we still have real horror stories to scare you - Detroit Free Press

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