Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

More Haunted Crime Scenes

They Seek Justice

It's no wonder that Leslie Rule feels such compassion for crime victims that she travels the country to document their stories. Her mother, bestselling true crime writer Ann Rule, has often said that a primary reason she writes about this subject is to keep the victim's memory alive. In fact, Ann penned a Foreword to Leslie's third book of ghost stories, When the Ghost Screams, which includes this comment: "I will continue to research the criminal mind and forensic science and strive to tell the victims' stories, but I will always encourage my daughter in her studies of the things we cannot quite prove, or see, or document with complete accuracy."

Book cover: When the Ghost Screams
Book cover: When the Ghost

Leslie, too, says, "I hear the screaming and am compelled to write the stories of those whose lives were snatched away. They are the murder victims, the ones who roam restlessly." Indeed, along with lesser known cases from various parts of the country, she includes tales about ghosts in the area where the Donner party camped before surrendering to cannibalism to survive, the psychic vision that Sharon Tate had about her own murder at the hands of Charles Manson's followers, and the apparent spirit of thirteen-year-old Bobby Franks, murdered in 1924 by Leopold and Loeb, who showed up near his tomb until after both killers finally died.

As if growing up around a prolific crime writer was not enough, Leslie also spent her childhood in a haunted house overlooking Puget Sound. That's where her fascination with ghosts began.

"What really moves me is the fact that so many of these earthbound spirits are the result of unresolved homicides. For example, I was deeply touched by the case of a young woman in Avard, Oklahoma. She was murdered half a century ago and her poor spirit still seems to be wandering around."

Mildred Ann Reynolds
Mildred Ann Reynolds

It was March 13, 1956, and twenty-two-year-old Mildred Ann Reynolds, newly married and a senior at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, was killed and burned in her car. She'd been on her way to meet her husband. Since she'd suffered from dizzy spells, some investigators dismissed her death as a tragic accident, but that didn't explain a blood-spattered shoe more than two-hundred fifty feet from the car, next to a patch of flattened grass, or her coat ten feet behind the car. Yet a careful investigator made more of these subtle clues, along with the unusual burn pattern on the car, a bullet casing, and the second set of tire tracks nearby. To some, it looked like arson to cover a murder, so the case was presented to a coroner's jury.

Mildred Reynolds Death Certificate
Mildred Reynolds Death Certificate

Despite the ambiguities, the jury ruled Mildred's death a homicide. Nevertheless, there were no leads and the case went cold. However, from time to time, Mrs. Reynolds apparently still shows up. Leslie interviewed the owners of Vina Rae's Grill, Nan and Debra, who described the day a woman dressed in green came in and sat down at a table. She made no eye contact and then simply vanished. The entrance bell did not chime for her entry or her exit. They investigated and learned that the dead woman had worn green on the day she died and she had resembled the woman who'd placed no order. Other incidents are documented as well to indicate that a restless female spirit roams the area, possibly in search of peace.

"I feel compassion for her," says Leslie. "The complete despair that people who've died a violent death seem to feel — that bothers me the most." Indeed, she appears to be one of those people who occasionally catches sight — or the sound - of an incident from the other side.

"The house where I grew up had been built on a Native American burial ground. We know this because in 1910, when my grandfather was ten, he watched the city workmen dig up the road below our house to make room for a road. During this process, they unearthed a canoe full of skeletons that had been buried with beads and jewelry for their eternal journey. Then some boys in town raided the grave and stole items, so now it was the site of a desecrated grave, both unintentional and intentional."

She's not sure if those spirits were responsible for the paranormal activities in her house, but she remembers several clear incidents. "There was a sobbing ghost that could be heard throughout the neighborhood," she reports. "One family heard it every night behind their house."

When Leslie was 12, alone one night in her basement bedroom, she heard a woman crying. "I thought it was my older sister, who was always having a crisis with a boy. I ran to try to find it, but as I moved from one room to another, it always seemed to be one room away. Then I found out my sister wasn't even home. That crying broke my heart. It was wrenching."

Whenever she visits a haunted place, which she does regularly, Leslie always hopes she will see an apparition, but she knows that "it usually happens when you're not expecting it."

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