31 October 2020

Cinderella Pumpkin Coach at Evergreen Park

 Evergreen Park, 2230 E 3425 South
Happy Halloween!

This is the Cinderella Pumpkin Coach at Evergreen Park, 2230 E 3425 South. 

The original coach was installed in the 1960s and the park became commonly known as the Pumpkin Park. 

The coach was refurbished by Salt Lake County in 2012 and repainted and outfitted with extra fairytale whimsy. The rest of the park was also outfitted with modern amenities

28 October 2020

Spooky SLC: Summum Pyramid

Summum Pyramid at 707 Genesee Ave, Oct 2020.

Today, 45 years ago, on Oct 28 1975, Claude “Corky” Nowell (later changed his name to Summum Bonum Amon Ra) had an encounter with intelligent beings from another universe.

Soon after, Corky founded Summum a church as defined by the government and a philosophy as described by Corky. Sum meaning Total, Mum meaning Mother Nature, and thus Summum meaning Totality of Nature.

Corky purchased a house at 707 W Genesee Ave (850 S) in SLC and built the first Summum Pyramid in his backyard. The second (and current) Pyramid was completed in 1979 and resurfaced in 2018.

Summum is known for several reasons: 1) establishing Utah’s first legal winery since Brigham Young; 2) going to the US Supreme Court over religious monuments; and 3) pioneering modern mummification. This post will focus on #3.

Corky developed the mummification process in 1980 after experimenting on dead animals and human cadavers obtained from a medical school.

Summum started offering mummification services in 1985. The first to be mummified were Corky’s pets, a cat named Oscar followed by Butch, a Doberman pinscher. More than 600 pets have been mummified (as of 2006).

The first human to be mummified using the modern Summum techniques was Corky who died in 2008. His mummy is currently within the Summum pyramid.

Summum mummification aims to preserve the body by depriving it of oxygen through use of chemicals and multiple sealed layers.

Mummification is quite expensive and those individuals who have signed up for the service utilize life insurance policies that are payable to Summum upon death. Summum employs licensed funeral directors. A mausoleum was constructed in 2005.

Public visitation has been suspended due to Coronavirus.

Sources: Daily Utah Chronicle 1978-05-08; SL Trib 1993-04-12; Daily Herald 2006-02-11; summum.us

Mummifying a cat, from summum.us.

Corky Ra’s sarcophagus, 2010, from summum.us.

Inside the Pyramid, from summum.us.

The original Summum pyramid 1970s, from summum.us.

24 October 2020

Spooky SLC: Kidnapping of Richard Henricksen

John D Billett the day of his arrest 1952, from UDSH.

In Oct 1951, 13-year-old Richard “Ricky” Henricksen was kidnapped and chained to a bed for 79 days in a dilapidated house in SLC. (Warning, this gets harsh)

Ricky worked part time at Battle Fatigue Anderson’s used car lot at 1355 S State where he washed cars and ran errands. 

On the night of October 20, 1951, Ricky did not come home after work and his parents became very worried; his mother called the SLC police who brushed it off as just another runaway. She then called SLC Mayor and the Public Safety Commissioner but ultimately ended up going directly to the newspapers to help find her boy. 

She insisted he was not a runaway because his wallet and money was at home, his bike was left at his job, and he was a happy boy.

Days turned into weeks. Halloween passed, his Nov 7 birthday passed, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years passed without Ricky. It wasn’t until Jan 7 1952 and the armed robbery of $20K from a First Security Bank at 40 E 800 South that led police to Ricky's whereabouts

SLC Police received a call from the lawyer of John D Billett when Billett failed to show up for work; he was a salesman at the same used car lot that Ricky worked. The lawyer asked if Billett was in jail because Billett instructed his employer to call his lawyer if he did not show up to work that Monday. 

That’s when police suspected Billett in the Bank robbery and employees of the bank positively identified Billett as the robber. While in police custody for robbery, Billett admitted to kidnapping Ricky. Billett had been the primary suspect in the kidnapping case and police had followed him a few times but Billettt had always eluded them.

Police found Ricky in a small dilapidated 3-room house at 1706 S 1100 East (now a parking lot for Jolley’s Corner Pharmacy). Debris was scattered knee high in the kitchen and Ricky was found lying on a dirty mattress with his foot attached to a chain which was locked to the iron bed frame.

With Billett's confession, the story finally came out about Ricky's kidnapping: Billett had told Ricky that he was a police officer and was arresting Ricky for stealing cars. He told Ricky his parents were aware of his arrest and were not expecting him home. He put a chain around Ricky’s legs and locked the other end to the bed. He put handcuffs on his wrists and put an old gas mask on Ricky’s head. He often beat Ricky with his fists and shoes in sessions that Billett called “tests.” Ricky said the purpose of these “tests” were to confess to crimes Billett had accused Ricky. Billett also made Ricky drink whisky until Ricky passed out. A few times Billett took Ricky out of the house to eat at a drive-in cafĂ© and each time Billett would drive past Ricky’s house so he could see his family inside. Billett told Ricky his family was not looking for him. He told Ricky he would hurt him if he made any noise or tried to run away. Billett made Ricky swear an oath every Sunday to not run away or make noise or his family would be killed. Ricky thought he was going to be killed eventually so he wrote his initials on the web of his left hand and the initials of Billett on the thigh of his leg thinking that maybe it would lead police to the person responsible for his death.

Billett provided sandwiches, soda, and milk to Ricky and also brought him toys and comic books. When Billett was captured by police he told police that he and Ricky were friends and that Ricky was not held against his will.

This was not the first time Billett had done something like this. A few years previous when he was in the Navy he took his shipmate hostage in California and held him for 32 days with a rope, handcuffs, and a respirator mask.

John D. Billett was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. He was convicted of 2nd Degree Kidnapping and sentenced to 1 year to life. 

He was sent to the US Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, MO to serve his sentence. Billettt died in 1992.

Sources: SL Trib 1952-01-08; Deseret News 1952-01-08

 Ricky Henricksen after his release,
Ogden Standard Examiner 1952-01-08

Ricky’s bed of imprisonment, from Ogden Standard Examiner 1952-01-08

1950 Sanborn Map showing house at 1706 S 1100 East

20 October 2020

Spooky SLC: Fire at the Capitol Theatre

July 4 1949 fire at Capitol Theatre
From Des News 1949-07-05
On the afternoon of July 4 1949, a fire in the Capitol Theatre (50 W 200 South SLC) claimed the life of Richard L. Duffin..

Duffin had started working at the Theatre only 3 weeks previous, soon after graduating from West High School where he was in the ROTC and in the Aviation Club.

Smoke was first detected by Assistant Manager Charles Whitney. He sent two ushers with fire extinguishers into the basement to investigate – 17-year-old Richard Duffin and 19- year-old Herbert Schoenhardt.

Whitney evacuated the 600 theatre patrons who were watching a Rita Hayworth double feature. All 600 people calmly evacuated (one man demanded a refund before he would leave!). 

Soon after, 3 large explosions rocked the building and shattered nearby windows and ruptured a gas line and water main.

The Theatre’s basement was leased as storage space to adjacent firms- the OC Tanner Co stored jewelry manufacturing equipment and the Physicians Supply Co stored surgical supplies and equipment. It is likely that stored oxygen tanks used in jewelry manufacture is what led to the explosions.

Unfortunately, Duffin was still trapped in the basement by a wall of flames. Schoenhardt attempted several times to retrieve his co-usher but he was overcome by the smoke and was rescued and resuscitated by the firemen. Duffin was pronounced dead soon after he was removed from the basement; he died of smoke inhalation.

The flames were mostly confined to the basement of the Capitol Theatre, primarily due to fire-proof construction (built 1912) which includes firewalls, concrete, and steel.

Weirdly, the Grand Opera House (which occupied the same spot as the Capitol Theatre) was destroyed by fire, also on July 4, of 1890. No one was killed in that fire.

Employees of Capitol Theatre say Duffin’s ghost still roams the Theatre.

Sources- Deseret News 1949-07-05; SL Trib 1949-07-05; West High Yearbook 1949

Preservation Note: Although the Capitol Theater is currently owned by Salt Lake County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building itself has no required preservation status as it is not a SLC Local Historic Landmark Site or located within a SLC Local Historic District.

 Richard Duffin yearbook photo 1949

Grand Opera House which burned 59 years previous. From UDSH.

17 October 2020

Spooky SLC: Unsolved Murder of Frances Korous, part 2

Liberty Park 1912 with the bridge where it was surmised that
Frae’s body was dumped into the lake. From UDSH
. Color by Imagecolorizer.

Continued from previous post

20 days later, on the afternoon of Nov 6 1920, 13 year old Truman Pratt was sailing a toy boat in the southeast section of the Lake at Liberty Park when he saw what he thought was a Halloween mask floating in the water about 15 feet from shore.

He fashioned a hook to the string of his boat and tried to drag the item back to shore, only to discover it was the body of Frae Korous. He immediately found Park Superintendent Sidney R Lambourne who was in the greenhouse who then called the SLC Police.

At the Coronor’s Inquest, it was discovered that there was no water in Frae’s lungs which ruled out suicide. Death was caused by strangulation by a piece of cloth tightly knotted around her neck; the cloth came from a woman’s undergarment (but not from Frae’s undergarment). Her shoes were partially untied. Her jewelry was still attached to her clothing ruling out robbery. And there were no bruises or other injuries on her body. Her stomach was found to be empty with the exception of a red liquid, likely from some cheap candy. No sign of poison was found in her stomach. And rigor mortis had set in with her body being in a sitting position indicating she was killed in a chair.

A spot of blood was found on the bridge at Liberty Park and some thought that may indicate where her body was dumped. It appeared that her body had been in the lake for up to 2 weeks (although rigor mortis, so maybe not).

In the 1920s that was the extent of the forensic evaluation and the SLC Police were stumped. No motive could be determined and no suspects were found. Although the empty stomach pointed to her being alive for a time after her last meal, some of the Police thought it indicated that her brother Yaro lied about the last day she was seen alive and he was arrested and held for several days. Eventually he was released as there was no evidence to hold him.

The murder of Frances "Frae" Korous was never solved.

Sources: Numerous historic news articles but especially SL Trib 1920-11-07.

Weird note: Truman Pratt later drowned in Utah Lake at the age of 38 while duck hunting.

Spooky SLC: Unsolved Murder of Frances Korous

Frae Korous, graduate of St Marks nursing school.
From Weekly Sentinel 1909-02-10
Today, 100 years ago on Oct 17 1920, Miss Frances “Frae” Korous was last seen alive. Her dead body would be discovered weeks later in the lake at Liberty Park. Part 1 of 2.

Frae Korous (1879-1920) was an unmarried working woman; she was a graduate of the 1906 St Marks Nursing School, served in the US Navy as a nurse in WWI, and worked with the Salt Lake Public Health department when it was first organized. She was well regarded in her profession and well liked as an individual.

Just a few months after her discharge from the US Navy, Frae returned to SLC in Oct 1920 to live and work. Although most her family was back in Iowa, her sister Rose (also a nurse) and her half-brother Yaro lived in SLC. 

She soon got a job in a local Doctor’s office and was planning to move into the Keith Apts. Meanwhile, she got a room at the YWCA women’s boarding house located at 306 E 300 S (also the location of the current YWCA).

On Oct 17 1920, Frae went to the Methodist church and then visited her brother Yaro and his family at their home, 556 N Dexter St (~850 West). She ate a large Sunday dinner and gave some candy to her nieces and nephews. Her brother escorted her to catch a streetcar which would take her back to the YWCA for the night.

Frae never made it to the YWCA that night nor work the next morning. Her friends and relatives became concerned. Search parties were organized by the SLC Police and local Boy Scouts to look for her in the nearby canyons

A reward of $150, with the Governor’s endorsement, was offered. But there was no sign of Frae. Some thought she might have committed suicide while others thought she may have been hit by a car and dragged away.

Continued next post

The backside of the YWCA building in 1918, at 306 E 300 South.
From UDSH.
 Color by imagecolorizer.

Frae's brother Yaro Korous house at 556 N Dexter St (~850 West) in 2020.

13 October 2020

Spooky SLC: Weird Chicken Tales

Mike the headless chicken from www.miketheheadlesschicken.org

SLC has a history of freaky chicken encounters. Here is a selection of a few weird chicken tales:

Of course, the most famous chicken is Mike the Headless Chicken from Fruita, Colorado. Farmer Lloyd Olsen was sent to kill a chicken for dinner but bungled the chopping of the head. The result was a living and breathing headless chicken- most of the brain stem was still intact.

Ten days later, Mike the Headless Chicken went on tour and his first stop was SLC, which occurred on Sept 18 1945. Admission was 25 cents and his severed head was displayed in a bottle of preservative while he put on “a strutting exhibition.” Scientists from the University of Utah were also given the chance to examine Mike. Mike died in 1947 while on tour in Phoenix.

Joe was half chicken and half duck owned by SLC grocer Will L. Price. In 1904, Price kept Joe in his store which featured a small menagerie. Joe had a head like a rooster with a high comb, small round eyes, and a chicken beak. The neck was covered with thick plumage of chicken feathers of a golden brown. About the center of the bird these feathers changed to those of a duck which shed water and were white in color. Joe’s legs were scaly like a chicken but the feet were partially webbed like a duck. He crowed like a rooster but also made a sound like a quack of a duck. Joe walked like a duck but would not go into water. In 1904 Joe was sold to a man who said he was going to exhibit Joe at the Worlds Fair in St Louis.

Weird Egg
On Oct 11 1920, a White Leghorn hen, owned by William Hatfield of Murray, made the local news when she laid an egg inside of an egg. The giant egg measured 8 inches in circumference and when broken was found to contain another perfectly formed egg of average size. Only the inner egg contained a yolk.

Sources: Deseret News 1945-09-19, SL Telegram 1904-04-01; SL Telegram 1920-10-13

12 October 2020

Spooky SLC: Spiritualists Arnold & Dickson

Ghost Photography by Arnold-Dickson. James Dickson on the right and presumably
it is George Arnold under the "spirit robe." From SL Herald 1902-10-08.

In 1902 Spiritualist practitioners George J. Arnold and James J. Dickson came to SLC. They called themselves the Arnold-Dickson brothers and started conducting seances and manifesting ghosts of departed loved ones.

They were known for "materializing spirits" or making spirits appear and then taking photographs of them, what they called Ghost Photography. They became quite the sensation and decided to stay in SLC and built a very handsome flat. Built in 1904, the flat was located at 269 E 300 S, just west of what is now Current Fish and Oyster restaurant. The first floor contained seating for 200 people for the Spiritualist shows. The second floor was office and living space.

Seances and lectures were held every Sunday with physic readings and spirit encounters the rest of the week. Admission was charged, anywhere between 10 cents and $2 per person (up to $58 in today’s money).

In 1906 their shows were shown to be fraudulent when a 72-year-old widow seized the semi-luminous garment worn by a “ghost” and was revealed to be George Arnold, who then punched the woman in the face.

The SL Herald conducted an expose and showed how the show was faked. A phosphorus covered cheesecloth sheet was used to depict a ghostly figure, music was used to cover sounds of changing costumes, and a network of informants was used to know intricate details of client’s lives.

Arnold and Dickson were very clever drifters. Arnold was the “shrewd, scheming, designing, unscrupulous” one who was the brains of the operation; Dickson was labeled as a “freak” who was “frail and effeminate, with a thin, lisping voice” and was the trance medium.

Arnold and Dickson sold their SLC flat in 1906 and fled to California where they continued their shows for a few more years. Eventually Arnold retired from the business, but Dickson continued and became quite prominent; he also wrote the book “Daylight Materialization and Psychic Power.”

After Arnold and Dickson fled SLC, their flat was turned into an apartment building (Downing in 1909, St. Francis in 1913). It was demolished in the late 1970s. An office building constructed in 1980 now occupies the area.

Sources: SL Herald 1902-10-08; 1906-09-23

George Arnold (left) and James Dickson (right). Arnold, was born in Germany (but told everyone he was born in Ohio), is wearing the "American Party" emblem. The American Party was anti-Catholic and hostile to immigrants. From SL Herald 1906-09-23.

Arnold Dickson building in 1906 where seances were conducted, 269 E 300 S. From UDSH.

Arnold Dickson building as the St Francis Apartments in 1913, from UDSH.

06 October 2020

Spooky SLC: Reverend Frances Hermans, part 2

Continued from previous post

Artist illustration of Rev Francis Hermans disposing of
Henrietta Clausen’s body in the church furnace, SL Trib 1930-03-13
After human remains were found in the Scandinavian M. E. Church furnace in May 1896, the SLC Police became involved and they found the decomposing torso of Miss Clausen buried in a corner of the Church’s dirt floor basement, bloody overalls belonging to the Reverend, two false teeth from Miss Clausen in the furnace, and a blood-stained wood barrel in the basement.

The door of the furnace was only 10x6 inches and it was thought that the barrel was used as a butcher block to dismember the body so it would fit into the furnace.

The Police further searched the Church and two trunks in Reverend Hermans’ study were found with clothing and other items belonging to Miss Clausen, and also to another missing Swedish immigrant, Miss Annie Samuelsen.

Bottles of poison, chloroform, and other drugs- some of which produced abortions- were also found in the Reverend’s study. Miss Samuelsen’s aunt admitted that her niece had “improper relations” with the Reverend and that he had produced an abortion shortly before her disappearance.

According to members of the Church, after the disappearance of Miss Clausen, the other missing woman, Miss Samuelsen, had become his favorite. They grew intimate were soon to be married; she went missing the previous January and soon after the Reverend pawned her gold watch and ring. Police suspected that Miss Samuelsen had also been poisoned by the Reverend and her body dismembered and either burned or buried elsewhere.

It was also discovered that Reverend Hermans had embezzled $7K of church funds (~$217K in 2020 dollars). He had been married 3 times and in each instance his wife died under mysterious circumstances. Two of his three children also died in unusual circumstances. And the sister of his 2nd wife went missing. His 3rd wife, Martha, died in SLC in 1895 and had a life insurance policy for $500 ($15K in 2020 dollars).

Reverend Hermans never returned to SLC and was never apprehended for his crimes.

The Scandinavian M. E. Church was demolished in 1906 and an apartment building was constructed in its place. A new apartment complex built in 2016 now occupies the area.

Sources: SL Herald 1896-05-23; 1896-05-24; 1896-05-26; 1896-05-27; 1896-05-28; 1896-08-27

The Victims, Images from SL Herald 1896-05-27, 1896-05-28 and 1896-08-27

The Evidence, Images from SL Herald 1896-05-24, 1896-05-26, 1896-05-27

Spooky SLC: Revered Frances Hermans, a Serial Killer

Scandinavian Methodist Episcopal Church in 1906
at 158 S 200 E SLC. From UDSH.
In 1896 human bones were found in a SLC church furnace and the gruesome killings of a serial killer were uncovered, Part 1.

“Sanctuary of God Defiled with Blood” was the front-page headline on May 23 1896 of the SL Herald.

Charred and dismembered human remains had been found in the basement furnace of the SLC Scandinavian Methodist Episcopal Church located at 158 S. 200 East (now Liberty Crest Apts).

While the Reverend of the Scandinavian Church, Francis Hermans, was in Chicago on business, John M. Hanson who resided in the second story apartment of the Church and was member of the Scandinavian M. E. Church’s Board of Trustees, learned of an unusual fire in the furnace that had occurred the previous autumn. 

It was odd because the furnace was never used after it had nearly burned the church down several years previous and this fire occurred the day after his friend, a young Swedish immigrant woman, had disappeared. There was also an awful stench relating to that fire which the Reverend had dismissed as burning garbage.

It was Mr. Hanson who found two straight razors, a knife blade, a garter buckle, corset steel, a belt buckle, and several human bones in the Church’s furnace ash grate.

Hanson and his wife had always been suspicious of the disappearance of their friend, Miss Henrietta Clausen, the previous September. The last time Miss Clausen was seen alive was in the company of Reverend Hermans and she had been known to be madly in love with him and had been sleeping in his study.

The Reverend denied any improper behavior on his part and said that Miss Clausen had propositioned him, which he sternly rebuked. The Reverend further said that she had then left the state and became a dancing girl and a prostitute. At the time, the Reverend’s explanation for the disappearance of Miss Clausen was accepted as he was an upstanding member of the community and well-liked.

Continues next post

Illustration of the basement of the Church, from SL Herald 1896-05-23

Reverend Francis Hermans, SL Trib 1945-12-16

04 October 2020

Spooky SLC: John de Baptiste the Infamous SLC Cemetery Grave Robber

SLC Cemetery at night from 11th Ave

In the 1860s, John de Baptiste robbed hundreds of graves in the SLC Cemetery, Part 1.

In Jan 1862 Utah’s “three-week” Governor, John W. Dawson made a lewd proposition to a society lady in SLC which resulted in his being chased down and beaten by a relative of hers.

Warrants were issued for all members of the gang involved in the beating and Porter Rockwell tracked some of them down, killing the gang leader, Lot Huntinton. Moroni Clawson and John Smith were taken into custody but were killed the following morning, allegedly during an attempt to flee police custody.

The bodies of Huntinton, Clawson, and Smith, were all buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Initially, the body of Moroni Clawson went unclaimed and in a charitable gesture SLC police officer, Henry Heath, purchased burial clothing for Clawson.

About a week later Clawson’s brother, George, came to town to exhume the body and rebury him in the family plot in Draper. Upon opening his brother’s coffin he found the body naked.

Clawson and Heath asked the cemetery Sexton about the situation and he suggested talking with the cemetery grave digger, John de Baptiste.

While at Baptiste’s home on 3rd Ave the two noticed boxes containing “sickening heap of flesh soiled linen” and funeral robes of people who had been buried in the City Cemetery for the past several years. Infant clothes and about 60 pairs of children’s shoes were found along with adult funeral robes and men’s shirts, caps, and socks.

Officer Heath was particularly outraged and was concerned about the grave of his daughter being desecrated. Heath immediately confronted Baptiste at the City Cemetery and “choked the wretch into a confession” of robbing graves, dumping the bodies out of their coffins, and using the wood for kindling in his home.

Baptiste confessed to robbing only a dozen graves but the evidence pointed to at least 300 grave robberies over a 3 year period, mostly those of women and children.

After the confession of grave robber John de Baptiste, a 50 ft long table in the courthouse was covered with several hundred funeral suits, shoes, and clothing recovered from Baptiste’s house.

Relatives of the deceased came to identify and claim the clothing. Many of the family members were intent on reclothing their deceased relatives out of fear that without proper burial clothing the religious ceremonies and rites would be incomplete.

Brigham Young addressed the people and told them not to disinter their relatives but to let them be in peace and he promised them that they would “be well clothed in the resurrection.” Ultimately, all agreed that the clothing would be reburied into a single grave site at the SLC Cemetery.

Brigham Young told the people that killing Baptiste was too good for Baptiste and that he wished to banish him and “make him a fugitive and a vagabond upon the earth.” So, Baptiste was sent to Antelope Island where he was tattooed with the words “Grave Robber” on his forehead.

On Antelope Island he was met by Henry and Dan Miller. The Miller brothers kept cattle on Fremont Island and they agreed to transport John Baptiste by boat to Fremont Island and allow him to remain there alone with their cattle. They provided him with a shack and provisions every few weeks.

After 3 weeks on Fremont Island, the Miller brothers checked in on Baptiste and he seemed to be getting along quite well and helping himself to the provisions left for him in the shack. But 3 weeks later Baptiste was gone. The Miller brothers found that part of the shack had been removed and one of their cows had been slaughtered and the hide cut into strips. Baptiste had made a raft of the wood from the shack and the hide of the cow.

It is unknown what happened to Baptiste. Some stories indicate that he escaped by raft to Promontory Point where he caught the railroad. Some say he did not even make it out of the Great Salt Lake and must have drowned.

Source: The Saint and the Grave Robber by John Devitry-Smith

An open grave at SLC Cemetery.
Imagine this one filled with previously used burial clothing!