Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Haunted Crime Scenes

Massacre

Jimmy's Restaurant, Morristown, NJ
Jimmy's Restaurant, Morristown, NJ

At 217 South Street in Morristown, New Jersey is a restaurant that has changed hands many times. Perhaps it has something to do with the ghostly disturbances there. Some owners have played up the tales while others keep the building's tragic past a secret. At the moment, the place is Jimmy's.

John Sayre built the place in 1749 for his family, and it was peaceful until 1833, when Samuel Saylor hired an immigrant sailor, Antoine Le Blanc, to be a handyman. By some accounts, Le Blanc got greedy and by others, he was in love with Sayre's daughter or maid, who resisted him. In any event, one night, he used a shovel to murder the Sayres and an ax to kill the maid, Phoebe. He then took what money he could find and fled.

But it wasn't long before a posse found him. They brought him back to Morristown and put him on trial. It was an event that reportedly drew thousands, as did his hanging after he was convicted. Since people were so eager to have some part of this event, the town officials decided to skin the culprit and sell pieces of his hide. People purchased them to make into wallets, purses, and lampshades, and some of these items can be viewed today at the Morristown Museum.

Eventually the home was bought and converted into an eating establishment. In 1957, a fire burned it nearly to the ground, but it was eventually restored. When it became the Wedgewood Inn, the stories about spooky events proliferated. The room known as Phoebe's room seemed always to be a different temperature than other areas, usually colder. Some waitresses caught her reflection in a mirror, and one reported seeing a bloody hand reach out from one of the paintings. Things would be moved around and people would feel hands on their shoulders but find no one behind them. In addition, after closing for the night, which involved extinguishing candles on the tables, the staff would often look through a window to see a candle or two lit again inside.

Antoine Le Blanc, sketch
Antoine Le Blanc, sketch

At one point, the restaurant became Society Hill, and the owner boldly decided to inaugurate it on the anniversary of the tragedy. On the night of the grand opening, a punch bowl cracked open and broke, spilling its contents all over the table and floor. Was it a ghost demanding attention?

Psychics indicate that both LeBlanc and Phoebe exist in the place as restless entities. (It's no wonder since, according to L'Aura Muller, whose grandmother owned one of the skin wallets, two physicians attempted to use electric current to resurrect the body of LeBlanc.) They've tried to exorcise the spirits, but cooks and wait staff alike at Jimmy's have continued to describe eerie sensations. One waiter claimed that he was spun fully around by an unseen force. They take it all in stride, but few are eager to close up the place at night alone.

There are many haunted places around the country like Jimmy's that appear to have legitimate stories, confirmed independently by numerous people, but there's always a possibility of fraud, and one place is internationally renowned for it. Since an extreme act of violence did occur there, it's worthwhile to include it.

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