Monday, July 13, 2015
2015 Official Haunt Backstory
The time has finally arrived, Specters; here is the official backstory for my 2015 home haunt - Elmer's Cellar:
(From the files of the late Ed Perry, as part of his never published book Legends, Tales & Atrocities: A Journey into Darkness)
They say that every story has at least a kernel of truth to it, but there are some tales that are so shrouded in hearsay and mystery that it’s almost impossible to find the truth behind it all. With urban legends, this is particularly difficult – the stories change every time they are told, growing ever more fanciful with each retelling. The Hookman, Bunnyman’s Bridge, the Ghostly Hitchhiker, Bloody Mary; stories told so many times that they no longer bear any resemblance to whatever truth inspired them. Few legends are as compelling, and as chilling, as the legends of so-called “Halloween Sadists” – nameless, faceless ghouls who supposedly put pins, needles, razor blades and poison into children’s treats for god knows what purpose. The story appears to have originated sometime in the 1970s, spreading via word of mouth, eventually picked up by conservative news media, immediately reported as “fact”, despite their having been no confirmed instances of Halloween candy tamperings. Attempts to find the root of this legend have been fruitless… until now. The root of all these legends appears to have in fact been a true, albeit isolated, incident. And it all centers around one man: Elmer Heddy.
Elmer Wyatt Heddy was born on October 31st, 1924, in the small rural town of Blair, Pennsylvania. Because of his unusual birth date, Elmer’s highly religious working class family thought that the boy was more susceptible to “the corruptions of the devil in this ungodly world”, as his mother, Susana Heddy, put it. Already severally mental ill with a very low IQ, Elmer was constantly picked on by other children at school, and mocked as the local “retard”. With an emotionally abusive home life and cruel classmates, Elmer had no real source of escape save for one night a year – his birthday, Halloween. On this one night, Elmer was permitted to have fun; he would don a crude homemade costume of his own devising (usually a hobo or ghost) and would prowl the darkened streets of his town going door to door begging for candy. It was a good time to be a trick or treater – you could still get homemade treats in your bag, such as brownies, cookies, and popcorn balls, along with the occasional store bought goody. When the other kids finished collect sweets they would rush to home to count their loot, but Elmer would still faithfully go door to door in hopes of more candy, even if it meant facing the wrath of older children who used the night as an occasion for playing pranks and vandalizing stores. Needless to say, Elmer grew up loving Halloween. He loved it more than life itself.
When Elmer turned 16 in 1940, he dropped out of high school to work at the nearby Hollie-Ho Candy factory as a button pusher, same as his father and brothers. When America joined WWII following the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Elmer was kept from fighting in the war because of his abnormally low IQ, so he stayed in his hometown, still working at the factory. His brothers went off to war, and were killed in combat in the Pacific in 1943. Some said it wasn’t grief that her sons were dead that killed Susan Heddy, but grief that Elmer was the son left alive. With his wife gone, Bart Heddy died shortly after her in 1945, just after the end of the war. Elmer was left alone in his decaying childhood home, the last of his family. He continued his work at the factory, and found himself missing his family less and less every day. He surrounded himself with all the toys he had wanted as a child, but was not allowed to have, and kept the family’s old Halloween decorations up year around inside the house, trapped in his own twisted fantasies. The hulking, overweight man-child became a source of contempt and mockery among the men and women of the town, but the children always loved Elmer. After all, he wasn’t any older than them in his head. And no time of the year was this more obvious than on Halloween; Elmer’s house was always decked out from the porch to the roof with his homemade decorations and carved pumpkins. He would spend all year working away on props, buy the latest costumes from the local Woolsworth to stuff with rags to make “dead bodies”, and of course, buy bags and bags of candy to hand out to the children. Elmer’s was the most popular house to visit on Halloween, even if the parents didn’t exactly approve. But it was not to last.
Eventually, the children got older, and they stopped coming to see Elmer’s display. He would still dutifully buy bags of candy each year, and wait patiently by the candy bowl on the front porch, waiting for the kids in their costumes to come trotting up the front walk. But they never came. He did get some visitors from year to year, though – older teens and even full grown men who would egg his house, throw toilet paper in the trees, smash his props, splatter his windows with paint. Elmer was heartbroken; all he wanted to do was bring a little magic to people’s lives, for them to love Halloween like he did. That heartbreak turned to deep-seated hatred and rage – how dare they disrespect Halloween? How dare they break his things and ruin his day? Elmer decided that it was high time he give the little town of Blair a Halloween it would never forget. Not even if it wanted to.
He started work extra early that year, carrying supplies to build his props down into his cellar, buying every pumpkin he could from roadside farm stands. He stocked up on more candy than ever that year, so much so that he almost bought out the entire candy aisle at the local Woolsworth. But he also made some rather strange purchases – he bought huge lengths of wire, nails, meathooks, plastic sheeting, a new shovel; all sorts of things from the hardware store. No one thought to pay him any mind – what danger could Elmer Heddy possibly be? They certainly didn’t draw any connection between him and the unexplained disappearances of several local children around the end of August. Finally, the big night of Halloween rolled around, and as the local children began their routes, they were stunned to see ol’ Elmer’s house was more decorated than it had ever been – ghosts hung from trees, orange lights blinked, fog floated through the air. The props were more realistic than ever this year – the zombie really looked like zombies, rotting away half buried in the soil of his front lawn; you could almost smell the rotting flesh. Elmer was even giving out the best treats this year – whole goodie bags brimming with candy, popcorn balls and crisp, ripe apples. They ooed and awed over the spooky props and the delicious looking candy, then drifted away, onto more house and more candy. Elmer smiled at each of them as they left; he had given them all a real treat for Halloween this year, that was for sure.
It was later that night that the Blair County Sherriff’s Department was flooded with panicked phone calls from families all over town; children were vomiting up blood; found with razor embedded in their tongues; found dead. Some were rushed to the hospital in time, but many were not so fortunate. In total, 19 young children, between the ages of 5 and 12, were dead, with 14 more in the ICU. It didn’t take long for the Sherriff and his deputies to find the common link between the victims and their booby-trapped treats: all the deadly candy had come from goody bags originating at Elmer Heddy’s house. At 3:28 AM November 1st, Sheriff William Kane and his men stormed the Heddy house on a search and seizure mission. What they found was the most horrific crime scene since the infamous Ed Gein case; the house was rotting away from the inside, the walls painted with disturbing drawing and rants, paper mache masks hanging from the ceiling alongside the fly strips. The sink was piled high with filthy dishes, recently emptied bottles of various highly toxic poisons, and used hypodermic needles. But the greatest horrors waited in the cellar. There they found the bodies of the five missing children who had disappeared in September, all dismembered and in varying states of decomposition. It seems Elmer had used the rotting remains to fashion some of his Halloween decorations that year. They also found a collection of human bones stolen from a nearby cemetery, the never-identified decomposing severed head of an adult male in a rusty bucket, and an endless bounty of razor blades, needles, pins, and poisons – all of which Elmer had hidden in the treats.
It was in that years that followed that rumor of other candy tamperings spread like wild fire across the country. The legend took hold in the minds of Americans everywhere, becoming part of Halloween lore and legends forever. As for Elmer himself, he was never apprehended. No trace of him was found following the raid on his house, but for years afterwards local farmers would tell of seeing a giant of a man wearing a creepy homemade mask wandering through the woods at night, carrying a plastic pumpkin candy pail.
The case remains open.