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Thursday April 24th 2014

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The Ghoul that Pensacola Refuses to Remember

infamous cover

We’ve received inquiries about an article we published in May 2004 on the Pensacola’s more infamous history. One that is of particular interest is the segment on the Whitmire Cemetery Ghoul:

WHITMIRE CEMETERY ghoul
Dateline: February 23, 1958—Ghoul strikes
Scene: Johnson/Whitmire Rd., Ferry Pass

Facts: West Florida had its own real life flesh and bone horror story in the late 1950s. The Ghoul of Whitmire Cemetery conjured a rash of hysteria and ill-ease prompting local families to lock their doors and protect their children in an era when area folk lived in sheltered peace.

On February 23, 1958 Pensacola’s age of innocence officially ended. A Ferry Pass woman visiting Whitmire noticed that the coffin of a 14-year-old girl was opened. Another grave violation occurred in the old Roberts Cemetery near Gull Point in 1957. Although no sexual molestation was proven, rumors quickly spread that the Whitmire Ghoul was a necrophiliac, or someone with a morbid fascination with corpses.

At the time, police were hush-hush, but rumors spread like wildfire. Large slabs were lifted—resulting in gossip that the ghoul had supernatural strength. The macabre intruder ultimately struck four times, three at the Ferry Pass resting place.

Outcome: The Whitmore Cemetery Ghoul case has been one of this area’s more infamous unsolved cases for almost 50 years. Kids desecrated the haunt in the ‘60s and ‘70s; however, that’s nothing compared to the emotional outrage that flared in 1958. Old-timers still mull over the sick-and-twisted tale of the grave robbing deviant.

We had one inquiry from a retired CID criminal investigator (FBI and Scotland Yard trained):

It has been a fascinating but thus far, frustrating search for official information pertaining to the so-called “Whitmire Cemetery Ghoul” (1957-58). The PNJ completely ignores any of my email requests for info. The ECSO claims the absence of both memory and files of this incident. The PPD has not responded to my email inquiry. Mr. John Appleyard, our esteemed historian, simply has no memory of this bit of local history. Then, I recalled your newspaper is in the business to report news that our local “guardians of the truth” conceal from us. I found your brief past article pertaining to the Whitmire Ghoul.

I was 11 years old at the time of the incident in question and recall much of the printed PNJ news at the time. I am looking into this case as a hobby, but I don’t believe it went unsolved, and I don’t believe our local police had been so inefficient so as not to have utilized available physical evidence.

I am sure there had been plenty, to include size 13 shoe prints that could have aided in the search for the identify and apprehension of the perpetrator. I am asking your help in locating sources, historical files, newspaper archives, anything that will assist me in this endeavor.

It is difficult for me to believe that there is a local family (as rumor had it at the time ) still so powerful that after 50 years they can stifle the truth. Apparently the PNJ and local police agencies are not in the business of providing this type of information.

Do any of you bloggers, or your parents and grandparents, remember the Whitmire Cemetery Ghoul?

You check out the entire feature: Infamous: Pensacola Confidential