Gwendolyn Graham and Cathy Wood

One of the many things that I love about American Horror Story is that the creators, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk always take the “inspiration” from events that really happened.

As you might know I’ve studied forensic psychology and I have a “thing” for serial killers, not in a morbid way but more in a psychological way, if that makes sense… I hope it does. So, when I watch characters that are based upon real serial killers I’m just very happy. You can also imagine that my favourite episode during American Horror Story: Hotel was The Devil’s Night.

Anyway, yesterday I watched the second episode of the new season of American Horror Story and, of course, two characters are very similiar to two serial killers who really existed. I’m talking about the two nurses Miranda and Bridget, whose story (in the series they are sisters) and modus operandi remind the ones of Gwendolyn Graham and Cathy Wood.

Gwendolyn and Cathy were lovers and used to work at Alpine Manor, a nursing home in Walker, Michigan.

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Their initial plan was to spell the word MURDER with the first letter in the last name of each victim, but the plan failed. According to Wood’s account, in January 1987, Graham entered the room of a woman who had Alzheimer’s disease and smothered her with a wash cloth as Wood acted as her lookout. The woman was too incapacitated to fight back, and thus became the pair’s first victim. The woman’s death appeared to be natural, so an autopsy wasn’t performed.

Over the next few months, four more Alpine Manor patients were murdered by Graham, Wood alleged. Many of the victims, whose ages ranged from 65 to 97, were incapacitated and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Wood testified that the couple turned the selection of victims into a game, first trying to choose their victims by their initials to spell M-U-R-D-E. They soon abandoned the spelling plan, but the murders continued as Graham tried to prove the love that she had for Wood, they began counting each murder as a “day,” as in the phrase, “I will love you for forever and a day.” A poem by Wood to Graham, and introduced in the trial, concluded, “You’ll be mine forever and five days.” However, Wood and Graham parted ways soon after, Wood, feeling guilty, told her ex-husband about the murders, and soon, the police were informed.

Graham received five life sentences for the five murders and conspiracy to commit murder in 1989. To this day, she is serving her sentence in the Huron Valley Correctional Complex. Wood received a sentenced based on her guilty plea of one charge of conspiracy to commit murder and one charge of second-degree murder. She received 40 years, and is currently eligible for parole. She is in the Federal Correction Institution serving her sentence.

 

However, author Lowell Cauffield, who wrote about their story in the true-crime novel “Forever and Five Days,” believes that Wood was the real killer. It’s speculated that Wood framed Graham after Graham left her for another woman.

I’m really looking forward to watching the rest of the series as I’m sure there will be some unusual twists along the story. Who knows what’s waiting for us?! Plenty of blood for sure!

Elle. x

Dr. H.H. Holmes

In 1893 Dr. Henry Howard Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett) opened the “Worlds Fair Hotel”, a massive three-storey block long structure, known locally as “The Castle”. However it also had another purpose; the murder of women and hiding their bodies.

Using a series of different contractors, Holmes constructed a labyrinthine agglomeration of rooms, secret passages, false doors, stairways to nowhere and other traps and murder devices, but it was in the basement that he would perform dissections and other gruesome “works”

So, does this story sound familiar? Well, if you’re watching American Horror Story: Hotel you might find a huge “resemblance” to James Patrick March. This character built the Cortez Hotel in the same way, as a grisly and scary maze from which none of his victims can escape.

Are you watching the series? What’s your opinion about it? As always, let me know in the comment!

Elle. x

Unsolved Mystery #4: Cecil Hotel and Elisa Lam

A new season of American Horror Story has begun and I’m in love with it already. The first episode was absolutely mindblowig and amazing, except for the scene of the guy being raped by a scary creature, that was just a little bit too much even for me and believe me, I’ve seen a lot of “weird” stuff, but that bit apart the rest was glorious. Soundtrack on point, Matt Bomer and Wes Bentley are both gorgeous (can’t wait to see Evan Peters though) and “Liz Taylor” is my favourite character already, so stylish with that gown, even if he reminds me of a more “FABULOUS” version of Voldemort (Am I the only one who got this kind of vibe?)

But now let’s talk about the opulent hotel itself, with that Decó atmosphere and the Shining “recall”. The Cortez Hotel from American Horror Story reminds me of the Cecil Hotel (now known as the Stay on Main) a place where murders, fatal accidents, suicides and mysteries have occurred until the present day.

The Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles was built in 1927, a cheap place for many professionals who, for one reason or another, stopped in the cinematographic Hollywood. It was then modernized during the 50s to perform also the function of residence.

In 1954 Helen Gurnee falls from her room on the seventh floor and smashes on the sign of the hotel. A week before she was registered with a fake name: Margaret Brown. It was never discovered the reason for that jump nor why she didn’t declare her true identity. A similiar event happened in 1962 when Julia Moore threw herself out of a window of the eight floor, shattering a skylight before touching the ground. The causes of the suicide were never verified.

On June 4th, 1964 Goldie Osgood, a telephone operator in retirement, has been found dead in her room. The woman has been raped, strangled and stabbed. The killer left the hotel room upside down, perhaps looking for something of value. A few hours later the police officers stopped a man with clothes dripping with blood, although at first glance he seems just the killer of the old lady, they can not find any evidence against him and was released. The police failed to find the guilty.

In the years 1984-1985 the hotel hosts Ricardo “Richard” Ramirez, known as the Night Stalker. In his $ 14 per night room he mutilates, rapes and tortures 14 victims, following a precise satanic ritual, panicking the entire Los Angeles. He was arrested on August the 31st, 1985 and sentenced to the gas chamber.

In 1991 the serial killer Johann “Jack” Unterweger (known as Jack the Writer) rents a room for five weeks. During his stay at the Cecil Hotel he kills three prostitues. He rapes and strangles them with their bra, a technique he will use for each of his 11 murders between Austria and US. He was arrested in 1992 but committed suicide the day of the sentence.

Now, back to our days (almost), on January 2013 it was found the body of Elisa Lam, a Canadian student, disappeared a few days before. The body was found in a big water tank on the roof of the building. The young girl is pronounced dead as a result of an accidental drowning. There are still many doubts on her death, starting with the way she has been able to reach a private area of the hotel which is also protected by an alarm system. We do have a video of her last moments but it is kind of a puzzle as she seems to be communicating with someone else. The truth is still unknown.

The Cecil Hotel is a very myserious place indeed, I guess that if I will plan a trip to Los Angeles I know where I’m going to check in.

Elle. xx