The other day, while reading this blog post, I was reminded of a similarly creepy instance with my daughter some years ago.
I was taking my three kids on a tour of my alma mater. They were enjoying the tour and seeing the places they had heard about. As we approached Memorial Church, I told them about the mosaics both outside and inside of the church and about the beautiful organ inside. My son and youngest daughter entered the building but my middle child, Tina, held back. Her face grew pale and she started to hyperventilate. I asked what was wrong and she said, “I can’t go in there. I have a feeling something really bad happened in there. I can’t go in.” She paused then added, “I think someone was killed in there. Was someone killed in there, mom? I’m right. I can tell by your face.” I guess my face had gone equally pale to hers. I answered her, “You’re right. I’ll tell you about it later.” I stayed out with her while Tony and Susie went inside.
I had not told my kids about it. I had not spoken of the events of 1974 since they had happened, certainly not in my daughter’s lifetime. But yes, she was right. It is still difficult to talk about and I will only give you the outline here as it still haunts me, and at times through the past forty plus years I have been visited by nightmares of that night and what could have been.
It was my freshman year, the second Saturday night of the school year, with lots of parties going on as people got to know each other in the dorms. I had left the party at my dorm to walk around campus with one of the boys from a neighboring dorm who had been showing some interest in me. We walked all over and about midnight, we found ourselves in the Inner Quad. He had been a little too aggressive for my likes so I distracted him by saying we should go into the church. We walked to the church and tried the door but it was locked. We tried the other doors. No luck, but we did hear some noises from inside and expected to have someone come open the door from the inside but no one did so we left. Behind the church, he got very pushy and we got in a fight and I walked back to the dorm alone. The next day I went home to do laundry (my parents lived a half hour away from campus) and heard on the news about a brutal murder inside of Memorial Church; a murder of a young woman who was the new bride of a sophomore student. They had gotten in an argument and she had left to cool off, ending up in Memorial Church where she was murdered then her body violated and left near the altar. When security went to unlock the church the next morning, they found one of the doors to be unlocked then found the body.
When I got back to the dorm on Sunday evening, the police had been there and had left instructions for me to call them back. Their extensive questioning had come across my name and that of the boy I had been with the previous night as people that had been unaccounted for during the probably time of the murder. I spoke to them by phone and they basically wanted me to verify my companion’s statement. I was able to do that as well as give them some more information that he had left out, including the noises from inside the church and the time and a person sleeping on a bench in the quad near the church. I guess I had been a little more observant than he had. The police said that the noises we had heard inside the church the previous night were “the right noises” and that the killer(s) was (were) probably still in there when we were trying to get in.
And to think I had also walked back to the dorm alone after getting in a fight with the guy I was out walking with. I found it ironic that the Arlis Perry fought with her husband and walked to the church and never left alive. I got in an argument with my companion and left the church alone and lived to tell. Arlis was 19 and just a few months older than I.
So yes, something horrible did happen inside of the most beautiful church I have ever been inside of. And I had been on the other side of the door. But I had never told my kids, or anyone else since it happened in 1974, yet she picked up on the negative vibes of the place and the still unsolved murder of Arlis Perry. It really freaked me out that my daughter, had picked up on that twenty years later.