Excerpt from "Haunted Sylvania" The Book of Truth, Magic and Mystery in Ohio and Beyond .
by Minerva Merryman
Ohio has been home to more melodramatic murderers than any other state, sparking the imagination of the world.
The only “Priest-Murders-Nun in a Satanic Ritual” case in U.S. history took place here, an event which resulted in a Northwest Ohio priest’s conviction and the circulation of reports documenting satanic ritual activity “out in the country” around Sylvania. “The Fugitive” is based on Dr. Sam Shepard and his wife, who were residents of the Cleveland, Ohio area. And Ohio is ranked sixth in the nation by the independent organization World Population Review for the all-time highest number of resident serial killers and victims within the state’s borders. While being ranked sixth is bad enough, there are a few more killers not appearing on that Ohio list who would likely bring the state to an unfortunate ranking of number one if they were to be counted; men who were born in Ohio, or spent their younger years here, and were nurtured by buckeye values before moving out-of-state and on to greener pastures for their killing sprees.
Ohio’s serial killers—most were found and convicted, but some identities were never discovered-- giving the state that number six ranking include:
-The Dayton Strangler
-The Cleveland Torso Murderer
-The Cincinnati Strangler
-Donald Harvey, the Angel of Death
-Anthony Edward Sowell, the Cleveland Strangler
-And Samuel Little, known as the deadliest serial killer in U.S. history.
Not on Ohio’s “official” serial killer list but with strong ties to Ohio are some of the nation’s most notorious villains, including three cannibals and a crazed cult leader who once called the Buckeye State home:
-Charles Manson, the serial criminal and Helter Skelter maniac, was born in Cincinnati and spent his first few years of life in Ohio;
-Robert Berdella, the Kansas City Butcher, was born and raised in Cuyahoga Falls and left Ohio after high school graduation;
-Gary Heidnik, the Pennsylvania serial killer that “The Silence of the Lambs” was partly based on, was born and raised in Eastlake, Ohio, and;
-Jeffrey Dahmer, the Milwaukee Cannibal, who moved to Ohio with his family when he was six, graduated high school and committed his first murder in Ohio before moving to Wisconsin.
And then, there is Sylvania, Ohio, from whence arose “Haunted Sylvania” and the many stories of The Spirited Side. This northern town has the mortifying distinction of murderous mayhem unparalleled in the state throughout the last two hundred years. And while both national and global statistics, historically, show murder victims are more often men than women, this does not hold true in Sylvania. Here, it is the opposite, and female murder victims outnumber male victims.
The official number of murders per year in the smartly dressed suburb belies the true picture, in totality, of revolting, vicious and cruel deeds swirling about the town’s history like a dark storm cloud slowly gathering strength. It is a picture which now reveals a clue, perhaps, to the reason behind the large number of hauntings and paranormal activities of the Spirited Side of Sylvania, although the debate is not settled, of course, on which came first--
Was there a seed of evil and supernatural activity at the root of so many merciless murders? Or was evil and supernatural activity later drawn to Sylvania, after the fact, attracted like a shiver of sharks discovering blood in the water?
It is important to note that the wounds of loss and sorrow in the Sylvania City & Township community are still painfully fresh from the events of recent years. The names of those lost are added to these pages with the utmost tender care and sympathy, along with prayers and blessings offered up as each letter of the names of the innocents is typed herein...