Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Inexplicable Expulsions Make For Mysteries

In 1984, a large chunk of earth measuring 10'x7'x2' was ejected cleanly from its matrix in eastern Washington where it traveled a distance of 73 feet. The removal process was so precise that those who saw the site stated it looked as though a cookie cutter had removed this slab of soil. Some offer geological explanations, while others hint that it may have been the work of extraterrestrials. Read More.

This calls to mind the mysterious incident involving the grave of young Harry Spitz.

Just prior to the 1975 Independence Day festivities in Morgantown, West Virginia, a curious event occurred that would haunt locals for quite some time. The caretaker of the local cemetery noticed a pile of dirt among the graves at Oak Grove Cemetery that should not have been.  Thinking some kids probably tore up some ground shooting off fireworks, he went to investigate. However, what he found mystified him.

It seemed a grave had been desecrated. The ground atop the site was torn up and the caretaker could see the vault thrusting outward. He promptly phoned the police to report an incident of vandalism. When the officers arrived, they were equally puzzled by the strange site. It really didn't look as if anyone had dug up a grave. Instead, it looked like something exploded outward. Somehow, the lid to a burial vault had erupted upward through the earth with such force as to burst through the soil and grass above, leaving the ground ripped and buckled. An examination of the site revealed no trace of an explosion either: no gunpowder residue or any signs of charred earth and vegetation.

The concern then shifted to the possibility of a natural gas eruption, but a review of the site by the local gas company eliminated this as well. However, it was revealed that a road once ran through this section of the cemetery and that when it was removed, the ground had been graded a few feet, meaning this grave was slightly more shallow than others.

The men examined the grave itself better. The vault had split at one corner, which might have forced the 3-inch thick slab lid to pop upward. But with enough force to erupt out of the ground? It didn't seem likely. Perhaps the build up of gases from decomposition had caused the expulsion, they wondered. Inside the vault, however, the men could see a child's coffin, still sealed and seemingly unmolested.

The child inside had once been Harry Spitz, who had died of cholera some 63 years prior. He still had relatives in the area, including a sister. An exhumation of the casket was granted in hopes that somehow this mystery could be lain to rest. Alas, opening the casket only presented further mysteries. The remarkably preserved body of Harry Spitz greeted onlookers. While his skin was somewhat leathery, it was intact and his face was framed by long blond hair. He wore a blue and white suit, a stuffed lion at his feet. And while the coffin lining had rotted away to shreds, Harry's vestments seemed in remarkably good shape. Tissue samples were taken to be examined by the morgue supervisor at West Virginia University Hospital, but no trace of living organisms were found to support the decomposition gas hypothesis. Besides, if such an event were to have occurred, it would have done so within the first couple of years - not 63 years later.

In short order, scientists from West Virginia University converged on the scene in hopes of finding an answer to the mystery. They couldn't. The region's rich coal mining was looked at, but no operations had ever been conducted in the vicinity of the grave. Methane was researched as well, but no traces were found.  Natural gas was eliminated as well. No seismic tremors were recorded.

To further complicate matters, atop the casket lay the delicate, desiccated husk of a flower and a small commemorative plate. Neither of these objects were affixed to the coffin and would have slid off easily if the coffin were jostled even slightly.

At a loss for any explanation, the police chief thought back to a strange group of people who had been reported on several occasions holding séances or such within Oak Grove Cemetery. While not willing to believe they summoned up with great force some entity, he thought they might have done something to the grave.

But no answers were forthcoming and, on July 12, the body of young Harry Spitz was reinterred in a new vault. The strange event would linger over the town for years to come, casting a mysterious shadow over Oak Grove Cemetery.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Looking at the death date, the remarkable condition of the body may be explained by the embalming techniques of the time. From the late 1800 through about 1940, morticians often used an arsenic-based embalming compound, which has remarkable preservation properties. In the absence of oxygen, it might have produced the careful preservation of young Mr. Spitz's body.

Come to think of it, Arsenic may have caused some other unusual chemistry in the grave...maybe an explosive gas other than methane was responsible...