Although Hasbro trademarked it in 1991, the Ouija board remains part of a long tradition of spirit boards that can be traced all the way back to ancient China. Today, people from all around the world believe the Ouija board to be inherently otherworldly as a communication tool to speak with the dead, while scientists argue that Ouija boards rely upon the ideometer effect, through which participants unconsciously move the planchette to spell out words. Whatever the case may be, they have been the cause of a variety of heinous crimes where the spirits have instructed people to hurt, maim and even kill on their command.
Here are five such cases of people who played with Ouija boards and lived to regret it.
1. “Stab Your Friend”
Among the less serious crimes on this list are the actions of a 15-year-old Welasco, Texas teenager in 2012. While he and his 14-year-old friend were hanging out in the woods behind their shared high school, the older teen apparently took out a four-inch knife and stabbed his long-time friend in the abdomen, causing near fatal intestinal lacerations. After doing so, he asked his injured friend to tell police that he had fallen on the weapon. In the days leading up to the attack, the teen admitted to part-taking in seances and using a Ouija board which instructed him to attack his friend because he was the cause of his problems. The victim spent three days in intensive care, while the 15-year old attacker was sentenced to three years in Texas Juvenile Justice Department facility.
2. “Burn the House Down”
Paul Carroll of Stanley, County Durham in England often relied on the advice of spirits received through his Ouija board for much of his life. However, the seemingly good advice took a sinister turn on Christmas Eve in 2014, when he was told that he would need to kill his family’s beloved Bedlington terrier, Molly because she’d been possessed. In particular, he would need to drown her in the bathtub, chop her up into pieces, and then dump her remains. Carroll followed these instructions and attempted to bury his dog at a pub before dumping the remains in a local drain. When the drain blocked up, his cruel work was discovered, his long-term learning and mental difficulties were taken into account and his act of cruelty went unpunished.
For his wife Margaret and their daughter Katrina Livingstone, the ordeal had just begun. After consulting the Ouija a week later, they were instructed to take prescription drugs and set their home on fire. They survived the blaze, but hopefully, the Carrolls will look elsewhere for advice in future.
3. “Kill Your Father”
One of the most famous murder cases connected to a Ouija board involved Dorothea Irene Turley who in 1933 was convicted of assault and intent to murder her husband Ernest in the White Mountains of Arizona. After confiding in her 15-year-old daughter, Mattie, that she wished to marry a handsome cowboy, the two set about using a Ouija board which soon began instructing Mattie to kill her father. Dorothea told her daughter the board “could not be denied”, so, days later, while Dorothea and her son were in town, Mattie shot her father twice in the back while he was carrying a milk pail. Although she immediately regretted what she’d done and ran for help, Ernest died in hospital weeks later. Mattie confessed to the crime and was sentenced to a state reformatory and paroled after three years. Dorothea’s conviction was reversed by the state Supreme Court, but the two never reconciled, unsurprisingly.
4. “Destroy Your Son-in-Law”
In 2001, during a seance with her daughter and two granddaughters, Carol Sue Elvakar received an urgent message through her Ouija board that her son-in-law Brian Roach was possessed by evil and had to be destroyed. Shortly after, she stabbed Brian in the chest while he was sleeping. Leaving him to bleed out, Elvakar dragged the other family members to the car, drove off, but soon steered the car off the road and began to attack her 15-year-old granddaughter because she’d come to believe she was evil as well. The grandmother then ran from the car, stripped off her clothes, and jumped a highway median before running into the woods, where police would later find her hiding. Although Elvakar was charged with first-degree murder, she was judged insane and has been institutionalized. Her daughter was also charged as an accessory for hiding the knife, supplying the getaway vehicle and enabling child abuse.
5. “It Knows Who You Are”
In one of the more disturbing stories in this list, Bessie Gilmore contacted a demon as a child while playing with a Ouija board. She believed that the entity became attached to her family after her two sisters were paralyzed and killed. Years later, Bessie married and began living with her mother-in-law, Fay, who was a medium. After a special séance, she came home to discover the spiritualist exhausted and helped her to bed. She later woke up to a feeling of being touched and saw an inhuman face leering at her from the darkness. Shocked, she turned to face Fay staggering toward her. The older woman told her to get out and shouted, “It knows who you are!” Rushing through the house to get her children, Bessie discovered the creature now standing over her son Gary and looking him directly in the eyes. Although they managed to get out, Gary was plagued with nightmares for years after, leading his mother to believe he’d been possessed.
As an adult, Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad in 1977 for the murder of two men, crimes Bessie attributed to the demon that dwelt inside him. Interestingly, Gary’s last words before execution were, “Let’s do it” which earned him fame posthumously when advertising executive Dan Wieden credited his parting words as the inspiration for Nike’s tagline.
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