Authors: Roger Hayden
Tags: #mystery, #mystery detective, #mystery amateur sleuth, #mystery action, #mystery amateur, #mystery and crime romance, #mystery action adventure, #mystery and suspense thrillers
The Haunting Of Bechdel Mansion
DBS Publishing LLC
The Redwood Murders: Twenty Years Later
By Anthony Moore, Staff Writer, The Dover
By 1975, the Bechdel mansion, located in the
historical town of Redwood, Indiana, was considered the height of
opulence. The lush acres that surrounded the mansion dated back
generations to the nineteenth century. Reportedly of Dutch descent,
the Bechdels migrated throughout the early U.S. colonies as
trappers, traders, vendors, and developers, establishing a thriving
dynasty that tragically came to an end on one summer night.
Early Census records cited the Bechdels as
one of the largest families in the U.S. with over twenty-five
families at the time carrying their respective bloodline. Their
wealth, power, and influence knew no bounds. By the twentieth
century, however, all of that changed. Historians often point to a
mystical family curse that many believe doomed the family line to
The “Bechdel” curse has fascinated folklore
and urban legend enthusiasts for years. The trials, tragedy, and
misfortune of that followed the Bechdel bloodline cannot be
overstated. Perhaps this is why the Redwood mansion continues to
bring tourists to the area to this day. There has to be something
out there. There has to be answers to explain the mystery behind
the curse. Whatever the reasons, the 1970s saw the last living
heirs of the family name.
George and Anabelle Bechdel prided
themselves among the town's most influential and powerful families.
They had three sons and one daughter. Their eldest son, Travis, was
engaged to be married to a wealthy real estate heiress. The recent
engagement was the toast of the town. Though the merging of two
wealthy families wasn’t front page news, everyone in town had heard
On June 25, 1975, the Bechdel’s hosted
a dinner party to celebrate the engagement. The parents of the
Victor and Holly
Drake, were in attendance with their daughter, Katelyn. It was
supposed to be a night of new beginnings and good cheer. Instead,
it ended in tragedy and disaster. Even the skeptics had to admit
that the existence of a family curse at least made some kind of
sense. Some just didn’t want to admit it.
Redwood had grown considerably over the
years from its initial establishment. Its quaint shops, local Inns,
and pubs were a favorite to those who preferred rural life in a
quiet village town to the busy congestion of the city. It was a
popular town, but that soon changed following the brutal murder of
the last Bechdel family and their party guests. No one was
Fifteen people murdered in cold blood during
the late hours of the evening. Much has been written about the
“Redwood Massacre” since then, and countless theories,
conspiracies, and offered for good mix. That is because to this
day, the killers are still out there. After an initial
investigation and subsequent media frenzy case grew cold within a
There were plenty of suspects but nothing
ever materialized. Over time, all the hype and frenzy surrounding
the case and it naturally faded, leaving a fractured town that
still struggles to find its place today. There are some residents
who believe that the Bechdel’s brought the curse with them upon
settling in Redwood and that it has spread throughout the entire
town. But there are other people, Pastor Phil, of the First Christ
Church of Redwood, who believe that the town’s worst days are long
behind them. Rather, they believe that the best days lie ahead.
There is no doubt that the unsolved murder
of fifteen people shocked the community and tore the facade of
innocence and harmony from Redwood. From then on, the town was
never the same. But perhaps there is still hope for the future of
Redwood. Only time will tell.
June 25, 1975
Julie Bechdel sat on her bed bored as sounds
of laughter and music rang throughout her room from below. Her
parents were entertaining again, marking the engagement of her
older brother, Travis, to a girl from a wealthy family. An heiress,
they called her. Julie had to look the word up. The girl had a lot
of money, but so did Julie’s family. She didn’t understand what the
big deal was.
To Julie, her brother was too young to get
married. He had just graduated high school. His fiancé, Kate, was
just entering her senior year of high school. They were a year
apart. Both their parents not only supported the engagement, they
had insisted on it. Everything, however, seemed to be happening
very fast. Julie had her suspicions.
She was a bright and perceptive
eleven-year-old. And even though her room was adorned with plenty
of games, books, and magazines, she was more curious about what was
going on downstairs.
Julie was the only girl among four siblings,
and she believed that had more to do with being sent to her room
than her age. Her other brothers were all allowed to stay up, and
they were only five or six years older. Whatever the reasons, she
found the party distracting. She couldn't sleep if she wanted to,
and it was time to get a closer look.
Wearing her nightgown, Julie got out of bed
and walked across the hardwood floor. She could already smell the
cigar smoke before even opening the door. With the turn of a knob,
she carefully ventured out of her room and down the hallway which
led to a winding staircase. She stopped at the railing and looked
below over the smoke-filled lounge.
Guests sat among plush green sofas
conversing or stood on the white tile floor admiring the artwork
which adorned the room. The Men in suits and women in their
glittering evening gowns both looked the height of elegance.
Julie's brother, Travis, stood near a window talking with her other
brothers, John and Alex, all in white long-sleeved tuxedo shirts
and bowties. A record spun from the turntable, booming with jazz
Past the lounge sat a long dining room table
with empty plates from dinner. Julie knew every nook and cranny of
the two-story mansion and its fifteen rooms. She was born there.
Her parents were very protective of her, and rarely let her have a
social life beyond the few friends they approved of. She had spent
a lot of time within the mansion and discovered all sorts of ways
to move around undetected. That evening, she decided to do some
From below, guests cupped wine glasses and
sipped periodically. Julie could hear her mother, Anabelle,
laughing out of view. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. She
crept down the stairs without a single head turning in her
direction. The entire affair seemed strange to Julie. She reached
the bottom of the stairs and stayed low. No one had noticed her
She rushed behind the nearest couch to her
right where a couple talked. She peeked over the top of the couch
and felt a certain thrill to her spying. She turned to the gaming
room across the lounge and saw her parents standing next to a
billiards table mingling. Her father, George, puffed on a large
cigar with some other men, drink in hand, as her mother chatted
with the women.
Next to the gaming room was the library—her
favorite room in the house. She could see inside. Katelyn, her
brother's fiancé, stood next to a book shelf with her parents in
conversation. Julie wanted to get a listen. She moved along the
side of the room, staying close to the thick red drapes that
adorned the windows behind her.
She dropped to her knees next to a china
cabinet as one of her brothers walked past her from the opposite
direction. She was sure she had been spotted. His black pant legs
kept going as she sighed with relief. She crawled to the corner of
the room and crouched behind a vacant sofa chair, ready to sprint
toward the library.
The music stopped for a moment as the record
ended and flipped over. Julie waited until the next song came on
and then ran across the room with stealth and reached the open
double doors of the library. The Drake family were within an
earshot. Julie stuck her head into the room, careful to not expose
herself. The parents had their back to Julie. She saw Katelyn’s
brown wavy hair over her parents’ shoulders.
"Well, you love Travis, don't you?"
Katelyn's mother asked, her red hair in a perm and wearing silk
blue evening gown.
"Of course I do, but--"
"Then what's the problem then?" her mother
"This is all happening too fast," Katelyn
Julie knew it. There was something more to
the engagement than her own parents had led on. She crept closer to
the side of a tall book shelf, taking cover on its side.
Kate's father interjected with his own take.
"I understand that you're nervous. That's only natural. It will all
pass soon enough."
Kate shuffled in place, shaking her head.
"It's not just that. What about college? I'm graduating high school
next year and all this talk about children... I don't know if I'm
Kate's father put his hand on her
shoulder, his gray hair thinning on top. Julie couldn't see the
parents’ faces but could still detect her own worry in their
daughter’s concerns. "That's enough of that talk,” he said. “You
have your entire life to do whatever you wish, but you
be marrying this boy. Our
family's fortunes rely on it."
"Listen to your father, dear," Kate's mother
added. "This is about more than..." she paused in hesitation.
Kate was quick to respond. "About what? My
future? My own happiness?"
Her father tilted his head back, laughing
nervously. "Of course not. Your happiness is very important to
"Very much so," her mother said. "We all
have our little parts to play for a greater good. For the
"Well said, dear," her father said.
"Thank you," her mother said.
Katelyn threw her arms down in frustration.
Julie couldn't believe what she was hearing. Her suspicions, it
seemed, were true.
She recalled Travis expressing similar doubt
at the breakfast table the morning prior. In response, her father
shut him down without hesitation and told him to go to his room. As
she stood near Katelyn and her parents, she did her best to
remember every word so that she could write about it in her diary.
She was ready to get to the bottom of things when her mother’s
voice rung out from behind.
"Julie Lynn Bechdel!"
Julie spun around in a panic and saw her
mother, Anabelle, standing in the doorway, pearls around her neck,
glass in hand, and her face enraged. Julie struggled to speak, but
found herself frozen.
"What are you doing in here?" her mother
Katelyn's parents turned around, surprised
to see Julie standing nearby.
Julie thought quickly. "I-I couldn't sleep.
I was just going to grab a book."
Anabelle moved to Julie like a hawk and
yanked her by the arm. "You're not allowed down here. We told you
to go to bed an hour ago!” Julie struggled to get loose as her
mother turned to Katelyn's parents, blushing. "I'm very sorry."
"Quite all right," Katelyn's dad said with a
smile. His wife, however, stood stoned-faced and unamused.
"Let's go," Anabelle said, pulling her out
of the room.
"You're hurting me!" Julie cried out as
heads turned in their direction from the lounge.
Her mother's grip remained as she dragged
Julie toward the staircase. She saw her father peer out from the
gaming room, wearing a stoic frown. She was in trouble, that much
was clear. Her mother stopped at the bottom of the stairs and
released Julie's arm.
"Now go to bed and stop this bad behavior,"
Julie felt angered and defiant. Her brothers
watched her from across the room, not getting involved. Guests
attempted to turn their attention away, but it was clear that the
scene had gotten their attention.
"How can I go to bed with all the noise
you're making down here!" Julie said.
More heads turned and Julie could see the
embarrassment and inner rage in her mother's glazed eyes. She could
hear her father’s dress shoes clicking against the floor as he
approached from the gaming room.
Her mother extended her long, skinny arm
toward stairs. "Go!" she hissed.
Her father stopped beside Julie and stared
down. "What are you doing down here? We told you to go to your room
after dinner." His bow-tie was undone and his short black hair was
messy. Like her mother, there was a slight slur to what he said.
She wondered how many glasses of wine both of them had already