Horror State – Florida Part 2


Welcome back to the second part of the Horror State – Florida.  If you haven’t read the first one, check it out.

Devil’s Tree – In Oak Hammock Park near Port St. Lucie, Florida, there is an Oak tree that has been named “Devil’s Tree”.  The stories behind it vary, but they all have the same common theme.  One story goes that two young girls were assaulted and hung at the tree. The killer then took the bodies down and buried them beneath the tree.


Another similar story tells the tale of Gerard John Schaefer who on January 8, 1971 kidnapped two young girls, 19 year olds Collette Goodenough and Barbara Ann Wilcox, while they were hitchhiking. He then bound, gagged, assaulted, hung, and then buried them. In 1977 two men discovered bones near the base of the tree.  There are accounts of hearing girls screaming when near the tree, and satanic worshipers have been reported hanging around the base.


Shafer Tree – Also known as Devil’s Tree


Whatever story you want to believe, or not believe, one thing is true, this tree has bad history surrounding it.   Due to the ghastly nature of their deaths, many called for the tree to be removed, however, it is not that simple, and no matter the method, the tree has continued to thrive.  Chainsaws have quit working, and hand saws have had their teeth break off.  Yes, they’re could be good explanations for it, but for many it shows that this tree is imbued with the girl’s spirits.



St. Augustine – If you’ve never been to St. Augustine, you should definitely add it to your list of places to visit. Settled by the Spanish, it is truly the nation’s oldest city, founded in 1565,  just over 40 years BEFORE Jamestown . One of the many things it is known for is paranormal encounters. From Flagler College (formerly the Ponce De Leon Hotel), Castillo San Marco and the city gates to St. George’s Tavern, there are ghost stories on every corner.


Obviously, there are going to be many spooktacular locations.  Depending on what type of location that you like going to, St. Augustine has it all, from the Haunted Jail to a Military Hospital and a lighthouse.  One thing to remember when you are out late at night, this town is very old, and not everyone that frequented locations in the past are friendly, especially if they chose to stay around.  Our suggestions would be to hit the St. Augustine Old Jail, where inmates were not only crammed in but notoriously mistreated to get some of that evil, negative element.  The jail is considered one of the most haunted locations in all of St. Augustine, which honestly is saying a lot.  If you want more of a run of the mill experience, then visit and even stay at the Casablanca Inn, a bay side bed and breakfast that has a history of bootlegging during the prohibition.  The owner had to keep alcohol for her patrons right?  Well, not all bootleggers are fun loving like the Dukes and Hazard.


Melanie went on a ghost hunt a few months ago at Antiques and Uniques Collectibles on Aviles St. hosted through Paraforce investigations. Melanie has always been hesitant about deciding if she believes in ghosts or not, so she was somewhat skeptical going into it. There were several odd things that happened but the biggest thing that occurred was when she was sitting in the closet that is known for activity believed to be children. The flashlight turns itself off and falls over several times, and then right after one of the times that happens, Melanie felt something brush up against her arm and then touch her hairline.


St. Augustine Old Jail

Here are some books that we personally like that have more information about Florida and the Paranormal that reside there.


Ghosts of Florida’s Gulf Coast

Ghosts of America – Florida

Ghosts of St. Augustine

Wierd Florida


Do you know of another place in Florida that is haunted that you would like us to spotlight?  Have you had a personal experience at one of these locations?  Do you own a company that specializes in showing people the haunted and morbid?  Comment on this post, or send us a message.

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Dead Over Heels by Theresa Braun

Dead Over Heels

By: Theresa Braun
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 38
Published on: November 16, 2016
Dead Over Heels by Theresa Braun

Veronica’s first date with Sebastian not only stirs up a powerful attraction, but also a series of supernatural events that will tear them apart.

After countless hours of dead end online dating, Veronica meets up with Sebastian at a reportedly haunted restaurant, since he knows she has a fascination with the paranormal. While enjoying their meals and each other’s company, they share a shocking supernatural experience. Their romantic connection is overshadowed by the ghosts of their own pasts that threaten to destroy their budding relationship. Veronica decides she must return to the restaurant to face her past and dig up more answers. Unfortunately, she realizes she must go back, this time with a reluctant Sebastian. In the end, they join forces against the evil that stands between them, but will they make it out alive?


Dead Over Heels is a very short but exciting read. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it at first, but I’m glad I didn’t let that stop me from reading it anyway. This review will be somewhat hard to write because I don’t want to give anything away.


I really did feel emotion for Veronica and Sebastian. They were both missing something from their lives and seem to have found it in each other. I’m glad for that.


There are definitely some twists and surprises in this book. My only complaint is, honestly, for selfish reasons. I really wanted the story to be longer. I was most definitely surprised by the ending.


I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick ghostly read focusing on a newly dating couple.



Purchase Link


About Theresa Braun

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides with her two fur babies, who are her creative sidekicks.

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Hounded by Kelley Armstrong

Urban Enemies

By: Joseph Nassise, Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Seanan McGuire, Kelley Armstrong, Jonathan Maberry, Jeff Somers
Pages: 448
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published on: August 1st 2017
Hounded by Kelley Armstrong

Villains have all the fun—everyone knows that—and this anthology takes you on a wild ride through the dark side! The top villains from sixteen urban fantasy series get their own stories—including the baddies of New York Times bestselling authors Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Kelley Armstrong, Seanan McGuire, and Jonathan Maberry.

For every hero trying to save the world, there’s a villain trying to tear it all down.

In this can’t-miss anthology edited by Joseph Nassise (The Templar Chronicles), you get to plot world domination with the best of the evildoers we love to hate! This outstanding collection brings you stories told from the villains’ point of view, imparting a fresh and unique take on the evil masterminds, wicked witches, and infernal personalities that skulk in the pages of today’s most popular series.

The full anthology features stories by Jim Butcher (the Dresden Files), Kelley Armstrong (the Cainsville and Otherworld series), Seanan McGuire (October Daye), Kevin Hearne (The Iron Druid Chronicles), Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger), Lilith Saintcrow (Jill Kismet), Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville), Joseph Nassise (Templar Chronicles), C.E. Murphy (Walker Papers), Steven Savile (Glasstown), Caitlin Kittredge (the Hellhound Chronicles and the Black London series), Jeffrey Somers (The Ustari Cycle), Sam Witt (Pitchfork County), Craig Schaefer (Daniel Faust), Jon F. Merz (Lawson Vampire), Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock), and Diana Pharaoh Francis (Horngate Witches).

Also by this author: Urban Enemies


Hounded by Kelley Armstrong is the second story in the “Urban Enemies” anthology and takes place in Armstrong’s Cainsville series which is a town settled by fae. Welsh fae share the region with the Cwn Annwn, which is the Welsh version of the “Wild Hunt” beings who are tasked with hunting down killers and sending their souls to the afterlife.


This story is about a huntsman who had his hound taken away from him by the protagonists in the main series. Apparently, as I have not read the series, that a huntsman uses his/her (maybe her, they don’t talk about women, and the main character is a male) to assist in hunt. His first one was taken away by the head huntsmen, and his second one that he took from an abused pup to a wonderful companion was taken by a young girl. She didn’t take it away maliciously like the council did, but because the pup fell in love with her. At least that is how it sounds.


Anyways, this story is about the huntsman getting a hound so he can continue what he believes in the good fight. The only problem is, he isn’t like other huntsmen who wait until someone kills, he believes in trying to ensure those with the feelings also get punished.


That is what caused him to lose his hound in the first place, but that doesn’t stop the drive, because they are made to do what they do.


Like I said earlier, I have not read the series, but the overall voice is very good and I like the overall readability and world the author created. You can’t tell a lot about the overall series from a short story, but sometimes you can tell the overall series will be at least enjoyable if not very good. Also remember that while this short story is not available yet, you can pre-order the anthology or you can get Armstrong’s other books. Here are the first books in her different series.  If you want to read more about the Huntsmen before Urban Enemies comes out, then check out Omens.


Bitten – Yes she is the author of Bitten, which is now a show on SyFy.  This is also the first book in the Otherworld series.

Omens – First book in the Cainsville Series that this short story takes place in.

The Summoning – Darkest Powers Book 1

The Gathering – Darkness Rising Book 1

Loki’s Wolves – Blackwell Pages Book 1






Barnes & Noble

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Horror State – Florida Part 1



Melanie and I were thinking about how each state is a little different when it comes to horror stories and ghost stories.  In an effort to not only put more content our for our readers, but to also expand a little beyond just book reviews, we are going to look at each state, highlighting a handful of spooky places to visit when traveling. If you missed the last Horror State post, it was based on Oregon, which is where Andi lives and you can find Part 1 HERE.


Melanie has lived in Florida since 2006, minus a random year. Florida is spooky, it is old, it is southern, and people go there to die, what? don’t act like you don’t know that.  It stands to reason that Florida is spooky and full of supernatural goings on. Some say it’s “God’s waiting room.” (Melanie is who says that. Probably just Melanie)


Key West, Florida – Although sunny and beachy, Key West is home to some of the oldest and scariest ghost stories in the region.  Melanie and her husband used to go there every year for their anniversary. Due to its location there is a long history of buccaneers, rum running, and general piracy activities which sounds awesome.  There is a bar there that is said to have been the former morgue and so obviously that bar is haunted.  Don’t trust us?  Go there yourself, Captain Tony’s Saloon.  I am sure you’ll be fine.  If bars aren’t your thing, then a trip to Ernest Hemingway’s house turned museum should be your first stop.  Even though some have claimed that Hemingway is still there, plinking on his typewriter or walking to grounds, this is a piece of history that shouldn’t scare you away.


The last bit of creepy treasure you should check out in Key West is Robert the Doll.  Located in the Art and Historical Museum, it is said to be possessed.  In fact, Chuckie from Child’s play is based off this doll.  Look at it, I mean if I didn’t know the story behind it, it would still freak me out.  Is that a sailor outfit? People have reported having technical malfunctions with their cameras, phones, and computers after taking his picture. It’s said that you have to ask his permission because he doesn’t like for just anyone to take his picture. Melanie asked permission to take this photo, we assume he said yes since it actually came out with no problems. I think I would be more concerned if he actually said yes!


I4 Dead Zone – If you have driven in Central Florida just west (Mel says it’s north, but since I 4 goes east to west, it counts as west) of Sanford you have likely driven on I4.  Within 15-20 minutes of where Melanie actually lives is a specific stretch of road has been known to be dead, as in ghosts standing by the side of the road, voices coming over the radio, and even CBs and Cell Phones going dead beginning at the southern side of the bridge as it crosses over the St. Johns River. Not only that but this specific stretch of road between 1995 and 1997 had 44 vehicle accidents that injured 65 individuals.  Why is this a dead space? The region around Sanford used to be inhabited by Mayaca, a native American tribe who were decimated by the Europeans, war, and disease.  When Florida became an official US state Swedish indentured servants were brought in.  As they were indentured, most of the hard labor was done by them.  In the late 1800s, these Swedes formed Saint Joseph’s Colony which was lead by Father Felix Prosper Swembergh.

Swedish Colony of Saint Joseph’s


During a trip to Tampa, Father Swembergh contracted the Yellow Fever, and dying in Tampa.  It wasn’t long before the fever traveled to the colony, but without Father Swembergh to read last rites, bodies of the recently deceased were just buried. Following the death of all of the colonists, a local farmer purchased the land and during cultivation, one day found four small rotting crosses and being religious, felt that those crosses brought honor to the dead.  He, until his death in 1939 would not work that partial of land, instead leaving it to the remains. in 1950, a super highway was proposed that would cut through not only the farmer’s property, but across the graves.  While the surveyors found the graves, they felt they were so old and not “Native American” so instead of disinterring and burying at another location, they covered them with dirt and built I4 over them.  It was the next day when Hurricane Donna rampaged through Central Florida, not only disrupting road construction, but causing millions of dollars worth of damage, and countless deaths.


Cassadaga –  Cassadaga isn’t just a haunted town as much as it is also a very unique location that has been in a couple of shows and movies.  I remember learning about it on The Glades because they had a crime that required them to go there.   They even titled the episode Cassadaga so it wasn’t like they were trying to allude to it, they were front and center.

Old sign welcoming people to Cassadaga


Founded in 1875 by George Colby, an individual who titled himself a spiritualist, he created it as a retreat for his followers, but it has turned into something much different.  Now with a population of about 100, the majority who believe they can contact the dead via readings, seances, and other means.  These aren’t individuals who threw out a sign and welcome tourists.  Those who live here spend up to 10 years honing their skills in order to provide the best communications they can.  Most don’t believe that this is a genetic ability, but something that is a mix of Christianity, philosophy, and science.  They even use the local Christian church for larger ceremonies. One thing that I personally find really cool is that their street names are all about the paranormal.  Like this one.


Corner of Seance and Metaphysical


Because roughly half the population can commune with the dead in a small location, it is no wonder that many believe that Cassadaga is one of the most haunted locations in Florida.  Rather you believe they can actually speak with the dead or not, there is something to be said for the general vibe that you get while visiting.  With most of the buildings being built around the turn of the century, with the newest over 80 years old, the hotel is the place to be if you are coming for a ceremony, to book a palm reader, or just to stay the night is what they title as a haunted hotel.  I guess if you are going to cater to a select group of individuals, you may as well go all out, right? Melanie says they do a lot of really cool stuff at Halloween and has one of the best haunted trails in the area. This place is also within about 10 minutes of her house. Are you noticing a trend here yet?



Entrance to Cassadaga Hotel

Another thing Cassadaga is known for is known as “The Devil’s Chair”. Located in the Lake Helen-Cassadaga cemetery, it’s actually a cemetery bench that just happens to look more like one of those outside brick barbecue things. Supposedly if you leave a can of beer on it, the beer will be gone by morning. Sometimes the beer is open and empty, other times the beer is just gone.

Some say if you are brave enough to sit in the Devil’s chair at midnight, he will talk to you. Well, Melanie’s daughter is a brat and has actually done this. So far so good as Melanie and the rest of her family are still alive and well and Natalie isn’t hearing voices (supposedly).  Natalie was supposed to provide pics but went out of town before this post was finished…brat. This pic came from the book Weird Florida:



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Unit 731 – Real life Horror

Many people know about what the Nazi’s did in the way of human experimentation during World War II, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that Germany wasn’t the only country to test on both their own people and enemy forces.  There are stories about the United States testing chemicals and diseases on their own soldiers.  The United States however does not hold a candle to what both Germany and Japan did to their enemies.  Not a lot is known about what Japan did, other than some tales from POWs, but more information has started to come out about Unit 731, a Japanese unit that was responsible for human experiments.


Unit 731’s base of operations


It wasn’t until the 80s that Japan formally revealed that yes, the unit of legend was real, and what they did was as horrendous as everyone thought, in fact sometimes it was worse than imagined.  The Japanese Government in consort with Japanese universities and medical schools would use Chinese and other Asian citizens to create and breed diseases.  The government would allow the research scientists access to their findings, and in some cases would allow the text subjects to be intentionally refused medical intervention in order to document the disease’s progression.


These aren’t diseases like the cold and flu, but virulent strains of everything from Anthrax to Cholera, and the Plague.  In order to remove the humanity of the subjects, they would call them Maruta which translates to “Wooden Logs”.  Yes, they were doing tests on wooden logs, not living, breathing servicemembers and civilians.


Of course it wasn’t just infecting disease, but things such as autopsies while the patient was still alive and without any anesthesia.    One of the worst things was when they would put someone in a pressure chamber, used for helping individuals who have “the bends” but instead of helping them, they would see how much pressure it would take before the “patient’s” eyes would pop out of the skull.  The belief was that it would help know what depths their own servicemembers could go before having irreparable damage.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions, right?


Plague Experiment – Manchuria

So all of those responsible were condemned and jailed right?  No, not unlike a lot of SS running to Argentina, many of Unit 731’s soldiers would try to escape to China.  Those found were arrested and detained, but only a handful were actually ever tried as war criminals.  Post-War the US government actually gave immunity to those who were found in exchange for informational results on the experiments.  In fact the lead scientist and officer responsible for the frostbite trials.  Yes they did experiments on just what happened with frostbite Hisato Yoshimura, was not only not convicted, but he went on to become one of the key scientists in medical and other posts post-war.


Even as a historian and someone who worked with MIA/KIA/POW who never returned, I did not know about this unit.  I knew about the concentration camps, and what Dr. Josepf Manegla did, everyone who knows about World War II knows about his twin experiments and using skin for lamp shades, but how many actually know about Unit 731?  Researching for this post has just increased my thirst for information, and I know more about Unit 731 then I think I wanted to.  It is like a train wreck, you want to look away, you want to stop “reading” but for me it is enthralling.  Not because it happened, as much as because it isn’t that well known.


There is actually a museum dedicated to Unit 731 in China where the base was set up.  Remember Japan occupied portions of China during the war, and it was a lot easier to get Chinese victims in China then to drag them across to Japan, especially with the allied forces at times breathing down their neck.



Obviously I now have another place I want to go to visit.  I mean, it isn’t that it is gruesome or that people died.  For me it is the history, and obviously I am a little into the morbid, I did work with lost remains.

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