Monday, October 27, 2008

The Death of Pearl Bryan

In 1896, a mysterious occult group's activities were exposed during the spectacular Pearl Bryan murder trial, which made national headlines. It began when Pearl's headless corpse was found just behind what is now the YMCA in Fort Thomas, KY.

Pearl Bryan was a young woman who found herself with an unwanted pregnancy by Alonzo Walling, the son of a local minister. Pearl sought an abortion from a Cincinnati medical student named Scott Jackson, who was a member of a Satanic occult group operating out of an abandoned slaughterhouse in Wilder, KY.

Unfortunately for Pearl, Jackson's medical schooling was in dentistry, and he knew little or nothing about how to perform an abortion and ended up only mutilating the girl horribly. Scared and unable to figure out what to do and how to stop the bleeding, Jackson and Walling ended up murdering the girl by severing her head, not far from Jackson's slaughterhouse headquarters.

The men were eventually caught, but never revealed what they did with the head. They were offered a deal to avoid being executed if they would reveal the head's location, yet they refused and took their secret to their graves. They reportedly were more afraid of Satan's wrath in the afterlife than any mortal threats to their physical bodies.

The story, like all stories, is riddled with inconsistencies but has just enough meat to hold itself together. One report says Pearl was not a willing participant, and that the men drugged her by slipping cocaine into her drink at a bar. Cocaine was, in fact, found in her system in the autopsy, but cocaine is a stimulant; you don't slip someone the proverbial mickey by giving them a stimulant. Another version of the story claims that even after having confessed to the deed, the men proclaimed themselves innocent just before being executed. Yet another version of the tale says that the police actually recovered Pearl's missing head, and that it then inexplicably vanished again from the police station.

And still another version states that the occultists placed a curse on the severed head, and that it remains hidden somewhere in the old slaughterhouse, which currently is occupied by a country music saloon called Bobby Mackey's Music World, which is indeed haunted and cursed according to many. According to local writer Troy Taylor:

"One reporter commented later that Walling, as the noose was being slipped over his head, threatened to come back and haunt the area after his death. The writer also stated a few days later, in an article in The Kentucky Post newspaper that an 'evil eye' had fallen on many of the people connected to the Pearl Bryan case. Legend has it that many of the police officials and attorneys involved in the case later met with bad luck and tragic ends."

Pearl Bryan's head remains missing to this day.

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