Betrayed by your beloved! A tragic way to go! Wouldn't you want to stick around & share your misery with the world? Pearl Bryan apparently did.
Pearl Bryan came from a wealthy farming family in Greencastle, Indiana, and was dating the son of a local Methodist minister, in 1896. Unbeknownst to her friends and family, her boyfriend, William Wood, had "seduced" her and she was pregnant. He convinced Pearl to get a secret abortion, to be performed by his friend, Scott Jackson and his roommate, Alonzo Walling. These young men were current students at the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in Cincinnati. Surely, they must have the appropriate medical skills! So, on February 1, a 5-month pregnant Pearl left her parents with a lie, and met up with Jackson and Walling in Cincinnati.
Jackson used assorted chemicals, including cocaine, to see to his task - all of which failed. The men carried on, trying dental tools to complete their duty; and failing again. This botched abortion left Pearl afraid and bleeding profusely. Walling, Jackson, and even Wood saw no other option than to "cover the evidence" of what was, at the time, not only one, but two sinful & shameful acts (an unwed pregnancy & an abortion) - they decided to murder Pearl Bryan!
Traveling to Fort Thomas, KY, they cut off her head in what would later be described as a "clean slice" with a dental instrument. Arranging the scene to make it appear as a rape of a prostitute, they abandoned her body behind what is now the YMCA. Her head was never found, though many people tried throughout the years, and there are any number of theories throughout the years as to what happened to it, from being abandoned in a nearby thicket to tossed in the river, and even thrown in the river. People were still "finding" Pearl's poor head over a decade after her murder! Check out these clippings below, from the 1900 Hopkinsville Kentuckian, February 1907 Paducah Sun, & March 1907 Mt. Sterling Advocate, for just a few examples:
But this is only the beginning of the story - at least what can be proven in the physical realm that humans can conceivably see & know, without a doubt. Some say, on the gallows, Walling - believing himself an innocent man - cursed everyone involved in the case. And though the newspapers do not directly support this "evil eye" curse, there is a strange coincidence that a large number of people involved in the case of Pearl Bryan's murder, and those who brought her killers to justice mysteriously and/or tragically died within 15 years of her death; else they were brought a string of bad luck. Reporters had a habit of bringing up her name when someone related to the case came ill, whether it mattered or not. This included such people as prominent as the judge (died of a "hemorrhage of the lungs" in 1903) to as overlooked as the African-American who carried her remains (fatally injured in a 1902 accident) to obscure figures, such as C.E. Walling - her murderer's brother - was noted as related to the case, when the Berea Citizen reported him as dying in 1910!
Of course, Pearl Bryan herself has supposedly caused some mischief (though it's not directly accredited to her in this August 10, 1904 Richmond Climax clipping from page 1, it's implied)
And she still allegedly does today, most notably in Bobby Mackey's Music World - a night club & former slaughterhouse in Wilder, KY, with its own sordid history embedded in the building, involving satanic rituals & occultists. One of these legends involves a ritual that placed a curse on the disembodied head of Pearl Bryan before it was tossed down a well in the basement of the building, which is why she haunts the place.
I'm not sure they ever ACTUALLY found poor Pearl's head. Perhaps we will never know, as one story alleges Walling & Jackson kept silent because they feared "the wrath of Satan" (other stories place them as Satanists, as well). Supposedly, when people visit her grave, they leave her pennies, so she can have a head at Resurrection.
What do you think happened to Pearl Bryan's head? Do you think there is a curse on those involved with her murder & the case - even those that brought her justice? What & where do you believe she haunts, if she still does? Do YOU believe?