pa state police

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The Burned Body on Broad Mountain

This story combines elements of a true crime mystery and a local ghost legend.

On Apr. 25, 1925, Claude and Mary Duncan were picking flowers in the deep woods by Broad Mountain (aka Gordon Mountain), Schuylkill County, PA, when they came upon a gruesome sight. After following the cawing of birds and watching crows circling overhead, the pair discovered a clearing that had been charred by a recent fire. In the middle of the small field was the mutilated and burnt corpse of a young woman. Investigation and autopsy reports yielded little into the mystery surrounding her death. She had a fractured skull, and had probably died of blunt force trauma to the head. She had been killed in another location and then taken to the dump sight by Broad Mountain, where she was burned. A rainfall later that day doused the fire before it could completely consume her remains. She was never identified, though it was theorized she may have been a prostitute, and her killer was never found nor were there any suspects. 

In hopes that she may eventually be identified, her head was severed and preserved in a doctor’s office in Ashland. 17 years later, PA State Police relocated the head to their headquarters in Harrisburg. Today, a plaster cast of that head resides in storage in Schuylkill County’s historical society. 

This unidentified murder victim is said to be the origin of the multiple paranormal occurrences that have taken place on Broad Mountain. Car engines are said to shut off, and translucent apparitions of a girl have been spotted near the area her body was found. The area became so popular that traffic jams were frequent on the mountain. The murder investigation is currently a “cold case” at state police headquarters.

In 1973, J. A. Seitzinger came forward as the perpetrator of many of the mountain’s paranormal sightings. He and two friends had been using mannequins and sheets to trick people into thinking the mountain was haunted ever since the young woman’s murder. Although his hoaxes are the explanation for many of the areas supposed paranormal activities, both Seitzinger and other local residents were and are convinced that something is haunting Broad Mountain.