Boston March 22, 2018
The Story Behind Boston’s Most Haunted House Will Give You Nightmares
On November 23, 1849, the “crime of the century” took place in Boston when Dr. George Parkman was murdered and his corpse dismembered. At the time, the case dominated the headlines because of the social status of the victim and accused murderer, as well as some gruesome aspects of the case.
Media outlets across the world shared the gory details and the trial attracted a crowd of 60,000 people, rotating through the courtroom for an allocated number of minutes as if it was a theme park attraction.
The crime didn't actually occur in the place that's rumored to be haunted. Nonetheless, the victim's restless spirit supposedly remained at the Parkman House (33 Beacon Street) after his death.
A bizarre event that took place here precisely 150 years after Dr. Parkman's murder, convinced some that paranormal activity was at play. To understand the event's significance, you first need to know more about the murder.
After working as a doctor for many years, Parkman became a money lender and landlord. He loaned John White Webster a sum of money and the two appeared to have been friends - both were doctors at Harvard Medical College. Webster taught chemistry there and had a laboratory in the building's basement.
Parkman grew irate after learning that Webster had used collateral for the debt owed him as collateral in a second debt to somebody else. He visited Webster in his laboratory and was never seen again.
Webster is thought to have struck Parkman on the head with his walking stick, killing him. Then, he proceeded to chop up the body and dispose of it in the privy.
Police plastered Boston with missing person flyers in an effort to locate Dr. Parkman.
The janitor at the medical school, Ephraim Littlefield, became suspicious of Webster and broke into the laboratory, where he discovered human remains in the privy. Other body parts were then found in the furnace and wedged into a blood-stained tea chest inside the lab.
Webster was arrested and the subsequent trial was a huge spectacle. This was one of the first times that forensic anthropology was used in a courtroom. Webster denied involvement but then later confessed. Some think Ephraim Littlefield actually murdered Parkman and framed Webster, while others believed he did it. Webster was found guilty. He was hung on August 30, 1850.
Jump forward to 1999. The cistern of a toilet (a modern privy) broke on the third floor of the Parkman House.
Water cascaded down, damaging all three floors of the home.
Do you think it was just a coincidence that Dr. Parkman’s remains were stuffed down a toilet and that a toilet then broke exactly 150 years later in his family home, causing extensive damage? Or do you think it could have been the spirit of Dr. Parkman?
Boston’s lengthy history ensures it has more than its share of ghost stories. Discover which
T station is allegedly haunted then learn about the darker side of Boston Common.