Oct 28, 2022 - News

Miami ghost stories: Real tales of local haunts and legends

Illustration of a skeleton hand holding a martini with an eyeball instead of an olive.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Gather around the virtual fire, readers, as we take you on a tour of Miami's spookiest ghost stories.

  • From a graveyard romance in the Keys to the mysterious Coral Rock Castle, our metro area has no shortage of fascinating — and hair-raising — tales. Read until the end, if you dare!

Why it matters: Ghost stories have been part of oral traditions for centuries, but are hardly written down.

  • So we met with Stella Erin Ross, who guides tours on Miami's secret history, and asked her for some spooky local stories to keep that spirit alive. She obliged:

🏨 The Biltmore Hotel: Notorious New York mobster Thomas "Fatty" Walsh was fatally shot in the Everglades Suite (aka the Al Capone Suite) in the Biltmore in Coral Gables more than 90 years ago, and his murder was never solved.

  • Ross said Walsh's ghost still haunts the hotel and that he prefers the ladies. Women have reported that they have seen a leering face in the elevator, heard a man chuckling and felt his breath on their necks.
  • "One woman said she felt someone pinching their cheek — and not the one on her face," Ross said.

ğŸŽ¥ Charlotte Jane Memorial Park Cemetery: Rumors have spread that the historic cemetery in Coconut Grove, where many Bahamian settlers were laid to rest, reportedly inspired Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video.

More spooky tales: We did some digging and found a few more ghost stories that will freak out your friends this Halloween.

🪦 Grave robbing in Key West: Florida radiologist Karl Tanzler wished to marry a terminally ill young woman named Elena Hoyos, WLRN reports. After she died, Tanzler dug up her body and lived with her for seven years before he was arrested (and later acquitted) for disturbing the grave.

🪨 Coral Castle Museum: Some say stonemason Edward Leedskalnin must have had supernatural powers to create Coral Castle Museum in Homestead.

  • From 1923 to 1951, Leedskalnin carved out more than 1,000 tons of coral rock using homemade tools.
  • Ghost whisperers from the group Paranormal Research and Investigative Studies Midwest (PRISM) say they have communicated with Leedskalnin's spirit in the two-story rock structure where he died.

Hotel Redland: Guests at Homestead's Hotel Redland were burned alive in 1913 after a fire started in the attic. A new hotel was built there soon after.

  • The paranormal team from PRISM has said they have been able to hear voices in a room where a woman supposedly died falling through a window.
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