Merging with LA Hauntings

For those of you who are “subscribed” to this site, (first off, thank you) you may be inundated with notifications of new posts. I am merging my other web site, LAHauntings.com, with this one. The LA Hauntings Tour Company is going into a bit of a hiatus for the next couple of months at least and want to make sure all the posts find a save “second home.”

WhatsYourGhostStory.com is designed to be a clearing house for ghost stories and haunted locations across the globe. For the next couple of days there will be more focus on LA and California than usual. This migration should be over soon. Thanks for hanging in and I hope you do enjoy the stories and video of haunted and spooky California! ~Scott


Haunted Culver City and The Tower of Terror!

In his latest video, Scott Markus takes you inside…

The spooky elevator that inspired the Disney ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (while terrifying Connor Bright)!

The soundstage that once contained the Yellow Brick Road and the backlot where Beetlejuice, Batman, and Gone with the Wind were filmed!

And have you ever wondered if your own house is haunted, but been too afraid to find out? Scott Markus isn’t! Watch his latest video to see the results of the investigation he conducted in his own home!!

Also includes bonus footage of a talented ghost hunting cat!

Be sure to check out more LA Hauntings video on YouTube!

Don’t be shy, click subscribe to have your favorite tour guides take you one haunted adventures, no ticket needed!!


Private Resting Places at Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Glendale

By Connor Bright
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In the last week, Scott Markus and I finally made the trek to Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. This Gorgeous and massive 300 acre cemetery is the final resting place of many of the movers and shakers in Los Angeles history. The hilly grounds offering an incredible views of the city they helped build.

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The cemetery was founded in 1906, and operated as a non-profit. The grounds hold three non-denominational chapels. Forrest Lawn was the first “Memorial Park” getting rid of the “unsightly” standing headstones (there are still a few). For a long time they refused black, Chinese, and Jewish internments, now all are welcome. Surprisingly, more than 60,000 people have been married on the cemetery grounds. Forrest Lawn is unique for many reasons, the cemetery holds an art museum, the largest mosaic depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and it the only place in the world with a complete set of reproduction Michelangelo statues, made from the same quarries as the originals.
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It is also a place that has an insane amount of respect for the privacy of their departed tenants.

It is this amount of privacy that makes enjoying the grounds, and paying respects, very difficult. Forrest Lawn does not allow pictures of graves, or anywhere in their many mausoleums’ out of “respect of the property owners”. Many of the crypts and graves are roped off and concealed from those who wish to visit them.

Scott and I both felt this was a little over-dramatic.

The Great mausoleum had more security cameras than an airport, and out of all of the “greatness” only about 10% is open to the public.

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Even crypts that were open-air were locked off. Walt Disney, a resting place I was sincerely looking forward to a moment of silence with, was gated off, his name completely obscured by small trees.

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The cemetery does provide maps of the grounds, which are sprawling and confusing. We definitely recommend picking one up in the front building. That being said, out of respect of privacy, none of the graves are marked on the map. So you have to do your research ahead of time on who you want to visit, because unless you are very lucky, no one will tell you.

On the lawns, knowing which section a person is buried in is not sufficient. As I said, the grounds are massive; some individual areas are as big as football fields. If you have a crypt number things get a bit easier, but the numbering can be confusing. Scott spent 20 minutes looking for Tom Mix’s grave, with the proper number. Tom Mix is a silent era western star with a connection to one of Scott’s favorite Chicagoland haunts, the Great Escape.
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The confusing layouts and steep hills made me give up on seeing my hero. After seeing Scott’s luck with Mix, I gave up on hoping to find Oscar winning costume designer, Edith Head’s plot. As some of you know I also work as a costume designer and Edith is the designer I would like to aspire to be like. Unfortunately I will have to wait to see where she rests, since this time we only knew a lawn name but not a crypt number, we felt we had little chance of locating her.

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Directional clues are a must for finding an interment location! Finding, It’s a Wonderful Life star, Jimmy Stuart’s grave was easier once we found the clue that the “statue of the man with the arrow” located him with ease!
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Our experience in the Great mausoleum was a little better. Elizabeth Taylor does have a very impressive, very public, and very easy to find monument, a beautiful, tall, Etruscan style angel, right at the end of the hallway at the entrance to the great mausoleum.

The Different sections in the mausoleum are well labeled. However they are also roped off, so the closest you can get to the tragic couple of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard is peering down the hallway and knowing that they are somewhere in the wall just out of your sight. Many others share the same fate.
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After only a few hours of this frustration, Scott and I left. As seasoned cemetery goers, we were both surprised by the off limit-ness and difficulty to navigate Forrest Lawn offered. We also found it hard to believe that people like Michael Jackson and Jean Harlow would want to be buried in a place that discouraged their admirers from seeing them. It felt to us that the original intention of a cemetery- to celebrate the lives of those interred there- was lost within the gates. Perhaps Forrest Lawn felt that in, death, they could provide the isolation and security, its patrons never had in life.
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We do still recommend a visit to this cemetery. Not for the graves, but for the beautiful views of the city and amazing art collection. Some pieces which belonged to William Randolph Hearst. The collection includes an actual Easter Island head, over 1,000 pieces of stained glass, and many American historical artifacts. As well as quite a few replicas of things found in museums all around the world. Check the schedule to see what the traveling exhibit is!


Screaming spectres in Angeles National Forest

On the northern slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains, near Littlerock, California lies an area called the Devil’s Punchbowl.  This area is roughly half way between downtown Los Angeles and Victorville.  It is the site of countless beautiful rock formations and also the site of a terrifying screaming spectre.

I have been in physical therapy recently recovering from a broken hand.  As tends to happen when people find out I am a “ghost guy,” the room quickly filled with first hand accounts.  Of the several amazing stories I heard, I felt I needed to post this one to you guys to see if any of you have had similar encounters in the same place.

A girl named Shannon talked about visiting a campsite as a high school upperclassman in the the summer in the mid 2000s.  While she was trying to tend to a group of kids one evening a mist appeared on the trail ahead of her.  The mist hovered in the air, slowing coming towards her and the kids, who were all terrified.  She could see that the mist seemed to be swirling.  The mist also gave off a faint luminescent glow.

As the mist slowly grew nearer, the shapeless mass, which, at a distance was silent, seemed to scream as it past her and her fellow campers.

It is safe to say that Shannon and her young campers slept with one eye open this night.

The name for the area is obviously the first attention-grabber.  There are so many haunted sites that use the word “Devil” in its name.  When it comes to Devil’s Ditch (site of the crash of 191 in Des Planes, IL) and Devil’s Creek (site of the Grimes sisters death in Willow Springs, IL) the terrible incidents and hauntings occurred long after the naming of the area.  However, when it comes to Devil’s Gate near Pasadena, CA, the location was long considered cursed by the native populations before this area was settled.  One can only wonder how long this area carried with it the name “Devil.”

In this moment, I have not visited this site, investigated it or researched it.  I do, however, want to know if YOU have ever had a strange paranormal encounter in or around this location.  Or do you have any historical information that may help explain the terrifying experience that Shannon had here.  Please leave comments!

Note: If you are doing research, please be mindful that there is a possibly haunted site in Ontario Canada that is also called Devil’s Punchbowl.


Bugsy Siegel: An LA (Mafia) Story Part 3 of 3

by Connor Bright and Scott Markus

Join us one last time for our final installment of this series, we will visit more LA locations that were important in the life (and death) of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and the ghost stories associated with these locations.

After a quick lunch break, the LA Hauntings crew jumped back in the truck and headed the short distance to Benjamin Siegel’s home. The Beverly Hills home was built as a swanky stronghold for the mobster to run his operation and host parties. Totally obscured by bushes, it is impossible to see much of the mansion from the street, just the way Siegel would have wanted it. The home is rumored to have a hidden armory, large liquor storage, and an escape tunnel from the master bedroom to the basement. When the police came to Siegel’s hideout to arrest him for the murder of Harry Greenberg, it was said that they found the mobster cowering in the attic. After Ben set his sights on Las Vegas and the Flamingo, he sold his fortress to help with the financing of the hotel casino, and moved in with his girlfriend, Virginia Hill.

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I’ll admit disappointment at not being able to get a view of Siegel’s home, but that disappointment dissipated upon seeing Virginia Hill’s beautiful Tuscan-esque castle of a home! It was at this location on June 20, 1947 that Benjamin Siegel met his end. The bulletproof doors that he had installed at the house did not protect him from the shots fired through the window while he sat talking to his associate Allen Smiley. Although, officially, the murder of Siegel remains unsolved, it’s commonly agreed that Lucky Luciano ordered the hit out of anger with Ben over his handling of the construction on the Flamingo (he refused again and again to hand over expense reports detailing the work). Luciano’s orders were likely carried out by one of Jack Dragna’s men from the driveway next door.

The three bullets fired into the house and into the mobster left a lasting impression on the house. The blood cleaned up, the house sold and resold, but later owners still report feeling panicked in the living room. They occasionally see an apparition of a man attempting to run for cover, perhaps Benjamin Siegel remembering how he met his end and trying to avoid it.

Bugsy Siegel LA Hauntings grave photo siegelbenjamingrave_zps5cffe8f4.jpgOur final stop on our “half-tank tour,” with our gas light blinking, was the same final stop that Siegel had – Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel lies in the far back corner on the right hand side of the Beth Olman mausoleum. The epitaph on his grave simply reads, “From the Family.” Siegel is said to have told one of the contractors building the Flamingo, who was worried about working with the mob, “Don’t worry.  We only kill our own.”

Standing by his crypt I wondered if Ben ever had any idea that his own (Mafia) family would kill him. (As one last parting fact the contractor that Siegel was talking to was Del, the head contractor of the now famous Del Webb developer).

Bugsy Siegel LA Hauntings virginia hill photo VirginiaHill_zps2fe32ebc.jpgBenjamin “Bugsy” Siegel lived and died larger than life.  In truth, he was a perfect match with Virginia Hill, who was certainly no babe in the woods.  Hill entered the mob life during 1933’s Chicago World’s Fair.  The Alabama native quickly became a friendly acquaintance of many higher up members of the (then) Costello crime family, even being romantically linked to boss Joe Adonis.  After Siegel’s death, Hill did comply and testify at the famous  Kefauver hearings.  In 1954 she would flee to Europe to escape income tax evasion charges, only to eventually take her own life with an overdose of sleeping pills in 1966 at the age of 49.  The small town girl, initially emerging from Alabama, certainly lived a life few could imagine and even in death, she is shrouded in mystery.  Did she really extort millions from the NY Mafia?  Most think so, but we are far from certain.  And why did she take her own life?  Many speculate that she continued to scam American and even Mexican crime rings from a distance.  We, personally, would love to track down the site of Virginia’s demise (in Austria) and perhaps this will become another instance where a paranormal investigation and EVP session just may help solve an American mystery.


Bugsy Siegel: An LA (Mafia) Story Part 2 of 3

By Connor Bright and Scott Markus

The life of Siegel played out all over town and the other day we at LA Hauntings decided to visit as many locations tied to the mobster as we could in a single day and a half tank of gas. We focused on the highlights, from the beginning to the end, with some amusing or intriguing points in the middle.

Bugsy Siegel, Virginia Hill Harry Greenberg Castillo de Lago locations photo CastilloDeLago_zpsb5111564.jpgWe began our day in the hills below the Hollywood sign; it was in the shadow of the monument that Benjamin Siegel set up one of his first operations in Los Angeles. The 20,000 square foot, nine-bedroom, six-bath, Castillo De Lago with all of it’s considerable free space was taken over in the late 1930s by Siegel.  It operated as a casino and brothel (our original source also said it was a speakeasy as well, but with prohibition being repelled in 1933, there was no longer a need for secret places to sneak a drink, though we are sure alcohol was a staple here). The house was built in 1926 for Patrick Longdon, a wealthy oil entrepreneur, and his wife. A week after moving in, Mrs. Longdon passed away and a distraught Patrick moved out. Castillo Del Lago remained empty until Siegel’s arrival. Some reports say that it remained empty after the mob left; others report a revolving-door style barrage of tenants with long bouts of abandon. Whatever the case, it was bought and renovated by Madonna in 1993. The pop legend stayed only a few years, after a crazed fan attempted to break into her home and threaten her life.  She sold the house at a loss.

Reports of Castillo Del Lago being haunted are commonplace. Visitors to the home are said to feel a “deep sense of foreboding” (Hollywood Haunted, Laurie Jacobson and Marc Wannamaker). A fashion photographer named Tom Murray who used the location in 1998 reported that his crew felt uncomfortable and everything he shot inside the house came out black.  Mechanical malfunctions, especially with photographic equipment, are commonplace at haunted locations.  Madonna even reported a force in the house that made her feel unsafe. Her caretaker would hear a voice calling his name when he was alone, and doors would close and lock behind him of their own violation.

After taking some pictures of the Hollywood sign and poking around a few of the more lavish Hollywoodland homes, we traveled down the mountain to an unassuming intersection outside of a Best Western.

Where Vista Del Mar Avenue meets Dix Ave is the location where Benjamin Siegel proved his loyalty to the Mafia, killing his childhood friend, Harry Greenberg in 1939. Bugsy was known for his temper and it was during the trial for Greenberg’s death that papers dubbed him “Bugsy,” which came from the slang “bugs” meaning “crazy.”  Siegel hated this nickname intensely.  People dared not use it in front of him, fearing the result.

There is no better was to incur the wrath of the mafia than to turn snitch and rat to the police.  This is exactly what Harry “Big Greenie” Greenberg may have done to the members of Murder, Inc.  As you can imagine, his story doesn’t end well.

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(The above group mug shot shows Bugsy Siegel, second from left with the dark hat and Harry Greenberg in the dead center, wearing a lighter colored coat)

He spent years as an associate of the group as a stink bomb and acid disfigurement specialist. Greenie had lots of information on the inner workings and could name names if he so desired.  When investigators crept closer to Greenberg, he fled to Canada to hide.  Unfortunately, a letter sent to top Mafia brass asking for cash to continue hiding was met as a possible “pay me or I’ll talk” threat.

Regardless whether or not Greenberg was attempting to extort the Mafia and Murder Inc., Emanuel “Mendy” Weiss, who was now the head of Murder Inc., decided to play it safe.  A hit was ordered on the one-time ally.

On November 22, 1939 Harry Greenberg was shot and killed outside of his Vista Del Mar Ave apartment (now part of the Best Western). Big Greenie most likely knew his murderers, who were supposed to have been, Whitey Krakower, Albert Tannenbaum, Frankie Cabo, and Siegel.

Bugsy Siegel, Virginia Hill Harry Greenberg Castillo de Lago locations photo GreenbergAssassinationSite_zps24b6ba17.jpgShots rang out, more than two dozen in total, echoing off of the Hollywood Tower Hotel across Franklin Ave.  The Hollywood Tower would achieve greater fame later, serving as the inspiration of the Disney ride, Tower of Terror, but also earns a stop on our LA Hauntings tours due to the persistent ghost stories coming from the site.  The most frequently given explanation for the hauntings is the Mafia violence of the area. (the aerial shot to the left was taken from the top of the Hollywood Tower Hotel)

After firing at least six of the shots himself, Siegel, always cool, calm and collected, returned to a party he was hosting, ideally building in an alibi for his whereabouts.

Eventually Tannenbaum confessed to the murder and, in exchange for amnesty, agreed to testify against the others. Siegel and Carbo faced charges for Greenberg’s murder. Krakower was mysteriously murdered before he could testify or be charged.  Some believe Siegel killed Krakower, a particularly cold move, considering that Siegel’s wife Esta, was Krakower’s big sister. After the death of two witnesses, no other witness would come forward, so “Bugsy” and Carbo were acquitted due to insufficient evidence.

The trial gained attention because of Siegel’s treatment while in prison. He didn’t have to resort to eating prison food, rather, he had food from his favorite LA eateries catered to him.  The smooth talker was allowed lady visitors in his cell and he could even leave prison to visit his dentist!

Bugsy Siegel, Virginia Hill Harry Greenberg Castillo de Lago locations photo HarryGreenbergDeathLocation_zps7e71d153.jpgOn a side note, Siegel’s lawyer, Jerry Giesler, was known for handling the biggest high-profile cases in Los Angeles. Famously representing Lana Turner, when her daughter murdered mobster Johnny Stompanato, a close friend of Mickey Cohen. Giesler also represented the theater chain owner Alexander Pantages, in a case we talk about on our tour!

 Join us one more time for our final installment of this series, we will visit more LA locations that were important in the life (and death) of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and the ghost stories associated with these locations.  Also, as you can likely imagine based on the photo on the right, you can also follow LAHauntings on Instagram.  Click the photo to find us.

Part Three: Click Here


Bugsy Siegel: An LA (Mafia) Story Part 1

By Connor Bright

 photo Joe_Ardizzone_zpsebe5e2ec.jpgLos Angeles mafia began to put down it’s roots in the early 1900s.  Like the rest of the country, the mob found its strongest period as a result of the 18th amendment banning the sale of alcohol in the 1920s. This opened the door for mafia-run bootleg liquor distribution. During these early days the LA mob had its first boss, Joseph “Iron Man” Ardizzone (pictured, left), the only LA crime boss to have the “honor” of meeting his end at the hands of his own men. It was in the 1940s and 1950s, however, that the Los Angeles mafia was at it’s strongest, under the powerful Jack Dragna, followed by more public east cost transplants Bugsy Siegel and Mickey Cohen.

Bugsy Siegel LA Hauntings photo bugsy-siegel-style_zpsa6548a54.jpgBenjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was born into a poor Jewish family in Brooklyn, and decided at a young age that he would rise above that poverty by any means necessary. Siegel made a name for himself in New York running “Murder, Incorporated,” a hit-for-hire business with friend Meyer Lansky and bootlegging during prohibition.

After prohibition was brought to an end, Siegel set his sights on gambling operations. He was sent to LA by Charles “Lucky” Luciano in 1937 on behalf of the National Syndicate, an origination of crime families from NY, Chicago, and New Jersey. Luciano is known as the father of the American mob. He was the mastermind who split New York into its Five Families.

It was also Luciano who advised Jack Dragna, who was the standing mafia boss in LA, that it working with Siegel would be in his “best interest”. Right away Siegel proved Luciano’s words to be true by “talking” all of the local gambling bookies into paying a tribute to Dragna for operating on his turf, adding to Dragna’s considerable wealth.

With the reluctant help of Dragna, Siegel was able to set up a horse racing wire service, known as Trans-America. He also helped the Syndicate set up a drug trade between Mexico and California. In addition, Siegel made money by extorting large film production companies, helping unions organize strikes and then forcing the studios to pay him to get unions working again.

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Always the scammer and skeemer, Siegel would borrow money from celebrities he was close to, knowing that they would never ask the mobster for it back (some estimate taking in $400,000 in these type of “loans” in one year!) Of course, Benjamin had to pay a small tribute to Dragna for working in his territory.

Early Flamingo Hotel Bugsy photo EarlyFlamingoHotel_zps3ea59ca3.jpgDuring Siegel’s stay in the city of angels, he set his sights on the sleepy frontier town of Las Vegas, helping fund (with lots of money from the NY mafia) the first big casino on what would become the Las Vegas Strip, the Flamingo Hotel. The Flamingo was named after Siegel’s girlfriend, Virginia Hill, who had red hair and long legs that earned her the nickname “flamingo” form the usually fuming crime lord. Unfortunately for “Bugsy”, Virginia might not have been as trustworthy as he believed her to be.  Money started going missing and proper expensise reports were never shared with the Syndicate.  People suspect that Hill was skimming money from the project. The vastly over-budget Flamingo hotel and casino was failing, the New York crime bosses became furious. Three months after the Flamingo’s second opening, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel wad shot and killed at the home of Virginia Hill.


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