A Corner of Death- St. Louis, Missouri

corner of death
Franz von Stuck- “Lucifer”

A new hospital was being constructed in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1905. The City Hospital facility had sufficed for the needs of the area until a disastrous tornado destroyed the city in 1897. It demolished the hospital along with most structures in the area. An empty facility, called the Convent of the Asylum of the House of Good Shepherd, was selected as the replacement hospital while the “Emergency #1” facility was under construction. The old hospital was located between 17th and Pine Streets.

 

The Corner of Death

One of the most peculiar features of the House of Good Shepherd facility was the Corner of Death. No matter how mild an ailment was, anyone placed there would die. If patients were placed in a different corner of the very same room, they were fine. Despite regular examinations and a number of engineering checks, no one could explain how so many, without life-threatening injuries or disease, perished as soon as they were placed there. Another strange aspect of the tragedies is that most were oddly related in some way.

One popular example was that of a rustic saloonkeeper named Curly Keys. Keys was involved in an altercation with a man named Bill Condon. They drew weapons and Keys was shot. He recuperated reasonably well until they placed him in the infamous corner of death, the only area of the hospital that was unoccupied. He died within days.

Condon was taken to trial for the shooting, but successfully proved it was mere self-defense. A year passed and Condon was arrested again for another crime. This time, he resisted arrest, which led to a physical fight with the police. Condon ended up in the hospital for his injuries from the fight, an ironic gunshot wound. He was placed in the same corner as Keys. He died.

Detective Williams was the man who shot Condon. His father, W. Williams, got in a fight with his employer later on. The two brought out weapons. Williams was shot and placed in the cursed corner. He died.

 

Origins

The reason for the cursed hospital corner went back before Keys, before Condon, or Williams. A Jane Doe patient, believed to be a gypsy, was brought in to the Good Shepherd location. She had a violent and irrational temper. Many of the nuns there were shocked by her frequent outbursts and demands. The doctor further enraged her when he confined her to her bed due to her ailments and her disposition.

She became such a problem that physical restraints were necessary. One morning, she heard a religious service in the nearby chapel. If one of the nuns or priests attempted to pray over, or console the girl with scripture, she erupted in a fit of cursing and thrashing. She hated mention of religious text or rite, so it was assumed the minister’s message infuriated her. She freed herself of the restraints and fled to the service. No one knows why she ran as she did with any certainty, but the staff apprehended her in the middle of the service. That was the final act to set her off.

She was physically dragged back to the hospital bed screaming. Before they sedated her, she cursed the corner and all who were placed there. Her ultimate fate is not recorded, but she was blamed for each time death visited that corner.

 

 

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