The Grand Rapids Historical Society on Thursday night will take a deep dive into the killing that led to the haunting of the Michigan Bell building.

A Long Standing Urban Legend Will Be Discussed At The GR Public Library Downtown

Julie Rathsack will present the Historical Society's findings on the classic Grand Rapids haunted tale of love gone bad, Thursday night at 7:00pm at the GR Public Library. The talk will get underway at 7:00pm.

The story has been circulating around Grand Rapids since at least the 1990s, if not before, but how true is it?

Jen Canty via Unsplash
Jen Canty via Unsplash

Allegedly, A Man Beat His Wife To Death With His Wooden Leg

The original story behind the Michigan Bell building hauntings stems from a home that stood on the property that originally stood at Division and Fountain, where the Bell building still stands.

The urban legend say that a man named Warren Randell became so jealous of his wife, that he beat her to death using his wooden leg, and then took his own life behind a boarding house on that corner.

Local residents say the boarding house was haunted and that lat at night, they could hear the couple arguing.

After the original home was demolished, Michigan Bell built their offices on the site, setting off a series of haunting phone calls in the offices.

Alex Mihi via Unsplash
Alex Mihi via Unsplash

Residents Complained Of Phone Calls From Michigan Bell

The urban legend went on to say that residents throughout the city were frustrated by late night/early morning phone calls that were traced back to the Michigan Bell offices.

According to a blog post written on the Association of Paranormal Study web site:

The issue became so troublesome that nearby residents began contacting the police in an effort to stop what they believed was a prankster that had gotten out of hand. The police spent several nights tracing the phone lines to try and find the culprit of the prank calls. But to their confusion, all the late-night, silent lines were traced back to the Michigan Bell building.

Jan Jakub Nanista via Unsplash
Jan Jakub Nanista via Unsplash

Are There Any Truths To The Wooden Leg Murders?

According to the Grand Rapids Historical Society, while there is no solid evidence that the Randells ever existed, the story does come form an actual event:

This popular urban legend stems from a real event that took place in the home of city pioneers, George and Sarah White. They built their homestead in 1853 on what we know today as the northeast corner of Fountain Street and Division Avenue. George made his fortune in several different ventures, including a dry goods business with Amos Rathbone, a lumber business under the name White and Rathbone, and a plaster mill known as George H. White Plaster Company. He was also elected mayor of the city in 1861 and 1862.

So what happened to the Whites that led to the Urban Legend of the Randells?

You can find out Thursday night at Ryerson Auditorium at the Grand Rapids Public Library at 7:00pm. 

All I know is that the last time I heard a story that scary about a wooden leg, it was in a Dropkick Murphys song.

Michigan Criminals Who Time Has Forgotten



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