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New England’s Most Haunted Asylums

Hollywood seems to think Massachusetts asylums are the scariest places on Earth. Here’s why they’re right.
By SCOTT KEARNAN  |  October 26, 2012

METROPOLITAN STATE HOSPITAL

Waltham's Met State didn't earn its nickname the "Hospital of Seven Teeth" for a subpar dental department. It refers to the gruesome 1978 hatchet murder of Anne Marie Davee by another patient, Melvin Wilson, who kept seven of his victim's teeth as ghastly souvenirs. Wilson buried the rest of Davee's dismembered body in shallow graves on the property — some of which, it's said, were never found. These aren't the only unceremonious burial grounds at the hospital, which operated from 1930 to 1992. During road construction in 2006, state workers accidentally demolished a number of graves in the adjacent, unkempt cemetery, where hundreds of anonymous markers identify patients only as numbers. And there are rumors of cults digging up corpses to use in rituals, says Matt Plante, who explores and photographs sites like this for his collaborative, Fallout Urban Exploration. Plante has found evidence that squatters made hidden homes within Metropolitan's abandoned wards and the maze-like miles of underground tunnels between buildings: beds and personal belongings would pop up in previously empty rooms. Following recent demolition for condo space, only one original brick building remains. Any takers?

medfield3
Medfield State Hospital
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Medfield State Hospital

INSTITUTIONAL MEMORIES 

Abuse, neglect, and other sordid stories have led New England paranormal groups to label these as historic haunts.

Belchertown State School. Such "schools" were essentially prisons for the mentally disabled, and Belchertown closed in 1992 amid accusations of overcrowded squalor and patient abuse. One ghost hunter claims his crew has had hair and arms grabbed by unseen hands, leaving painful, finger-shaped bruises.

Fernald State School. The Waltham facility is the nation's oldest publicly funded institution for the developmentally disabled. Between 1946-53, boys baited to join a "science club," were fed breakfasts laced with radioactive material as part of a MIT-led experiment.

Foxborough State Hospital. First an alcoholism treatment center, then a mental hospital, and now a condo building where residents report hearing disembodied voices and seeing shadowy figures at the foot of the bed.

Medfield State Hospital. The Shutter Island filming location is the rare abandoned site with grounds (not buildings) open to the public. But Fallout founder Plante says visitor tires are regularly found slashed, and he's stumbled across pentagrams drawn on floors, with chairs arranged at each point.

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