I don’t want to alarm anyone – but you know how the haunting in Poltergeist (based in Simi Valley) was due to the housing tract having been built on a former cemetery? In Los Angeles short history, this sort of thing is terrifyingly common.
Here are three tales of former cemeteries where bodies still likely remain.
Founders Memorial Park aka Dead Man’s Park
6755 Newlin Ave, Whittier, CA 90601
This palatial park was created over two former adjacent cemeteries: Mount Olive, which opened in the 1880s, and Broadway, which opened shortly after 1900. Over 1200 bodies were buried here, but eventually the grounds stopped being maintained, frequently vandalized and mostly abandoned.
In 1958, city officials declared the land a public nuisance, saying that the cemeteries “contained vermin and unsafe attractions for children.” Efforts were made to notify families to gain permission to move the bodies to other cemeteries. While all of the headstones were removed – either eventually taken by the families, or relocated to the Pio Pico Mansion and Whitter Museum – many of the bodies still remain.
Dubbed “Dead Man’s Park,” the location is a favorite spot for paranormal investigators. Here is one field report.
Cathedral High School
1253 Bishops Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Perhaps as a sign of an embracement, or appeasement, of the dead still buried underneath Cathedral High School, their football team is called The Phantoms.
The school is on the grounds of the former Calvary Cemetery, which held its last burial in 1886. It had become over crowded with graves. Soon thereafter, crypts were plundered of both contents and building materials, the site became ripe for grave robbers, and even the opposite: illegal, undocumented burials.
When the decision was made to build a school on the land in 1925, interment records documenting how many bodies were there, and where, had been lost, making it all but impossible to ensure every grave was properly moved. It is assumed as a practicality that scores still remain buried beneath Cathedral High.
During construction of a school stadium in 2007, numerous gravestones were unearthed, and are now displayed prominently at the school. Perhaps it’s due to this acknowledgment and care for the deceased that ghost sightings are scarce.
Paradise Memorial Park
11541 Florence Ave, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Suspicions about Paradise Cemetery began in the early 1990s after family members who went to visit the graves of passed loved ones would find the headstones were missing, often with new marker with a strangers name in its place. Subsequent investigations resulted in convictions of the cemetery operators for pocketing maintenance funds, and still many unanswered questions of where the dead still rest.
In 1995, state investigators discovered that Paradise employees routinely dug up caskets to resell sites and sometimes piled bodies in a single grave. Investigators also found a 7-foot-high pile of dirt containing human bones.
(A 1995 New York Times article reveals that this was just one example of many in Los Angeles and throughout California of abuses by cemetery operators who didn’t seem interested in ensuring the dead would ever “rest in peace.”)
Nearly a quarter century before this particular scandal, the LA Times reported that the remains of 14 babies were reinterred in order to widen Florence Ave. Only 8 of the 14 babies’ families could be found to give permission, so an “unprecedented agreement” was made between the city of Santa Fe Springs and cemetery management protecting them from any claims for moving the bodies.
At least one person has reported a seemingly angry spirit on the grounds.