WATERFORD -- Researcher Christopher Mason is studying the gruesome murder of eight Holman family members in the basement of Waterford's Grange Hall in 1917, and he believes he is close to understanding what instigated the massacre.
Many elderly Waterford residents claim to recall the slaying, or remember their parents telling them about it, said Debra Turner, who volunteers at the annual haunted house fund-raiser held in the Grange Hall basement.
"It's all psychological," she said of the haunted house. "We don't jump out and grab you."
But the engrossing story of a family slain in the small town of Waterford grabbed residents three years ago when the Waterford News first published details of the murders. The grisly crime had never been documented by the media. That's because the entire thing is fabricated. It could not have happened because the Grange Hall with the infamous basement was not built until 17 years after the murders allegedly took place.
This year, haunted house attendees will learn more about Mason's findings and the danger he's put himself in to investigate the story.
According to I.B. Hoacks -- or Michael Deschenes of Waterford, who made up the story -- Mason has discovered the family's murder is connected to a traveling carnival. Remnants of that carnival will haunt the hall's basement this and next weekend.
"We've had grown men scream," said haunted house guide Jerel Munoz, 16, adding that the haunted house preys on those who let their guard down. "We try to make it so you anticipate the unexpected."
Even those waiting in line to enter get worked up because "they can hear the screams coming from people who have already gone down to the basement," Turner said.
Whether Mason solves the mystery -- or becomes a part of it -- remains to be seen. Because Mason, you see, is as fictional as the Grange Hall massacre.
The haunted house will be open Friday through Sunday, and on Oct. 30 and 31 from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is $4, which benefits
the town's Heritage Day. Heritage Day, which occurs in May, is a celebration of the town's history.
Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at 578-2382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.