Today the villages and small cities that make up New York's Westchester County are considered upscale suburbs of New York City, homes for Manhattan executives who commute by train.

But most of those places were founded to house industries, particularly along the Hudson River. They and thousands of similar communities across the country represented what used to be called "small town America." These communities were miniature versions of our large cities — they had a shopping area, a movie theater or two, restaurants, factories, upscale neighborhoods, middle-class neighborhoods and crowded tenement buildings.

Hastings-on-Hudson had its share of heavy industry in the first half of the 20th century, and heavy industry always had jobs for unskilled labor and for ambitious immigrants who wanted to live the so-called "American dream."

Laborers, particularly those recently arrived from Europe, often settled in neighborhoods that offered the cheapest housing available. These neighborhoods usually were called Shantytown. People who lived in nicer neighborhoods didn't pay much attention to Shantytown.

For residents of Hastings-on-Hudson, that all changed as 1933 drew to a close, thanks to the murder of an eight-year-old girl. It was the first murder in Hastings in 19 years. What was shocking is the latest killing was done by a girl two weeks shy of her 13th birthday. The girl's confession was disturbing enough, but the stories she told about what was going on in Shantytown stunned residents into demanding action from the police department and reform from village officials.

Syracuse Journal, December 29, 1933
WHITE PLAINS (INS) — “ I did it. Josie told lies about me and my family. I lost my temper. I did it.”

With those half-defiant, half-frightened statements confronting them like gruesome fragments of a nightmare, Westchester County officials prepared to renew questioning of 13-year-old Mary Kavala, who climaxed a four-day series of testimony with the admission she had murdered Josephine Waropay, her 8-year-old playmate and neighbor in Hastings-on-Hudson.

The startling solution to one of the most brutal murders in the annals of the county came from Mary after she had inferentially laid the slaying at the foot of one man or another in the Polish settlement near where the children lived, and hinted at orgies, “dope parties” and other fantastic explanations for the crime.

Persistent questioning by District Attorney Frank H. Coyne and his assistant, William Horan, brought the break in the case which had puzzled authorities for nearly a week.

Mary, a child with the precocious worldly knowledge of a girl many years her senior, began her recital in a defiant manner. But when it ended, she was sobbing.

“I did it,” she told her questioners. “Josie told lies about me and my family. She said I went to see men in Shantytown (the laboring settlement in Hastings-on-Hudson). She said my mother was a drunkard. I took her up to the lyceum. I told her, ‘Josie, you’re a bad girl.’

“I hit her with a rock. She fell down on the ground and I hit her again. Then I shook her. She didn’t do anything and I hit her with the rock.

“I took a piece of rubber then and twisted it twice around her neck. Then I turned her over and took some string and tied her hands and wound it around her neck.”

Mary faltered, then broke out sobbing.

“Now I’m sorry,” she wept as hardened police officials looked away.”

Josephine’s body was found under the porch of St. Matthew’s lyceum in Hastings-on-Hudson last Sunday. Her face was battered and cut and her throat bruised.

Mary told police how, after felling her playmate with the rock, she found a piece of automobile tire inner tube, took a strip of it and wound it around Josephine’s throat. Then, while hunting rubbish to cover the body, she found a bottle, she related, smashed it and scratched the face of her dead playmate.

Before she fled home, the girl told Coyne, she pulled and shoved the body under the steps of the Lyceum and dragged a carpenter’s sled up to the opening, where she managed to half obstruct it.

Coyne, obviously shocked at the recital, summoned Judge George W. Smyth, who signed an order committing Mary to a children’s shelter for the night. Today she was to be brought to the district attorney’s office for further questioning.


District Attorney Frank H. Coyne and Judge George W. Smyth couldn't believe that Mary Kavala's confession was real. Local police, on the other hand, believed every word. Because of her age, however, there was no way she would be tried for murder, and little likelihood she would be tried for anything, though it was certain she was headed for reform school or a mental institution.

Syracuse Journal, December 30, 1933
WHITE PLAINS (INS) — Unconvinced they have yet obtained the true version of the slaying of 8-year-old Josephine Waropay a week ago, Westchester County authorities today began a painstaking recheck of the confession of Mary Kavala, 13, playmate of the murdered child, that she killed Josephine by battering her with a rock and then strangling her.

District Attorney Frank H. Coyne, to whom Mary confessed the slaying after persistent questioning had revealed many discrepancies in stories she had told the police, admitted himself at a loss how to proceed.

“There is no clear precedent for action,” he said. “No charge of murder has been made. Mary is being held as a material witness. There is absolutely no corroboration of her confession. We have no witnesses, no fingerprints, nothing but Mary’s word that she killed the child.”

Coyne also said he was not satisfied that the confession was not another statement such as she had made previously, when she told police she and several other children of Hastings-on-Hudson, where the Waropay and Kavala families live in the same tenement, had taken part in indescribable orgies in the “Shantytown” section there.

“Her first stories,” Coyne said, “were checked and proved unfounded. She made many contradictory statements. There is the possibility the confession may be another such statement.”

Coyne’s belief that a first degree murder charge against the child would not be upheld on the basis of her confession was challenged by other officials.

“This child is a thrill killer in spite of her youth,” declared Deputy Sheriff Frank Charico. “Of all criminals I’ve encountered in 20 years she is the hardest boiled and one of the shrewdest. She was frequently in trouble in school and would fight anyone, boy or girl, with or without provocation.”


On January 5, the re-investigation into the crime concluded. The girl had repudiated her confession and blamed a 46-year-old laborer, claiming the man was having sex with young girls. She said she had been in a relationship with the man for three years, and that he told her if she kept her mouth shut about the murder, he would marry her.

But this laborer had an alibi for the day of the murder. And police found three boys who said they saw Mary attack the girl.

Those who interviewed Mary Kavala at the Grasslands Psychiatric Clinic described her in such terms as “blunted moral sense,” “vicious temperament” and “instinctively cruel."

Here is an excerpt from a story by one of the reporters who covered the case:

Dobbs Ferry Register, January 5, 1934
The writer of this article knows Mary Kavala as a girl who sold a weekly newspaper in Hastings. She was one of 30 children who sell the paper when it comes out and was always a stubborn, self-assertive child. She wanted her papers first, and would push and sometimes strike children who aroused her fury.

With it all, she displayed a “smartness” that was really impudence. Her language was rough and when she was reprimanded she would slam the door, stick out her tongue — as she did to photographers this week — and shout her defiance. She was always in a hurry and liked to talk impudently to adults.

Her family, as might be imagined, is distraught over the whole affair. Her sisters and half-brothers are all hard-working folk and shrink pitiably from the limelight that has been cast on them since Mary confessed her connection with the murder.

Hastings’ Board of Trustees met Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of a slum clean-up in that section. Most of the homes in the Ridge Street-Washington Avenue-Railroad Avenue sector were built before the 1924 zoning laws of the village went into effect, and it would be difficult to effect housing reform where these pre-zoning ordinance tenements exist.

However, some of them may be checked to see if they are in accordance with state fire-hazard regulations.

Living conditions in this area are poor indeed, and the village officials will accept the assistance of William Bennett, Children’s Court official and an Irvington resident, in remedying them.


It was decided not to prosecute the girl. Which doesn't mean she was not punished.

Dobbs Ferry Register, January 19, 1934
Mary Kavala, 13, the Hastings girl who is believed by Sheriff Thomas F. Reynolds and others to have single-handedly murdered her playmate, Josephine Waropay, 8, of Washington Avenue, Hastings, on December 24, was committed to Hudson State Training School for Girls by Children’s Court Judge George W. Smyth Wednesday.

In a guarded, 500-word opinion, he indicated that he doubted that Mary was implicated. His disposal of the case leaves it officially unsolved, for he ordered Mary sent to the institution not for being guilty of murder but for being “a bad girl.”

Mary first denied slaying Josephine, then confessed that she did kill her friend and finally repudiated that confession. Sebastian Martinez, a Hastings laborer, who furnished an alibi after she had implicated him, is still being held on a charge of contributing to the child’s delinquency.

Meanwhile, the Hastings committee appointed by Mayor Henry D. Cochrane and the Board of Trustees is working with a trained investigator to ferret out conditions in the section where the Waropay girl lived. A petition asking for police department improvements and another said to ask the removal of a certain officer, have not as yet been presented to the village board. Last week Mayor Cochrane expressed his faith in the Hastings police.

I don't know for sure what happened to Mary Kavala after that. Chances are she remained at the Hudson State Training School for Girls for several years.

Her parents, William and Anna, both natives of Czechoslovakia, perhaps reverted to a more correct spelling of their last name, Kavulya, and moved a few miles south to Yonkers. That's where they were living when the 1940 census was taken. Living with them was their son, Thomas, who would distinguish himself as a lieutenant and bombardier in World War 2 and later as a Yonkers fireman. Except for the census, his last name always appeared as Kavala.

There were at least two other children in the family — Mary's older sister, Anna, who apparently married a man named Wallace Turner, eventually settling in Long Beach, California, and Mary's half-brother, John Risko, a child by her mother's first marriage in Czechoslovakia. Risko married and also settled in Yonkers.

William Kavala (Kavulya), Mary's father, died in 1951. He had been a watchman at the Zinsser Company in Hastings on Hudson for more than 30 years. Survivors listed in his obituary were stepson John Risko, son Thomas, and two daughters, Anna Turner of Long Beach and Constance Parliaman of Brooklyn. I'd never before seen a mention of a daughter named Constance, and wondered if that might have been Mary's middle name.

In December 1953 Mary Kavala's mother died. The obituary in the Yonkers Herald Statesman (Dec. 14, 1953) said Mrs. Anna Kavulya also was known as Mrs. Kavala. She was a reeler in the rug mills of Alexander Smith, Inc., for many years. She was 62. Her first husband, John Risko, had died in 1911.

Survivors were the same as those listed for her husband two years earlier, only this time the second daughter was identified as Mrs. Constance Kavulya Parliaman of Brooklyn. Again, since no daughter named Constance was listed in the 1930 census, it's possible, I suppose, that this is a reference to Mary.

Then, in 1975, Thomas Kavala, a retired captain in the Yonkers Fire Department, passed away. He was only 55. Kavala completed 30 bombing missions over Germany during World War 2 and held the European Theater of Operations Ribbon with three bronze stars, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He had two sons, Thomas J. and Daniel W. Kavala, who were both good athletes, as was their father.

And finally, listed among his survivors, besides his half-brother, John Risko, of Yonkers, was one sister, Mrs. Mary Thompson of Yonkers.


Unless you believed there was no such thing as a bad boy, you probably wanted teenager Harry Murch put away for a long, long time — perhaps forever.

His crime was horrendous and his circumstances — and those of his 12-year-old victim — were squalid and unfortunate, though not uncommon, particularly during the Depression.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 16, 1933
For more than six hours last night and early this morning, Queens detectives questioned Harry Murch, 15, about the killing of 12-year-old Willie Bender, and at 1:30 a.m. Harry confessed that he had done it, the police announced.

According to the confession, as the police told it, Murch tied the younger boy with a section of rope and stabbed him to death with a kitchen paring knife.

The body of the Bender boy was found yesterday afternoon in an unoccupied house at 5 Mauretania Avenue, in the Richmond Hill Circle section of Queens, a short distance from the Bender home at 6 Bergen Landing Road. The boy had been missing for more than two weeks since the afternoon of January 31.

Everett Nylund of 1846 East 26th Street, inspecting a row of houses in Richmond Hill Circle for the owners before making repairs on them, came upon the youngster’s body, the knife still in place and a piece of blue and white gingham in the dead boy’s mouth as a gag.

The gingham, which detectives traced to the Murch home on Lulu Avenue, in the same neighborhood, directed police attention on young Murch, and confession was finally obtained after John Miller, 10, of 10 Mauretania Avenue, also subjected to lengthy questioning, revealed that he saw William Bender stabbed to death by Harry Murch.

Murch looked Magistrate Peter Daly boldly in the face when he pleaded not guilty in magistrate’s court this afternoon. He asked for a hearing in a firm voice and the court fixed February 24 as the date for this.

The boy was unaffected when Mrs. Bender yelled in court:

“Take that murderer away before I take the law into my own hands. He killed my son.”

Police quieted her.

Murch will be kept under 24-hour police guard at the Jamaica Childen’s Shelter until the hearing.

Murch gives the appearance of a normal though slow-witted boy of his age — he is only a sixth grade pupil at Public School 124. He had something of a local reputation as a bully.

The killing, as the confession revealed, was the result of petty revenge — because the Bender youngster had once said that Murch struck a woman over the head with a monkey wrench.

Murch resented that story, the Miller boy told Inspector John J. Gallagher, in charge of Queens detectives, and had threatened to get even with Willie Bender. On the afternoon of January 31, Murch told the other two boys that he intended to rob a peanut vender, first tying up his victim. He knew exactly how he would tie him — and if the other two would come with him he’d show them how.

All three then went into the Mauretania Avenue house where the Bender boy offered to have the demonstration done on himself.

Then, after tying and gagging Bender, Murch drew out a knife, said, "Now take this!" and plunged the knife into the younger boy’s chest.

Seeing that, Johnny Miller ran home. He told the inspector that until last night he never told anyone about the stabbing for fear of what Murch might do to him.

Murch, it appeared from the confession, was the leader of a vaguely conceived “secret society,” whose members had taken the oath not to snitch — and Murch believed the Bender boy had snitched.

Murch had his supporters, including Dr. Louis Berg, a psychiatrist who worked at New York County Penitentiary and wrote text books on psychiatry as well as novels ("Prison Doctor" and "Prison Nurse").

Despite the ghastly nature of Murch's crime, Dr. Berg didn't see the point of sending the boy to prison. He pointed the finger of blame at society.

He wrote his opinions in a piece for the Hearst newspapers. The piece was published on May 15, a few days before the boy was to be sentenced. Here is part of it:

Society electrocutes its mistakes, or hides them out of sight for 20 years in Sing Sing. Young Murch will come out of jail thoroughly warped, as will all the thousands of those children the state trusts to be trained in the company of adult criminals.

Outside there is always a chance for a youth to mend. He may be adopted, or walk somewhere into a new world, where his entire outlook will be changed. But society locks this 16-year-old boy for decades in a vicious environment from which there is no chance for escape.

The system is illogical and stupid. It is not juvenile delinquency that is the problem, but the delinquency of society in preventing children from getting wayward.


Dr. Berg's view would become increasingly popular over the next 20 years, though today it is difficult to understand why, particularly as it might have applied to Harry Murch, who had parents who loved him, but simply didn't know how to handle him. The couple had another son, Charles, who was 19 at the time and had no criminal record.

(Five years later Charles Murch would be arrested for breaking into a vacant house. The young man was so embarrassed for his family that he gave police a phony name — Charles Bryan. Later he explained, "I don't want to give the name Murch more bad publicity." Once inside the vacant house Charles Murch and his companion didn't steal anything, though that may have been their intent. When the two young men appeared in court they received suspended sentences.

(One other thing: In 1934 Harry Murch's mother had another baby, her third son, Arthur.)

On May 19 Judge Thomas Downs, who obviously didn't buy into Dr. Berg's argument, sentenced Harry Murch to serve from 20 years to life in Sing Sing Prison for second-degree murder. Murch had been found guilty a week earlier by a jury in Long Island City.

Murch's attorney asked that the guilty verdict be set aside because his client had not yet turned 16 when the crime was committed. By law, the attorney argued, Murch could have been convicted only of manslaughter, first or second degree. (Murch was two months shy of his 16th birthday when the murder was committed, making him the youngest defendant ever convicted on a murder charge in Queens County.)

An appeal on behalf of Murch was denied two months later and he remained in Sing Sing for 20 years. In October, 1953, he was released from prison on parole.

He took a job as a butcher's assistant and remained out of trouble for three years. In 1956 he was arrested and convicted of molesting a seven-year-old girl. Police also said he was a suspect in the 1955 sex-slaying of a crippled 39-year-old woman.

The last I read of Murch was in connection with the molestation conviction and the possibility that because he was on parole at the time he might spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Murch died in 1986 at the age of 69. Since he is listed as dying in Queens, I'm guessing he was released from prison some time before that.


DR. LOUIS BERG was back in the news in 1942 when he made public some conclusions he had reached about the effects of daytime radio serials — better known today as soap operas.

Dr. Berg claimed some of his patients relapsed from listening to these programs so he decided to sample them himself, starting with two 15-minute serials, NBC's "The Right to Happiness" and "Woman in White" on CBS.

He monitored his own blood pressure, which increased during the 30 minutes, and felt this supported his earlier conclusion, reached without any direct knowledge of soap operas, that they were responsible for “tachycardia, arrhythmia, emotional instability and vertigo.”

Later he expanded his research and listened to 80 hours of radio soap operas, dividing that time among eight different shows.

"The state of anxiety they create is the very same over-anxiety which is the end of all enemy propaganda," he declared, "for it lays the groundwork for civilian panic in emergencies and saps the productive energies of the afflicted individuals in all their essential efforts.”


One of the year's most shocking murders was committed on May 27 in Flint, Michigan, by a 17-year-old boy after a quarrel with his mother. The confrontation was nothing new — teenager Balfe MacDonald had long been considered a problem child — but his actions that day confirmed fears his mother had shared with a neighbor just two days earlier.

Syracuse American, May 28, 1933
Woman Killed, Police Look for Her Son
FLINT, Michigan (INS) — A well-defined set of fingerprints and a blood-stained pair of trousers, to which gray hairs adhered, furnished the first clues last night in the slaying of wealthy Mrs. Grace R. MacDonald.

To this evidence was added the story of the millionaire widow’s next-door neighbor, Dr. David L. Treat, that Thursday night Mrs. MacDonald fled to his home in her night clothes and burst in sobbing that “Balfe just threatened to kill me!”

Balfe MacDonald, 17, missing since early yesterday, is sought for questioning in the murder of his mother.

The fingerprints were found on the bloody bookend with which Mrs. MacDonald’s head was crushed sometime before dawn yesterday.

Enhancing the suspicion attaching to the boy was the discovery of the bloody clothing. The trousers, blotched by stains to which hair of the same color as the mother’s adhered, were found in a tangle near the bed in Balfe’s room.

The search for the boy and William Terwilliger, 15, an intimate friend, missing with him, turned to Chicago when detectives learned Balfe had boasted he would attend the world’s fair whether his mother “liked it or not.”

Balfe is the only son of the late Bruce MacDonald, a banker. He died two years ago, and at that time his estate was estimated at $3 million. He was formerly president of the First National Bank of Flint.

Mrs. MacDonald was the mother of two other children, Mrs. Harold Palmer, 26, of Ann Arbor, and Gwen Laurie, 23, a co-ed at the University of California, Berkeley.


Buffalo Courier-Express, June 13, 1933
Teen Admits Beating Mother to Death
FLINT, Michigan (AP) — Seventeen-year-old Balfe MacDonald, a “problem youth” who fought against parental control, confessed yesterday that he beat his mother, Mrs. Grace Baird MacDonald, 54, to death in her bedroom on May 27. County authorities said the teenager admitted killing his mother during a quarrel in which she threatened to have him placed in a reformatory.

The confession was made a few hours after MacDonald, with his companion in flight, William Terwilliger, 16, were returned here from Nashville, Tennessee, where they had been arrested on charges of attempted extortion.

“I hit her three or four times,” said the youth, explaining that he used the heavier of two bookends in his mother’s room.

“She looked at me and her arms were up,” he went on. “She said, ‘You can’t do this to me.’ She didn’t say anything more and just tossed over and over in bed and said, ‘Balfe!’ ”

MacDonald, attired in fresh clothing, was arraigned before Justice Frank W. Cain yesterday afternoon on a first degree murder warrant, and examination was demanded. It was set for June 16, and MacDonald was taken to the county jail. He showed no emotion as he was brought into a crowded courtroom.

Terwilliger, against whom no formal charges have been made, is held as a material witness. Local authorities said he probably would be returned to Nashville to answer the attempted extortion charges there.

Young MacDonald’s statement indicated that against his mother’s wishes he had brought Terwilliger to his home and placed him in the basement to wait until MacDonald obtained money from his mother’s purse for a trip to California.

For a time after the arrival here from Nashville, MacDonald persisted in his refusal to talk, but after being told that Terwilliger had made a statement, he suddenly said, “All right, all right; I’ll tell you the whole thing.”

He had started his statement to Prosecutor Andrew J. Transue and Chief of Detectives Edward Tewhey when the books ends with which his mother had been slain were brought in and placed in front of him.

MacDonald looked at them for a moment an then dropped his head on his arms.

“Leave me alone for a minute,” he said. “I want to cry.” The officers left, and returned later to find he had been weeping.

Asked whether the admission that he had killed his mother relieved him, the youth said, “This confession doesn’t help much. I still have that lump in my chest.”

MacDonald, in his statement to the prosecutor and chief of detectives, said he did not know when he left his home early in the morning on May 27 that he had fatally beaten his mother. Asked why he had fled, he replied:

“I knew I had hit her.”

Two years later, while housed in a Michigan prison, Balfe MacDonald gained attention because of an unusual new state law that billed convicts — those who could afford it, anyway — for living expenses.

Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal, August 23, 1935
Inmate to Pay Room and Board
LANSING, Michigan — Michigan’s prisons aren’t free hotels. There are no “Board and Room” signs hanging on the doors of the state’s penitentiaries, but there might as well be!

Many of the state’s convicts — at least five percent of them — are finding that even in jail they must pay their “hotel bills.”

Michigan’s new and unique law stipulates that prisoners must pay for their own keep, when able. It threatens to make Balfe MacDonald, Flint problem boy who beat his mother to death with a heavy bookend, its first “victim.”

The “Room and Board” law was passed at the recent session of the legislature in order to put sharper teeth into criminal statutes.

It is estimated by Warden Charles Shen of the Michigan Southern penitentiary that approximately five percent of the entire prison population of the state will be affected by the measure. Its return in dollars and cents remain to be determined.

Young MacDonald was selected as the first target because he holds the somewhat drab distinction of being the state’s wealthiest prisoner.

He is the son of a former Flint bank president, who left a fortune of $3 million when he died. However, the estate dwindled to approximately $500,000 by 1933. Balfe’s share of it, together with $40,000 he received from his mother’s estate of $240,000, left him with a personal bank account and estate of approximately $300,000.

Mrs. Grace MacDonald, his socialite mother, was found beaten to death in her mansion in Flint on May 27, 1933.

After a 13-day nationwide police hunt, young MacDonald was arrested with a companion in Nashville, Tennessee, and returned to Flint. He finally admitted he had struck and killed his mother with a bookend during a quarrel over money and her refusal to give him the keys to her automobile.

Authorities began preparations to prosecute him on a first degree murder charge and attorneys for the youth immediately conceived what was known at the time as “a million dollar insanity defense.”

Finally, however, MacDonald pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to a 10-to-20 year term. This means he will serve from 7-1/2 to 15 years. He was sent to the state prison on August 21, 1933. He was 17 years old then; he is 19 now.

Counsel for John J. O’Hara, state auditor general, recently filled a bill for $464 in circuit court at Flint to cover the cost of MacDonald’s prison accommodations to date. The petition cites the inmates fare costs from 52 to 90.5 cents per day.

In addition, MacDonald is allowed to spend $6 of his money every month — the same privilege granted to all convicts. MacDonald’s dentist also gets $15 a month — the youth has trouble with his teeth — and he spends $3 a month for draftsmanship lessons.

Other prisoners will be named in similar suits as soon as it can be ascertained whether they have any personal estate, officials say.

Balfe MacDonald was released from prison in February, 1940, and given what was left of his father’s estate, estimated at about $200,000.

On October 27, 2007 an interesting story by Jeff Johnson was published in the Flint Journal. It was about the house where the murder had taken place. It just so happened that it was up for sale — again.

The three-story Georgian colonial home at 1611 Crescent Drive in Flint's upscale Knob Hill subdivision was built in 1916 by one-time city mayor George Kellar.

A few years later the house belonged to Grace MacDonald, who had three children, two daughters and son Balfe. Whether Balfe's father, banker Bruce J. MacDonald, ever lived at 1611 Crescent Drive, wasn't mentioned. He died in 1922.

After Balfe MacDonald killed his mother the house went on the market, but remained unsold for a few years until a real estate agent bought it and lived there for 27 years.

In 1979 the house was purchased by Helen Wirsing, who never had the chance to live there because she, too, was killed by her 17-year-old son who shot his mother at the family cottage on one of the lakes in Holly, a few miles south of Flint. Mark Wirsing buried his mother's body near the cottage, but it wasn't discovered for six months. The boy admitted the killing, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

By now the house at 1611 Crescent Drive was considered by some to be haunted. That didn't discourage Dr. Vladimir Schwartsman, who knew all about its history when he bought the house in 1981. Schwartsman, who later moved to Utah, told reporter Johnson that he and his family lived happily in the house for 11 years — and never once encountered a ghost.