Case File: Resurrection Cemetery
Location: Justice, Illinois
Date: January 1979
Description: Resurrection Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 150,000 souls on Archer Avenue in Justice, Illinois on the southwest side of Chicago.
History: Resurrection Cemetery is one of the most famous haunted locations in the United States. Unusual and unexplained phenomena has been reported here as far back as January 1979. Several motorists have stated that they have picked up a hitchhiker only to have her disappear minutes later, almost as if she was a ghost.
Richard Crowe was a local historian and folklorist in January 1979. Crowe believed that the hitchhiker was not a human, but a ghost. "I think that of all the ghost stories worth believing in, Resurrection Mary is the one with the best documentation. The witnesses that I've found are remarkably level-headed. And they're primarily blue-collar, middle-class types who have steady jobs and who have no other major claims to psychic encounters in their lives," Crowe stated.
The first known case was in 1939 when a Chicago cab driver named Jerry Palus stopped to pick up a blonde woman at the front gates of the cemetery. He was captivated by her and immediately asked her on a date to the local dance hall. He learned her name was Mary and that she lived on the south side of town. When it was time to leave he offered her a ride home, but she instead asked him to drop her off at the cemetery on Archer Road. When they arrived there she stepped out of his car and vanished before his eyes. He was perplexed at what he had witnessed and was determined to know more about her.
Palus drove to the house where the woman said she lived. He was greeted by her mother who looked surprised to see a stranger on her doorstep in the dead of night. He inquired about the woman he'd danced with just hours before, and then he received terrible news. Her mother told him her daughter's name was Mary and that she died five years earlier. "It was then that I understood why the woman I was dancing with that night was ice cold to the touch. I had worked in a funeral home for a while and it was the touch of a corpse," Palus stated.
Another incident involved two police officers who patrolled the area near the cemetery. One night, they noticed a figure inside the gate and thought someone had accidentally been locked inside. They called the cemetery caretaker and left the area for a brief moment, but returned to see no figure inside the gate or anywhere in the area. At the gate where she stood just minutes earlier, there were imprints of two small hands in the space of two bent bars.
In 1980, Clare Rudnicki claimed that she'd seen Mary just as others before her had. Her husband, Mark, was also in the car and saw Mary as well. They drove past her, turned around, came back, and in that amount of time, she had vanished. "I really didn't think there was any ghost. You hear these stories and these old ghost tales, but it's never happened to me. I must say I think I'm changing my mind. I was just looking out the window as we were going down the street, and on the right-hand side of the road there was a girl walking. She was bright, very bright, like illuminating. She was just walking very slowly. I remember thinking, "Oh my god, it's Resurrection Mary." and I can feel my stomach starting to turn. I was very frightened, I have to admit. It did scare me," Rudnicki said.
In October 1989, Janet Kalal and a friend also spotted Mary at the cemetery. She recalled a pale young woman who stepped in front of the car. No impact or bump was made, but they knew they had hit something. Mary was dressed in white and her hair flowed back behind her, like a stream backwards with a profile of a young woman.
Another group of friends claimed to have seen Mary. They had driven by the cemetery one night when they looked up and saw the ghostly figure of a woman illuminated by the light in front of it. They were terrified by what they saw: the figure's face was black nothingness.
Background: It is believed Resurrection Mary is the restless spirit of a young woman named Mary Bregovy. She had been killed in a car accident in 1934, a month before her 21st birthday and was laid to rest in Resurrection Cemetery in her favorite white gown. Her remains were relocated in the cemetery after the area was restructured, and according to legend, her ghost now wanders looking for her grave. Over the years, she has been seen time and time again at dance clubs, in taxis, and walking outside the cemetery, looking for someone to take her home.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the February 9, 1994 episode.
This case was the inspiration for a "Fact" segment on Beyond Belief.
Richard Crowe died in 2012 and was buried in Resurrection Cemetery.