Rustin Parr lived on a mountain near Burkittsville as a hermit. According to those who encountered him, he was amicable though reserved, helping hikers and those lost. Parr was a native of Frederick County, Maryland, having lived there his whole life.
Both his mother and father died before he was ten years old, following which he came to Burkitsville to stay with his uncle, who was a carpenter, and aunt. While his uncle was abusive towards him, he also taught Rustin everything he knew. Rustin enjoyed living in the Burkittsville area, he felt that the nearby woods were great to get away from everyone and be by himself, which he enjoyed.
In his early twenties, he sought to leave for a quieter life, building a three story house in the woods, on a hillside, next to a creek. It took him almost five years to finish it. By all accounts, he lived there happily, and loved nature. Rustin continued to work at his uncle's carpentry shop for a few more years, but little by little, he began to come into town less and less. Then his aunt died and his uncle moved to Baltimore, so there wasn't much of a reason to go back anymore. He stayed in that house ever since. He lived a peaceful life, smoking his pipe and taking long walks in the woods. Rustin was happy. He loved nature and the animals all around him. He only went into town about twice a year to pick up supplies that he needed. A few years after his self imposed exile, he began to notice a strange figure, which turned out to be a woman in a long, black hooded cloak during his long walks in the woods. He never saw her face, and she always vanished when he called out to her or tried to approach. He didn't feel any fear from her initially, he just wondered who she was.
By the late 1930's Rustin noticed that the animals around him that were previously used to his presence were becoming more fearful of him and his house. He heard strange noises in the night, scaring him so much he became an insomniac. He came to fear the woman and began to see her and hear her voice in his dreams when he did sleep. She would say all kinds of things in many strange languages, sometimes repeating words over and over again. He would never see the woman again until near the end, but her voice stayed with him. Soon, he began to hear her voice during the day as well. After almost a year of hearing the voice, Rustin had lost most of his senses. She would order him to carry out pointless orders like sleeping in the basement and he always obeyed. At first he rationalized it as effects of his paranoia and insomnia but he gradually became more deluded. Townsfolk said he had become more suspicious of people and his appearances became more infrequent. One day, in November 1940, the woman ordered him to go into town and take the first group of children he found.
The Massacre of the Burkittsville SevenEdit
In November of 1940, Parr abducted Emily Hollands, the first of what would be eight children from town over the next six months. He made promises of candy to attract the children and took them to his mountain house in the woods. For some reason, he was unable - even unwilling - to resist. He brought the children down in pairs to his basement; he had one stand in the corner while he killed the first child by disemboweling them and carving symbols into their skin with knives. For reasons unknown, he did not kill one child, Kyle Brody. He would then repeat the same process with the corner child. Brody was forced to face another corner while Parr slaughtered the other seven, including Brody's friend, Emily Hollands.
One night, Parr awoke and saw the cloaked woman in his room. While he couldn't see her clearly, he knew who it was. She spoke to him in the same horrible voice that had plagued him for over a year. She told him that he was finished, and that she would leave him alone if he went into town the next day and tell everyone what he did. Parr released Brody, and came into town and declared that he was "finally finished." Police hiked for four hours to his house and found the bodies of the seven children in the cellar. Each child had been ritualistically murdered and disemboweled. Brody was the only one who survived. The event tore the town apart.
Parr admitted to everything in detail, telling authorities that he did it for "an old woman ghost" who occupied the woods near his house.
- Emily Hollands, 13/11/1940
- Terra Shelly, 08/01/1941
- Stephen Thompson, 20/02/1941
- Michael Guidry, 05/03/1941
- Eric Norris, 13/03/1941
- Julie Forsyth, 02/04/1941
- Margaret Lowell, 20/05/1941
Trial and executionEdit
On July 17, 1941, Parr was tried in court on seven counts of first-degree murder. He confessed to all of them, not knowing the names of the children. Parr expressed his apologies to the parents of the deceased and said nothing in his defense, though he agreed with his attorney to plead insanity. Kyle Brody testified that Parr was the one responsible for the killings, and the jury came back with a guilty verdict, resulting in an outbreak of applause in the courtroom. Some of the townsfolk, which included some of the parents of the murdered children, went and burned Parr's house to the ground afterward. Parr later claimed in his last interview that he was doing what the spirit of the witch told him to do.
Rustin Parr was hanged on November 22, 1941.
The People vs. Rustin ParrEdit
Courtroom Transcript - Kyle Brody Testimony
Q: Now where was that, in the room, what part of the room?
A: By the front door.
Q: Just inside the front door?
A: (Assenting) Inside the room by the front door.
Q: Alright, Kyle. And what happened then?
A: He told me to stand in the corner and face the wall. I could hear Emily screaming. He was cutting her. I looked. He was cutting a symbol on her face.
Q: You're doing really well, Kyle. You're doing just fine. Could you point out to me the man who did that to Emily? Could you point him out to me?
Q: It's alright, Kyle. Look, your parents are right there.
A: (By the Court) Should we recess?
A: (pointing) That's him sitting there.
Q: Let the record note that Kyle Brody has identified the defendant, Rustin Parr.
Q: Now Kyle, what happened after that?
A: He tied her up in the corner. I was facing the wall. He started to hurt her again.
Q: Go on, Kyle, you're doing just fine.
A: Sometimes he would come up to me: Do you hear her? Do you hear the woman's voice? I would cry and tell him to leave her alone, but he wouldn't listen.
Q: Do you know who he was referring to?
Q: Did you ever see a woman out there?
Q: Alright, Kyle, what happened then?
A: After a few days he killed her. He cut her open, and after he took everything out of her, he left with her and I never saw her again. When he came back he told me not to be sad, he'd bring someone else back soon.
Mr. Fair: Prosecution rests, your Honor.
The Court: Thank you, Mr. Fair.