In July of 1975, Morgantown, West Virginia had a strange, unexplained event occur right before the Fourth of July festivities began. The caretaker of Oak Grove Cemetery noticed a suspicious pile of dirt that he suspected was caused by local teenagers who had been shooting off fireworks. However, when he went to investigate it, he was baffled. It appeared as though a grave had been desecrated. The ground above the grave was torn up and he could see the vault coming up through the ground. He phoned the police to report what he suspected to be vandalism. When the police officers arrived, they were also confused by the strange site. After inspecting it further, it appeared to look more like something exploded outward. It is reported that the cover on the burial vault had erupted upward through the earth and burst through the soil and grass. Upon further examination of the grave, they realized that there was no trace of an explosion, no gunpowder residue, and nothing else nearby appeared to be disturbed.
The local gas company investigated the site for natural gas eruption, but determined that a gas explosion was not the cause. The ground in this area of the cemetery had been graded a few feet which meant that this grave was one of the more shallow ones. Further examination of the grave itself revealed that the vault had split at one corner, which might have forced the 3-inch thick slab lid to pop upward but not enough to appear the way it did. They also considered the possibility that there was a build up of gases from decomposition that caused the expulsion. However, the men could see a child’s coffin that appeared to be untouched and intact.
The vault belonged to Harry Spitz, who had died in 1912 from cholera. He had been buried for approximately 63 years. An exhumation of the casket was granted with the intention of solving this mysterious occurrence but opening the casket only presented further mysteries. Harry’s body appeared to be very well preserved. His skin was somewhat leathery but intact and his face was framed by long blond hair. He wore a blue and white suit and had a stuffed lion at his feet. The coffin lining had rotted away but Harry appeared to be in remarkably good shape. The morgue supervisor at West Virginia University Hospital examined tissue samples but no traces of living organisms were found. This ruled out the gas theory. Scientists considered coal mining in the area, but no operations had ever been conducted in the vicinity of the grave. Methane and natural gas were researched and eliminated and no seismic tremors were recorded.
A husk of a flower and a small commemorative plate still lay on top of the casket, untouched. Neither of the objects had been attached to the coffin and should have slid off the coffin easily if it were disturbed even slightly. Even though the police chief remembered receiving reports about a strange group of people who had held séances and various other ritualistic activities within Oak Grove Cemetery, he was not willing to believe that they had summoned up some entity with great force.
Unable to reach a conclusion on what had caused the mysterious expulsion of Harry’s grave, the body of young Harry Spitz was reinterred in a new vault and Harry’s body was laid to rest once again on July 12, 1976. This event still casts a mysterious shadow over Oak Grove Cemetery. This mystery brought out many curious people to stare at the grave. The observers ranged from Fundamentalists to Psychics. Many people had their own theories about what had caused the mysterious event.
Over the years, many stories have been told about the event. One of my favorite stories involves nursing home employees who took care of Harry’s mother, Desiree. Many of the employees who were involved in caring for Desiree over the years reported that every year the furniture in Desiree’s room would move around like someone had come in the middle of the night and moved it. According to several nursing home employees, Desiree was physically unable to move. In fact, the nurses and medical assistants stated that they do not recall any time where Desiree had talked or moved at all during their employment at the facility.
The mystery remains.