Highgate Vampire

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The Highgate section of the Cemetery of St. James in London which was consecrated by the bishop of London in 1839, four days before Queen Victoria’s 20th birthday. The Highgate section had vampire rumors and stories during 1967 to 1983.

The reports began with a phantom-like creature that was seen in the cemetery during the evening time. The rumors circulated ghosts, but Sean Manchester, the head of the Vampire Research Society, received an account of a school girl- Elizabeth Wojdyla and her friend- who saw some graves open and the dead rise from them. Wojdyla also reported having nightmares that something evil tried to come into her bedroom.

Over several years, Manchester collected similar accounts of unusual sightings associated with the cemetery.

In 1969, Wojdyla’s nightmares returned, except now the figure came into her room. She developed symptoms of pernicious anemia and on her neck two small wounds appeared.

Manchester and Wojdyla’s boyfriend treated her as a victim of vampirism and filled her room with garlic, crosses, and holy water. She improved, but various people continued to add new reports of seeing a ghostly being in the cemetery.

The newspapers began reporting about rituals in the cemetery and nearby park where animals were being killed and drained of its blood.

Manchester even reported that he had been contacted by another woman who had the same symptoms as Wojdyla. While sleepwalking, the woman led Manchester to a cluster of burial vaults in the cemetery. Manchester told the press that he believed a genuine vampire existed in Highgate. On Friday, March 13, 1970, Manchester and two cohorts  entered the vault where three empty coffins were found. They lined the coffins with garlic, and placed a cross in each. The vaults were sprinkled with salt and holy water.

In 1973, Manchester began an investigation of a mansion near Highgate Cemetery that had a reputation of being haunted. On several occasions, Manchester and his associates entered a house, and within the basement, they found a coffin that they dragged into the backyard. When they opened the casket, Manchester saw the same vampire he had seen four years earlier in the Highgate Cemetery. This time, he staked the body, which disintegrated into a slimy, foul-smelling substance, and then burned the coffin. Soon after this, the mansion was demolished and an apartment house was erected in its place.

Unfortunately, the Highgate vampire did not end with desecrating the body found in the mansion. In 1980, reports of dead animals drained of blood began to appear in Finchley. Manchester believed that a vampire was created by the bite of the Highgate vampire he destroyed in 1973. He contacted many of the people that he had med in 1970, eventually targeting a woman he called Lusia as the culprit.

He discovered that Lusia had died and had been buried in Great Northern London Cemetery, and he had dreams in which she came to him. One autumn evening in 1982, Manchester entered the cemetery where he encountered a large, spider-like creature about the size of a cat. He drove a stake through it. As dawn approached, the creature metamorphosed into Lusia; she had truly died. Manchester returned her remains to the grave, which ended the reports of the Highgate vampire.