Macomb Author Writes About Mysteries of Illinois

July  31, 2013

Ghosts, murders, mass hysteria, and even giant birds all featured in a new book about Illinois. Richard Moreno, from Macomb has just published "Myths and Mysteries of Illinois: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained" as part of series on each state.

Moreno is an english professor at Western Illinois University. He says the book is full of bizarre stories, like one about a sheriff obsessed with trying to find the body of a missing man, and his green Cadilac, in a coal mine.

"I found newspaper clippings from the Fulton County papers," said Moreno, "Where it was kind of a spectator sport of people all lined up in their cars around the pit, watching Virgil Ball try to dig again to find whatever happened to Fay Rawley. You see these photographs that show dozens of cars parked and, you know, people having picnics while they watch to see if the sheriff is finally going to find this guy."

Other stories are more supernatural. Moreno says one of his favorites happened in Watseka in eastern Illinois.

"In the late 19th century, you had the first case of kind of demonic possession, you know, a hundred and some years before The Exorcist," said Moreno. "Although in this case, it wasn't really a demon, it was a spirit. It was a little girl who was channeling a dead girl who had died before she was born. And yet she knew things that she couldn't possibly know."

Although he can't explain them all and doesn't believe them all, Moreno says the stories come from newspaper clippings and eyewitness accounts.

The book also has chapters on the three-legged Enfield Horror, the unsolved Mattoon (muh-TUNE) Gasser, and one of American's first documented serial killers, H. H. Holmes. "Myths and Mysteries of Illinois" will be available starting August 6th. Moreno will hold a book signing in Macomb in September. This is his third book on Illinois, and his twelfth over all.