Morgan's Corner

Morgan's Corner
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Does a gruesome murder at Morgan's Corner on Oahu lead to spooky events today?

• General: Chicken Skin • General: Educational • General: History • General: Legends / Mythology

Guide Series: Hawaiian Mythology
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Heard of Morgan's Corner and the spookiness that surrounds it to this day? This one starts all the way back in 1948 and there is some truth to it, so let's start with the actual facts.

Just The Facts Ma'am

March 10, 1948 is a day like any other, except that two petty criminals, James Majors and John Palakiko, working on a prison work crew escaped. The next day, while looking for supplies, they broke into the home of 68 year old Therese Wilder, widow of William Wilder.

Mrs. Wilder lived at 3939 Nuuanu Pali Road which was located below the home of Dr. James Morgan. Morgan's home is located on a hairpin curve on Nuuanu Pali Road that was known locally as "Morgan's Corner".

The criminals attacked and bound Mrs. Wilder. In the process they ended up breaking her jaw so when they gagged her and left her she later died from suffocation. She was found several days later by her maid.

Majors and Palakiko, the criminals and now murders, were eventually caught. On June 18, 1948 they were both charged with first degree murder and sentenced to death by hanging. On September 13, 1951 Governor Oren Long issued a stay of execution, delaying their deaths just two minutes before their scheduled execution. By 1954, Governor Samuel King changed their sentences from death to 90 years in prison. In 1962, Governor John Burns changed their sentences to probation.

Palakiko ended up violating his parole and landed himself back in prison for three years and ended up dying in prison in 1974. Majors completed his parole in 1968 and supposedly disappeared from Oahu back in 1978. The general consensus is that he disappeared purposely, likely because he wasn't a popular guy.

So What's The Spooky Story?

Up until now, everything you read is based on actual facts of what has happened at Morgan's Corner. The actual myths and urban legends that surround Morgan's Corner are completely different and seem to have nothing to do with the murder of Mrs. Wilder.

The ghost stories that surround the corner vary quite a bit but the main story that is constantly told over and over again is pretty consistent. Read this in your best Twilight Zone voice for maximum spooky impact: Picture, if you will, a night like any other…

A young couple in love (or lust) parks at Morgan's Corner for a little make out session. After they're done fooling around the boy tries to start his car but it won't start. It's, dare I say, dead. He offers to go for help and tells his girlfriend to lock the doors and not to open them until he comes back with help.

While waiting, the girl hears the sound of rain drops on the car's roof as well as the sound of the banyan tree overhead lightly scratching on the roof as the wind blows. Eventually, she falls asleep. She's later woken up by police tapping on her window.

The police help her out of the car, help her walk to their patrol car, but tell her not to look back no matter what. Naturally, she looks back. To be fair, wouldn't we all look back?

So what does she see? Her boyfriend's gutted body tied up and hanging upside down over the car. Those rain drops she heard? His blood dripping on the roof. Those tree branches scratching away? His hands dragging on the top of the car as he swayed in the wind.

So did this really happen? No. At least it didn't happen here, and probably never happened anywhere. There is no proof at all for this story and if it happened there would certainly be police records. Keep in mind that this story has been repeated in pretty much every location around the world, probably as an anti-pregnancy device more than anything else. It's also popular fodder for many "Urban Legend" style films.

But Wait, What About...

"My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw..." I know, I know, everyone has a story from somebody's other friend about seeing a ghost, or a banyan tree filled with eyeballs, or a ghostly apparition of a lady without a head at Morgan's Corner.

But it's just that, a story. Or so I think. But maybe I won't exactly be camping out at Morgan's Corner just to be safe. Of course, if you want to check it out for yourself you certainly can. While Mrs. Wilder's house is no longer there, Morgan's Corner is still there and you can easily find it on Google Maps.