Listening to the dead

Growing up I was a big fan of John Edwards,   a professional and very popular medium who claimed to talk to the dead.

 Edwards has his cynics  but there are also many apparent believers, as his live shows are consistently sold out around the world and his personal readings are booked years in advance.

 I like the idea of ghosts, of becoming something else when we die rather than simply disappearing forever.  And when I look around carefully, there is plenty of evidence that something more does exist.

Charles’ obituary on my wall upstairs is a good example.    That can’t be easily explained… and if I did the math and calculated the odds… how many local papers have been printed in the last 100 years (because though Charles’ obit was published in 1928, the papers on the wall up there date from 1908—and some of those are from Canada).   We’re talking crazy odds, inexplicable odds.

Lucy wants her story told, I don’t doubt it for a moment.  Too many strange coincidences have happened over the years for me to ever doubt it.  And so here I am.

 But what about other ghosts, other stories?

The story of Jack Ryan


Jack Ryan's alleged double murder "confession"

When I learned about Lucy, I started hunting for any historical info I could find, often asking second hand and antique stores if they had old journals, letters, anything.

 One had a trunk of old newspapers from the 1920s and on a whim I bought them, a whole pile that still sits in my house somewhere.  The papers contained many articles about Jack Ryan, a “half-breed” Indian accused of a double murder in the 1920s and the committed prosecutor, Stephen Metzler, who  successfully convicted him and sent him to San Quentin for life.   The trunk also contained a daily journal and even a Christmas invitation from the Metzler family.  I had found Metzler’s trunk and ego collection.

This didn’t seem like such a big deal until I learned about Eureka investigator Richard Walton, who, after hearing about the Jack Ryan story and a death bed confession in the 1980s,    used his personal time for over the decade   to investigate the crime .

After 400 interviews conducted over many years, Walton discovered that Metzler framed Ryan, and that Ryan was coerced into confessing to the crime after his brother was strangled to death with barbed wire, and Jack was threatened with the same. Metzler was a very bad guy.

Walton’s efforts were eventually presented to the state parole board and he was successful in getting Ryan a posthumous pardon.  Not a happy ending, but happier, I guess.    I’d like to think that Ryan is at peace now, because Walton listened to the dead.



7 Responses to Listening to the dead

  1. Kathy says:

    The dead are simply not that gone. We live on the woven architecture of their greatness, their worst weakness, their customs and traditions. In many ways we are their ghosts, our conscious and unconscious actions haunting the daily world with the ripples of the values of those who have gone before.
    The ‘nothing new’ that is under the sun comes from within us. We are the ghosts.

  2. Janice says:

    I believe this woman was last seen alive in Ferndale
    by my grandmother.

    • lynette77 says:

      Wow…. there were all kinds of stories that Carmen Wagner was spotted after she was supposedly killed. I think I have one of those articles too. I’ll try to find it.

      Fascinating story all the way around…. I don’t know if the links had the info, but the prosecutor ended up being convicted of bootlegging himself… A stand up guy.

  3. I agree, those that go before us sometimes go in silence. Others speak to us for whatever reasons. Shortly after my grandfather died, I had a dream in which he came to say goodbye. Although I know it was a dream, I don’t believe it was fabricated in my mind. He was with me, I can still feel it in my bones.

  4. Lisa Willis says:

    Thank you for posting this. I am an ancestor of Carmen Wagner murdered in Coyote Flat October 1925. My direct line is her cousins.

  5. Priscilla Potter says:

    yes and I am proud to say Jack Ryan was my grampa and I loved him very much

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