San Francisco's Suicide Forest - A Haunted Secret

Discussion in 'show discussions' started by tim_livescifi, Sep 15, 2016.

  1. tim_livescifi

    tim_livescifi boo Staff Member

    Some of the info on the Suicide's that occurred in the Sutro Forest aka Suicide Forest

    From the San Francisco Call – November 16, 1903:

    Suicide's Body Found in Shadows of the Sutro Wood.
    Grim Evidence of Hanging Meets Eyes of Mushroom Gatherers.

    Spectrally swaying from the limb of a tree in Sutro forest, the dead body of an unidentified man hung until natural decomposition parted the head and trunk of the corpse. Then the trunk rolled off in one direction and the head in another. The looped rope, hanging from the limb, alone gave mute evidence of the cause of the tragedy. Whoever it was who gave himself up to death deliberately months ago in the dim shadows of the wood, he over looked not the smallest detail that would prevent his identity from becoming known. In the clothing of the dead man there was nothing by which it could be learned what man had tenanted the bundle of rags enwrapping the grisly skeleton.

    The grewsome find was made by John Landini of 1207 Stanyan street and George Prosek of 1215 Stanyan street. They had gone to the forest to pick mushrooms and midway between the Affiliated Colleges and the Almshouse they came across the headless trunk, lying at the base of a little knoll. Above dangled a light rope with a noose at the end. Further search disclosed the head, some twelve feet away from the body. They ran from the shadows of the forest and telephoned to the Coroner's office. Deputy Coroner Brown went at once to the scene and took charge of the body.

    Clothing Bears No Marks

    Alongside of the tree from which dangled the rope was found a heavy chinchilla overcoat. The body was dressed in a dark brown coat of cheap material, fustian jacket, dark striped trousers and gray waistcoat. As far as could be ascertained the underwear was of rough material.

    In the pockets of the coat were found an empty pocketbook, a memorandum book without any trace of writing, a copy of the constitution and by-laws of the Pacific Coast Marine Firemen's Union and a certificate of membership in the union. Apparently the name of the member and the date of his admission, which had originally been written in ink, had been erased with a knife. Instead was scrawled across the face of the certificate the pathetic message, unsigned. "If you want to bury me, I'm thankful to you." The handwriting gave evidences of extreme nervousness, as though the writer were appalled at the swift plunge into eternity he was about to make.

    A close examination of the erased certificate failed to reveal the slightest clew to the name. On the date line could be deciphered the letter "J" which may have been January before the erasure. Rain and wind had dealt harshly with the clothing and no mark could be deciphered on any of it. Nothing but the bare bones of the skeleton and the grinning face of the skull remained to tell of one who found the burden of life too heavy to bear and chose the shadows of a forest and a hangman's knot to solve the problem of the hereafter.

    The officers of the union are making every effort to ascertain the identity of the suicide and hope by a thorough search of the records of the organization to learn whose body it was that lay for so many months the prey of weather and decomposition until all traces of what he once was were wiped away.

    San Francisco Call – March 26, 1904:


    The remains of a man that committed suicide in the Sutro forest were removed to the Morgue yesterday afternoon. They were found on top of the hill east of the Almshouse after a search of three hours and a half by Deputy Coroner Meehan and Messenger Carrick. The clothing worn by the suicide was a gray checked summer weight suit, well worn; a soft black hat and a pair of heavy black laced shoes. The body had been lying in the brush for more than a month and was unrecognizable.

    San Francisco Call – April 18, 1904

    Once Wealthy Resident of City, Later — Inmate of Almshouse, Kills Himself.

    The body of Thomas Murnane, once a wealthy business man of this city, later a physical wreck and inmate of the Almshouse, was found yesterday hanging to the top branch of a tall eucalyptus tree in the Sutro forest. The body was found by L. K. Pryer of 660 Broderick street and A.E. Pinching of 1104 Divisadero street. Murnane had evidently been dead for two months. The body was taken to the Morgue. Nothing of value was found on it.

    On February 27 last, Murnane, who formerly lived at 36 Sixth street, disappeared from the Almshouse. The day before his disappearance he told one of his friends, also an Inmate of the Almshouse, that he had tired of a life of poverty. "My last child died a few months ago," he said, "and since that time I have been dependant on the city for alms. What is life to me, now, where once I had the best of everything?

    The next day Murnane disappeared. He was last seen strolling toward the dense growth of trees near the Almshouse, known as the Sutro forest. Although 52 years of age, Murnane climbed the smooth trunk of the tree and, fastening the noose, swung himself into a better world.

    San Francisco Call - November 24, 1904:

    Baker Missing for Nearly Two Weeks Chooses Lonely Spot at Which to Die
    Woman’s Search Ends in Park
    Mrs. Daniel Pfeefer Finds Long Looked For Body of Her Husband in Forest

    Two weeks ago Daniel Pfeefer, a baker, who lived at 4057 Twenty-fifth street, was reported missing from his home and his faithful wife, had spent the weary fortnight trying to find trace of him. The woman's search was rewarded yesterday afternoon when she stumbled across his remains strung to the limb of a tree in Sutro Forest, near the Corbett road.

    Every day since Pfeefer had been missing his wife hunted over the hills and among the sand dunes for her husband's body. She was convinced that he had taken his own life and her surmise proved startlingly correct.

    Until about six months ago, Pfeefer conducted a small bakery on Church street, near Seventeenth. When he sold out he made no effort to acquire another business or secure employment. About a month ago it was noticed that he acted strangely. He was pensive and he seldom spoke to anyone. On the morning of November 14, he left his home saying that he would return in the evening, but when he did not do so his wife started a search for him. First she visited all of her husband's haunts, and when she found he had not been seen in any of these, she started about the city inquiring if anyone had seen "a man with a coat buttoned over an undershirt rambling about." Yesterday, in company with her brother-in-law, Conrad Dettling, she visited the Sutro forest. After several hours tramp she came upon the body, then she went to St. Boniface's Church for advice and the priests told her to notify the officials.

    A strange feature of the case is that while Pfeefer has been missing nearly two weeks, he hanged himself within twenty-four hours of the time he was found. This was determined by the condition of the body. Just where Pfeefer spent the intervening time is hard to tell, but the Morgue officials will endeavor to ascertain. His family say he was, without doubt, insane, and the deed is attributed to insanity.

    The Ingleside Inn on the southeast corner of today's Ocean Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard, - San Francisco Call, November 17, 1895
    San Francisco Call – September 6, 1908:


    Acting upon information received from J. F. Elliot, proprietor of the Ingleside Inn at Ingleside, a squad of policemen were dispatched to the Sutro Forest late last night to search for the body of a man. Elliot telephoned to the Coroner’s office later that he had discovered a body in the densest part of the forest. Armed with lanterns, the Mission street squad left for the scene about midnight.

    San Francisco Call - December 19, 1899:
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  2. tim_livescifi

    tim_livescifi boo Staff Member

    San Francisco Call - December 19, 1899:

    Sutro's Forest Again the Scene of a Suicide
    Keeper McGinnes of the Sutro Forest notified the Morgue officials

    Yesterday afternoon that the body of a man was found in the woods back of the Affiliated Colleges. Deputy Coroner Lacombe who was detailed on the case, found the body a few feet from one of the many paths.

    The deceased wore a striped suit of worsted material, a black sweater and a pair of bicycle shoes. In the pockets were found a bicycle pump. a pair of pants protectors, and a packet white crystals marked “poison" - the contents of which were afterward found to be cyanide of potassium. A postal card on which was the printed address of the Cascade Laundry and the name of Frank Parker written in pencil, was also found on the body. From appearances the man had been dead about two days and the case looked like a suicide. The body is that of a man about 35, years of age.

    From the Sacramento Record-Union December 20, 1899:


    The body found in the Sutro forest yesterday has been identified as that of Frank Parker, who came to this city from San Jose some time ago. The deceased committed suicide by taking cyanide. He was a machinist by trade and was a victim of strong drink.

    From the San Francisco Call - December 21, 1899

    Frank Parker Was Not the Name of the Sutro Forest Suicide.

    Frank Parker was not the name of the suicide found in the Sutro forest back of the Affiliated Colleges last Monday, as already announced. Police Patrolman Fontana had identified the body as that of a man who had asked him to arrest him and put him in Jail, and who showed symptoms of delirium tremens.

    The man gave the officer his name as Frank Parker, and there was no mistake about the identification, no matter whether the name given by the stranger was his real name or not.

    Positive identification by a man who had been acquainted with the dead man for a long time was made yesterday, when J.J. Zimmer of 112 Golden Gate avenue identified the remains as those of Grant Bell of San Jose, who worked for a while as bicycle repairer for Olten & Co. in San Jose. Zimmer last saw him alive last Thursday, struggling with an attack of delirium tremens. He had been on a spree for a long time.

    San Francisco Call – October 28, 1908:

    Man Believed to Be Samuel Anderson Despondent From Ill Health.

    While walking through the Sutro forest yesterday Attorney C. S. Gardner discovered the body of a suicide suspended from the limb of a tree, by a steel wire about the neck. The Coroner's office and police were notified by the attorney, who guided them to the body.

    After working for several hours the deputy coroners and the policemen succeeded in carrying the body of the suicide, from the forest to the Sunset avenue road. The man is believed to be Samuel Anderson and the police think despondency due to ill health prompted him to end his life.

    San Francisco Call – March 26, 1904:

    Ends Life With Pistol
    Remains of Unidentified Man Discovered on Ledge of Rock in Sutro Woods

    The body of some unfortunate who had tired of life and killed himself perhaps more than a month ago, was discovered on the highest point of Sutro woods, back of the Affiliated Colleges building, yesterday. The body was first seen by a passerby, who informed a street car conductor, and he in turn told the police.

    Patrolmen C. B. Weekend and A.C. Williams of the Park police station repaired to the woods in search of the corpse. They hunted through the brush and undergrowth from 3 o'clock till 5:15 before their efforts were rewarded by the finding of the grewsome object.

    The officers came upon the body of the unfortunate man in the thickest part of the woods. The corpse was in a sitting posture, leaning against a large rock. The left hand and the left leg below the knee were entirely eaten raw by wild animals and the face was utterly decomposed.

    The body of the man had evidently been undisturbed for a month or more. A black soft hat was discovered about ten feet away from where the corpse lay. A large British bulldog pistol lay rusted at the feet of the dead man, showing only too plainly how he had rid himself of his troubles.

    The patrolmen made no attempt to remove the body, but at once notified the Central police station and the Morgue. This morning at 10 o'clock a detachment of police and Coroner's deputies will repair to the scene, make an investigation, and remove the body to the Morgue, where an effort will be made to ascertain the identity of the unfortunate.
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  3. TankGirl

    TankGirl Ghost

    Awesome read!! Very sad so curious as to why these individuals would be drawn there to carry out their plan of suicide!
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  4. Rampage3571

    Rampage3571 Residual

    What a history for a forest.

    Did you find anything on Henry?
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  5. tim_livescifi

    tim_livescifi boo Staff Member

    No I searched and did not however I am still trying to see if I can find anything on him!
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