by Andrew K. Arnett

The midnight EVP session at the base of Mount Misery freaked us out so much we drove out of there like a bat out of hell. Back at the motel, we tried to gather our wits and assess the situation.

Earlier in the day, the EVP hits we’d received included the words DONNY, ROBERT and GRANDFATHER – all masculine in nature.

The first thing that came to mind, due to proximity, was the legend of the teenage boys who had hung themselves from the Northern State Parkway overpass on Sweet Hollow Road. That was a few hundred feet up the road from where we stood.

I decided to do a Google search to see if I could find any documented cases regarding the hanging of teenage boys from that location and if so, track down some names.

The top search showed Man Found In West Hills Died By Suicide: Police. The article claimed that Suffolk police confirmed a dead man was discovered hanging in the woods in a park in West Hills. According to the report, the man died by suicide.

West Hills was indeed where Mount Misery was situated but this incident took place in Peter A. Nelson Park next to Henry L. Stimson Middle School. What’s more is that this man didn’t die back in the 1970s as the legend says but rather, he died June 22, 2020, a mere 5 months prior to our present visit.

I looked at the map and saw that Henry L. Stimson Middle School was located on Oakwood Road. During the day, we had driven north on Sweet Hollow Road. We had reached a fork in the road where we turned back around.

Here’s the curious thing, if you continue on from where Sweet Hollow Road splits, then you connect up with Oakwood Road. Henry L. Stimson Middle School was in fact located less than a mile due north of the Northern State Parkway overpass.

A. Northern State Parkway Overpass; B. Fork at Sweet Hollow Road; C. Oakwood Road begins; D. Henry L. Stimson Middle School; Arrow connects Sweet Hollow Road with Oakwood Road. Design by Andrew Arnett

There was something unusual about this case. Police felt compelled to issue a statement due to “unfortunate rumors” circulating in the community, saying:

“As a matter of policy, the Suffolk County Police Department does not normally comment on non-criminal death investigations.The department investigates approximately 100 suicides annually. However, we are aware of unfortunate rumors circulating on social media and throughout the community regarding this investigation, and believe that it is in the public’s interest to issue this statement to allay any fears and quell rumors with facts.The death is being preliminarily classified as a non-criminal suicide based, in part, on evidence recovered at the scene and from the [deceased’s] residence, including a letter left for his family in his home which describes his reasoning for his actions.”

Suffolk County Police Department

What kind of rumors could the police be referring to?

Apparently, the news was met with outrage and suspicion on various social media outlets, as it coincided with several hangings of black men across the country, and word leaked out that in fact the victim was a 53-year old black man. Remember also that nerves were raw from the death of George Floyd and demonstrations by Black Lives Matter.

A related article reported that a black man, identified as 27-year old Dominque Alexander, was found hanging in Manhattan’s Fort Tyron Park on June 9. It was ruled as suicide.

This was closely followed by more reports of black men dying by hanging across the country.

A black man named Robert Fuller died by hanging in Palmdale, California. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jonathan Lucas said at a press conference on June 15 that “The initial report appeared to be consistent with a suicide but we felt it prudent to roll that back and continue to look deeper.”

Ten days later and 50 miles away, the body of Malcom Harsch was found hanging in Victorville, California. Local sheriffs have said that the deaths appear to be suicides but have pledged to continue investigations.

Members of both Harsch and Fuller’s families have expressed to media that they don’t think the death’s resulted from suicide. A memorial service and protest were held on June 15 voicing concerns that the two men could have been lynched to death.

Other suspicious deaths included a black teenage boy found hanging outside of Ehrhardt Elementary School in Harris County, Texas on June 16. The Police Department told media the death appears to be suicide with “no signs of foul play.”

Looking deeper into the Mount Misery area, I found on March, 2018, Suffolk County police confirmed the body of a dead man was discovered on the property of Huntington High School.

According to the article, police vehicles and Suffolk homicide detectives were seen searching the area, off of Oakwood Road, for clues.

At the time of the article, the identity of the deceased and cause of death were not yet released, but notably, the death was confirmed to be ‘noncriminal’ at ‘this time.’

James Polansky, superintendent of Huntington school district stated, “There was never any concern regarding student or staff safety.” He insisted that no staff, school community members, or students, were involved in any way with the incident.

We are not told how the superintendent had reached his conclusion, but added that he had joined police officers at the site for a few hours, during their investigation.

Polansky stated, “It’s an unfortunate incident and equally unfortunate it happened on school grounds.”

The article ends with, “This post will be updated as more information becomes available.” That last update occurred on 5:50 p.m. March 19, 2018. As of this writing, I could not locate any further information on the event.

I was curious however, as to the location of the scene of the crime.

A. Northern State Parkway overpass; B. Henry L. Stimson Middle School; C. Huntington High School. Design by Andrew Arnett

Looking at a map, I was pretty stunned to find that the incident took place less than a mile up Oakwood Road, the same road in which the black man was found hanging near Henry L. Stimson Middle School two years later. This was also in line with Sweet Hollow Road and thus, the legend of the hanging teenagers from the Northern State Parkway overpass. Connecting the dots, you can run a straight line between the three locations.

Was there some connection? Who knows. This was still just a cursory investigation of deaths in the area but already, it has turned up a lot more than I would have expected. Maybe, too much.

To be honest, I was feeling I was getting in way over my head. It’s one thing to track down long dead people with a Spirit Box, it was another to stumble upon the trail of active murder cases. This was a job for professionals – police, FBI and True Detectives. The Suffolk County Police are still looking for a serial killer who has murdered over 16 people over the past 20 years in the area, burying their bodies near remote beach towns on the south shore of the island.

There is a misconception that people have of suburban and country life, that these places offer a refuge from the blight and crime found in cities. Manicured lawns and tree lined drives however, can offer something even more sinister, that is, similar evils yet veiled behind a facade of bucolic serenity.