Saturday, September 14, 2013

Haunted Greystone Park

This haunting involves the death of a male heir in the wealthiest family in Los Angeles in the late 1920s --the Dohenys. 

At the time of Ned Doheny Jr.’s death in November of 1929, at the age of 36, he and his father were involved in the “Teapot Dome” bribery scandal along with President Warren G. Harding. These two factors have made it one of California’s most enduring ghost stories. 

Part of the fascination with this story is that Ned's murder was never really solved. His death and the murder or suicide of his personal assistant and close friend Hugh Plunkett * is the reason many feel Greystone Park is haunted today.

When the Doheny Mansion was built in 1928--today the area is called Greystone Park--the cost was 3 million dollars making it the most expensive home in California up until that time. 

Edward Doheny, an oil tycoon, commissioned the architect Gordon Kaufmann design a home for his son Edward “Ned” Doheny Jr. and his family. Kaufman designed an elegant 46,000 sq. ft. 55-room Tudor style mansion that sat surrounded by 12-acres ** of distinctive English gardens.

Just five months after moving into this Beverly Hills mansion with his wife Lucy and their five children Ned was found dead of a gunshot wound one rainy afternoon. 

The official newspaper reports stated that Ned’s long-time assistant and friend Hugh Plunkett had gone crazy and shot his boss in the head and then turned and shot himself in the head. It was stated that the two men argued over a salary raise for Plunkett. It was also mentioned Plunkett had been “mentally’ stressed out over his recent divorce.

This official cause almost immediately began to be questioned. Rumors ran rampant as to the real reason Ned Doheny was murdered. 

Years later, one of the homicide detectives that responded to the mansion, Leslie T. White raised doubts about the official cause for this murder in his book entitled, Me, Detective. 

White revealed that it took the family several hours before they called the police. When he and other officers arrived, they found that the family and the family’s physician had tampered with the crime scene.

The bodies of the two dead men had been moved, and there had been an attempt to disguise the real time of death. It was also apparent to the police that the mansion’s household staff’s eyewitness accounts had been "rehearsed." 

These manipulations and the family’s claims contradicted the blood and bullet evidence these officers found. White states that a proper investigation of the crime scene was never conducted. He feels this was most likely because of the families’ political influence. 

Many find this case unusual in that it was declared solved the very next day by the District Attorney’s office. Even more curious, the family had both Ned and Plunkett cremated immediately--this was against the Doheny’s families’ religious beliefs.

The following is a popular theory that has been circulated for years as to the real reason these two men ended up dead. 

It is stated that Lucy, Ned’s wife was a very religious woman. Some believe she killed her husband and Plunkett because she discovered they had been carrying on a gay love affair. This theory is supported by several known facts. 

Witnesses earlier on the day the two men died stated they heard an argument in Plunkett’s apartment--doors were heard slamming which actually could have been gunshots. A female voice was heard as well. It is stated that Ned’s gun was the murder weapon, not Hugh Plunkett’s gun.

Where Ned Doheny was buried also leads many to feel that this might have been the actual cause. Even though Ned’s death was a murder, not a suicide his relatives did not bury him in the family plot at the Catholic Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles but instead at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. 

Curiously, the Doheny family had the remains of their son’s supposed killer, Hugh Plunkett buried nearby Ned. Many still wonder why.

Ned’s widow Lucy continued to live in the mansion until 1955. 

A Chicago Industrialist by the name of Henry Crown then bought the mansion. He started leasing it to film studios. The mansion’s grand staircase has been highlighted in many films. Its formal gardens and manicured grounds have also been used as an ideal backdrop in many films. *** 

When Crown decided to subdivide the property and tear down the mansion in 1965 the city of Beverly Hills bought the property to stop this demolition.

Renovated Greystone Park
In 1971 the grounds were turned into a city park. The estate was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The American Film Institute leased the mansion from 1964 until 1982. Today the house is maintained by the City of Beverly Hills, which holds several high-profile fund-raisers there each year.

These two murders still remain a mystery. But one item connected to the mansion seems to be agreed upon by many. The Greystone Mansion is haunted. People believe that the deaths of Ned Doheny and Hugh Plunkett in 1929 are the reason why. 

Witnesses have seen paranormal activity for decades. One common sight is that of an apparition of a man walking the hallways near the guest room where supposedly the murders took place. No one knows for sure if this is Doheny’s or Plunkett’s ghost.

Another unusual sight often seen in the mansion is that of a pool of blood. This blood is seen on the floor in the bedroom where again supposedly the murders took place. This sight always confounds witnesses because it disappears as soon as it is seen. Many who have seen it wonder what message the ghost or ghosts are trying to convey. Unfortunately, at least one of these two men is not at peace.

* Plunkett was also implicated in the Teapot Dome Scandal.

** With the mansion the the entire estate is over 18 acres.

*** The majority of the TV series Dark Shadows was filmed at Greystone Park.

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