Today I have with me, Detective Angelo Lamora of the New York Police Department. He has dropped by to talk about his experience in the Gainsford House case, as detailed in the book, Psychomanteum, by Merita King
Hi there, may I call you Angelo?
Hello. Of course, Angelo is fine.
Thank you for being here today. You’ve come to tell us about what you experienced in the Gainsford House case. Can you first outline the bones of the case so we all know where we are.
Sure thing. Gainsford House is an apartment block just like any other you can see in New York and many other cities across the country. We first got involved when we got a call about an intruder in one of the apartments. Things quickly escalated from the usual intruder case though, and within days, we had murders on our hands to complicate matters. It became known as the Gainsford Riot.
Can you tell us about the murders?
They were strange. Murder is usually a result of anger, passion, or revenge. From the start these ones were different. They were unusually chilling and there was a tangible sense of weirdness about them. My partner, Ray Stelman, and I both felt it right from the word go. The first two victims were disembowelled, there was one who was dismembered, savage beatings, stabbings, shootings, you name it, we saw it in Gainsford House. One guy even threw his cat out the window.
Is it unusual to have so many incidents in the same building, even an apartment block?
Very unusual to have so many in so short a time. Remember this whole thing took just a few days, although at times Ray and I would swear we were in there for months. This level of killing in the one location in so short a time is not something I’ve experienced before or since.
How did you become aware that this case was more than just murder?
There was this old lady who kept talking about evil spirits in the building. We just thought she was a sweet old kooky lady who had a strange relationship with her cat and took no notice for several days. It wasn’t until we met a psychic woman who lived in another of the apartments that we began to take the supernatural aspects of the case seriously.
How did you handle it when you realised there was a supernatural element to the case?
Both Ray and I were skeptical about such things before this, and we found it difficult to take it seriously until things had escalated to quite a severe level. Ray believed before I did, and it was his encouragement that enabled me to think about that side of it. Once we both accepted it, our minds just sort of, grabbed it and held on. We were terrified and had no clue how to get through what was happening around us, and our minds went into automatic survival mode I guess. If we had questioned it, we would not have made it through the horror with our minds intact.
Can you tell us what exactly that supernatural element was? What form did it take?
I don’t want to give too much away, but it was something not of this dimension and totally without empathy or compassion. The psychic lady that helped us told us what she knew about it and I have to admit that I didn’t totally understand. It was horrific, both Ray and I have never been so terrified in our whole lives. This thing caused terrible tragedy on an epic scale so easily and so quickly. We both had nightmares for weeks and we still have dreams from time to time. The final death toll was one hundred and eighty four, twenty four of which were cops. All but one of those one hundred and eighty four were innocents who didn’t deserve to die the way they did. We were unable to prevent any of them from dying and we both have to live with that for the rest of our lives.
You say “all but one.” Does that mean one did deserve his death?
Yes. The first victim was a man named Saul Benedict. We quickly discovered he was a serial killer we had been searching for. He murdered seven women, and his death made us think this was a vengeance killing at first.
Do you know how this whole thing started? Was it started by someone or was it just a random chain of events that started it?
The whole event was caused by one guy meddling with the supernatural. He wanted to get in touch with the spirit of a deceased relative, but what he got was something he had no way of controlling. His curiosity cost him his sanity and almost wiped out the human race. Some things are better not played with.
So it was just one guy being curious about ghosts that brought this entire horrific event into being?
That’s very scary. Many people are curious about that stuff these days. I’ve been to see psychics and used a ouija board a couple of times. We don’t take it seriously though. Maybe I will now though.
Honey, you have no idea how seriously you should be taking it. Please, I beg you, don’t meddle with that stuff. I can’t go through that again, I just can’t.
Oh I give you my word, I won’t. This may be a silly question but is there anything positive you’ve gained from this?
Yes there is much I’ve gained that is positive. I no longer hold back from showing people I care about them. It’s so important to express that energy of love and compassion to balance the dark that’s also out there. It’s made me take my relationships seriously and not take people for granted. I try not to waste time on negative energy any more. Anger, hate and revenge do nothing good for anything or anyone. It’s given me the answer to the question of whether there is anything to experience after death. I now know death is not the end, and that is very comforting. I know that those souls I grieve for are there in another state of being, and that I will meet them again when my time here is finished.
Thank you so much for telling us about your experiences at Gainsford House. It was a pleasure to meet you.
You’re very welcome, anytime.