The tranquility of small-town life in Cuba was shattered on May 22, 1978, when two fugitives from an Oklahoma prison—Eugene Dennis and Michael Lancaster, both twenty-five—arrived. They had escaped at 1:45 P.M. on April 23. The pair signed out of their cell block to attend the prison’s nondenominational church. Apparently, they sneaked past the chapel and entered a small passageway leading from the old prison mess hall to a new building under construction. They broke their way through the three yards of concrete sealing off an abandoned utility tun- nel. Once outside the power plant, they climbed two fifteen-foot chain-link fences and escaped. They stole a red Chevrolet Camaro in Waynesboro. Mississippi, and made their way to Butler, Alabama. On May 16, a Butler policeman named Dean Larsen Roberts spotted a car matching the description of a red Camaro that had been used in the break-in of a local drugstore. He pulled the Camaro over and stopped a few yards behind it. Suddenly, the passenger got out and fired a shotgun five times at Roberts’ squad car, blowing out the passenger-side window and hit- ting the officer in the arm. The escapees ditched the Camaro in a dense patch of woods in Choctaw County and walked over to the home of Emma Mae Williams. No one was there, so Dennis and Lancaster helped themselves to underwear, pil- lowcases, and canned goods. They also cut the telephone lines and ate dinner. The pair then went to the home of a neighbor, Isabell James, and stole her 1975 Mercury.
On May 22, a sixty-nine-year-old resident of Cuba, Stacey Beavers, arrived at the antebellum home where she lived alone. She parked in front of the house and, carrying a plate of food from the church social she had attended, walked in. Police believe that she was attacked by Dennis and Lancaster as soon as she set foot in the house. The men slashed her throat and left her bloody corpse lying in the doorway. When word of the horrific murder spread, panic swept through Cuba. People made jokes about sleeping with their shotguns.
Not long after Stacey Beavers’ death, officers from Oklahoma drove to Alabama to assist Choctaw County Sheriff Don Lolley with the investigation. The fugitives remained in Alabama for four more days. Finally, on the morning of May 26, the state troopers learned of their location. Dennis and Lancaster stood their ground, killing three troopers before being killed themselves. By the time their reign of terror ended, they had killed eight people, including Stacey Beavers.
Charlie and Linda Munoz purchased the Beavers House and the forty-eight adjoining acres at auction for $72,000 in 1978. They suspect that price was low because of the home’s reputation. They had not lived in it for very long before people began driving up their long drive, hoping to catch a glimpse of the murder house. Linda was shocked when she heard that Stacey Beavers’ niece was the one who cleaned the blood splatter off the walls of the entranceway.
Charlie and Linda learned about the early history of the house by conducting re- search and talking to longtime residents of Cuba. “The house was built in 1850 by Steve Potts,” Charlie told me. “It was the first plantation in Cuba, which was called Clay Station back then. A dentist named Dr. Beavers bought the house in 1898. He changed the lines of the house to make it more Victorian. He was a traveling dentist. His office was in a little room upstairs. Stacey Beavers was born in the house.” The first indication Charlie and Linda had that their home might be haunted was strange smells. “One night, I woke up, and the smell of strong perfume was right next to my head,” Linda said. “It was so strong that it woke me up. I can’t tell you what kind of perfume it was. I just know that it was something that I don’t wear. I nudged Charlie and said, ‘Charlie, do you smell that? Do you smell that?’ He woke up, but the smell had drifted away. He would get up in the middle of the night because he thought I had left candles burning. He would walk up and down the halls looking to see where the candles were burning. A year or so after that, one of Stacey Beavers’ nieces came to the house and asked, ‘Have you ever experienced anything here?’ I said, ‘Yeah, we would get up in the middle of the night thinking that candles were burning. I have smelled the scent of strong perfume.’ The niece got a very strange look and said, ‘My aunt loved splashy perfume, and she burned candles all the time.’”
Charlie and Linda soon discovered that Stacey Beavers’ spirit may have attached itself to one of the objects in the house. One of the first pieces of furniture they acquired for the home was a piano once owned by Stacey Beavers. “When we first bought the house, Mrs. Brock [a resident of Cuba] was waiting for us in the hall,” Linda said. “Mrs. Brock bought the piano with the intention of giving it back to whoever bought the house, and that’s how we got Stacey’s piano. It came from a bar in Kansas City, the town where she worked as a music therapist.” The piano was involved in the most dramatic supernatural incident inside the Beavers House.
“The first really scary event happened about twenty-five years ago ,” Linda said. “My son was not born yet, and my daughter was little. I was working at the hospice at the time, and I had been dealing with a really difficult family. The patients were wonderful. It was always the families that gave me the problems. It was a very difficult time. I had been driving night after night from Cuba to Livingston. I was exhausted, and I had promised my daughter that I would have a Halloween party for her. Our friends had children the same age as our child, so we always had family parties: adults and children. Whenever someone came over, they would want to go upstairs. There used to be a belvedere on the top of the house, but now it’s just a wall. We had taken a couple up there to see the sky. My husband and I used to watch the stars.
A friend of ours from Columbus [Mississippi], Eric Loftis, was playing honkytonk music on the piano while we were walking upstairs. Sud- denly, we heard what sounded like a gunshot. We ran back down the stairs, and Eric was standing there with a shocked look on his face. We checked over the house to make sure that none of the children were hurt. Then we noticed that the armoire had fallen over, right next to the piano. We up-righted it and were sur- prised to discover that none of the glass on the armoire was broken. I took my daughter upstairs to put her to bed. Five minutes later, I went downstairs, and no one was there except Charlie. I asked Charlie, ‘Where is everybody?’ Charlie said, ‘Gone.’” Linda suspects that the armoire fell over because of Stacey Beavers’ dis- like of honkytonk music.
Stacey Beavers may have expressed her disapproval of changes made in the house during a New Year’s Eve party in 2000. “We had a really bad termite infes- tation,” Linda said. “The carpenter working in the kitchen was having to tear out walls and replace sheetrock and the ceiling in the kitchen. He had nailed the boards up and was getting ready to leave just before the party guests arrived. Eric had come from Columbus and had sat down to play piano. When he started, the boards just collapsed onto the kitchen floor! The carpenter said there was no reason for them to fall because they were nailed securely.”
During another party, Stacey Beavers may have expressed her displeasure at re- marks made by her great-niece. “We sat at the drop-down table,” Linda said, “and it had the ends raised up. The subject of Stacey Beavers came up, and her great-niece said, ‘Everyone talks about how wonderful Stacey was, but she wasn’t perfect.’ She went on to talk about disagreements she had had with her great-aunt. Well, after a while, I got up and went to the bathroom, and she went into the kitchen. All of a sudden, the end of the table fell down, and everything that was on it—plates, silver- ware—fell to the floor. That had never happened before, and it hasn’t happened since.”
Linda Munoz’s nephew, Ed Snodgrass, is an experimental psychologist at the University of West Alabama. He had an experience inside the old house that came into direct conflict with his scientific view of the world. “My family and I were living in Meridian [Mississippi] in a house we restored,” Ed told me. “We added a child. The place had one bathroom. We had to sell it in 2008. We sold the house, did well, and about that time, my aunt Linda told me that she and my uncle Charlie were going to move up to the Mentone area, where they had a house. Supposedly, they were going to live there for a while, certainly for a year, and she wondered if we would be interested in housesitting her house on Old Livingston Road—the Beavers House. I’ve always loved that house.”
Ed and his wife, Michelle, moved in and had a great year there. Several months after moving in, they discovered they were going to have their third baby. Cuba is miles from hospitals, and it would have complicated their life somewhat to reside out there. Later, Linda and Charlie decided to return because Linda’s mother, living near Cuba, was aging and needed some assistance. So Ed and Michelle chose to move back to Meridian, to a different house.
Toward the end of that summer, they started packing up. “They had bought a house, and they were moving in,” Linda said. “Sometimes they stayed at the Beavers House, and sometimes they stayed in town. They kept the dogs in a fenced-in area in Cuba.”
“We had pretty much moved out,” Ed said. “There were just a few items left in the house that belonged to us. I went back late one night after everyone had gone to sleep. I drove into Cuba around nine or ten at night. I had never had any fears about the place. I was used to it. I had lived there for a year and visited there as a child. Nothing was on my mind. I didn’t feel any insecurity going into the house at all. I was going to gather up some Internet equipment. The house was designed to have a major hallway that crisscrosses. You go in and to the right at the end of that hallway is a staircase that leads upstairs to the attic, and beyond the attic is a staircase that leads up to the roof, where the dental office used to be on top. Now, it’s a widow’s walk. Anyway, I was walking down the hallway, unplugging wires and equipment from underneath a desk, and suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt an incred- ible chill come over me that I had never had before, and I have never experienced it since. Anytime I talk about it, the chill bumps rise up.” He showed me the goosebumps on his arm. “This experience of chills quickly turned into an experience of fear. And just two seconds after feeling that, the dogs outside began to bark inces- santly. They had been quiet. So immediately, I jumped up and left. I didn’t look back. I felt like maybe something was watching me. I got in the van and went home, and that was that. I told my wife about it, and she thought that was a curi- ous experience for me because I don’t tend to have those experiences. I consider myself a scientist. I still don’t have any supernatural beliefs.”
Since then, Ed has tried to come up with reasonable explanations, to no avail. “The dogs heard it, and we both had that experience, but that seems pretty implau- sible,” he said. “I will say this. The room my two daughters stayed in was in that hallway by the staircase. They told us that it was frightening over there. It is a little bit dark. There was dark woodwork around the stairs. I never felt that way. I always liked that part of the house. I always thought it was one of the most interesting parts of the house.”
Despite all of the unsettling occurrences inside the Beavers House, Linda and Charlie have never been afraid to stay in it. “We have a sense that we were sup- posed to be here,” Linda said. “I never felt scared, even when all this stuff hap- pened. Actually, I think it’s kind of cool.”
Haunted Alabama written by Alan Brown – Copyright © 2021 by Alan Brown