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“Shop of Horrors”

I love the Internet! If I’m watching a TV show and see something that I want to learn more about, I jot down some of the details. Then I get down to it. Season 13 Episode 5 “Shop of Horrors” on The Dead Files provided that spark.

The episode had Amy Allan investigating Daydreams & Nightmares, a large costume shop in Modesto, California. The shop’s owner, Dana, called in Amy because she and her employees were experiencing disturbing phenomena. Steve DiSchiavi interviewed employees and locals to get a sense of the location’s history. Boy, it is a tad dark!

According to the show, the business located at 1219 7th Street, served as the Evans Funeral Home that included a crematorium. One photograph showed charred remains from the cremation process stuck to the ceiling. Per the show, the business was active from 1995-2015.

Now, I don’t believe that all funeral homes are haunted or negative places. Just like I don’t believe that cemeteries are inherently haunted. Steve retold the tragic 2011 murder-suicide of a father and his juvenile son. That hit hard; however, I was fascinated by the 1910 story of Andrew Sorensen, a 30-year-old prominent businessman who went temporarily insane and attempted to kill his wife. Now that had my attention.

Andrew came from a prominent and well-respected family. His father served two terms as the County Recorder of Stanislaus County. He was born on December 8, 1880, and co-owned the Maze Hotel with his wife, Marie E. Stone Sorensen, whom he married 4 years prior (November 22, 1906). On December 30, 1910, Andrew returned from the post office and met his wife and 17-year-old cousin Edith “Eda” Simon on the landing at the stairs. For some unknown reason, Andrew lunged at Marie’s throat and finding he was unable to strangle her, he took out a 12-inch butcher knife and began to attack Marie. Marie fell to the floor; Edith began to scream. A couple of carpenters, Dawes and Tucker, who were on the property came running and chased Andrew to his bedroom. Shortly thereafter, Deputies Dallas and Swatzel arrived and broke through the locked door. They found Andrew had thrice attempted to slash his neck. The final, and fatal, wound was when Andrew took the knife and sliced from ear to ear. Newspaper articles reported that he severed his windpipe. Dr. F.R. DeLappe arrived as Andrew slumped to death. His motive taken to the grave.

Marie, miraculously, faired much better. Her wounds were severe but not critical. She was transported to the Evans Hospital. She sustained deep cuts to her head, throat, and hands. Her left hand was cut to the bone. The third finger on her right hand was cut off. She was recuperating in the hospital and did not know her husband’s fate until the next day when the coroner completed his inquest.

The local paper reported the attempted murder and suicide in the evening paper on the 30th. It was quickly picked up and disseminated across the wire service. The inquest was the following day, the 31st. Here, we learn a bit more.

Supposedly Andrew was beset by mental demons off-and-on for years. Many stated that he suffered frequent, though brief, mental incapacity. The coroner verdict was death caused by knife while in fit of insanity. Basically, he died by suicide. Found in his bedroom was a partial suicide note, where Andrew scribbled 2 lines of illegible text addressed to his mother, Anna Simon Sorensen. No one was able to discern any of the writing.

The red flag that went up for me was why. Why did he return home to brutally attack his wife in front of his cousin and with workers and patrons nearby? One article referenced a jealous streak in his personality. That may be. There are plenty of criminal cases where jealousy ignited the attack. Others claimed to have seen his mental capacities decline over time. Why was that? Today, the investigation would last more than 24 hours, and all possible avenues would be explored. This is especially true when three separate newspaper articles had varying degrees of facts.

Miss Eda Simon returned to Stockton, California the following day (the day of the inquest). She, in fact, did not appear in person but was interviewed by telephone. That also seemed strange.

Andrew was prepped and buried shortly after the inquest. He now rests in the Modesto Pioneer Cemetery, then known as the Odd Fellows Cemetery, in Block 29, Lot 2, Grave 3. It is a family plot purchased by his father, Martin Iverson Sorensen (1853-1902). This is a family plot that contains the remains of Martin, Anna, and other relatives. However, one person is missing: Marie E. Stone Sorensen is not buried in the plot.

As for the Maze Hotel: Nothing is mentioned in the local newspapers after 1932.

The show did end on a more positive note. Amy told Dana and her employees Michelle and Eva that the low-level child demon could be taken care of. In the 2-month follow-up reveal, Dana said they followed Amy’s directions and the building doesn’t feel as oppressive. If you happen to visit, let me know. I’m always trying to find a great costume for Halloween.