Beach Ghosts and Assisted Living at the Boardwalk Bates Home [Guide to the Unknown]


A beach bum/scary stuff mashup is the kind of perfect summertime combo you might not know you’re in the mood for until it’s in front of you. (If you’re into surf rock, check out the monster and cryptid-themed band Beach Creeper and try to tell us we’re wrong.)

This week on Bloody FM’s Guide to the Unknown, we’re all about sea, sun, salt, and scares, heading to beaches on the East and West coasts with our tiny plastic shovels to dig up creepy stuff.

Higbee Beach in Cape May, New Jersey, is supposedly haunted by the spirit of either Joseph Higbee, Thomas Higbee, or an enslaved person, depending on who you ask. Frankly, the story of this haunting is very messy. The cleanest narrative version of it is that Thomas Higbee was buried on the island in the late 1800s but then exhumed in the 1930s when his lady friend or niece (seriously, it’s messy) requested that when she died, he be dug up and buried next to her in her family plot off the island.

It’s said that his remains were indeed moved, and the remaining hole where they once lay was filled in with sand from the beach or concrete. And ever since, a figure in a long coat has been seen roaming Higbee Beach near dusk, but when approached – poof, he vanishes. Is the ghost of Thomas Higbee perhaps returning to what he considers his proper resting place? Is it someone else entirely? Is it no one??

We DO know that the Sunshine Villa, a charming retirement home across the country set just a bit back from the boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California, has a history that could make the white hairs on the back of any old-timer’s neck stand up.

Before being converted into an assisted living home, the building was known as McCray Mansion. Its distinctive appearance is rumored to have inspired Norman Bates’s house in Psycho. In addition, it’s said to have been built atop an ancient Native American burial ground (because of course it was), which stirred up trouble when a plumber accidentally hit a skull while doing some work there in the early 1900s.

From there, supernatural activity was an apparent constant through the structure’s different iterations as a bordello, a hotel, and home to notorious serial killer Herbert William Mullin, who killed 13 people in the early 1970s. And now, it’s a place for Nana and Pop Pop to hang out and stroll to the beach if they so choose – and they might want to –  to escape all the evil. (Eh, they’re probably fine.)

To hear us, cohosts Kristen and Will, talk about more beach freakiness and complain about the heat, check out this week’s episode and subscribe to Guide to the Unknown on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts to get a new episode every Friday.

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