" + $site_name + " logo
Login

 
 
How Chapel Hill Put an End to Serious Crime

by Charly Mann

Throughout my childhood, and well into my teenage years, Chapel Hill was one of the safest places to live in the world. Few people in town ever locked the doors to their home or cars, and I remember the owner of a local clothing store saying he often left his store door unlocked after closing. By the mid 1960s Chapel Hill was no longer a crime free village and stores, cars, and houses were usually locked when unattended.

...

Full content including photographs now available on a subscription basis.

See Subscribe button in upper right corner.

 
 

 
 
Chapel Hill's Top Secret Space Capsule Landing

by Charly Mann

Chapel Hill holds many mysteries and secrets, but the one I witnessed and photographed on August 20th, 1961 is the least well known. On that morning a NASA Space Capsule crash landed just a few miles outside of Chapel Hill, and I am likely the last living person who saw that event. Fortunately I had a Leica M3 35 mm camera with me and took more than a dozen color photographs of the capsule, and I will share many of those pictures for the first time in this article. I will also reveal why I believe this event has been covered up for more than five decades.

...

Full content including photographs now available on a subscription basis.

See Subscribe button in upper right corner.

 
 

 
 
The Cruel Hazing Death of a UNC student

When I was about ten in 1960 I overheard a grey-haired UNC professor at the Scuttlebutt snack bar on the corner of Columbia and Cameron briefly describe to a colleague what he considered the most tragic event during his years in Chapel Hill. He said he had been in a crowd of fellow students that encouraged several masked students to torture, humiliate, and tragically cause the death of a young freshman. For years I thought I might have misheard this story, but in 1967 I met an alumnus of UNC during that time period at a dinner party my father took me to, and learned the full details of this event which I will describe in this article.

...

Full content including photographs now available on a subscription basis.

See Subscribe button in upper right corner.

 
 

 
 
Chapel Hill's Ghost Car Legend

by Charly Mann

Chapel Hill is home of several legends and mysteries including a crashed airplane that lies in the woods near Finley Golf Course, a haunted mansion deep in the woods near the Dean Smith Center, and most incredible the ghost car that is often seen cruising late at night on Morgan Creek Road without a driver. I have heard about this from more than a dozen witnesses who say they have seen a silver car resembling the shape of a Checker Cab cruising down this road at night. In two separate incidents the car drove slowly behind them as they were walking along the road near dawn, and then suddenly picked up speed and passed them by. To their astonishment there was no one behind the wheel.

...

Full content including photographs now available on a subscription basis.

See Subscribe button in upper right corner.

 
 

 
 
The Rinaldi Murder Case

by Charly Mann

Addendum 2-4-2010: Frank Rinaldi apparently died in poverty. His estate included the old house he lived in on Byrneside Avenue (mortgaged in 2007) and personal property with an estimated value of $20,000 At one point, he was reputedly worth $5 million. He probably only had a very small Social Security check, because he had not worked most of his life, and the rent from his tenants. The exact cause of Rinaldi's death has not been given.

NOTE: This article was written on November 12th, 2009, and posted at noon the next day. By strange coincidence Frank Rinaldi was discovered dead at his home in Waterbury, Connecticut at about the same time the article was published.

11-24-2009: The following is additional evidence about Frank Rinaldi and the murder that was not included in my original article.

As my article brings up Frank Rinaldi bought a double indemnity policy on his wife that was worth $40,000 and one on himself for $10,000.

The new facts are these. Frank stopped paying on his policy four months before the murder, and then cancelled the policy on himself and was refunded all the money he had already paid on it.

At the same time, Frank, who had little money of his own, borrowed $720 from the Bank of Chapel Hill to pay the premium on Lucille’s policy through the end of December. (She was murdered on December 24th).

Even before Frank cancelled his own policy one might wonder why he would only want Lucille and his child to have $10,000 if he was to have died accidently, and he was going to get $40,000 if his pregnant wife, who was two years younger than him, was to die this way.

Since this article was published I have received much more information on this crime. Almost all of it further incriminates Rinaldi. Because others think it important, I have now included the fact that Rinaldi went shopping in Durham before he did his shopping on Franklin Street.  He was however on Franklin Street  and very near his home within the time his wife was murdered there.
 

On Christmas eve 1963, Chapel Hill was almost like a ghost town. UNC students had left for their holiday break more than a week earlier, and many of the town's residents were away visiting relatives. At about 10 AM that morning the most brutal murder in Chapel Hill history occurred. In a small apartment at 105 North Street, about a block from the police station, a woman who was five months pregnant had a sock forcibly stuffed into her mouth and was hit violently across her skull twice with a large flashlight. The killer then took a small seat pillow and forced it hard against her face until she showed no signs of life. The woman was not sexually assaulted and the apartment was not robbed. The murder probably took less than five minutes.

The woman's name was Lucille Regina Rinaldi. She had been married less than five months to a part-time English instructor named Frank Joseph Rinaldi who was working on a PhD in English at UNC. Later that day he would be charged with first degree murder and put in jail. Over the course of the next two years there would be two murder trials in the case. In the first Frank Rinaldi was convicted of murder and sent to Central Prison in Raleigh. In the second Rinaldi was found innocent.


Lucille Begg in 1959. On July 31,1963 she married Frank Rinaldi.

I am convinced that Frank Rinaldi killed his wife and will explain why I believe he is guilty and why he was acquitted of the murder in the second trial.

The following facts convince me Frank Rinaldi was responsible for the murder of his wife:

1. Lucille Begg and Frank Rinaldi were married on July 31, 1963 in Waterbury Connecticut. Soon after the marriage there was some kind of problem, and Frank returned to Chapel Hill where he was working on his PhD.

2. Throughout August of 1963 there are letters and phone calls between Frank and Lucille. He learns she is pregnant, and she decides to attempt to reconcile with Frank by moving to Chapel Hill. Lucille arrives in Chapel Hill on September 2 and is interviewed and hired as a teacher at the newly opened Guy B. Phillips junior high school on Estes Drive. She shows up for the first day of school on September 8th, and leaves Chapel Hill suddenly the next day without notifying the school. The Chapel Hill School superintendent finally tracks her down to her family's home in Waterbury, Connecticut. She said she has left because of domestic difficulties.

3. It needs to be stated that Frank Rinaldi was gay. This in no way this is meant to cloud his character or imply that a gay man is more capable of murdering his wife than a straight man. The relevance here is twofold. First, most would agree that a marriage between a heterosexual woman and a homosexual man is full of challenges, and in this case Lucille seemed to be unaware or in denial about Frank's sexual orientation. More significantly though marriages generally depend on fidelity between the partners, and Frank was involved with at least one man during the time of their brief marriage.

4. Frank bought a $40,000 double indemnity life insurance policy on Lucille from his close companion John Sipp shortly before she was murdered. Such a policy pays this amount if Lucille were to die accidently, which includes being murdered. In today's terms this is equivalent to about $300,000.

This is suspicious for several reasons. While he did buy a policy for himself, it was for only $10,000 even though he was two years older and a male. He had virtually no income at this time, as he was only a part time instructor, and had to pay rent, tuition, as well as food and clothing costs from his small salary. It would be more logical that if he had extra money he would have wanted to be saving it for the cost of raising his soon to be born child. Rarely do couples take out life insurance policies on one another within five months of getting married, especially if they are having serious marital problems and are not living together, and have no stated plans to do so in the future.

Murder Suspect Frank Rinaldi
Frank Joseph Rinaldi, convicted, acquitted, and still the only suspect in the killing of his wife in Chapel Hill on December 24, 1963 

5. According to sworn testimony by local handyman Alfred Foushee, Rinaldi offered him $500 to kill his wife when she came to visit over Christmas. When Foushee refused, he asked if he could find someone else to kill her for $500. Rinaldi also told him it did not matter how his wife was killed. He said raping, strangling, choking, or anything else was all right with him.

On the morning of the murder Foushee testified he ran into Frank Rinaldi at the Eastgate Hardware store and Rinaldi said to him, "It's all over Al, I did it."

6. Police found blood matching Rinaldi's wife's type on the shirt and pants Frank Rinaldi wore on the day of the murder. They also found in the Rinaldi house a large flashlight that had been bent at the handle and a pillow with blood stains on it.

7. Lucille Rinaldi began receiving friendly letters and phone calls from Frank shortly after he had taken out the double indemnity policy on her. In them he encouraged her come for a visit over Christmas to try to fix their problems. Frank was also quite cordial to Lucille during the last three days she was alive, but this is likely because he a planed to kill her on the 24th and did not want her to leave before then.

8. On Christmas Eve morning Frank and his long-time companion John Sipp, who he had bought the double indemnity insurance policy from, went out Christmas Shopping. Frank seemed to want to establish an alibi for himself as he visited 17 stores in Durham and Chapel Hill between about 9:30 AM and 1:00 PM. The best estimate by the coroner for the time of death was between 10:00 and noon.

The problem with this alibi is that during this time Sipp and other eyewitness place them downtown on Franklin Street during the time of the murder. Depending on where they parked, they were within 200 to 400 feet of the Rinaldi residence on North Street between 11:00 and noon.  In less than ten minutes Rinaldi could have slipped into his apartment grabbed his flashlight and a sock. The murder itself took just a few minutes - two blows to Lucille's head with the flashlight while a sock was stuffed in her mouth. Then a pillow was placed tightly to her face for a couple of minutes to make sure she was dead. Frank could have easily gone to the house, killed Lucille, and been back on Franklin Street within ten minutes or less. In those days one often got to North Street by walking through a yard or driveway on Rosemary Street directly into an adjoining North Street property.

Rinaldi Murder Map
In 1963 one would often park on Rosemary Street when shopping downtown. You could also easily walk through any lot on Rosemary to get to a house on North Steet. I recently walked from the location of Rinaldi's apartment to the Chapel Hill Post Office in 74 seconds. In 1963 there was less traffic on Rosemary and fewer other obstacles which would probably make it quicker.

It should be remembered there was no robbery or sign of forced entry into the house. The person who did the crime knew what they wanted to do and that was kill Lucille and leave the scene as quickly as possible.

It is possible that John Sipp, who was Rinaldi's closest friend and the person who sold Frank the life insurance policy, could have known about Frank's intention. Frank certainly had no problem discussing the murder twice with Alfred Foushee who was only a casual friend. Even if Sipp was not aware of Frank's plan, he is Frank's main alibi witness for the time the murder was committed. While they were downtown there is no evidence that John and Frank were always together. For example, John spent time in Roses 5 & 10 Cent Store talking to an employee who did not recall Frank being around the store the entire time. Roses was located almost directly in line with Rinaldi house. It also had a back door entrance (like several other stores in those days), where one could have gone out and committed the crime and come back in. It is also possible they could have split up for ten or fifteen minutes while shopping and running errands along Franklin Street.

9. Lucille Rinaldi's family believed that Frank was the killer. They were more aware than anyone else of the serious problems that prevented Frank and Lucille from living together almost their entire brief marriage.

10. After Frank Rinaldi was acquitted of the murder in the second trial he expended no time or resources looking for the "real" killer. I recently asked 11 couples ranging in age from their 20s to late 40s how they believed they would react if they were falsely accused of murdering their spouse and later acquitted. All 22 people said essentially the same thing: they would make it their life's work to help find the killer.

11. Why was Frank Rinaldi spending Christmas Eve morning and early afternoon with his close companion John Sipp shopping instead of with his wife who he had not seen in months, and with whom he was supposed to be working on improving the problems in their relationship? Frank Rinaldi lived less than a half a block from Franklin Street which contained the widest array of stores in North Carolina if he needed to go Christmas shopping. There were no malls then in the state. Franklin Street then had several great jewelry stores, at least three gift shops, a toy store, the two best record stores in the state, more than half a dozen women's clothing stores and twice that number of men's clothing stores. There was no better place to Christmas shop south of New York City or west of Dallas than downtown Chapel Hill. Frank certainly did not need transportation or a friend to Christmas shop with.

12. If Frank Rinaldi is innocent then for the only time I can discover in Chapel Hill history someone randomly walked into a small student apartment with the intent of killing in broad daylight someone they did not know. They had no other motive, and strangely there was never a similar crime in Chapel Hill history.

Statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence show that nine out of ten women who are murdered knew their killer, and that it is practically unheard of for a woman to be murdered alone in her home in broad daylight by a stranger.

Why then was Frank Rinaldi acquitted in his second trial of murder?

There are a combination of facts that played to Frank Rinaldi's advantage in being acquitted of murder that I will now detail.

1. The Rinaldi murder was probably the first cold blooded killing in Chapel Hill's history. The Rachel Crook killing which took place twelve years earlier actually occurred close to Hillsborough and the Chapel Hill Police Department played only a small role in its investigation. Chapel Hill had a very small police department and was a fairly crime-free community in 1963. Many people left their house unlocked, as well as their cars even when they parked downstairs. I cannot even find a case of a significant robbery or armed robbery before this.

The Chapel Hill Police Department had no expertise in handling a murder investigation, and made several mistakes that contributed to Rinaldi's acquittal. The primary mistake was taking crucial evidence without a proper warrant. This included the blood stained shirt and pants Frank was wearing at the time of the murder, the dented flashlight in the house that was probably the murder weapon, as well as the blood stained pillow. All of this crucial evidence had to be returned to Rinaldi and was ruled inadmissible for evidence in the second trial.

Rinaldi Murder
Frank Rinaldi is 80 years old today. His wife, Lucille, has been dead for 46 years. 

2. Neither Chapel Hill nor Orange County had a District Attorney for prosecuting serious crimes. They were assigned District Solicitor Thomas D Cooper from Burlington to handle the case. Cooper was well over his head as the prosecutor of a murder case like this. His primary strategy in the trial came from his ultra conservative religious views that saw homosexuality as evil. Cooper's main theory in the case was that Rinaldi had to be the murderer because he was a homosexual. Time after time in the trial he said the motive for the killing was "the kind of man he was." Cooper seemed more like he was on a religious crusade to expose the shame of homosexuality, and delighted in calling witnesses that could corroborate Rinaldi was gay. He did very little to show Rinaldi's motive, evidence, and opportunity to commit the murder.

I believe the fact that Rinaldi was gay was relevant only to the extent that it might indicate a fundamental problem in the marriage. On the other hand I know that it is possible for a homosexual and an heterosexual to have a reasonably functional relationship. The problem here is not Rinaldi's sexual orientation, but that there was evidence of several relationships with men during the time he was supposed to be faithful to his wife.

In the first trial Rinaldi's chief attorney Barry Winston tried to prevent Cooper from harping on the homosexuality of his client, but the presiding Judge seemed as conservative at Cooper and let it all in. In his closing arguments to the jury, Rinaldi's sexual orientation and lifestyle were almost exclusively what he talked about, and not the array of incriminating facts in the case. In that speech, he kept mentioning how Rinaldi called other men "baby", repeating the phrase more than a dozen times. He asked the jury several times to consider, "What kind of man calls another man, 'baby'?"

After Rinaldi was convicted in the first trial his attorney appealed on the grounds that Cooper had made the theme of his case the belief that homosexuality made a person prone to murder. The State Supreme Court agreed and overturned the conviction. They also ruled that much of the incriminating evidence seized by police was taken improperly and could not be introduced in the second trial.

By the time of the second trial, Cooper had lost his ability to attack Rinaldi's homosexuality and seemed dispirited. He also could not use the best evidence the police had obtained, and did not have the talent to demonstrate the mountain of circumstantial evidence against Rinaldi.

3. Frank Rinaldi had the best local attorneys money could buy representing him. Barry Winston and Gordon Battle were two of the most outstanding and brightest criminal defense attorneys in the state. While Thomas Cooper was prosecuting the Rinaldi cases he was at the same time in charge of prosecuting hundreds of people being arrested on an almost daily basis in sit-ins that were designed to end segregation in many hotels and restaurants in Chapel Hill. These civil rights arrests totally overloaded the Chapel Hill and Orange County judicial system. The jails in Chapel Hill and Hillsborough were overflowing, and special sessions of the Superior Court were held on a regular basis for more than a year to take care of the backlog of cases. Chapel Hill's civil rights demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience were then a focal point in the state and national print and television media. Chapel Hill's already small police force was stretched to the limit and was confronting two extreme and unusual types of criminal activity - murder in the first degree and civil rights arrests. Under these circumstances it is no wonder that the investigation and prosecution of Rinaldi was handled sloppily. Never before or since have the Chapel Hill police and local judicial system been so overwhelmed.

Writer's Note: I had just turned 14 at the time of the Rinaldi murder. I was an avid Hardy Boys fan and had just started doing a small weekly Chapel Hill newspaper with a circulation of between two and five copies. I was also a Chapel Hill Weekly newspaper boy. The Rinaldi case was of particular interest to me from the start and I kept every article that was related to it. This may have been partly due to the fact that the murder occurred in the apartment my parents lived in when I was born and I spent the first nine months of my life in.

Initially I hoped I would uncover a great scoop for my little paper that would exonerate Frank Rinaldi who had been charged with the murder from the start. I tried methodically to piece together the evidence as it was reported. I also had other sources for information. I would go down to the Chapel Hill Newspaper's offices once or twice a month to pick up my papers for delivery, and ask whoever was there what the latest was on the case. I also was fortunate to have several adult friends who were part of the then heavily closeted homosexual community in Chapel Hill. These men were all friends of my mother, and one became my Godfather. I spent a lot of time with him the year after the murder, and was always surprised how much he knew about all the men who were friends with Rinaldi. While what he told me is all hearsay, it did begin raising my suspicions about Rinaldi. I was also actively involved as a civil rights demonstrator in Chapel Hill in 1963 and 1964, and got on well with a couple of police officers who were always around to protect us from angry segregationists or arrest us if we were involved in an act of civil disobedience. On at least two occasions one of these officers was forthcoming with me on his information on the Rinaldi case. Over the years I have continued to talk to people about the case, including several former Chapel Hill police officers , local attorneys,  judges, who have all offered me more information. I have tried in this piece to use only facts that were reported by the official media, or that I deduced from that evidence. Some of this information is from notes I took from WCHL broadcasts in 1963 and 1964.

Comment
 
 

 
 
Suellen Evans 1965 Unsolved Coed Murder

by Charly Mann

Friday July 30th 1965 was a beautiful day to be alive in Chapel Hill. At 12:30 that afternoon the skies were clear, and it was 77; mild for mid-summer, and an attractive twenty-one year old coed named Suellen Evans was walking back to her room at Cobb dormitory. She was enrolled in summer school and had attended classes that morning in education and sociology. Like many other coeds she felt safe walking through the Arboretum in the middle of day to get to the nearby cluster of women dorms. Suellen had a beautiful voice and loved to sing. The most popular song among UNC students that week was the Four Tops song “I Can’t Help Myself” which she loved to sing along with.

Suellen Evans, Murdered University of North Carolina Coed, Chapel Hill 1965
Suellen Evans

As Suellen was about to complete her journey through the Arboretum a man suddenly grabbed her, and holding a five-inch knife in his hand tried to rape her near the exit on Raleigh Street across from McIver dormitory. Suellen screamed for help and fought off her assailant with all her might. As they struggled the man first stabbed her in the neck, and then in the chest right through her heart. The man then fled as two groups of women ran up to the scene after hearing Suellen’s cries for help. Suellen said to the women “he tried to rape me … I believe I’m going to faint”. Those were her last words.


Police search for clues at crime scene in Arboretum

Suellen Evans was loved by all her knew her. Her longtime friend and roommate at UNC that summer, Caroline Kay Seawell, described her as the most wonderful person she ever knew. More than 800 people attended her funeral in her hometown of Mooresville.

Suellen Evans was the first UNC student to be murdered in cold-blood, and the first reported even attempted rape victim, and it all happened in broad daylight in an area where hundreds of students walked, picnicked, sunbathed, or studied everyday.


The murder was commited in the Arboretum near the exit across from McIver Dormitory

Chapel Hill was shocked at the crime. More than 200 male UNC students walked shoulder to shoulder through every inch of the five acre Coker Arboretum looking for the long blade knife used in the slaying. Chapel Hill citizens colleted money for a reward fund that grew to $1285.

The University Police, The State Bureau of Investigation, and the Chapel Hill Police force combined to try to find the murderer. The Chapel Hill Board of Alderman even voted an extra $500 for the Police Department for use in their investigation. The first suspect was a black janitor who worked at Phillips Hall, and had been positively identified as coming out of the Arboretum around the time of the murder. After four hours of questioning he was released, primarily because he had no cuts or scratches, and the crime scene and lab tests indicated Suellen had forcibly tried to fight off her assailant.

The best lead was a red headed white man with freckles that two witnesses saw emerge from the Arboretum at the time of the slaying with blood on his hands, shirt, and neck, and get into a 1961 or 62 Rambler parked in front of the Chapel of The Cross in the Sundial parking area which adjoins the arboretum. The man was described as being about 50.

This is my mockup of the August 8, 1965 issue of my newspaper detailing the murder of Suellen Evans

Sadly the Suellen Evans case remains unsolved. I started doing a twice weekly Chapel Hill newspaper for my friends and family when I was fouteen in 1964 called The News of Chapel Hill. For several weeks in 1965 I focused much my coveage on the Evans case. I have always been cerain it was the blood splatteed red-headed man who was the murderer. Eerily his description and age at the time match the same person who I suspect killed Rachel Crook in another brutal crirme fouteen years earlier. See my article on the Crook murder case at: http://www.chapelhillmemories.com/cat/3/59

Could it be that the same man who killed Rachel Crook also killled Suellen Evans and both times escaped justice?

Comment
 
 

 
 
Crook's Corner and the Killer of Rachel Crook

by Charly Mann

...

Full content including photographs now available on a subscription basis.

See Subscribe button in upper right corner.

 
 

 
 
Chapel Hill's Most Mysterious Deaths

by Charly Mann

...

Full content including photographs now available on a subscription basis.

See Subscribe button in upper right corner.

 
 

 
 
The Triumph and Tragedy of Professor William Newman

by Charly Mann

...

Full content including photographs now available on a subscription basis.

See Subscribe button in upper right corner.

 
 

 
 
Chapel Hill's Legend of Gimghoul Castle

by Charly Mann

There have been a long series of strange unsolved murders and mysteries in the history of Chapel Hill. Some are well known and part of the local folklore, and many have been forgotten and never adequately investigated. I will attempt to describe the facts of all of these cases over the next few years in Chapel Hill Memories.

I will begin this series with the best known of these mysteries, the total disappearance in 1833 of UNC student Peter Dromgoole and the Legend of Gimghoul Castle.  Dromgoole entered the University of North Carolina in 1831. and was known more for his interest in women and drinking than his academic achievements. The story begins with a letter Peter sent to his family in Virginia in the spring of that year telling them that he might do something that could cause them great sorrow, and that in the event that this occurred, they would probably never hear from him again. The family was alarmed at these words, and quickly dispatched Peter's uncle to Chapel Hill to talk to Peter and find out what he meant.

Legend of Gimghoul Castle, Chapel Hill, NC
Gimghoul Castle  Chapel Hill,  photo 1940

When his uncle arrived there was no trace of Peter. He had vanished, and no one had any clue where he was. All that was left were a few of his clothes. His uncle talked to every student who knew Peter, as well as his professors, and no one had an explanation of what might have happened to him. He also described Peter to the drivers of all the stagecoaches that passed through Chapel Hill, and none of them had any recollection of seeing his nephew. At this point, the uncle returned home to Virginia, and the Dromgoole dissapearance went unsolved.

The modern legend says that Peter was killed in a duel, and buried somewhere near the sight of Gimghoul castle. I have discovered that this is probably true. The earliest evidence of this is the first book ever written about Chapel Hill called the Sea-Gift by Edwin W. Fuller (1847-1875) . It is a semi-autobiographical romantic novel detailing student life and a romantic relationship in Chapel Hill from 1857-1860. A critical part of the novel is a duel and the disappearance of a student much like the Droomgoole story. In the 19th century, dueling was still the way many gentlemen defended their honor or settled disputes. The practice was not condoned by the trustees of the University, and taking any part in a duel meant expulsion. It is for that reason that no student told the truth to Peter's uncle or the local authorities. Nevertheless, Carolina students knew the details of the duel, and  passed the story down to incoming students. It was only  thirty years after the event  that  Fuller heard the facts of the story when he was attending UNC.

Gimghoul Castle, Chapel Hill North Carolina

In the early 19th century enrollment at the University never exceeded 160 students, and everyone knew everyone else. In 1831, when Droomgoole came to Chapel Hill, there were very few young eligible women in town for a male students to become romantically involved with. The few young women of that age were usually the daughters of college professors. When Domgoole came to UNC there were probably six dating-age women in town, and they were almost impossible to visit or see unchaperoned. Fuller details his own experience of trying to meet young women in 1857 in his novel. Young men had to request a meeting with the young woman through her parents. If they were deemed worthy, they would be given a time to arrive at their home and be ushered into a parlor, usually with one or more other young men waiting for their few minutes to impress the young girl. When a student finally got into see the girl, she was always accompanied by at least one of her parents.

In 1893, 60 years after Peter vanished, a fellow student, and friend of his, admitted on his deathbed what had really happened. Dromgoole had had a close friend who was interested in the same girl he was. It seems that the girl liked his friend better than Peter, and this made him jealous. One day the two exchanged heated words, and after a small shoving match, Peter challenged this man to a duel.

Order of the Gimghouls UNC Chapel Hill 1904
Order of Gimghouls 1904, 22 years before the castle was built

The site for the duel was Piney Point, a favorite student gathering spot, which is now the site of Gimghoul Castle. From Piney Pont one has a gorgeous view to the East, as far Durham and Raleigh. Each man brought a second with him to the duel. Peter's was probably his roommate John Williams. Needless to say Droomgoole was mortally wounded from his rival's shot. The three other students panicked, realizing the consequences of this act, and hastily dug a grave nearby for Peter's body.

In 1889, Edward Wray Martin, William W. Davies, Shepard Bryan, Andrew Henry Patterson, and Robert Worth Bingham started a secret society at UNC using the story of Droomgoole's death and the secret cover-up as the theme of their group. It was called the Order of Dromgoole, and later changed to the Order of Gimghoul.  They built a lodge for their society on the corner of Rosemary and Boundary Street. They also expanded the story into a chivalrous legend that became part of their initiation ceremony. In 1915 they bought several hundred acres of land near the University, including the sight where the duel occurred. That land is today Battle Park, where the Forest Theater is located, which they sold to the University, the Gimghoul residential neighborhood, and the site of their castle.

Blood-stained rock at Gimghoul Castle Chapel Hill. NC
It is directly behind these boulders on the left that you find the "blood-stained" rock

The castle was built in 1926 for the then huge cost then of $50,000. It resembles an 11th century English Norman castle, and was assembled by the best stone masons in North Carolina. Also built at the same time was Battle Seat, a semicircular stone bench in front of the castle that is a long time favorite spot to take dates for romantic interludes, and where one has the best view in Chapel Hill. Below it is the trail I used almost daily come and go on from my neighborhood to the castle. From there I would continue to the University or downtown.

 

It is probably somewhere in these woods around Gimghoul Castle where the remains of Peter Dromgoole lie

 

Comment
 
 

 
 
The Kidnapping of Ramses

by Charly Mann

Ramses has been the mascot of the UNC Tarheels since 1924, when a ram was taken to the UNC-VMI football game. In that game the UNC kicker, Jack Merritt, rubbed his head against the ram before he attempted a crucial field goal, which won the game. After the game Merritt was labeled “The Battling Ram” Merritt, and the ram became the Tarheel mascot.


Original Ramses 1925

In 1970, I was twenty and managing a record store in Durham. I shared a small cabin between Durham and Chapel Hill on Erwin road with two Duke students, one of whom worked in my store. His name is Peter Heath. In early February, a friend of Peter’s, who was also a Duke student, turned up at our place with a surprise – the Tarheel mascot Ramses. His name was Chuck "Butch" Skinner, and he had discovered the secret location where Ramses was kept (It was at Hogan's Farm). Skinner said  that the hard part of the abduction was getting the Ram into the back seat of his Chevrolet Camaro, and then taking it over to our place. As the only Tarheel in the conspiracy, I felt a bit of disloyalty in helping hide the ram, but applauded the ingenuity and boldness of the perpetrator. Ramses stayed with us at least a week in an old tractor shed behind our house. I remember him being quite friendly, and not the least bit distressed about his abduction. I would often go out to see Ramses, and bring him grass or water. At the end of that week was the classic Duke-Carolina basketball game played at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. The day before, Skinner came back over to dye Ramses a deep rich dark Duke blue. That Saturday, February 28, Ramses was released on the floor of Cameron in his new Duke Blue colors, causing quite a commotion as the few UNC students in attendance ran out to rescue him.


This is Ramses at our place with two Duke Students, Chuck Skinner on the right, and Peter's girlfriend, Heloise, on the left 

That week was not a good one for Ramses or Carolina; Duke won the basketball game 91-83.


I have never wavered in my loyalty and love for Carolina, and just a few years later would become a member of the UNC Ram’s Club.


This is located at aproximatey 4600 Erwin Road

Addendum:
In November of 1933 bells began ringing after midnight throughout the University of North Carolina campus on the Thursday night before the UNC-Duke Football game. Awakened students were alerted that Duke students had just taken Ramses from his pen behind the Carolina Inn.

Students rushed to their automobiles throughout the campus, and more than 200 students raced toward Durham and the Duke Campus with the intent of recovering their mascot. There was a lot of yelling and honking of horns when they reached Duke, but they could not find Ramses. When they returned they were told it was all a hoax. What had actually happened was that some students had moved Ramses to a farm outside of town, and then spread the rumor of him being stolen to stimulate "college spirit". 

Comment
 
 

 
 
The "Unsolved" 1963 Rinaldi Murder

Click here to get  full details of the Rinaldi murder case:

...

Full content including photographs now available on a subscription basis.

See Subscribe button in upper right corner.

 
 

Bite Sized Facts Link



Chapel Hill is located on a hill whose only distinguishing feature in the 18th century was a small chapel on top called New Hope Chapel. This church was built in 1752 and is currently the location of The Carolina Inn. The town was founded in 1819, and chartered in 1851.

 

 

What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.

-- Charles Kuralt

 

 

Dark Side of the Hill -- Pink Floyd, the creators of the most popular album in history, Dark Side of the Moon, took the second half of their name from Floyd Council, a Chapel Hill native, and great blues singer and guitarist. He once belonged to a group called "The Chapel Hillbillies".

 

 

Check out Charly Mann's other website:
Oklahoma Birds and Butterflies

http://oklahomabirdsandbutterflies.com

 



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

There would probably be no Chapel Hill if the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees in 1793 had not chosen land across from New Hope Chapel for the location of the university. By 1800 there were about 100 people living in thirty houses surrounding the campus.

 

 

The University North Carolina's first student was Hinton James, who enrolled in February, 1795. There is now a dormitory on the campus named in his honor.

 

 

 

 

The University of North Carolina was closed from 1870 to 1875 because of lack of state funding.

 

 

 

 

William Ackland left his art collection and $1.25 million to Duke University in 1940 on the condition that he would be buried in the art museum that the University was to build with his bequest. Duke rejected this condition even though members of the Duke Family are buried in Duke Chapel. What followed was a long and acrimonious legal battle between Ackland relatives who now wanted the inheritance, Rollins College, and the University of North Carolina, each attempting to receive the funds. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1949 UNC was awarded the money for the museum. Ackland is buried near the museum's entrance. When the museum first opened, in the early sixties, there were rumors that his remains were leaking out of the mausoleum.

 

 

The official name of the Arboretum on the University of North Carolina campus is the Coker Arboretum. It is named after Dr. William Cocker, the University's first botany professor. It occupies a little more than five acres. It was founded in 1903.

 

 

Chapel Hill's main street has always been called Franklin Street. It was named after Benjamin Franklin in the early 1790s.

 

 



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.

 

 

Chapel Hill High School and Chapel Hill Junior High were on Franklin Street in the same location as University Square until the mid 1960s.

 

 

The Colonial Drug Store at 450 West Franklin Street was owned and operated by John Carswell. It was famous for a fresh-squeezed carbonated orange beverage called a "Big O". In the early 1970s, I managed the Record and Tape Center next door, and must have had over 100 of those drinks. The Colonial Drug Store closed in 1996.

 

 

Sutton's Drugstore, which opened in 1923, has one of the last soda fountains in the South. It is one of the few businesses remaining on Franklin Street that was in operation when I was growing up in the 1950s.

 

 

Future President Gerald Ford lived in Chapel Hill twice. First when he was 24, in 1938, he took a law couse in summer school at UNC. He lived in the Carr Building, which was a law school dormitory. At the same time, Richard Nixon, the man he served under as Vice President, was attending law school at Duke. In 1942, Ford returned to Chapel Hill to attend the U.S. Navy's Pre-Flight School training program. He lived in a rental house on Hidden Hills Drive.

 

 

All rights reserved on Chapel Hill Memories photography and content

Contact us