Whether by homicide, suicide, accident, mysterious causes, or as a result of released or escaped patients, more than 13 people have been victims of the Norwich State Hospital.
Norwich was home of the worst criminally insane patients in Connecticut with more than 700 convicts.
#1 Suicide: Patient Edward K. Arvine hung himself with torn bedclothes attached to iron grating in December 1914.
#2 Homicide: Rachel Brooks was killed in September 1918 by her husband, patient Solomon Brooks who escaped the hospital.
#3 and #4 Accident: Teamster Fredd Ladd and night attendant Thomas Duggan were killed in 1919 by a hot water heater explosion.
#5 Accident: Hospital cook Fred Smith was struck and killed in the roadway in 1925 by Robert Anderson, a supervisor at the nearby tuberculosis sanatorium.
#6 Suicide: Anne Prudential, a trained nurse and former patient, killed herself by knife in 1930, only days after being discharged.
#7 and #8 Homicide/Suicide: Sheriff Michael Carroll was killed with a shotgun in December 1934 by Leonard Gosselin who was about to be committed. Gosselin then killed himself.
#9 Accident: William Smith died in December 1941 from a fatal overdose. Smith had chronic heart ailments and was mistakenly given sedatives by an attendant.
#10 and #11 Homicide: Two police policemen in Spencer, MA, were killed in August 1971 by Robert Layne, who escaped the facility.
#12 Homicide: Leonard Flannery was killed during the summer of 1975 by John Franklin, who was granted ability to leave eight months earlier.
#13 Homicide: Shereese Weatherly was killed in May 1976 by patient Gregory Gillepsie, who was released in June 1975.
One doctor claims that unknown numbers of inmates were chained to chairs in the tunnels, beaten by aides, burned by cigarettes, and were a part of failed experiments by doctors.
Four Convicted of Killing Children:
- Emma Muscarella in 1928 for choking her one-day-old son
- Florence Schwartz in 1938 for asphyxiating and killing her 11-year-old daughter
- Joan Gronwoldt in 1961 for shooting and killing her two children
- Garcia Ryes in 1967 for stabbing to death three children.
In October 1971, the Salmon Building, a maximum security building with prison-like cells, closed its doors. Patients were transferred to a larger, newer facility at Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown.
The Hartford Courant praised the building’s closure: “The state is finally going to close down its disgraceful ‘maximum security’ unit for the criminally insane at Norwich..the ancient, inadequate and infamous Salmon Building”.
This is the first Friday the 13th since the building was demolished, the first large building on the Norwich State Hospital campus along Route 12 to face the wrecking ball. Even though the building may be gone, will spirits still haunt these grounds?
The series continues with more on the hospital's history and from explorers who claim the facility is haunted.