In the year 1967, a Coventry, Rhode Island high school teacher apparently told his class that a 19-year-old girl accused of vampirism was buried in a cemetery off of Rt. 102. Although he did not give a name, he was most probably referring to Mercy Brown. Not long afterwards, several members of his class set out in search of the ‘vampire’s grave’. They eventually arrived at a rather foreboding looking cemetery, surrounded by a stone wall, located along Plain Meeting House Road in West Greenwich (WG Historic Cemetery #2). While conducting a diligent search of the headstones, the teenagers came across one which read: “Nellie L. Vaughn; Daughter of George B. and Ellen; Died in her 19th year, May 31, 1889.” The age certainly fit. What was perhaps even more convincing, was the ominous sounding inscription at the bottom of the headstone: “I am waiting and watching for you.”
Now thoroughly convinced that they’d found their girl, the students wasted little time in spreading the story of their find around the school, and eventually, the legend of ‘Vampire’s Grave’ spread throughout the community, and even beyond.
Unlike Mercy Brown, very little is actually known about this unfortunate young woman, other than the fact that she died of pneumonia at the age of nineteen. Although her original burial place was on the Vaughn family homestead, her body was later moved to the West Greenwich Cemetery when her family sold the property. There is certainly no evidence that she was ever the subject of a vampire legend, until nearly eighty years after her untimely death. (“I am waiting and watching for you.” was most likely intended to mean “I am waiting and watching for you from Heaven.”) Sadly, the cemetery in which Nellie L. Vaughn was buried has over the years become a virtual haven for cult activity and vandalism. There are also those who claim that Nellie herself may have taken exception to her undeserved reputation!
One afternoon some utility workers were working just outside of the cemetery, when one of them suddenly alerted his co-worker beside him, and pointed in the direction of the cemetery. There, sitting upon on of the graves, was a young woman clothed in a Victorian style dress, stroking her long hair as if in an agitated manner. On closer examination, she appeared to be floating rather than sitting! When the men called out to her, the young woman reportedly vanished from sight.
In 1993, a Coventry resident named Marlene and her husband were walking through the cemetery one afternoon, when her husband suddenly heard a disembodied female voice whisper: “I am perfectly pleasant.”
Before leaving, he also received scratches on his face, inflicted by an unseen hand. Understandably, Marlene’s husband vowed never to return to this particular cemetery again! Marlene herself claims that pictures she’d taken of Nellie’s gravestone, when processed, either didn’t come out at all”, or mysteriously came out in reverse. Attempting rubbings of Nellie’s headstone also proved to be a problem for Marlene, since peculiar wet spot would continually appear, even on dry days.
Perhaps Marlene’s most unsettling experience at the cemetery was the day she met up with an attractive young dark-haired woman, attired in modern dress, who also happened to be inspecting the headstones. The two of them struck up a conversation, and the young woman introduced herself as a member of a local historical society. When their conversation turned to the subject of Nellie Vaughn, however, the young woman suddenly and inexplicably became defensive, repeating over and over, “Nellie was never a vampire! Nellie was never a vampire!”
Figuring the young woman must be mentally unbalanced, Marlene finally turned to walk away. Seconds later, she turned to make certain she wasn’t being followed, only to see that the young woman, who’d been standing only a few feet away from her, had now completely vanished from the cemetery grounds!
Because of repeated vandalism, Nellie’s headstone, which had been propped against the stone wall near the entrance, was eventually removed by town officials. There is also a completely sealed vault within the cemetery, approximately 12x5x7, with no inscription, which people have been chipping away at over the years, erroneously believing that the body of the ‘vampire’ Nellie has been sealed inside. (In reality, I’ve been told that the bodies of two bothers of the Knight family are entombed within.) Of course, there have also been some serious attempts at paranormal investigation within this cemetery, with photographs which show multiple spirit orbs, probably the result of psychic energy which has been introduced into this area over the years. Whenever I myself have visited this cemetery, there is undeniably the pervasive feeling of being watched, sometimes accompanied by a peculiar stillness, even on clear days, when birds would normally be chirping in the surrounding wooded area. At other times, out-of-season birds have been both seen darting about the cemetery and heard screeching in the surrounding wooded area. Near twilight time, dim shadowy figures can often be glimpsed moving about the edges of the stone wall which borders the cemetery.
As a word of caution, however, I would not recommend visiting this cemetery after sunset, since there have been numerous reports of cult activity and vandalism. As a result, the area is closely watched at night by local law enforcement.