Fear Facts: A Strange Case of Murder, a Spirit Double and Revenge
In Victoria, British Columbia, Canada a beautiful park called Beacon Hill Park is noted for something ominous rather than for being a nature-filled respite from everyday life for the city’s residents. It is the Screaming Doppelgänger of a woman who stands with her arms stretched out above her with her face looking up at the sky. Her mouth is wide open as if screaming. It represents the negative and tragic events which have occurred within the confines of this bucolic urban oasis such as accidents, deaths due to natural causes, suicides and murders.
It began in the late 1970’s when people reported seeing a dark-skinned woman with long blond hair standing on an rocky outcrop near the Southgate corner of the park. The woman was always spotted in the morning and never moved or reacted to those who approached her. This went on for several months before she just stopped appearing in Beacon Hill Park and was soon forgotten by the residents of Victoria.
Then in the spring of 1983 a similar woman was seen standing on the same rock. There were two differences though. The second woman had a fair complexion and long dark hair as if she were the photo negative of the first woman. The other difference was that she did not appear to be solid but was misty and diffused like an apparition.
The body of a young woman was discovered on November 15, 1983 buried in a shallow grave hidden by bushes not far from the rock where the two women had stood. She was identified as Donna Mitchell, a Victoria woman with fair skin and long dark hair who had been reported missing on June 2, 1983. A police investigation revealed Donna had gone out for the evening with some female friends, but her whereabouts could not be traced after she left the Empress Hotel in Victoria. Donna’s family said she would not have run off because her daughter whom she loved dearly was about to celebrate her seventh birthday.
With the discovery of Donna Mitchell’s body more evidence came to light which led to a viable suspect who lived in Vancouver, British Columbia. But when the police went to the suspect’s home they found him hanging dead. To this day Donna Mitchell’s murder case is still officially unsolved, but investigators believe they did identify her murderer.
In the above case the first woman sighted in the 1970’s in Beacon Hill Park was the doppelgänger of the living Donna Mitchell. The second woman was the spirit of Donna Mitchell. The first woman or doppelgänger was the harbinger of Donna’s death and appeared very close to where her body would be dumped. The second woman or Donna’s spirit wanted her body to be found in order to have her murder solved and to have her body properly buried.
Many cultures over the world have ancient beliefs or theories about the meaning of seeing one’s double during life. One of the better known beliefs is that of the Doppelgänger which literally means ‘double goer’ in the German language. Long ago in Germany seeing one’s double was taken to be an omen of the person’s impending death. A similar being called the Fetch is found in Irish folklore. It is believed to be an apparition or the double of a living individual and is also a harbinger of that person’s death. In ancient Egypt a ‘ka’ was a spirit double who had identical memories and emotions as its living counterpart. The ka was used to trick or deceive people into doing the bidding of the ka’s living person. In Norse mythology the vardoger is a spirit double who is seen doing exactly what the vardoger’s human counterpart does at a later time. In Finland this spirit double is called Etiaien or ‘firstcomer’. In Breton (French) mythology there was a familiar twist to the concept. ‘Ankou’ was the henchman of Death who was depicted as a skeletal figure who wore a long black cloak or robe and carried a scythe. Sometimes it would be shown with a hood or a large black hat to shield his identity. We know him as the Grim Reaper.
No one escapes death, but in extraordinary cases like that of Donna Mitchell’s murder a person’s spirit may take measures to ensure their murder is avenged and that their physical body is not left dishonored. Was it guilt that drove her murderer to suicide or could Donna Mitchell have been her murderer’s Grim Reaper?
~ Mary Jo VPI