In 1968, in honor of Dr. Alexander J. Stoddard (a local hero devoted to education), the city of Anaheim, California opened Stoddard Park. Today, visitors can bring children to play on playground equipment, have barbecues with friends, or toss a Frisbee for the dog to catch. It's not recommended, however, that you go into the park after dark...
...and if you do, you may want to avoid sitting on the benches, lest you should find yourself in the presence of an angry apparition.
The Bench of Death
Local sources state that, starting in the early 1970's or so, people began seeing apparitions in the park. In particular, the sightings seemed to occur near one particular bench in the park. In the past four decades or so, various witnesses have reported seeing a woman wandering around and on the bench, and the most disturbing thing about her is that she appears in various stages of her own murder.
"I used to go jogging through the park at night,” says one woman of about thirty, “but that all stopped about two years ago when I saw her. She was illuminated in the moonlight, and at first I stopped because I thought that she needed help. I thought she was being murdered; turned out I was right…sort of…
As it turned out – and this is a common version of the story told by many who have seen the mysterious apparition – she was being murdered by some invisible force, stabbed multiple times over with some invisible blade. Sources report even seeing blood running down the front of her dress and spilling onto the picnic bench by which she is almost always standing.
Something Strange Always Happens in Anaheim’s Stoddard Park
“She just screamed and screamed,” says the former jogger, “and I’ll never forget it. Once I realized that I could see right through her, I froze in place and stopped moving to help her. I…” she falters, “I couldn’t make myself move forward any further.
“After a few minutes of writhing around, she fell over onto the table and sort of sank down onto the bench seat,” she says. “I watched for a long moment, a scream of my own stuck in my throat, and then she seemed to just disappear suddenly. I never saw her again…and I never want to.”
The stories have varied somewhat over the years since the woman was first seen in the park, but the salient points tend to remain the same. There is a general consensus among those who frequent the park, and local psychics, that it is not a good idea to stick around after nightfall, but that has not stopped curious thrill-seekers from taking the chance. Today – particularly among the thriving paranormal investigative community – there is a large group of people who are aware of (and curious about) the woman on the bench.
Whether or not there is any proof that she is real, there can be no doubt that this particular bench in Stoddard Park is one of the more frightening areas to visit in Anaheim, California.