The Devil’s Tree: Haunting True Story of Brutal Murder
In Port St. Lucie lies a large oak tree near canal 24 with an incredibly evil presence. Nicknamed the Devil’s Tree, this old oak is located in Oak Hammock Park, a place commonly used by local fishermen to use the boat launching facilities. A little-known legend belies the innocent exterior of this tree- and only a few have ever heard of it. Unlike most urban legends, the one about the Devil’s Tree is only a few decades old.
On January 8, 1973, long before Hammock Park was built, a serial killer molested, then murdered two teenage girls, and then hung them from the oak tree. The psycho-killer then buried his two victims in a shallow grave beneath the oak. The serial killer was Gerard John Schaefer, who, according to various news sources, was an ex-policeman in Broward County, Florida. Though convicted of the two murders, he is believed to be responsible for at least thirty more. A creepy and sadistic man by nature, Schaefer would lure young women off the roads with the help of his badge to rape, torture, mutilate and murder. In one his sick, twisted letters, he wrote about killing two women at once:
Doing doubles is far more difficult than doing singles, but on the other hand it also puts one in a position to have twice as much fun. There can be some lively discussions about which of the victims will get to be killed first. When you have a pair of teenaged bimbolinas bound hand and foot and ready for a session with the skinning knife, neither one of the little devils wants to be the one to go first. And they don’t mind telling you quickly why their best friend should be the one to die.
Schaefer bound, gagged, raped, hanged, then buried 19 year olds Collette Goodenough, and Barbara Ann Wilcox at the Devil’s Tree. Over the next five days after killing the girls, Schaefer returned to the scene on several occasions to have his way with the decomposing bodies.
Four years later, in January 1977, two men found the girls’ skeletons along with two deteriorating ropes tied with a hangman’s noose. Ever since then, there have been reports of hooded, satanic worshippers dancing around the tree and performing various rituals. Some say that you can still hear the screams of the girls during certain dark, dreary nights.
Before Oak Hammock Park was built, several people attempted to cut the oak down, but it seems that chain saws and axes refused to work when near the tree. When men tried to cut it down with a cross-cut saw, all the teeth fell out of the saw blade. The tree is still standing today.
Some witnesses claim that the women’s rest room at Oak Hammock Park is haunted by the dead girls. Strange, horrifying screams have been hearding coming out of the restrooms, in addition to the doors slamming without provocation. Cold drafts also linger in certain areas of the park, a sign of satanic infestation. In 1993, two boys were chased through the woods by mysterious hooded figures, who disappeared by the time the boys reached the main road. In fact, there were so many reports about paranormal activity going on around the Devil’s Tree that in 1992, a priest performed an exorcism and placed a cross at the base of the oak.
In 1995, Gerard John Schaefer was stabbed to death in prison. But the ghastly spirits of the two poor girls he murdered haunts the Devil’s Tree still today.