Stories of people who were buried alive are always chilling, especially as this is a common human fear. Imagine waking up six feet under in your coffin with no one to hear you scream. Allegedly in 1889 in Pikeville, KY, a woman named Octavia Hatcher was buried alive after succumbing to a sleeping sickness. While the story is not verified, it's the stuff of local legend in Pikeville and many residents believe the tale to be true.
There is a statue standing in the local Pikeville cemetery today of Octavia Hatcher. According to legend, it was commissioned by her grieving husband after he discovered a horrible mistake had been made and Hatcher had been buried alive. Over the years, the statue has been a target of vandalism and rumors have circulated about paranormal occurrences near the cemetery. Whether Octavia Hatcher was really buried alive or not, this hasn't stopped her tale from capturing local imagination.
According to the story, Octavia Hatcher gave birth to a son, Jacob, on January 4th, 1891. Her son passed away within hours of birth and Octavia fell into a deep depression. She remained bedridden for months, eventually slipping into a coma. By May 2nd, she was pronounced dead and buried in the Pikeville cemetery.
Shortly after Octavia Hatcher was buried, other residents in the town started to fall ill with a mysterious sleeping sickness. The sickness would render sufferers comatose, but not dead. This led James Hatcher to worry there had been a horrible mistake when his wife was buried.
Octavia’s grave was dug up for investigation to reveal a terrifying sight. Her face was contorted in a horrified expression. The lining of the coffin was torn up and her fingernails were broken and bloody. It appeared clear that Octavia Hatcher had been buried alive and then died in terror while trying to escape her coffin.
According to some residents of Pikeville who live near the plot, Octavia’s grave is haunted. There have been reports of a kitten meowing at night. People have also heard a woman crying, believed to be the tortured spirit of Octavia. Residents have specifically reported stories of following the sound of a woman crying only for it to suddnely stop as they approach Octavia's grave.
Some local legends state Octavia’s spirit was angry that the town let her die in such a gruesome fashion. Her statue allegedly used to spin each year on the anniversary of her death, supposedly because her spirit was turning its back on Pikeville. However, the statue’s spinning was more likely due to the work of prankster college students. The statue stopped spinning after the modern Hatcher family had a fence put up to ward off vandals.