The Ouija board has been a part of American culture since the 1890s, first appearing in advertisements as a means of fielding questions about the past, present, and future. This talking board parlor game has a simple design: a flat surface with the letters of the alphabet, numbers 0-9, and the words "yes" and "no," is accompanied by a triangle-shaped piece called a "planchette," which is moved by - allegedly - otherworldly forces to answer the players's queries.
The game has always been shrouded in mystery. It's not known exactly where it came from, which is strange for a 100-plus old game that is still sold in stores today. It's not, however, hard to see how the Ouija board emerged in a 19th Century America that was enraptured in spiritualism - this was a time where seances were a popular social outing, after all. Even the US Patent Office bought in, deeming the board "proven" to work.
The eeriness of the Ouija board has also lent itself to a dark history. The occult nature of the game has lead to people who blamed their crimes on Ouija boards. This is just another example of strangely bizarre and yet true crime stories. Ouija board crimes are gruesome and have an added other worldly element to them. This list explores those claiming a sinister possession by these talking boards: Ouija boards who told people to commit crimes, and frighteningly often, Ouija boards who told people to kill.
In February 2001, Carol Sue Elvaker, a 53-year-old Oklahoma woman, stabbed her son-in-law Brian Roach to death with a single blow to the chest. Roach became her target after Elvaker, her daughter, and two granddaughters played with the Ouija board and received a message from beyond. Elvaker felt she received a message from God that Brian Roach was evil and needed to be killed.
After she stabbed Roach - who pleaded for his life but ultimately bleed out - she took her daughter and granddaughters on the road, intentionally wrecking her car on Interstate 44 outside of Tulsa in an attempt to kill them all. Her passengers only had minor injuries, and Elvaker herself only had two broken ankles. Driven by her message from beyond, she attempted to push her 15-year-old granddaughter into traffic. She failed at that as well, producing a not great 25 percent success rate in her Ouija murder plot servitude.
The Carroll family were keen believers in their Ouija board's macabre messages, and more than once acted on the game's directives to a criminal extent. The Leadgate, England family's first offense took place on Christmas Eve in 2014, when patriarch Paul received a message from the board indicating the family dog had become inhabited by an evil spirit. Rather than explain this common case of pet possession to a veterinarian, Paul thought it better to kill and dismember the animal, and was later charged with the animal's death.
But, of course, it did not end there. While Paul was awaiting sentencing, his wife Margaret and their daughter Katrina Livingstone took another go at the Ouija board. The pair received a message so sinister predicting their deaths that their only recourse was to take a cocktail of pills and burn down their home. The courts did not agree with the duo's preventative measures, however, and sentenced both to four years in prison for arson.
In March 1930, Clothilde Marchand, wife of Buffalo, NY, sculptor Henri Marchand, answered a knock at her door. Her visitor, Nancy Bowen, a tribal healer from the local Cattaraugus Reservation, greeted Mrs. Marchand with a hammer to the skull, and when the blows didn't prove fatal she stuffed a chloroform soaked rag down her throat.
Marchand's violent end came thanks to an informative turn at the Ouija board Bowen had conducted with her friend Lila Jimerson. Bowen's husband had recently been killed and the two turned to the board to figure out the culprit. They were not disappointed. The Ouija board provided the words "They did it," as well an address - that of the Marchands.
But it wasn't mystic spirits telling Bowen to kill Mrs. Marchand - it was Jimerson. She had a motive for guiding the board's planchette to Mrs. Marchand: Jimerson was sleeping with her husband. Using the board to manipulate her friend to murder the obstacle to win the sculptor's heart, Jimerson's plot didn't quite produce her intended results. During the trial - after which Jimerson and Bowen would both go free - Henri Marchand would testify that he had "too many [lovers] to count," and would later go on to marry his dead wife's 18-year-old niece. It's too bad the board's clairvoyance omitted that information.
In November 1933, 15-year-old Mattie Turley committed the first murder to be blamed on the guidance of a Ouija board. While playing the parlor game with her mother Dorothea, the planchette spelled out instructions for Mattie to shoot her father, 48-year-old former U.S. Naval Officer Ernest Turley. With her mother's warning that "the board could not be denied," Mattie obeyed and shot her father twice in the back, killing him.
Incidentally, Dorothea told her daughter she wanted to marry a handsome cowboy, but poor Ernest stood in the way. She certainly lucked out when an otherworldly spirit from their séance demanded his execution, putting her back on the market. Unfortunately for her, authorities saw through the ruse and Dorothea was convicted with intent to commit murder. She only served three years for her crime, but it's unknown whether her mystery cowboy hitched his horse and waited, or rode off into the sunset.