It was near the end of September, 1972 in the historic city of Winchester, Virginia. The summer was coming to a close and the smell of burning leaves filled the autumn air. The city of Winchester was well known for its illustrious history and its rich fruit bearing apple orchards. It was also known for being a safe and quiet place to raise a family, the kind of place that you could call home. This fairy tale existence would soon be shattered by a string of brutal murders that would shock the community and eventually leave this small town hopeless and panic stricken.
It all began on September 28, 1972 when Frederick County Investigators found a local area man's body in a field near route 731 in Northern Frederick County. The man had been bludgeoned to death and then mutilated post mortem. The coroner officially noted that the cause of death was from blunt force trauma to the head. The murder puzzled investigators not only due to the sheer brutality of the crime but also due to the fact that they did not recover any viable evidence. The man's head had been smashed but even more disturbingly all of the man's fingers and toes had been removed. It was concluded that the amputation of the digits was done postmortem with a typical hand saw. The fingers and toes were not found at the scene of the crime. Murder was very uncommon in Winchester so this single incident was enough to stir the community.
There were suspects but all had been dismissed due to a lack of evidence. There was no motive and no rhyme or reason to the murder. The man was beaten to death but he was not robbed nor sexually assaulted. The killer bludgeoned the man out of sport, mutilated his dead body and kept the man's digits as some kind of souvenir. Due to a lack of clues and probable leads the case eventually went cold. The grisly murders continued.
On Thanksgiving Day 1975 a woman's torso was found in a wooded area off of Route 610 in Gore, Virginia by a local area hunter. Her body was badly decomposed and her flesh hung sloppily from her sternum and rib cage. Her arms, legs and head were all missing. Without being able to run her dental records or finger prints the police were never able to identify the victim. Without the victim’s identity the police could never track down the killer. When the scene was inspected police found the same routine M.O. as the last two unsolved murders in the city.
The city of Winchester had a serial killer on their hands. He was a killer who struck without rhyme or reason and with such brutality that his victims were destroyed beyond human comprehension. A killer that was so cunning and calculated that he not left a fingerprint or any traceable evidence at any of the crime scenes. He was a monster and he had to be stopped by any means, but without any actionable leads the police were completely dumbfounded. The case remains unsolved to this day.
On October 31, 1977 a local vagrant named Henry Lee Allen entered the police station covered in reddish-brown stains, and reeking of human excrement. He stated that he wanted to confess to a murder, so the police sat him down in a room by himself with a pen and a pad. He requested a glass of water because he was getting thirsty. He began to write down what appeared to be scribble. After filling the page with chicken scratch he pulled a tablet from beneath the lapel of his flannel shirt and threw it into his mouth, took a drink of the water and swallowed hard. He had swallowed an arsenic tablet and he began to convulse immediately. The paramedics rushed him to the hospital but he had gone brain dead and two hours later his life support was removed.
The confession that he wrote simply said: “I did it.” Then the rest of the page was filled with dates. Some of the dates corresponded with the infamous unsolved murders. At the bottom of the page it read “On earth as it is in Hell, I have served my time in Hell, and now it is your turn.”
Henry Lee Allen had confessed to being the serial killer that had puzzled police for the past decade. More disturbingly it appeared that Henry Lee Allen had killed many more people than the Winchester Police Department could have ever expected. When the Winchester Police Department investigated Henry Lee Allen's home they stumbled upon one of the most heinous discoveries in the annals of American history. Within the walls of his wooden shanty lied torture chambers, a sacrificial altar for satanic rituals and a crematory filled with human remains. Henry had collected body parts for years and they adorned his house like human trophies. There were lamp shades made of flesh, belts made out of human fingers and all other forms of monstrosity. Henry had also taken part in cannibalism. He had eaten the flesh of a number of people in rites of sacrament to his diabolical master. There were shelves of books on satanic rites and rituals along with many books on surgical procedures and a few that covered the art of taxidermy.
The walls of the house did a shoddy job of concealing the stench of rotting flesh that permeated throughout the bounds of Allen’s property. The house was quarantined promptly after inspection and cleaned up by local authorities. It was confirmed that Henry Lee Allen took the lives of at least 17 people throughout the 1970's but it is suspected that his body count could easily be double that number.
The cabin lied vacant at the edge of Jim Barnett Park for 30 years and was purchased by Devil's Den Productions in 2007 and turned into an incredibly macabre Haunted Attraction. After battling to preserve the ghastly landmark the decision was made in 2013 by the City of Winchester to demolish the long standing house of evil. There are serveral other landmarks around Winchester and neighboring Frederick County that Devil's Den Productions has procured to stage their ruthless brand of horror. For the 2014 season, The Devil's Den will open the doors at its new location at 537 N. Cameron Street Winchester, VA 22601. Another Allen family haunt, this year's attraction will take you deep inside the sick mind of Henry Lee Allen. You will come to know what makes a serial killer tick, see Henry's demented dreams and nightmares and you will experience the heart of true evil. Visit if you dare.