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Haunting in Ohio? The story of the Ceely Rose murders at Malabar Farm

It's a terrifying tale that dates back to 1896.

LUCAS, Ohio — I am, at times, a traveler often with no specific destination in mind.

So I drove that day unaware my route would take me through a picturesque area called Pleasant Valley. A tranquil drive until ….


But maybe help is across the way.

That old farm house. We go there, still unaware we have stumbled into a macabre Halloween story.

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Far off the main roads of Richland County, we have moved into another dimension where a strange old tale still unfolds in a haunting way.

Step easy across this threshold. You have entered an unsettling zone of ghosts. And the unexplainable.

Credit: Mark Sebastian Jordan
Pleasant Valley view.

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Mark Sebastian Jordan is teller of an intriguing trail of murders in this house, detailing the events in a 2021 book.

You have stepped into the home once occupied by the Nineteenth Century Rose Family, part of the sprawling Malabar Farm State Park of Lucas, Ohio.

The Roses were a family of four: Parents David and Rebecca and their two children, Walter and Ceelia ("Ceely").

In 1896, 23-year-old Ceelia, described then as having a child-like mind, developed feelings for a 16-year-old neighbor.

"Ceely began to think there was more going on than actually was,” Jordan says.

The teenager, Guy Barry, shunned Ceely's romantic overtures, but she persisted. So much so, her parents ordered her to stop.

But in her mind, Guy was for her.

As told in Jordan's book, Ceely planned to kill any who stood in the way of her romantic attraction.

“Her idea of getting rid of her family was so she could run away with Guy Barry and live happily ever after,” Jordan says.

Enter the box of rat poison the family used to keep rodents away.

“She took a spoonful, mixed it into the cottage cheese and then brought it in here into the house and served it to her family,” Jordan explains.

Death claimed her father and brother, but the poisoned mother held on.

Richland County police and prosecutor moved in. An inquest at the nearby schoolhouse. Ceely was suspected, but forensics of the day could not tie her to murders.

On Ceely's side? Mother Rebecca, whom she also tried to kill.

“She would look at her mother and then she would give a carefully rehearsed word-for-for answer,” Jordan says. “Then she'd look back to the mother. Her mother would nod."

Credit: Mark Sebastian Jordan

That 1896 inquest ended with no charges. Ceely was all Rebecca Rose had left, so they lived together.

That is, until Ceely poisoned Rebecca a second time.

This time, it was deadly.

Within sight of the Rose family's burials, Ceely confessed to a friend that yes, she had done it.

“She got the story out of Ceely as they sat on the steps of Pleasant Valley Lutheran Church,” Jordan says.

At age 23, Ceely stood trial, but was found "not guilty by reason of insanity" and sent to a state hospital.

She remained there until she died at age 61.

Today, the Rose family home is part of Malabar Farm State Park, and open for tours. Jordan is a frequent visitor who has chronicled the story in his book -- and believes Ceely is still here along with her victims.

“This is the room where people most often report feeling something,” Jordan says. “It's almost like walking into static.”

The Pleasant Valley Cemetery is where the Roses -- all but Ceely -- are buried.

Almost within sight, the house where a family was murdered. In a window, a scarecrow as someone's Halloweenish prank.

But the scarecrow may not be alone. Some claim they have Ceely Rose here.



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Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in an unrelated Halloween story on Oct. 20, 2022.

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