The Golden Eagle's Curse
In 1983, author Stephen King released his 13th horror novel titled 'Christine'. The antagonist in that story was a haunted car, which pursued and killed many people. But to the inhabitants of one of the coastal towns in the state of Maine, Stephen King's creation hits much closer to home. In this post, we examine the Curse of the Golden Eagle.
As he pulled up outside the premises he had been ordered to investigate, officer Pete Sandusky wished he had not made such good time during the trip across the town from the precinct. But Old Orchard Beach was a typical tourist destination. In season, you couldn't move for mobile homes and station wagons packed full of visitors desperate for a spot on the beach. Out of season, the place was deserted. This was a journey that Sandusky had known was coming for some time and one he hoped he would never have to make. But as he had walked into the briefing room that morning, nursing the faint traces of a hangover, his supervisor's expression had been grim.
At first, he had assumed his superior was less than pleased by his bedraggled appearance. The party he had attended the previous evening had run late and, this morning he had not had time to shave. When he'd been called to one side after the main briefing, he fully expected to be rebuked. Instead, he'd been given a handwritten note with an address on it and ordered to pay a visit. The name of the homeowner was not written down, but then, every officer in the department had already been to the address so many times, it wasn't needed. It was still early, and as Sandusky made his way up the winding path that ran through the overgrown front yard, there were few people about.
With a sigh, he knocked on the front door, calling out the name of the man who lived there. A man he had once called a friend. There was no reply, which wasn't unusual. But after a few louder attempts went unanswered, Sandusky grew concerned.
He slowly circled the bungalow, peering in through the windows for any sign of life. Most were covered in a grimy layer of dirt and dust, making his task a lot harder. In usual circumstances, his first inquiry would be to see if there was a car registered to the address parked anywhere nearby, but that was not an option.
It was obvious that the driveway had not housed a vehicle in years. Eventually, the patrolman tried the backdoor and found that it was unlocked. He entered and called out to the occupier. Still, there was no response and moments later he discovered why. His former colleague was slumped in an armchair, the pistol which had ended his life still clutched in one hand. There was an empty bottle of scotch on the table nearby, with several more littered around the room.
Fighting back tears, Sandusky's attention was drawn to a photo lying discarded on the floor near the body. Stooping to retrieve it, he saw that it showed a group of uniformed officers, all posing in front of a liveried police cruiser. With a grunt, he immediately torn the picture apart, screwing up the pieces as hard as he could and then hurling them across the room. The last surviving man from that photograph was now gone, another apparent victim of a cruel and meaningless curse.
The Release of the Golden Eagle
When it was released in 1960, the Dodge motor company had high hopes for their Polara model. The 330 version, in particular, weighed twice as much as a standard motor car, with the width and length rivaling that of a limousine. For the time, it was one of the largest sedan vehicles ever designed. Advertised as a luxury car perfect for families, the company planned to build 50,000 units. In reality, sales would fall far short of this. Too expensive for the average family to afford, the few cars that were eventually sold went almost exclusively to various outlets of the emergency services, as an alternative to existing vehicles.
For fire crews and police teams looking to speed through traffic between locations, transporting multiple personnel without the need to carry bulky or specialist equipment, the Dodge 330 provided a vital service. And this was certainly the case for the car that would eventually become known as 'The Golden Eagle', which was initially bought by the local police department in the town of Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
As it rolled off the line in the summer of 1964, there was nothing special about this particular vehicle. No accidents were recorded at the plant during its assembly and there was nothing to suggest that its future would be marred by tragedy. For the first year of its existence, it was used by the local police to rush between crime scenes at high speed, transporting up to eight police officers at a time. But less than 12 months later, it was quietly sold to a local resident, because of the horrific reputation it had since inherited. It soon became apparent to senior officers within the department that a significant number of people who had been transported in the car had gone on to die as a result of murder or suicide including their own offices.
Having reached the stage where none of their staff were prepared to drive it, the car was sold to a local doctor named Larochelle. It was he who had the vehicle repainted to its iconic golden color, making it something of a talking point amongst the town's inhabitants. Twice during the seven years it was in the doctor's possession, the car was struck by lightning, sustaining significant damage on both occasions. Following his ownership, the car would go on to be utilized by the local fire department for a lengthy period, before in 1983, it was again sold back into private ownership.
Wendy Allen's purchase of the car
When she purchased the Golden Eagle, Wendy Allen had been well aware of the reputation it had acquired. Having spent the majority of her life in Old Orchard Beach, she knew the stories of how the three police officers who had driven it had gone on to die by their own hand. One of these men, Bruce Savoy, had murdered several members of his family before ending his own life in a truly horrific turn of events. And it was not long after she had acquired the vehicle, that she began to experience a series of disquieting incidents.
One morning, Allen was taking out the waste bins, when she noticed something lying on the bonnet of the parked car. On closer inspection, this turned out to be the carcass of a small bird. Finding no sign of how the unfortunate creature had died, Allen disposed of the body, assuming it had died of natural causes. But over the coming weeks, more animals would be located near the vehicle. Not long after disposing of the deceased bird, Allen found the body of a baby rabbit, lying alongside the parked car. The creature otherwise appeared healthy with no injuries. And so she again attributed its death to natural causes.
A week later, however, one of Allen's neighbors knocked on her door and informed her there was a fox lying dead at the end of her drive. Now convinced that this was no coincidence, she began to suspect that she was the victim of a targeted campaign. Resolving to take the fox remains to the local veterinarian, Allen learned that the suspected cause of death was electrocution. When she later had the bodies of several more animals examined, also found lying by the car, the vet had told her the same thing.
Having double checked that there was no exposed cabling or wires anywhere at the front of her property, Allen took her Dodge 330 to a local mechanic, who also failed to find anything which might have caused the deaths of the animals. It was as if a lethal field extended out from the bodywork of the car, ending the life of any creature which ventured too close. But as Allen was soon to discover, the car's murderous intentions were not restricted solely to local wildlife.
Despite what transpired with the dead animals, Allen had not experienced any other issues when driving the car. She had owned it for several months and used it to carpool with other local residents. One afternoon, she needed to run a couple of errands in the nearby town of Scarborough, and invited Letta Bryant, the wife of a local clergyman, to join her. The two women were subsequently chatting away as Allen drove along a stretch of highway.
Suddenly without warning, the front passenger door swung wide open. Before Allen could react, Mrs. Bryant started to wail hysterically, grabbing at her seatbelt. Moments later, the belt release unexpectedly opened, and the screaming woman began to slide towards the gaping doorway. In desperation, Allen stamped on the brakes, only to feel the car speed up. Beside her, Mrs. Bryant continued to scream in terror as her fingers released their grip on the door frame and she disappeared out onto the highway.
With her passenger now gone, Allen found she had control of the car again, and quickly brought it to a stop. Luckily, the old woman had not sustained any serious injuries, as the car had not been traveling too fast, but as she tried to help the woman back to her feet, Bryant had roared at her to get away. She screamed that the car was possessed, and that she had felt cold invisible hands on her seatbelt, which then yanked her from the vehicle.
The mysterious deaths
Following the incident, Allen once again took her car to the local mechanic, asking the man to inspect both the door and belt releases. He later informed her that despite multiple attempts, he had not been able to force them open, no matter how hard he tried. Allen repeatedly attempted to apologize to the Reverend and Mrs. Bryant but was rebuffed on each occasion. This incident would lead to a lengthy battle with the local church, which demanded her to remove the Golden Eagle from the town.
In the years that followed this event, two different children cycling past Allen's home whilst the golden eagle was parked outside was struck by passing vehicles. Both sadly died within sight of the parked car, before emergency services could arrive. The church congregation demanded that the local authorities force Allen to remove the vehicle, believing it was the cause of the children's deaths. But the owner refused, arguing she had the right to park her automobile outside her own home.
In mid 2001, Allen was pottering around in her garden when she was confronted by an elderly churchgoer who claimed that if she did not remove the car, then the local Pastor should at least be allowed to perform an exorcism on it. Allen had laughed and told the woman to go away, declaring that she did not believe her car was to blame for any deaths. The argument quickly escalated to the point where local officers had to attend and separate the two parties.
The following week, Allen was in her kitchen listening to a local radio station, when the contents of a bulletin caused her to stop in her tracks. The old woman who had argued with her had been killed in a traffic collision. When she asked around about the circumstances of the crash, the description of the incident chilled her to the bone. The lady had been driving on a straight stretch of road in fine weather, when her car had unexpectedly veered into the oncoming lane.
An approaching goods vehicle had braked hard in order to avoid a collision. This maneuver caused its trailer to jack-knife across the road. The older woman was decapitated in the incident and the truck driver insisted that her car had appeared to speed up before impact.
This event only caused further bad feeling with the church, whose leader Bernard Elliott, now encouraged an open campaign of vandalism against the golden eagle. As attack on Allen's vehicle and property became more frequent, she found herself embroiled in a bitter court battle with the Pastor. This came to an unexpected end in 2004, when Elliott was arrested for serious fraud offenses of the church. His suicide whilst awaiting trial for these charges would be deemed yet another death attributed to the cursed car.
In 2010, 2 church members stole the golden eagle from outside Allen's address, driving it to a scrapyard in Freeport for disposal. But when attempts were made to crush the vehicle, the area was struck by a mysterious power cut, temporarily preventing the car's destruction. Undeterred, the church had the vehicle broken up into pieces selling the parts to various businesses. When she discovered what had happened, Allen set off in pursuit of the remains, obtaining as many as she could before moving them to an undisclosed location.
It should be noted that despite Wendy Allen's claims linking her vehicle to numerous deaths, there is little evidence held within the public domain to support her assertions. By Allen's own admission, she is something of a complex character, openly professing a belief in witchcraft and the occult, whilst displaying numerous other vehicles besides the Golden Eagle, which she also claims are haunted.
In 2008, Old Orchard Beach was the site of one of America's most infamous murders. A 21 year old resident named Matthew Cushing was arrested and subsequently convicted of the murders of three family members. Not long after the incident, Allen claimed she'd caught Cushing messing around with the Golden Eagle when he was younger. When she began to suggest the car was linked to the killings, she was officially warned by the local authorities not to make such claims.
Fire department's experience of the Golden Eagle
It is apparent that during the lengthy period the vehicle was operated by the local fire department, there were no stories of murders or suicides relating to it. On the contrary, local firefighters had nothing but praise for the car. Fire men who drove it for the next eight years claimed it was possessed by an angel rather than a devil, citing the breakneck speeds it could reach whilst transporting burns victims to St. Jude's hospital for treatment.
One firefighter, Kenneth Allen (no relation to Wendy), was even presented with a 'Bravery award', having saved the life of a ten-year-old girl who had transported to the hospital in the Golden Eagle. And yet, the car itself clearly exerted such a negative effect on the people of Old Orchard Beach that elements within the town made repeated attempts to have it removed, eventually stealing it and destroying it in brutal fashion. And at least some of the instances of people being harmed after interacting with Wendy Allen's car can be verified.
Is it possible that lying somewhere amidst the mythology which has been constructed around the Golden Eagle, there is indeed some truth behind the so-called curse? That there is such a feeling of superstition and repugnance about the vehicle that it creates a negative energy. For instance, the people who interact with the car may go away expecting to have an accident and in turn that expectation brings about that exact result.
As we have already seen, it would certainly not be the first vehicle to face accusation of being cursed. Perhaps the only way to know for sure will be if Allen does one day return the golden eagle to its original home and see whether misery and misfortune returned there alongside it.