Mackworth Island: Horror and Faeries remain.
The film industry often shows tourists escaping to the rocky shores of Maine to bask in the hallmark like ambience of a bygone era where antique shops line Main Street, the ice cream shops make their own, every town has a white steeple and the distant sound of the light house foghorn plays bass for the chorus of gulls.
The movie goer never seems to notice the odd behavior and knowing looks between the local residents until it is too late. The consistent elements of the story always contain a quaint village, outsiders and a not so forgotten historical horror.
A stereotype? Perhaps. But isn’t it said that stereotypes come from some element of truth?
Off the coast of Portland sits a small island steeped in mystery, wrapped in beauty and cursed with horror. In 1957 Governor Baxter deeded his summer home on Mackworth Island to become the Baxter School for The Deaf, formerly the Maine School for The Deaf.
Dr. Robert Kelly ruled the school as headmaster with an iron claw. From the early 1960’s until his resignation in 1981 the 100 acre island was a place of horrific torture and abuse. Kelly was not alone in his evil deeds. Superintendant Joseph Youngs was Kelly’s boss as well as his accomplice.
The Attorney General’s report shows that Dr. Kelly would often call children into his old farmhouse at night to “teach them about sex for the future”. Countless photographs were taken of these poor deaf children to shame them into submitting to this evil man’s will. If a child resisted they would be tied naked to a large tree and left outside the entire night. As a constant reminder of his power over the children, Kelly used a small gesture of sign language as he walked by the classroom windows outside. He would slowly lower is thumb onto his closed fist to indicate that he had them under his thumb.
Superintendant Youngs favored beatings. He is reported to have stabbed a small child in the thigh with a pen to get the boy’s attention. Broken bones and bruises were reported to parents as accidents. If there was fear that the child would complain, Youngs and Kelly would tell the parents before-hand that the child was having difficulty adjusting and making up wild stories for attention.
For more than 20 years this reign of terror continued on this isolated island. No patrolling police cars or the safety of outside help kept the children quiet until the evidence piled up so high that it could no longer be ignored.
People were outraged and demanded justice. Then the Attorney General made his announcement. “Because many of the incidents uncovered by the State investigators were beyond the statute of limitations, and other incidents were not clearly criminal violations under the current language of the Maine Criminal Code, and because of considerations for the emotional well-being of the victims, no criminal indictments will be sought by the State as a result of evidence compiled to date by this office.” Attorney General James E. Tierney
Justice would not be found.
Following the typical horror story plot, the area was purged of evil, but evil escapes and lives on in another unsuspecting town. Dr. Kelly is said to live in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
The tree of terror was cut down, unknown persons burned down Kelly’s farmhouse and the locals give hushed and knowing looks about a terrible history. Visitors come and hike the paths along the rocky shore. Lovers hold hands and watch the misty grey surf,and children build faerie houses for the faeries who are believed to live in the woods.