Campfire stories. Spooky tales. Some are far-fetched. Others have just enough reality in them to possibly be true.
Such is the case of Baby Foot Cemetery between Orchard and Ewing, which bares the tale of teenagers murdered while parking in a cemetery with the only evidence left as bloody baby footprints.
Year after year, the story has been told and retold. A few details changed, but the key ingredients remained — a couple parking at the cemetery, the class ring, the bloody footprints.
Where would such an urban legend ever begin? English class.
Steve Dow was a junior at Orchard Public School in 1991, struggling to come up with a creative story for his composition class. When it finally came to him, he was happy to have it written and never imagined it would become a cult classic that would take on a life of its own.
“I’m shocked anyone remembers that story,” said Dow, who graduate from Orchard in 1992. “It’s kind of cool that people still talk about it.”
There are many stories of Baby Foot Cemetery, and Dow's is just one. But this specific story does have an origin.
Cathy Cooper, now principal at Orchard, was just a couple of years into her English teaching career when she assigned the class to write a creative story. Nearly three decades later, Cooper still remembers the key components of Dow’s creative story.
“It was one of those stories that kids can sit around a campfire and repeat,” Cooper sad. “It’s kind of scary, but the most important part is the relevance to the area. People could relate to it being near Orchard.”
Although known as Baby Foot Cemetery due to so many infants buried there, it’s officially called Elkhorn Valley Cemetery and is located just south of the intersection of 512th Ave and 858th Rd, not far from Summerland Road.
Dow, who lives in O’Neill with his wife, Amanda, and their four children, said during his high school years, he and friends would occasionally go to the cemetery at night.
“Back then, it wasn’t kept up. I remember it being overgrown and not cared for,” he said. “It was always late out at night, so it was pretty spooky.”
Although Dow said he hasn’t been out to Elkhorn Valley Cemetery in years, there’s still something special about them.
“I love cemeteries,” he said. “I live to visit them, walk around and go looking grave stones. I liked going out there as a kid and still do now.”
Cooper said Dow’s story had a lasting effect on many people, which is something most writers strive for. She said the key for creative writing is mix a little bit of reality with fiction.
“Steve wrote a great story that has lived on,” she said. “It was about 25 years ago, and even I remember parts of it, too.”
Urban Legend Of Baby Foot Cemetery The moon was bright, but there were so many trees it was still difficult to see through the darkness as Joe pulled his car deep into Baby Foot Cemetery. With his girlfriend Anne next to him, Joe pulled in parked his Pontiac in front of a large oak tree.
About 20 minutes later, the couple heard a sound outside the car. The wind had picked up and the autumn leaves were falling beside them. It was just the leaves, they told each other. The leaves began to rustle, and Anne was scared.
A burly football player, Joe insisted it was nothing and teased her about bing scared of the wind. He opened the door and jumped out of the car with a mischievous smile.
A few minutes passed with no sign of Joe. As more time passed, Anne became angry. His trick was no longer funny.
Then she heard a scratching sound. It was above her. Scratching, scratching in rhythm. It must be Joe trying to scare her. Anne angrily stepped outside. She slammed the door as she looked at the roof.
She was too frozen to move. Blood was pooling on the roof of car with bloody baby footprints down the hood. There was Joe, hanging in the tree upside down with his right hand barely touching the top of the Pontiac as his class ring scraped the roof.
Scratching back and forth with the rhythm of the wind. And no one else in the graveyard alive but Anne.
When authorities moved car the next day, they discovered it was parked on a mostly overgrown grave marker.