The Curse of Corpsewood, and the Corpsewood Murders

A gargoyle above the entrance to Corpsewood Manor. Image courtesy of Ralph Van Pelt.

The Strange Shadows Murder Casts

As we here at Crime Capsule have explored before, it’s no secret that crime scenes quickly become destinations for more than just law enforcement and investigators. Tourists, snoops, and enthusiasts flock to sites of great tragedy and trauma, carrying with them motives that can range from the genuinely curious to the downright malicious. Many just want to check it out, but others, for whatever reason, want a piece of the action.

You would think that a place with a name like Corpsewood Manor might dissuade them—but apparently not.

A picture of the Corpsewood Manor.
Corpsewood, with the drawbridge down to connect the independent gazebo tower to the house. Image sourced from The Corpsewood Manor Murders in North Georgia, courtesy of Ralph Van Pelt.

As author Amy Petulla describes in her book The Corpsewood Manor Murders in North Georgia, a residence near the little town of Trion in Chattooga County—not Chattanooga, Tennessee, but close to it across the border—has achieved near-mythic status among locals for the horrific crimes that were committed there.

Petulla’s book describes the 1982 double murder of one Dr. Charles Scudder, an avid user of psychedelics and card-carrying Satanist, and his friend, companion, and occasional lover Joey Odom, a younger man from the area. Petulla charts the tempestuous life the duo lived in a brick castle deep in the woods of Chattooga County, complete with the famously lurid ‘Pink Room’ and copious amounts of alcohol, drugs, and esoteric paraphernalia.

The infamous Chicken House. The Pink Room, used for entertainment and sexual diversions, was on the third floor. Image sourced from The Corpsewood Manor Murders in North Georgia, courtesy of Bobby Gilliland.

Despite certain practices that led their Trion neighbors to whisper (and shudder in turn), Scudder and Odom were, by most accounts, genuinely hospitable folks. Unfortunately, the two met their end when their hospitality extended to Kenneth Brock and Tony West, two local troublemakers who, believing the castle housed items of great value, plotted to rob them blind. Scudder and Odom invited the two in, not knowing their intentions, and expecting the evening to go the usual enjoyable way. The robbery didn’t go quite as planned, however, and by the evening of December 12, 1982, both Scudder and Odom lay dead on the floor, killed execution-style with Scudder’s own rifle. In an act of particular cruelty, West and Brock even killed the couple’s dogs, huddled around the stove for warmth.  

Fast-forward a bit, past the manhunt and the trial. The brick castle is now devoid of inspectors and forensics teams, and the Chicken House itself is no more than ash, torched by unknown arsonists in January 1983, a month after the slayings. Yet visitors keep coming to the site, trekking deep into the woods to take souvenirs: as Petulla notes, bricks from the crumbling building “became the new status symbol among those hungry for a remnant of the infamous castle.” But curiously, she writes, “the looters begin reporting ‘accidents,’ injuries and tragedies occurring close in time to their taking of a brick, and yet again, the bits of masonry were restored, with mumbled apologies ‘just in case,’ before the takers rapidly fled.”

The remains of Corpsewood are gradually being swallowed up as nature reclaims its own. Image sourced from The Corpsewood Manor Murders in North Georgia, courtesy of Amy Petulla.

Petulla goes on to describe the strange effects that other items from the castle seemed to bring once they made their way into the homes of area residents—statues of devils, esoteric paintings, stained glass—giving the full story in her book. As we’ve seen before at Franklin Park in New Jersey, in the aftermath of a crime unscrupulous individuals are more than happy to take artifacts from the event and display them, market them, and sell them for a pretty penny. But you have to ask yourself—if you lived in Trion, would you really want a piece of this cursed castle in your house? Would you be willing to risk some kind of otherworldly shadow cast over your life, as so many other folks have?

Lord, lead us not into temptation!

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