The Glowing Tombstone: Arlington
Police Department, 1984
Clearly, this had all gotten out of hand
of the job for many small town policemen, is to lock up various
buildings or places around town. These might include the Post Office
Lobby, public restrooms at the City Park, and the local cemetery.
Such was the case in several of the towns where I worked. It’s
always good to check the interior of such places to make certain
you’re not locking someone inside. For instance, an 8 year
old runaway who was hiding under the counter was found in the Post
Office Lobby the morning after he was inadvertently locked inside
by the night cop.
enough, during the first few months I worked at Arlington, Dale
and I would find kids parked at the back of the cemetery drinking
beer, or using it as a local “lovers’ lane”. If
we didn’t cite them for Minor In Possession of Alcohol or
another sundry violation, we’d fill out Field Interview Cards,
and send them out of the cemetery. Personally, I always felt that
that the cemetery was a rather creepy place to be making out with
your girlfriend, but such was the local custom. Our primary concern
was in keeping the peace and dignity of the location. Nothing would
upset a family more than to find litter, or worse yet, vandalism
to the graves of their loved ones.
we found that as winter was moving toward spring, we were continually
running the kids out of the cemetery every weekend. One night, while
keeping a straight face, we told the kids we were dealing with to
stay out of the cemetery or the glowing tombstone would get them.
They looked at us with wide eyes, and assured us they would never
come back to the cemetery at night ever again! This seemed to work
pretty well, so we used this line a few more times over the next
few weeks. We never embellished much more on the line, except one
time when we weren’t even at the cemetery, a kid in town asked
us about the glowing tombstone, and we pointed in the general direction
and told the kid to look for himself, that he could see the tombstone
glowing from right here.
we observed a noticeable decline in local kids hanging out in the
cemetery, it later became obvious that our little legend might be
about to back fire! We were coming across people from out of town
who were coming to Arlington, looking for the Glowing Tombstone.
They would flag us down in the middle of the night to ask for directions
to the cemetery. This was all being done in the academic interest
of paranormal investigation.
fall, when the schools were back in session, Dale and I went to
lock up the cemetery late one Saturday Night to find about a dozen
college girls running around the cemetery in their underwear! Once
we got all these girls rounded up, we learned that they were students
from Midland College at Fremont, Nebraska who were pledging to join
a certain sorority. It was part of their initiation to occupy the
Arlington Cemetery dressed only in their underwear, until 1:00 AM,
while avoiding capture by the Glowing Tombstone. Apparently Dale
and I had supernatural powers as we captured all the girls before
the Glowing Tombstone did!
girls were taken to our office, where we had them call their sorority
president to come get them. You would not believe the story
SHE gave us, insisting the legend was real! She went on to
tell us that during the 1880’s an ax murder killed a bunch
of people on a train while passing through Arlington. He escaped
capture by killing himself, and was buried in the Arlington Cemetery
where his tombstone glows as he wanders about looking for more victims!
My reply to her was, assuming the legends were true, why would she
knowingly put her pledges in mortal peril..?
I then went on to inform her that the Arlington Cemetery was a peaceful
place of dignity for the final rest of many of our local citizens,
and that at her directions, these girls were trespassing and disturbing
the peace. This could result in citations to each of the girls involved,
and twelve citations to her personally for putting the girls up
to it. I pointed all of them west to Fremont, and suggested they
stay out of Arlington!
this had all gotten out of hand. From that point forward, we started
locking up the cemetery at or before sundown, and denied any possibility
of a Glowing Tombstone in the Arlington Cemetery.
late 1990’s, while living in Kansas City and long after I
started a career outside of law enforcement, I was browsing the
history section at one of the large book stores. I came across a
book about Nebraska Ghost Stories, and purchased it hoping to read
about the stories and legends my great grandparents used to tell
us when we were kids. After getting home and taking the time to
sit down and really browse through the book, did I find a chapter
on The Glowing Tomb Stone at the Arlington Cemetery of Washington
County. It took up about five or six pages, going through the
similar details of the legend that the sorority president told Dale
and I back in 1984. I shouted to my wife, “Look! They’ve
published the story that Dale and I accidently started!”
as 2011, I’ve found websites which mention the Legend of the
Glowing Tombstone in the Arlington Cemetery, but I’ve not
been able to find anything about it on the internet anymore. None
the less, it amazes me to learn how a story, no matter how bizarre,
can take on a life of its own!
Purple Sage Law Enforcement