A small white cabin in the middle of a foggy forest

A Haunted Divorce: A Halloween True Crime Story

Door knobs jiggled with nobody on the other side. A strange knocking filled the house when nobody else was home. Floorboards creaked when nobody walked across them. Were these the actions of a nefarious spirit? Or perhaps a message from a recently departed family member?

After five years of marriage, Lillian and August Clasen’s relationship turned sour. In 1909, she gave birth to a son, Wendell, who was born with an undisclosed disability. Lillian said that August was incredibly cruel to him. (1)

Soon after Wendell’s birth, August accused her of having an affair and became incredibly physically abusive. (2)

In April of 1930, Wendell died at the age of 20. (1)

Then weird things began to happen.

Some nights, Lillian would hear knocks on the wall when she was the only one home. Other nights, the dog would suddenly start howling. But when she went out to investigate, she couldn’t find what he was howling at. 

She was convinced the house was haunted. Could it have been Wendell sending messages?

August thought it might be possible, too. Sometimes he’d even talk to the spirit. Saying things like “if you’re a good [ghost] rap three times.” Nothing would happen. Lillian was unnerved. 

Other times, August would ask the ghost for predictions. One time he asked, “how long does the old lady have [to live]?” Meaning Lillian.

Lillian grew more concerned.

Erratic behavior

In the months following their son’s death, August’s behavior also became more erratic. 

One night in a drunken stupor, August busted into the house. He demanded that Lillian and their grown daughter, Hazel, get out of bed.

He ordered them to sit on the couch; one on each side of him. He sat in between them and started swinging an ax over their heads. He said if either of them made a move he’d “split them in two.”

Not to mention, there was that time he’d chased Lillian around their bedroom threatening her with a butcher’s knife.

The haunting continues

All the while, unexplained things kept happening around the house. 

One night, when she was alone, the door knob on the front door started to jiggle. When she went to investigate she found that August had tied a string to it and was pulling the string to make it jiggle.

When she confronted him, she was able to get him to confess that the house wasn’t haunted. It had been him all along. He had been the one knocking on the walls and he would go rile up the dog to make it howl at night. (2)

Shortly after this incident, Lillian filed for divorce citing cruel and inhuman treatment as the reason. Several months later, she was granted the divorce in June of 1933. (3)

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