In 1948, two escaped prisoners murdered Mrs. Therese Wilder, a 68-year old widow, in her house. They bound and gagged her and left her unconscious on her bed. She died of suffocation due to the broken jaw she had received during the struggle, and from the gag placed tightly around her neck and mouth. The men were captured a few days later, but the case continued to horrify Honolulu and began a lengthy debate over capital punishment in Hawaii.
Its location was named after Dr. James Morgan, who lived on a hairpin turn of the Nuuanu Pali Road (now Nuuanu Pali Drive) during the 1920s to 1940s. The exact location was illustrated in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on March 17, 1948 issue, which was the paper that headlined the murder of Mrs. Therese Wilder.
Mrs. Wilder’s address was 3939 Nuuanu Pali Rd. Her house is no longer standing, but the address is still being used by a gated, housing community. When you find that address, you’ll know that you’re at Morgan’s Corner.
This is in reference to an urban legend that has been told repeatedly. The story involves a young couple, a large, old tree, and a tapping sound on the roof of the car.
The couple had parked under the tree late one night and when deciding to go home, the car would not start. The boy decided to go and get help, leaving the girl alone inside the car. She waited a long time. It was windy and the long branches of the tree could be heard scraping against the car’s roof. Eventually, the girl fell asleep to be awakened in the morning by policemen surrounding the vehicle. They asked her to get out and walked her away from the car, telling her to not look back. She told them what had happened, but curiosity made her turn towards the car… she saw her boyfriend hanging upside down from the branches of the tree. His torso was sliced open and his fingertips were scraping the roof of the car as his body swayed in the wind. It was not the tree that she had heard scratching the roof of the car that night.
The “tree” is at the trailhead to the Judd Memorial trail that leads to the Jackass Ginger waterfall. It’s just a short distance away from Mrs. Wilder’s old residence.
After much research, I have deduced that it was completely made up. I scoured the Hawaii State Archives for murder references; I went to the Hawaii State Library to look through newspaper archives and even contacted the curator at the HPD Law Enforcement Museum for assistance. No murders exist on Nuuanu Pali Road or at Morgan’s Corner, except for the Wilder case.
However, I did find this link: http://www.snopes.com/horrors/madmen/boyfriend.asp It has some interesting information and history regarding this common urban legend.
Possibly, watch our on-site investigation of Morgan’s Corner as we bring along 808 Ghosts to help us out. [Update 9/9/11: 808 Ghosts were paranormal investigators, specializing in claims of paranormal activity. They are no longer in business.]
Have something to say? Love us? Hate us? Send us your feedback via email or our social networks.
HONOLULU Magazine readers provide feedback for the February 2013 issue.
...on First Friday in Chinatown and the Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall.
...on the ethics of meat-eating, and driving cars.