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Morgan's Corner Revealed

Everyone has heard of Morgan’s Corner, but no one seems to know exactly where it is or why it’s haunted.  So, I decided to do some investigating.  What I uncovered was a lot of loose facts and made up stories.


Morgan's Corner at night.

video still courtesy: 808 Ghosts


Here are the answers to all of your questions:
 

Question 1: 

What happened at Morgan’s Corner?

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.



Mrs. Therese Wilder lived below Dr. Morgan's home on Morgan's Corner.

Illustration: Honolulu Star-Bulletin, March 17, 1948


Question 2: 

Where is the real Morgan’s Corner?

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.
 

 


VIDEOS
:


Part I: Morgan's Corner History
See photos and learn more about this old road and of the famous murder of "beloved kamaaina," Mrs. Therese Wilder.

 


Part II: Morgan's Corner Investigation
Watch what happens when we bring paranormal investigators, 808 Ghosts, with us to Morgan's Corner at night.

 

Question 3: 

What about the guy hanging from the tree?

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.
 

Question 4: 

Does the urban legend have any factual basis?

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.
 

Question 5: 

So, are there any ghosts haunting Morgan’s Corner and that old tree?

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.]



Another Morgan’s Corner Myth exposed:

Some people place the story of two 13-year old girls who were kidnapped by a military man at Morgan’s Corner.  The girls ran, and one was shot dead.  This is a true story of a 1975 murder, but its location was actually on Kionaola Rd. under the Pali Highway bridges—nowhere near Morgan’s Corner.
 

 

 

HONOLULU Magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page, if name and city are included. Comments are moderated as time allows.

Old to new | New to old
Oct 16, 2008 03:02 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

the 2 girls in the murder case involved the deceased, Dawn Bustamente and as I researched, the crime scene had it nearby the Pali Golf Course.

Mar 31, 2009 04:05 am
 Posted by  DanaMorita

Hi I Lauren Morita and my daughter has a friend and when I saw the movie on the morgans corner and I saw this gated community I been there to pick up my daughter and their address is 3939 Nuuanu Pali Drive. When I been there is when I was younger maybe like 8 years old and I was in the YWCA and we went up to to go mudd sliding. It's really really scary. How could people build houses on the land when they know what happen 61 years ago. I don't want to tell my daughter because she well freak out and tell her friend. I thought it was more up and on a road above jackass ginger. Is that the address? I really really want to know?

Nov 16, 2010 05:35 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Hi, Dawn's sister Sheri Bustamante was in my elementary school class and I remember the whole incident regarding her sister's untimely death well. It shocked us all, but taught us that hitch hiking at night when you're a minor female is definitely something that should not be going on. Very sad as I remember Sheri being very beautiful as I imagine her sister was as well. Shot in the back when trying to run away is enough to give anyone of us nightmares.

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