The Nelson Street Haunting

The Nelson Street house in April of 2010.
The Nelson Street house in April of 2010.

Please note: A significantly expanded version of this story appears in our book Haunted Marion, Ohio.

Lisa (not her real name) says she grew up in a house haunted by the spirit of a man who died there. Of course, a lot of people are skeptical when they hear a claim like this. However, what makes Lisa’s story interesting – whether one believes it or not – is the fact that house, located on 770 Nelson Street , does have a history, and it’s not a pleasant one.

He Treated Them Like Dogs

The story really begins on Easter Sunday of 1960. Two girls, 18-year-old Virginia Napper and her younger sister, 15-year-old Edna Mae, creep up the stairs. Edna Mae has removed her shoes so as to make as little noise as possible. Their mother is cooking Easter dinner, and their father is sleeping in the upstairs bedroom. Ostensibly, the girls have gone upstairs to wake their father. Instead, Virginia loads a .22 caliber rifle, slips into her father’s bedroom and, with Edna Mae watching, points the muzzle at her father’s head. And then Virginia pulls the trigger.

At first, police were puzzled by the girls’ actions. They both freely admitted to taking part in the killing, but their motive for wanting him dead wasn’t clear – at least initially. Marion City Police Chief Justin Cornely, in a statement to the Marion Star, said only that the girls’ father had “picked on them.” However, it soon became clear that Mr. Napper had done more than merely “pick on” his daughters.

According to Mrs. Napper, the family, which also included two grade-school age boys, was terrified of Mr. Napper. In the words of Mrs. Napper’s brother, “[H]e treated my sister and her whole family like dogs.” However, it was his two daughters that he brutalized the most. In an interview with the Star, Mrs. Napper said that her husband had been molesting Virginia for years and shortly before his death, he had begun molesting Edna Mae as well. Despite the fact that Mr. Napper had threatened to kill the girls if they ever told anyone abut the abuse, the girls had eventually confided to their mother what their father was doing to them. It wasn’t long thereafter that the girls decided to kill him — a decision their mother understood. In her interview with the Star, Mrs. Napper, sobbing with guilt and anger, declared, “I should have killed him myself – then my girls wouldn’t be in this trouble.”

That Guy in the Stairway

For her part, Lisa, who lived in the house until her family moved out in the mid 80s, says that the family was initially unaware of what had taken place there. It was only after other people told her parents about the Napper shooting that the family learned about the house’s history.

Although Lisa and other family members slept in the bedroom where the shooting had taken place, the ghost seemed to prefer the hallways and stairs since that’s where most of the family members had paranormal experiences. Lisa writes, “When my sister was younger she would sit and talk to ‘that guy in the stairway.’ My aunt was scared to death to go anywhere near the upstairs, and she actually wigged out one night and said that there was someone behind her, even though she was the only one upstairs. She ended up breaking her fingernails off in – yes, in – the drywall trying to turn the lights on. My mom saw him in the stairway. She said that it was like he was just staring at her.” Lisa herself never saw any ghostly activity directly. However, she did say that, “You always felt like someone was watching or following you.”

The Fate of the Napper Sisters

As for the Napper girls, their fates were decided during the summer of 1960. On June 30th of that year, a jury deliberated just over three hours before finding Virginia not guilty by reason of insanity. This meant the teenager would have to enter the Lima state hospital for the criminally insane, though prosecutor Robert Stout suggested that a writ of habeas corpus could result in her complete freedom. Mr. Stout dropped the charges against Edna Mae altogether shortly after Virginia’s verdict was announced.

21 thoughts on “The Nelson Street Haunting

  1. This story is mind-blowing. It is about my mom. I am the daughter of Edna Mae Napper. I was born right after this happened in August, 1960.

    1. So why didn’t your grandmother go to the police or kill him herself when your aunt and mother told her what her husband was doing to them? Instead of just brushing it off until your aunt shot him. And if your aunt was locked away for the criminally insane, she must have been released a very short time later. This happened in April of 1960, and if you were born in August of the same year as the shooting, then your mom was 15 and 5 months pregnant with you when this happened. Did your grandmother know your mom was pregnant with you?

      1. My mom’s name was Eva Napper, and she was a cousin of Mr. Napper. When my mom passed away in 2017, I found the newspaper clipping of this story and asked my aunt if she knew anything about it. And she said he was her cousin from my grandpa’s side of the family. My mother never spoke of this to her kids.

  2. I remember that day. I went to school with Virginia. I lived very close to them. We were shocked. Virginia was always very quiet and kept to herself. I think she went on to get married and had a very lovely daughter.

  3. This message is to Betty. She had two daughters. Virginia is my aunt. Hey, whereabouts is that house on 770 Nelson St.? I’m from there but can’t remember where it is. I live in Fremont, Ohio now.

  4. Sonja, I lived catty cornered from this house for a little over a year with my 2 daughters and, oddly enough, that house was always empty. I had considered trying to rent it due to the size and the yard. Knowing the history now is kinda creepy. I do believe it’s the second house in from the alley on the north side of the street.

  5. Nice story for Halloween. Whoever wrote this should be ashamed of himself!! I was born and raised behind that house, and I was there that Easter Sunday. As for Ginny, Edna, Bill, Phil and Ms Napper…wonderful people! House Haunted? You got to be kidding!! Grow-up. That was years ago. Leave nice people alone. This sure was added to make a spooky story. Like I said, good Halloween story and that’s about all!!

  6. I also grew up a few houses away from that house and was there and remember that Easter Sunday very well. It was a very unfortunate situation and horrible for those two young girls. Is it really necessary to use their names? They still live in this community and have very loving children and grandchildren. I am sure this is something they would rather not have to address with their grand kids. The things some people will do to make a name for themselves or to make a buck are shameful and I say shame on you for using names!!! Is your closet clear of skeletons?!

  7. I lived in that house for a couple of years. Sold it in 1976 and moved out. My bedroom was the front one where they say the murder happened. I heard the story but never saw a ghost.

  8. I own that house and know all the story about the place. If I had been those girls and their mother, I would have killed him long before that happened. He was a terrible man. He brought another woman in and took her into the bed his wife slept in. I don’t know where everybody gets their information but somebody needs to get it straight before they start putting stuff out and they don’t know what they’re talking about. I thought the world of those girls and their mother and brothers.

    1. The wife allowed it to happen. She knew what her husband was doing to her daughters. She just didn’t care. I wonder if she cared that her daughter was 5 months pregnant with his child. According to the woman who claims to be Edna Mae’s daughter, Sonja she was born in August of 1960,and the murder happened in April of 1960.

  9. I live at 775, just across the street. The house now has a for sale sign in the yard. I saw a family looking at it the other day. Kinda spooky if you ask me.

  10. I live down the street on Waterloo. Every time I walk to Motomart I walk beside that house because the alley runs right past it. I always feel the need to look over my shoulder because I feel as if somebody is watching me in the upstairs side windows. It’s pretty awkward for me becuase I read this story a few years ago and it never happened utill I read this story.

  11. Kristine is my mom. I lived on Nelson on the corner by that house. I was like 11 years old. I remember pretty well and at the time my friend Kaycey lived there and we didn’t communicate with any ghosts, but we did see a figure of a man standing in the hallway. And yea not everything you read on the Internet is true.

  12. I grew up around and stayed at this house as a child. This house was not spooky, scary, or anything creepy. No one should be scared of that house.

  13. I grew up in that neighborhood, played football in that yard. My friend Gary lived there in the 80’s. He never mentioned anything weird. My cousin rented it a few years back, but she never mentioned anything.

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