By Jim Miles
In 1987 William and Minnie Winston had been married forty-four years. For the previous twenty-two years, they had rented a six-room, red brick home at the corner of Fountain Drive and Morris Street in southwest Atlanta.
It was just before midnight on September 8 when Minnie, 77, stepped out of the shower and found the bathroom floor covered with splotches of blood. Mrs. Winston immediately ran to the bedroom and woke her 79-year-old husband, saying, “Come look at all this red stuff coming out of the floor.”
She claimed not to be frightened by the unusual sight, “because I didn’t know where it was coming from. It didn’t look like blood and it didn’t smell like blood.”
Spots of blood, ranging in size from a dime to a silver dollar, were found on the floor and lower walls in the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, basement, and every hall. The substance was also located under a television and in narrow, nearly inaccessible crawl spaces in the basement.
“We’ve never had anything like this happen before,” Mrs. Winston said, adding that it was the first time they had ever called the police for any reason.
Homicide Detective Steve Cartwright agreed with Mrs. Winston, saying that in his ten years of service, “I’ve never seen anything like this.” He called it “an extremely strange situation.” However, there was no evidence that a “crime had been committed.”
“I’m guessing it was an animal,” stated Homicide Detective Richard Price. “Hope that’s all it was,” but it wasn’t. William said the couple had no pets, and there were no rats, mice, or roaches in the house.
Police were not terribly concerned about the matter because William, retired from the National Screen Service Company, spent most of his time in bed attached to a dialysis machine, which cleanses the blood of people suffering from kidney failure.
However, Mr. Winston seemed to reject his blood as the solution to the mystery. “I don’t know what the stuff is. My wife is upset because she doesn’t know where it came from. Me, I’m not bothered by it because I’m in bad enough shape as it is.”
The “bleeding house” immediately captured the fancy of Atlanta, drawing crowds from across the metro area. Prying visitors became such a problem that police declared the house a crime scene to prohibit inquiring minds from trespassing.
THE MATCHLESS GAME
On September 10 it was learned that the blood type of the house was O, and William was A. No match. By the following day the Winston’s family physician revealed that Minnie’s blood was also type A.
Atlanta homicide detectives grew frustrated as their work progressed. “We will continue a routine investigation,” stated Homicide Commander Lieutenant Horace Walker, “and if we find that no crime was committed, we’re through with it. As we see it now, there has been no crime.” The fact that the Winston’s son, William, Junior, was a burglary detective with the Atlanta Police Bureau guaranteed a thorough investigation.
Detective Price stated, “we’re still trying to figure out where the blood came from. There were no new leads but we plan to check with the State Crime Lab today about other possibilities.” However, there was friction between Atlanta police and the State Crime Lab.
IF THE SPLOTCHES FIT…
Police handling of the bloody evidence had come under immediate criticism. Believing a wounded animal might have deposited the splotches, police sent fresh samples to Grady Memorial Hospital to determine if it was human or animal blood. Only then, thirteen hours after Mrs. Winston called police, was the State Crime Lab notified.
Crime Lab Director Larry Howard stated that they could have learned much more-sex, race, traces of drugs or alcohol-more easily from fresh blood.
“We are usually the first people called in by the police,” complained Crime Lab forensic serologist, Ted Staples.
The only semi-relevant fact discovered by the Crime lab was that it “looked like the blood was projected out of something or shaken off something.” Out or off what was never ascertained.
“I still don’t believe it’s human blood,” Minnie declared. “I don’t care what the police say.”
As the police investigation continued, public and media interest intensified. The offices of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, radio and television stations and the police department were flooded with inquiries from across the Atlanta area and as far away as California and New York.
“Are the walls of that house really bleeding?” people generally asked.
“We were swamped with calls,” admitted police spokesman Charles Cook. “This place was a madhouse. Some people wanted to know if the radio stations were joking. Now they know it isn’t a joke.”
One woman asked an editor at the Journal-Constitution to read her the story about “the house with bleeding walls and floor.”
“We get lots and lots of calls,” an employee of radio station WVEE said. “Several were from psychics saying they could get the blood out of the house.” Their knowledge was limited, however, because they could not determine its origin.
The Winston’s found themselves besieged in their home by throngs of curious, nosy spectators. One local said, “this place was humming with cars and police, just wanting to know what all the fuss was about.”
“The phone rang all night,” Mrs. Winston complained on September 10. “I’m fed up with it.” No new blood had appeared, but its origin remained a mystery. The elderly woman said, “I’m tired of all these people asking me questions. If anybody comes here today I’m not going to open my door.”
Mrs. Winston declared that she did not want to have anything to do with the controversy. “People are coming out here to see it and troubling us. I haven’t had any sleep today and I probably won’t get any tonight.”
The passage of another day left the Winston’s even testier than before. From inside the house Winnie was heard to shout, “What they’ve said about all this is lies. Just leave us alone.” From the bedroom William yelled, “There’s no blood in this house. Now get away from here.”
One intrepid reporter who gained entrance found spots of blood on the floor and lower walls of the living room, and a quarter sized splotch on the back door.
These Fortean, paranormal mysteries usually just slowly fade away and such was the case with Atlanta’s bleeding house. The Homicide Bureau and the State Crime Lab never identified the source of the blood nor did they detect any indication of a hoax or criminal activity. “It troubles me that we don’t have any answer,” Crime Lab Director Howard summed up.
“Usually, where there is blood there is a body,” stated Lieutenant Walker early in the affair. But one never appeared. Law enforcement personnel were disappointed by their lack of results in the investigation, but the supernatural does not tend to stick around for scientific analysis. With the next bloody slaying in Atlanta, the bleeding house was forgotten.
From Weird Georgia (2000).
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Jim Miles is the author of two Weird Georgia books, seven books about Georgia ghosts and eight books about the Civil War. To see all of his books go to the Jim Miles Author Page on Amazon. Order autographed books or contact Jim directly at firstname.lastname@example.org