The Scary Shilo


The scary old Shilo Inn is getting a new owner and a total multi-million dollar rehab. You know the hotel. It’s the only building here in the Capitol City that looks like bad Vegas hotel with red neon running up on all the 12 floors. If you were born in the 1970’s or recently moved here you wouldn’t know the history of the place. It is sadly the scene of the largest murder/suicide in Utah’s history back that took place back in 1978 and it’s a horrible story.

It was a regular summer morning and commuters were getting off the freeway and heading in their usual routes to work when bodies starting falling out of the sky on onto the corner of 200 South and West Temple from the Shilo Inn. Pedestrians and cars alike had to dodge what turned out to be a woman and her seven children falling out of the warm sky. Some folks on the ground were screaming STOP! up at the hotel room balcony where the woman stood and yet others yelled JUMP! in anger when the mother finally stepped over the edge. I remember that morning. We didn’t have cell phones back then and there were no Instagrams of the bodies littering the streets.

Rachel David threw her children or ordered the older ones off the balcony of her hotel room there and then she followed them to her death. One child survived. Ms. David was the widow of an excommunication Mormon known as Immanuel David. He had committed suicide a few days earlier by sucking up enough carbon monoxide to die, because the Feds were after him. His given name was Bruce Longo and he believed he was God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. God was about to be indicted on tax evasion-although press at the time never said what God did for a living, only that he was head of a religious cult and lived from hotel to hotel with his wife and brood. His cult was his family and he didn’t have any known followers outside the hotel rooms.

Only one of the family survived: a daughter also named Rachel. I heard that she landed straddling a wall and horrific injuries. She was in surgery for a full day and was confined to a wheelchair and later moved to a relative’s house in Coloroado. I think she recently passed.

If you got to there are reports of a woman and a little girl who haunt the hotel to this day. The ghosts (like other hotel guests) “enjoy the first floor pool area” and guests here laughter in the video gaming area when no else is in there. Supposedly the ghosts of the David mother and one of the children play at lot of tricks on the maintenance crew by unscrewing light bulbs and moving tools around.

The new owners are going to turn the Shilo Inn into a Holiday Inn. The neon is going away and the only outside glass elevator in the city will be torn off the north side of the building. You may have noticed this past holiday season that the giant red Christmas tree was not lit up on top of the roof-an indication of the sale of the property. It doesn’t matter what the owners of the Holiday Inn franchise do to the cosmetics of the building. The place will always be a murder scene and the ghosts of the mom and children may forever wander the building.

Sidewalk Pennies


Have you ever walked down a sidewalk in Salt Lake City and noticed a penny on the ground but when you bent over to pick it up you realized it was permanently attached to the concrete? That odd little disk is actually a survey marker from long times past. We don’t see new ones much anymore because GPS technology has replaced them. These bronze markers were placed as part of land surveys to show a reference as to where a property line was and where a surveyor had dropped a plumbbob.

As humans began to stand upright they began to mark their territory. It was important to let the neighbors know where one plot of land began and another ended. Originally lines were marked by cairns. Maybe you’ve run into the odd pile of rocks while hiking out in the wilderness? That marker may have been someone’s claim to that land, that edge. Over time people have used clay pots and even liquor bottles to show their ownership. Pioneers carved arrows into rock faces pointing to their boundary lines. As the country grew up so did the need for accurate surveys. Orson Pratt and Henry Sherwood were the locals who surveyed Temple Square in 1847. There they set up the center marker for all government surveys in Utah, called the ‘Great Salt Lake City Base and Meridian’. The original meridian stone was inside the walls of Temple Square and is on display at the Museum of Church History and Art. You can now visit a replica of the original marker with a memorial plaque on top of it sitting just outside of Temple Square on the Southeast corner.

When you buy a home or a piece of land, your deed will have a description of the property written on the document. Most often, a title insurance company will ensure that deed you have in hand that this is the right property. As a side note, title insurance is a U.S.A. thing and was created in this country because surveys were bad and recording of liens against title holders was poorly tracked in many cases. The very first title company was created just 4 years before Temple Square was surveyed.

There are hobbyists who search out survey benchmarks around the world because of their odd locations and various designs. That obscure bit o’ fun probably led to the most current trend of geocaching. If you can read your GPS coordinates on your phone or a hand held device, you can treasure hunt. According to ‘’ there are over 6 million geocachers and 2,300,000+ cashes to find in the world. Caches can be found in just about any city. They are put there by other geocachers. Some are easy to find, others take hours because they are hidden so well. Once you do find the treasure you jot down your name in a log book to mark down the date you found it and your name. Some larger geocache locations have bags or boxes full of oddities or toys that one can take and replace with like-weirdness. There are over 50 caches in the Salt Lake/Ogden area alone. Here’s an example of one local Salt Lake clue:

“This cache isn’t for everyone. This is not your typical ‘urban’ cache. You will be required to think about your surroundings and perhaps you may have to step out of your box. You will have problems with your co-ordinates. You will be around buildings and trees which will cause you problems. I spent 30 minutes trying to get an accurate set of numbers and was able to get within 7′ after the cache was hidden. So let this be fair warning that you may be calling me every name in the book, but I hope you enjoy it! Coordinates N 40 º 39.753′ W 111º 53.111′ “