Susanne is fascinated by life's mysteries and unexplained phenomena.
The Many Stories of Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, BC
Beacon Hill Park, a public park belonging to the City of Victoria since 1882, is a place where people go for health, beauty, entertainment and peace of mind. With the multitude of scenic trails, a petting zoo, a wading pool, water fountains, a band pavilion, sports fields, monuments and more, you could easily get lost there for a day. It is a metropolis of activity at any time of year, being a draw for both tourists and residents for all these wonderful reasons.
The Darker Side of the Park
Then there are those of us who find interest in the "other side," as I like to put it, of Beacon Hill Park. Its history is rife with controversy, disputes and new beginnings. It has also been the site, unfortunately, of many deaths. These very predominantly consist of suicides, accidents and fatalities due to natural causes—tragedies, each and every one of them. I myself had a really good friend, whom I adored (and still do immensely), who died at the entrance to the park at the age of 24.
The Murder of a Haunted Woman
There is one story, though, that stands out from the rest. It's the story of a woman who didn't die by her own hand or due to simple fate. Her life was taken by another. Granted, the park back in its early history was the scene of duels and the like, as well as other similar atrocities, but this woman is different. What makes this story truly unique is that this woman was the source of a haunting before she even died.
The Tale of Two Women
In the late 1970s, there were witnesses to a dark-complexioned woman with long blond hair standing atop a rock in the park at the Douglas Street and Southgate corner. She simply stood, unmoving, morning after morning, for several months. The people who saw this woman thought it strange that she was just standing there every day, but they didn't take much notice of her otherwise. After she stopped showing up, she was soon forgotten. Little else is really known about these sightings.
In 1983, a woman with fair skin and long dark hair was repeatedly seen standing atop the same rock morning after morning, repeating the behavior of her predecessor from the decade before. She reminded local residents of the earlier woman—with two exceptions. First, this woman had the opposite complexion and hair colors, and, second, she was most obviously an apparition. Her appearance was vaporous, misty and not corporeal.
Discovery of the Body
Then on November 15, 1983, a body was found in a shallow grave under some bushes near the rock where the women had been spotted. The remains were of a female who fit the description of the dark-haired woman, and it was soon discovered that she was a local woman who had gone missing on June 2, 1983. They estimated that she had been crudely buried there the whole time she'd been missing, the spot laying only meters from a well-used path.
The Woman With the Silent Scream
Since then, the dark-haired woman has been spotted by people using the path, usually sitting upon the rock where she had been standing. It's usually said that her appearance is one of repose, almost as if she is meditating, but her mouth is hanging open in a silent scream.
Many passersby have said they've stopped to ask her if she was okay, only to be completely ignored. The stories vary after they walk away. Some have said they turned and looked back, but she had completely disappeared. Others have said they looked back and saw her turning to mist and vanishing.
The Doppelgänger Theory
The word "doppelgänger" comes from the German language and refers to one's double. Many other cultures have an equivalent to this phenomenon, and the doubles may also be referred to as "fetchs" and "vardogers," depending on where in the world you rest your head.
In Norse myths, the vardoger precedes the person, performing the tasks they are soon to do ahead of them. As for doppelgängers and fetchs, the folklore goes that if yours is seen, it's a harbinger of your death and considered very ominous. Many people throughout history have claimed to see their doppelgänger; among them are Abraham Lincoln and Queen Elizabeth the First, who reportedly saw her doppelgänger lying in her bed shortly before she passed away.
Was the Blond Woman the Doppelgänger of the Murdered Woman?
Many have argued that the earlier woman seen in Beacon Hill Park, the blond-haired version, was the doppelgänger of the murdered woman. The dark-haired apparition is her spirit and has only appeared since her death.
The phenomenon of her doppelgänger being blond while she was brunette also has some basis in paranormal history. Many times, prior reports have been made of doppelgängers appearing as a "photo negative" of the person, which would explain why the earlier version was fair-haired and dark-skinned.
The Facts Behind the Haunting
According to an article written by Rob Shaw of the Times Colonist back in 2008, Donna Mitchell was the mother of a little girl, and she went missing on June 2, 1983. She was a fair-complexioned woman with long, dark hair. She was reported missing by her common-law husband, who said he knew something was wrong when she did not come home for her daughter's seventh birthday.
She had been spotted downtown having drinks with friends; the last time she was seen alive was later that evening near the Empress Hotel. The police collected what information they could, but beyond tracing her to the Empress, the trail went cold.
Her case stagnated until her body was discovered at Beacon Hill Park on November 15, 1983. Other reports and residents have confirmed that the site is the same location as the sightings of the two strange women, who both strongly resembled the victim.
From Missing Persons Case to Homicide
According to Shaw's article, forensic testing showed that she had been strangled and her body had been put there shortly after her demise. Now that it was ruled a homicide and not someone disappearing of their own accord, the police went forward and started questioning friends and family and probing her background.
The Discovery and Death of a Suspect
It wasn't long before they had a suspect, whom they learned lived in Vancouver and was in Victoria at the time that Mitchell went missing. An investigator went to interview the man and then began an undercover investigation.
Within months of Donna Mitchell's death, the police had enough evidence, and The Crown willingly issued a warrant for the suspect's arrest. Unfortunately, just before the two investigators were about to travel to Vancouver, the Vancouver Police contacted them to say that the suspect had been found dead, hanging.
The Case Goes Forever Cold
To date, with no arrests, no confessions and no firm confirmations of guilt, the Donna Mitchell case officially remains cold and most likely always will. To the investigators who have the evidence before them, the case is solved.
Why This Case Fascinates Me
I chose to write about Beacon Hill Park and the story of Donna Mitchell for two reasons. The main reason is that this case has a confirmed factual history. The people in the area did witness these two similar women behaving in the same manner years apart. Donna Mitchell was a real woman, the mother of a beautiful daughter—and, regardless of what life was dealing her, I'm sure she loved her daughter very much. She was murdered and found at Beacon Hill Park at the same spot the strange women had been sighted.
The second reason is that an old Times Colonist article I was reading about the case gave me an "eyebrow-raising moment." I've lived long enough to know that I should pay attention when I have those moments; they can be fairly insightful. The suspect in her murder case passed away just as police were closing in, and the officer interviewed was quoted as saying, "Our suspect we figure did it, hung himself."
Personally, I had to stop and ask myself about that—they figure their suspect hung himself? It sounds like a reason to raise an eyebrow to me . . . and it makes me wonder if Donna Mitchell got her justice somehow after all.
More Articles About the Strange and Paranormal in Canada
- Haunted Hatley Castle
Hatley Castle has a reputation for being haunted. Many have seen previous owners, James and Laura Dunsmuir—long after they died—in the castle. Other ghosts also call this Edwardian Castle home.
- The Thetis Lake Monster: Canada's Gill-Man
The Thetis Lake Monster is a reptilian humanoid that was first sighted in 1972.
- Ogopogo: Canada's Loch Ness Monster
Lake Okanagan has the fun and sun. Oh, it also has a mysterious creature lurking in its deep—if you believe the accounts. Either way, Ogopogo has been embraced by the locals.
- Where Does Bigfoot Live in North America?
Find out where Bigfoot lives in North American and learn where Sasquatch encounters frequently occur. Does Bigfoot live in your state?
Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on September 12, 2020:
Wow, what an interesting and captivating story. Thank you so much for sharing. There is so much out there we don't know about.
karen on April 04, 2013:
I was in second grade at St Ann school next to beacon hill park and walked throught it everyday in 62 to 64 I saw the blond woman and I went up to touch her and she didn t move ..My friend ran away ....I was asking what she is doing ? and for the first time in my life ,I felt a rush go through me , I wonder what I had felt, I have been bless with feelings of danger every since before they happen....Karen
Lindsey on April 24, 2012:
I just have a slight correction to make of this article. Donna Mitchell did have a 13 year old son at the time of her passing. I am very interested in true crime stories so when I started dating her son he told me about his mom Donna Mitchell. I did my research and came across this and found it so spooky. I did show this to Jason and he couldn't believe it
Kitty Fields from Summerland on July 23, 2011:
Wow. Super spooky. I find the legends and belief in doppelgangers fascinating and this story is truly intriguing. Voted up and interesting.
Soldierpiper on February 13, 2011:
I used to be posted to work point barracks yrs ago & I saw this poor women many times & I used to call out to her ,thinking she was doing yoga .Then one time I saw the pained look on her face & I thought this women is crazy.Not till many years later while watching creepy Canada did I put it all together & then I realized what I saw was not a live women.God Bless her.
Andy W on December 04, 2010:
During the years 1978 to 1995 I was very keen on marrying Sandra Hennessy on Australias' Gold Coast , I left The Gold Coast in 1995 because mu home was being eaten away by termites .......... Come early 2007 in Ballarat , I was well and truly smitten by her doppelganger Elvira Schauble of Grenzach - Wyhlen in South West Germany ........ The old flame look alike , she gave me the spooks ....... Danke .
ladyjane1 from Texas on March 16, 2010:
wow what a fantastic hub. I love a good ghost story and stories of paranormal activity and I watch everything about them. This story was really creepy and you wrote it very well.
rocknrodeogirl on March 16, 2010:
Chills...I'm glad I read this in the daylight and not after dark!! Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination and good luck! ;)
susanne71 (author) from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on March 15, 2010:
Thank you everyone for the comments and support
Money Glitch from Texas on March 15, 2010:
Ooooh an eerie story! There are so many mysteries out there...
Congrats on being selected as a Hubnuggets Wannabe and good luck to ya! :)
shazwellyn on March 14, 2010:
Well this has made it hard for me to make my nomination this week.. gee - why couldn't you have done something boring?! hehehe I loved this hub and look forward to reading more from you! x
Faye Constantino from Florida on March 13, 2010:
Eerie, waiting for part two! Rated you up.
Sage Williams on March 13, 2010:
Eerie and chilling story, but told very well. I am glad that I had a chance to read it.
Congratulations on being nominated for a HubNugget!
Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on March 12, 2010:
eeerie..yes that is the word that I was looking for..gave me the chills... congrats to your Hubnugget nomination Susanne. No chills over there...just lots of interesting adventure. Make way for the Hubnuggets:https://hubpages.com/hubnuggets10/hub/High-Stakes-...
susanne71 (author) from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on February 08, 2010:
Thank you very much Pamela! I really appreciate your encouragement and compliments :D
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 08, 2010:
Susanne, An interesting but eerie story to be sure. It does make you wonder if the hanged man was a suicide. A very good hub.