Spooky Florida: Urban legends, myths, haunted places across the state

Spooky Florida: Urban legends, myths, haunted places across the state
Florida is a state full of historical sights, but if you are looking to get into the Halloween spirit, the Sunshine State has some dark history, urban legends and spooky places.

ORLANDO, Fla. — (Sources: Weird U.S. | Abandoned Florida)

SUNLAND HOSPITAL

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Have you ever heard of Sunland Hospital in Orlando? It served as a tuberculosis hospital and later evolved into a training center for children with special needs. The facility closed after allegations of abuse and neglect and health code violations.  
The main patient building was turned into a park, and reports claim that ghostly patients still hang around. Park visitors reported hearing children's laughter when no children were around, and strange lights. Some also claim swings and other playground equipment move by themselves.
According to Abandoned Florida, after being torn down in 1999, all that remains of the Sunland facility is the old administration building.
There was a Sunland Hospital in Tallahassee, too. The location closed in the ‘80s, after reports of experiments and an apparent lawsuit filed claiming abuse occurred at the hospital.
The state of Florida closed all Sunland facilities in 1983. 

LEGEND OF THE SKUNK APE

Skunk Ape is rumored to be an elusive humanoid and is considered Florida's Bigfoot.
There have been thousands of sighting of the Skunk Ape; so many that in 1977 the state Legislature introduced a bill to protect the man-ape. 
Unfortunately, House Bill 58, also known as the Hugh Paul Nuckolls Skunk Ape Act, did not pass therefore leaving the Skunk Ape unprotected.
How can you tell if the Skunk Ape is nearby? Well, legend has it that it gives off a foul skunk-like odor, with some witnesses describing it as "extremely putrid."
Some locations where the Skunk Ape has been spotted are the Ocala National Forest, the Kissimmee River and on U.S. 27 near Hialeah Gardens, where a motorist claimed to have hit a large ape-like creature.  

BROWNIE THE DOG

In Daytona's Riverfront Park, there is a small half-hidden tombstone that belongs to a dog named Brownie, according to Weird U.S.
Brownie was rumored to be incredibly friendly with Daytona residents, and when he died, they buried him in the park.
Residents and visitors claim they have seen Brownie's ghost exploring the park. 

THE DEVIL'S CHAIR 

If you are ever in Lake Helen and are in the mood to test a scary legend, you can check out the "Devil's Chair."

Here is the legend, according to Weird U.S.: "If you sit in this big, brick chair at midnight, the Devil will communicate to you. The Prince of Darkness also enjoys a cold beer once in a while, for I'm told that if you place an unopened can of beer on the chair it will be empty the next morning. He's probably a pretty thirsty fellow after working in all that fire and brimstone."
But on Halloween, guards are said to be posted at the Lake Helen Cemetery to keep pranksters and onlookers at bay.
Visit the chair…if you dare.

You can watch video from a visit to the Devil's Chair below:

COUNT VON COSEL AND HIS DISTURBING OBSESSION 

This story is proof that the popular term "Florida Man" goes way back.

Count Carl Von Cosel worked as a civilian X-ray technician at the U.S. Marine hospital in Key West during the Great Depression. While Cosel went by that name, he was in actuality a German immigrant named Carl Tanzler.

Cosel claimed he had numerous university degrees, was an electrical inventor and that he had been a submarine captain. But in truth, he was a man living in his own head.  

So, this story gets very weird.

While working in the hospital, he met and fell in love with a 22-year-old Cuban patient named Elena, who was dying of tuberculosis. She resisted his advances, even when he claimed he could cure her with a special X-ray machine and treatments of gold and water tonics. Of course, the treatments didn't work, and Elena died.

This gets even weirder.

Cosel got Elena's family's approval to move her body to a nice stone mausoleum. He saw that her body had never been embalmed and was rapidly decaying. He then hired a mortician to clean her body before placing it in the new tomb. But the family had no idea Cosel had kept the key to her crypt.

He visited Elena's crypt every night, bringing gifts and flowers, and according to rumors, he installed a telephone in her tomb, so he could talk to her.  He believed that she could communicate with him through voice and song.

OK, stay with me, because this is incredibly weird.

After two years, Cosel removed Elena's remains and took them back to a makeshift laboratory where he proceeded to work on Elena's corpse by wiring it together and using wax, plaster and glass eyes to restore her.

He later moved her body to his home on Flagler Street, where he dressed Elena in a wedding dress. He preserved her body with various oils and chemicals and used perfume to mask the odor of decomposition. Cosel used mortician's wax to restore her facial features.

But residents became suspicious because Cosel, whom they knew as being single and alone, continuously bought perfume and women's clothing, and they would often see him through a window "dancing with a big doll."

Elena's sister, Nana, heard the rumors and demanded Cosel tell her the truth. He eventually did and showed Nana her sister's corpse, dressed in a wedding gown and propped up on a chair.

Nana went to the police, and Cosel was arrested and charged with grave robbing and abusing a corpse.

During the trial, Cosel told the court he wanted to use an airship to take him and Elena "to the stratosphere so radiation could penetrate her tissues and restore her to life."

But what angered the judge the most was when Cosel asked if he could have Elena's body back.

He was convicted, but by the time the case went to trial, the statute of limitations had expired and no sentence was given.   

Cosel's weirdness continued. He began charging tourists 25 cents to tour his laboratory. After the tourists stopped coming, Cosel used dynamite to blow up Elena's old mausoleum and left town.

Cosel died in 1952 in Zephyrhills.

He was found clutching a life-size doll with a face that resembled Elena's.

Cosel had made and secretly kept a death mask of Elena.

More about this story at Weirdus.com