In the wake of the indictment this week of six alleged MS-13 members for the murder of a man found buried in a shallow grave in the Catoctin Mountains near Frederick, Md. we looked at the sinister side of history there.
While the Catoctin Region is scenic and charming, here are six reasons it has a creepy side:
1) MS-13 murder: A site in the Frederick Watershed near Gambrills Mountain Road was used as the dumping ground for a body in an alleged MS-13 murder of a Montgomery county man in June. The victim was identified by tattoos. Six Salvadoran suspected gang members are now indicted. It is the most recent, but not the first dumping of a body in the mountains outside Frederick.
2) Booby-trapped trails: Mountain bikers and hikers have been finding razor-blade booby traps embedding in mountain trails since at least 2013. Investigators theorize cyclists are the target of the cutting blades. No one has been injured, but no suspects have ever been charged.
3) Anthrax Investigation: In 2001, the FBI turned the Frederick watershed forest into a major crime scene investigation after anthrax attacks. Investigators in protective suits drained a pond looking for missing lab equipment. The scene was eerie at the time. The second suspect in the case, Dr. Bruce Ivins, committed suicide before any charges were ever brought.
4) Moonshiners: There's a long history of distilling illegal whiskey in the mountains of Frederick County. One of the old stills is now preserved in the Catoctin Mountain National Park. The only line-of-duty death in the history of the Frederick County Sheriffs' Department occurred during an ambush in the forest 88 years ago. Deputy Clyde Hauver was killed, although some of the circumstances are still a mystery.
5) Civil War hauntings: The Battle of South Mountain fought at Boonesboro Gap in 1862 resulting in nearly 800 dead. Stories of modern hauntings on farms, roads and cemeteries here are legendary.
6) The Blair Witch Project: If you want a case of insomnia, watch this 1999 film and then try to muster the courage to walk on a Catoctin Mountain forest trail after dark. Fans are known to still tour the area, sometimes at night.