A few days before Christmas 1900, a twelve-year-old girl named Inez came home from school on Friday afternoon. She told her younger brother she was going inside for a moment, and when she failed to return he went to search for her; he saw something reflected in the mirror that faced the open closet that sent him screaming from the room.
What Otto Gibson saw reflected in the mirror of his sister's bedroom was her body hanging inside the closet. Her jump rope was tied around her neck. A servant girl who came upstairs, ran to a neighbor's house for help, but when they arrived it was too late.
Inez lived with her brothers, Otto 9, Hugo 16, and her Uncle T. D. Gibson and his wife Druscilla who had adopted all three children. The Gibson's were prosperous grocers in Malvern, Iowa. They had been at their store that afternoon when Inez ended her own life.
At the coroner's inquest it was determined that Inez had indeed committed suicide, despite being well loved by her family and classmates. The only reason that could possibly explain why she would take this action is that she was despondent after falling below her usual average in her school examinations.
This tragic event in turn-of-the-century, Midwest America normally would have fallen into obscurity, except for one reason, Inez is said to haunt the place where uncle was supposed to have had his grocery store, even though it was only a hotel until the 1950s. His store was located elsewhere, and Inez's suicide also took place at her adopted parent's home which was also not at this building.
The location is presently called Malvern Manor and is a self-described haunted house that can be rented out by paranormal researchers in order to carry out paranormal investigations. It was built in the 1870s and operated as the Cottage Hotel under different owners until 1959 when it was renamed Nishna Cottage, and became a nursing home. After 1976 it became a residential care facility for people who suffered from MPD, schizophrenia, alcoholism and other types of substance abuse. It closed in 2005.
In 2017 it was featured in the show Paranormal Lockdown.
Malvern Manor is said to be haunted also by some of the patients that lived there for many years, and possibly by any number of people who came to stay at the Cottage Hotel. For example in August of 1901, Preston Harris who was traveling on a train who came through the city, slipped while trying to get off. His legs were crushed by the train. He was transported by ambulance to the Cottage Hotel, where his left leg was amputated at the hip. His right leg was saved, even though it had compound fractures with "bones protruding through the flesh".
Part of the story that is told about Inez is that she committed suicide because her biological mother had written the family to say she was coming to pick up her daughter, even though none of the newspapers commented on this information.
No doubt Inez's story was sad in a certain way. Her biological parents were teenagers when they married in 1882, but by 1894 they had divorced and her father had remarried. By 1896, Inez and her brothers had gone to live with her uncle and his wife. In a queer twist of fate, Inez's half sister who was born to her father and his second wife, passed away also in 1900 when she was six years old.
Despite claims that EVPs have been captured at Malvern Manor from the spirit of Inez, chances are this is not her. If there is any mystery to this entire affair is why this young girl decided to end her life. Was she truly despondent over grades? Was it true she feared returning to her biological mother, or could it have been the possibility of returning to live with her father and step-mother who had lost their daughter that same year?
The truth was something Inez took with her as looked at herself in the mirror facing the closet, and slipped her jump rope over her neck. The hope is that she found the peace she sought, and which eluded her at that moment of her young life.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by Marlene Pardo Pellicer