A Gothic-styled mansion sits on the corner of H and 22nd Streets in Sacramento's Boulevard Park neighborhood. Its appearance is mysterious and secretive, and that's before you hear about the supposed dark deed which have occurred behind it doors.
The home was built sometime between 1900 and 1907, and one has to wonder when during its 100-plus history did it acquire its morbid reputation.
One of the original families that lived there was the Aden family. One of the urban myths circulated is that Dr. Aden C. Hart became crazed and annihilated his entire family.
No truth in that story. The Aden family was very prominent in the area, and Dr. Hart's father was a judge. Several of his siblings went onto practice law as well, and his older brother became a senator. He married Sarah Chase and they had no children together. He brought up her son by a former marriage. Eventually Dr. Hart and his wife moved to the San Francisco area and he died in 1954 at the age of 86, and his wife died three years later.
The home was sold sometime in the 1940s to the Amoruso family who presently hold it in trust.
During the 1970s it was known as the Martinez House even though it appears that the family with this surname rented or stayed in the house for a short amount of time during the 1960s.
The myth of a family being wiped out by the husband surfaced again, but now it was Mr. Martinez. No record of that either.
In 1972, there was an electrical fire in the garage. The house stood empty until the 1990s, which when many of dark stories surrounding it took wing. The Amoruso family still owned it and returned but would leave it empty as they live in another house they own in the area. The structure has not been maintained, thus reinforcing its spooky reputation.
Of all the ghosts that have been reported at this house there is only one that has some whiff of truth in which there is a phantom of an Asian man dressed in white coat reported. In 1910 Dr. Aden did have a Japanese servant living in the house named Kikus Hamamoto. The only other occupants were his wife Sarah and his stepson.
In 1913, between 3rd, 4th and L Street and Capitol Avenue the area was known as Japan Alley.
However grisly, murder of the foulest kind was not unheard of in this area of Sacramento as the following story published on December 7, 1914 in the Modesto Evening News confirms. The location of this event was less than a mile from the Aden House on H Street.
The police today began a search for the killer of Margaret Milling, aged ten. She was murdered Saturday after she had been mistreated (euphemism for rape).
The pastor of the German Lutheran church on L Street had given the unemployed man David Fountain, 52, a job only five weeks before. The pastor had already noticed that he had a very odd look in his eyes, and had reprimanded him for looking at the young girls who attended the church.
Dr. Oehler the pastor told police that when he was led to the body by Fountain, the child was so battered and bloody that he could not recognize that it was Margaret Milling, however Fountain immediately identified her. The pastor told police that he made frantic efforts to revive her hoping she was still alive but Fountain tried to discourage him saying: "She is dead. There is no use working over her. I know she's dead. I can tell by looking at her. There is no use". When Oehler ask him how he knew he responded by saying he had seen "lots of such things".
After his arrest, Fountain maintained his innocence. The police said that no one offered an alibi of having seen him at the places he said he had visited during the time the police believed the crime was committed. The only time Fountain became agitated was when someone would try to photograph him, he even kicked a camera out of a reporter's hands.
Based on evidence gathered afterwards it was believed that Margaret was attacked first in the kitchen and then dragged into the room where she was savagely raped and then strangled with a hemp rope. Her body was then posed in a sitting position in a corner of the room.
By December 8th, Fountain had confessed to the murder, but claimed he could not remember that actual act of raping or killing her.
He told the district attorney that between 12 and 1 o'clock Margaret had arrived at the church and come in through the side door. His memory after this was blank He just remembered leaving the church at 1 o'clock and going to downtown Sacramento and making stops at different places. When he came back to the church he went into the belfry he found the dead child. He decided that it was best that she shouldn't be left there and she should have a decent burial, otherwise the body would decompose. He said he took the body downstairs and placed it as it was found afterwards.
David Fountain's brushes with the law started in 1886 when he was discharged from a two year sentence for breaking and entering in Des Moines, Iowa. In March of 1887 he was arrested for attacking a little girl, by August of that year he had been sent to the Mt. Pleasant Insane Asylum and within a month he was transferred to the asylum in Clarinda. He escaped from Clarinda in May 1889.
From 1894 to 1901 he was arrested for burglary and served two sentences, one for two years, another for seven years. In 1907, within a short time of being released he attacked Mrs. Florry Reed. He was convicted of the crime and sent back to prison and sentenced to five years. Shortly after his release in 1911 he was rearrested for burglary and sentenced to five years.
It appeared the only time David Fountain was not robbing or attacking someone was when he was in prison. At one time he was forced out of town for insulting women and children.
Each time he was arrested his marital status would change from married to single to widower. Crazy or not, later on in his criminal career he started using the name of Frank Fairchild when arrested.
Ironically Margaret Miller's father who had been unemployed for several weeks had sought work at the church as a janitor and been turned away. The job instead was given to the man who would murder his daughter.
By February 1915, Fountain was found guilty of the murder, despite a defense of insanity based on his stays in insane asylums, and was sentenced to be hung. He was executed in September 1915 at the gallows in Folsom Prison.
Folsom Prison was deluged with so many requests to witness Fountain's execution that it was decided afterwards that Folsom & San Quentin Prisons would no longer send out invitations for executions and just have the 14 persons present as required by law as witnesses and these would be made up of sheriffs or their deputies, no outsiders.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by Marlene Pardo Pellicer