Murder, Explosions, and Petty Revenge: Michigan’s Bath School Massacre Was Horrifically Insane
Michigan is loaded with haunted places, and some horrible events. But one of the most horrific in history took place in what was the consolidated school district of Bath, Michigan.
Despite the incident happening nearly 100 years ago, people still to this day claim to hear voices, the sounds of children, and screams from where the school once sat, and the story behind what happened is one of the most horrifying in the state's history, all perpetrated by one man.
The Tragic Story of Andrew Kehoe
About 100 miles northwest of Detroit lies the township of Bath, which around 100 years ago, only had a population of around 300 people.
In 1922, two school districts announced they would consolidate, and create the Bath School district. But it was at the expense of the tax payers in the area. They had to build a new school, new roads, and hire more staff. But overwhelmingly, the proposition passed, and it was adopted, and property taxes in the region were raised to compensate.
Soon after, the school was built, and for about 4 years, all was fine.
Fast forward a few years, and resident Andrew Kehoe was still upset about the raised property taxes. He was also bitter about losing a re-election bid for Bath Township Clerk in 1926. To add injury to insult, Kehoe was a farmer, and his land was facing foreclosure at the same time his wife was fighting tuberculosis.
Kehoe had almost 5 years to let all of this build up, but when he lost his election in 1926, that was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Kehoe no longer had anything to lose, so, he set into motion a series of events that would become one of the deadliest events in Michigan History, still to this day.
Kehoe's Plan and execution
After losing his election bid, Kehoe began purchasing explosives, commonly used by farmers, in large amounts and concealing them on his own property, and underneath the structure that started all of his woes - the Bath Consolidated School Building.
In all, nearly a ton of the explosives were put underneath the school, and it was unknown how much was placed around his farm.
After nearly a year of hoarding the explosives, on May 18, 1927, he put his plan into motion.
The Kehoe Farm Explosion
At approximately 8:45 a.m., he detonated an untold amount of explosives at his farm. Neighbors came to make sure everyone was OK, and salvage furniture from the home, but Kehoe didn't seem to care.
In fact residents say he got in his truck, and as he was driving off the property, he told them they should "get to the school"
The farm was a complete loss. The home, and nearly all of the remaining structures on the property were either detonated, or burned. But it was about to get a lot worse.
Shortly after his farm explosion, the bomb underneath the school detonated... while school was in session.
The School Explosion
One teacher who survived gave an account to the Associated Press...
"... the air seemed to be full of children and flying desks and books. Children were tossed high in the air, some were catapulted out of the building."
The north wing of the school had completely collapsed, and Kehoe's neighbor, Monty Ellsworth, was one of the first responders on scene. He described the roof of the building now laying on "piles of children's bodies" when he arrived.
He volunteered to drive back to his farm to get some rope strong enough to moved the roof, when he passed Kehoe on his way back to the farm.
"He grinned and waved his hand. When he grinned, I could see both rows of his teeth."
Minutes later, Kehoe pulled up near the school, and prepped for the final blow.
The Truck Explosion
Kehoe arrived on scene, saw superintendent Emory Hyuck, and summoned him over to his truck.
Witnesses say it looked like the two men fought over some type of long gun in the cab of Kehoe's truck, when he finally detonated a final bomb within. It sent shrapnel in every direction, instantly killing himself, Hyuck, and a nearby retired farmer on the scene.
The truck explosion also sadly killed an 8-year-old second-grader who had already survived the explosion inside the school.
When all was said and done, 38 children, and six adults were killed, with nearly 60 more injured. Once crews cleared the building of survivors and remaining bodies, investigators found that there was still 500 more pounds of explosive under the school that hadn't even detonated. It could have been even worse had the final compliment lit.
He had intended to destroy the school and everyone inside.
What Happened To Kehoe's wife?
In the aftermath of Kehoe's rampage around the township, neighbors began to wonder where his wife was, especially since she had been very sick with tuberculosis.
Later, it was discovered that Nellie Kehoe had been discharged from Lansing's St. Lawrence Hospital on May 16th. Some time between then, and the bombings, two days later, Kehoe murdered her.
He had taken her body and put it in a wheelbarrow behind the chicken coop on the farm. Neighbors who searched the property after the explosions found her body charred, next to burned bank notes, a metal cash box, and silverware from the home.
Is The Bath School House and Kehoe Farm Haunted?
IN 1991 a Michigan Historical Marker was installed at the site of the school explosion with the names of those who were killed. Visitors who stop by the memorial, which is mostly out in an open field, report hearing the screams of children when nobody is anywhere near them. However, no official paranormal investigation has been held in the area.
To this day, it remains one of the most disastrous incidents in the history of Michigan.
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Gallery Credit: Brad Carpenter