On the night of July 1st, 1971 Ravenfield Asylum located in Fairhaven, Massachusetts was consumed by fire, killing 68 of the 70 patients and staff. It is a night that has now defined the once peaceful town.
The bodies of patient and inmate Ernest Semenov and his treating psychiatrist Dr. Richard Lankin were never discovered. Ernest Semenov was committed by the state and declared criminally insane for the brutal occult like murder of his wife and two daughters in 1968. The mysterious disappearance of Semenov and Dr. Lankin has since sparked fear and superstition in the small township. Persistent rumours surrounding the fire have only increased the towns paranoia that something darker and far more sinister happened that night and, that something unnatural and otherworldly now occupies the small town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts.
Although most of the documents regarding this case are sealed to protect patient confidentiality, some files allegedly allude to a possible occult styled mass murder of the inmates and staff and, of a relationship between Dr. Lankin and Semenov that went far beyond that of doctor and patient. Witness accounts from Fairhaven Fire Department fire fighters describe the asylum fire as so intense it was nearly pointless to attempt to contain the raging inferno. Saying, “The blaze howled and screamed as if the souls of its victims were being dragged into hell itself!”. Only its isolated location prevented the fire from spreading to neighbouring properties and, only after six days would entry to the burnt out building be possible.
What fire crew’s apparently found was gruesome beyond belief, dismembered body parts had been “decorated” around the asylum. The fire had apparently burnt so intensely in the sub-basement that a nearly bottomless pit had formed, revealing a thick black toxic substance that overcame several firefighters. On the second day those fire fighters reported having hallucinogenic experiences seeing two figures in the blaze walking back and forth as if unaffected by the inferno. Those closest to the fire say, “It was as if the figures were dragging bodies through the burning building. Back and forth, day after day”.
To this day the residents of Fairhaven have tried to put this dark chapter in the town’s history behind them. Though some believe what happened that July night in 1971 revealed a nightmarish world just beneath the skin of our own and, if you look hard enough “There’s something in the darkness here staring…. Staring straight back at you”.
Originally published September 25, 1974. Herald News.
Recommended for fans of dark soundtracks with ominous overtones.
Written, Produced, Performed, Mastered – Duncan Ritchie
Artwork – Erik Osvald