A True Rhode Island Vampire
In Rhode Island in the late 1700s lived a 19-year-old girl named Sarah Tillinghast. Sarah was a dreamy girl, spending her days wandering small graveyards where Revolutionary soldiers lay. She was known to bring a book of poetry to these places and seat herself on a grave slab and read for hours on end. One day as she returned home from one of her visits she professed herself ill and took to her bed. Soon after she had a horrible fever and within weeks she was dead.
The Tillinghast family was still grieving some weeks later when Sarah’s brother, James, came down to breakfast looking pale, shivering and complaining of a weight on his chest. He claimed that Sarah had come to him and sat on his bed. Sarah and James’ parents thought it was nothing but his grief playing tricks with his mind.
The next day James was even paler and could barely breathe. Soon after, James was also dead.
But Sarah and James were just the beginning – shortly after their deaths two more Tillinghast children died, both saying beforehand that Sarah had visited them. These claims were quite frightening for the Tillinghast parents, for it meant that Sarah was returning from the dead to draw the life from remaining family members. The rumors spread through the town, all saying one word – Vampire!
Not before too long there were more deaths, and all of the victims claimed that it was Sarah that they saw right before the sickness took hold. Then finally Honour Tillinghast, the mother of all the dead children, too became sick. Honour lay in her death bed swearing that her lost children were calling out to her.
This was when Snuffy Tillinghast, the father, finally took a stand. With the help of his farmhand, Caleb, he went out early morning to the cemetery where Sarah was buried. He took with him a long hunting knife and a container of lamp oil.
The two men reached Sarah’s grave and together dug up her casket and opened its creaking lid. Even though she had been put to rest 18 months ago Sarah looked as if she were asleep, there was no decomposition. After seeing his daughter’s face flushed as if with blood he took his knife and cut out her bleeding heart. It is said her body gushed with blood. Snuffy Tillinghast then set his daughter’s heart on fire and burned it to ashes.
After the heart was burned the deathly ill Honour Tillinghast recovered fully and there were no more strange deaths or Sarah sightings in the Rhode Island town again.