Newspaper clippings · Virginia

Unknown person gasses first of several houses

December 22, 1933
Haymakertown, Virginia
A “mad gasser” attacks the first of several houses

The gasser attacked the home of Cal Huffman late on the evening of December 22. A strange smell permeated the home on three separate occasions during the night, the last of which was strong enough to nauseate seven of the eight occupants. Cal’s 20-year-old daughter Alice was most affected, requiring a doctor to revive her with an artificial respirator.

The attacks continued across the area, traveling between towns, for the next two months. A figure with a flashlight was seen prowling around the targeted homes in several cases. After one attack, police and a doctor assisting in the investigation arrived on the scene before the gas had a chance to fully dissipate. It was noted to have a sweet taste, and smelled somewhat of formaldehyde.

Most victims suffered from nausea, though one woman experienced eye inflammation. No suspect was arrested, and no motive was established.

Similar attacks were reported in 1944 in Mattoon, Illinois, with 21 attacks documented from August 31 to September 13. The Mattoon gasser was also never apprehended. There seem to be no connections between the two gassers.

The other homes attacked in Virginia and their locations were:

  • December 24, Cloverdale
  • December 27, Troutville
  • January 10, Fincastle
  • January 16, Bonsack
  • January 19, Cloverdale
  • January 21, between Troutville and Cloverdale
  • January 22, Carvin’s Cove
  • January 23, Pleasantdale Church
  • January 28, Cloverdale
  • January 29, Cloverdale
  • February 3, Nace
  • February 9, Lithia


Clipping: Daily Press. December 24, 1933

Sources:

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