A Haunting at Malabar State Park

written by Amy S

In the summer of 1896, a story of unrequited love ended in the tragic deaths of a Pleasant Valley, Ohio family.

In 1873, David and Rebecca Rose. gave birth to Celia (Ceely). Reports indicate that Ceely was mentally challenged, with a mental age well below her peers. As she physically matured, she became attracted to her male peers. However, having been described as both unattractive and slow, her advances were met with criticism and taunting.

This changed when she met Guy Berry, a young man from the neighboring farm. Having pity on Ceely, he treated her with kindness. She felt that love had blossomed between them and began to tell others that they would soon be married. To spare her feelings and to escape her advances, Guy told her that her parents forbade the marriage.

This drove Ceely into a rage and she quietly plotted her revenge. She began to lace the cottage cheese she served for breakfast with arsenic. Her father was the first to succumb to the poison on June 30, 1894. Her 31 year old brother, a bachelor who also lived in the house, died on July 4th.

At this point, the mother figured out that Ceely had poisoned her father and brother. In an effort to protect the last of her family, Rebecca planned on fleeing the area with Ceely. This proved to be a fatal mistake when Ceely became enraged that her mother was taking her from her her love. Rebecca Rose died of arsenic poisoning on July 19, 1894.

Overridden by guilt, Ceely confessed to a friend who reported her to the authorities. She was tried for three counts of murder and was found guilty by reason of insanity. She was committed to the Toledo Mental Hospital in 1896, before being transferred to Lima. She died there in 1934. Her body remained unclaimed and is buried in the hospital cemetery.

Many believe that this tragedy has left its mark. Some claim that the Rose home at Malabar Farms State Park is haunted by Ceely’s ghost. Is she still wandering the grounds looking for her one true love?

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