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Today’s Spooky Legends guest is Amanda Bonilla, debut author of the Shaede Assassin urban fantasy series from Penguin/Signet Books. The series launches in December with SHAEDES OF GRAY, and continues with BLOOD BEFORE SUNRISE on July 3, 2012. Our story features the Idaho’s Jack the Ripper urban legend. Want to win your own copy of the book? Comment below for a chance to win!
Idaho always makes me twitchy. Not that I go there often. It’s not like Idaho’s a hotbed of criminal activity or anything. And since this assassin only takes out the lowest of the low, I don’t have much of a reason to visit. There’s too much space in Idaho. Not enough people. There’s not nearly enough hustle or bustle for my taste. It’s too hard to be obscure in a place like that. I try to stay close to Seattle. I feel safe in the crowds of people. No one pays attention to me there. I can stay relatively anonymous. Shadows lurk around every corner, what’s one more among the masses? In Idaho it would only take a heartbeat for someone to notice the faint, inhuman glow of my eyes or catch the dusting of shadow from the corner of their eyes as I leave my corporeal form behind. That’s the sort of attention I don’t need. But I’m not here to complain about my hang-ups. I’m here to tell you about one of Idaho’s most notorious murderers, and the historical state penitentiary he still haunts to this day.
Believe it or not, The Old Idaho Penitentiary is listed as one of the most haunted places in the United States. That’s saying a lot considering Idaho’s population and obscurity in relation to the other 49 states. Let’s face it: most people east of the Mississippi confuse Idaho with Ohio. Anyway, in 1956 this guy named Raymond Allen Snowdon murdered Cora Dean, a local mother of two kids. Now, if I’d been in Garden City when the SOB was caught, you can bet your ass he wouldn’t have gone to prison. One thing I can’t stand is an abuser, and even worse, a drunken abuser. I would have gladly run my dagger across his throat and avenged Cora without the help of the authorities. Apparently, after a night of drinking, Raymond got into a spat with Cora and he backhanded her. Cora retaliated, and kicked the bastard. Good girl. Raymond didn’t so much like being kicked in the middle of his slapfest and he snapped. He took a two-and-a-quarter-inch pocket knife, slashed the poor woman’s throat, and severed her spine. As if that wasn’t enough, Raymond stabbed Cora repeatedly. According to the coroner, around 30 times.
After the murder, the lowlife had the nerve to ditch the knife in a gutter in front of Hannigan’s Cigar Shop in Boise, and after that, he went in to the store’s bathroom to freshen up. Lovely. A real pillar of the community. Luckily, Ray’s porch light was a little dim. The local cops found the discarded knife in the gutter and connected Raymond to Cora’s murder. He was convicted and sent to the infamous 5 House at the Idaho State Penn, where only the most heinous of the state’s criminals were kept. The violent nature of Ray’s crime came as a shock to the peaceful community. In fact, the local papers dubbed Raymond as Idaho’s Jack the Ripper, due to the fact that he’d slit Cora’s throat. Ray must’ve liked the title. He bragged to the other inmates, and claimed to have committed two other grisly murders that he’d never been convicted of. In 1957, a year after Cora’s murder, Ray was taken to House 5’s gallows. I suppose there’s a certain poetic justice to Raymond Allen Snowdon’s death. When he dropped through the hatch, his neck didn’t break. His death was slow and painful: he dangled from the noose, struggling, as it took fifteen minutes for him to suffocate. I have to say, I hope Cora was watching from wherever her spirit had gone, and I hope Raymond’s death eased her soul.
The inmates rallied around Raymond’s death, stomping, chanting, beating on the sandstone walls, and shaking the bars of their cell doors as he died. News of the event made its way north to Seattle. The Russian mob boss I’d been working for at the time told the story to his cronies—myself included—after one too many shots of vodka. The guy’s mother was gypsy or something, and he was superstitious as hell. He claimed that Ray’s soul would become earthbound. He never bothered to explain why. Maybe it was because of his slow, tortuous death, or maybe it was the chanting of the inmates as he struggled for his last breath. Who knows, maybe Ray’s soul was too dark, even for hell to take. But something kept Raymond Allen Snowdon’s soul earth-bound.
Hannigan’s Cigar Shop still operates in Boise. The owners attest to hearing footsteps and strange noises in the bathroom late at night. The same bathroom where Ray washed Cora’s blood from his hands. Even though the penitentiary was shut down sometime after 1973 due to degenerating conditions and is now a registered historical site, paranormal investigators claim that the sounds of talking, screams for help, and loud, unexplained banging echoes throughout the prison. Some of these ghost hunters have even said that in the middle of the summer, it becomes so cold that you can almost see your breath and strange laughter bounces off the sandstone walls. Could it be Raymond? Perhaps he lives there still, reliving the brutal murder he committed as he laughs in the face of death.
A Shaede doesn’t fear ghosts. Really, what could an earthly bound spirit do to a preternatural creature like me? It’s pretty hard to harm a shadow. But if I were human: frail, mortal, and trapped within a corporeal form, I’d stay as far from Raymond Allen Snowdon’s spirit as possible. I’d hate for one of you to become his next victim.
Amanda Bonilla lives in rural Idaho with her husband and two kids. She’s a part-time pet wrangler, a full-time sun worshipper, and only goes out into the cold when coerced. She loves the outdoors, black clothes, pink appliances and thinks junk food should be a recognized food group. In the summer, she can be found sitting by the lake, enjoying the view from her dock.
Want to read more from Amanda Bonilla?
This giveaway is provided by Amanda Bonilla
One winner will receive a ARC of Shaedes of Gray: A Shaede Assassin Novel
by Amanda Bonilla
Available on December 6, 2011 from Penguin/Signet Books
About the Book:
In the shadows of the night, Darian has lived alone for almost a century. Made and abandoned by her former love, Darian is the last of her kind-an immortal Shaede who can slip into darkness as easily as breathing. With no one else to rely on, she has taught herself how to survive, using her unique skills to become a deadly assassin.
When Darian’s next mark turns out to be Xander Peck, King of the Shaede Nation, her whole worldview is thrown into question. Darian begins to wonder if she’s taken on more than her conscience will allow. But a good assassin never leaves a job unfinished…
Click HERE to read an excerpt
**Don’t forget to visit All Things Urban Fantasy today for her Spooky Legends guest blog with Jess Haines and a chance to win a copy of THE REAL WEREWIVES OF VAMPIRE COUNTY**
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