Ghost stories from SLO County: The Reed murders at Mission San Miguel

October 21, 2013 

As told by Wally Ohles in 2003:

On Dec. 5, 1848, 11 people were murdered at Mission San Miguel. There were four men, two women, four children and one unborn baby. These murders are referred to as the "Reed" murders, after William Reed, who owned Mission San Miguel at one time.

On the evening of Dec. 4, 1848, a group arrived at Mission San Miguel and William Reed invited them to spend the night.

The next morning, the six men headed south, by El Camino Real, they got all the way down to San Marcos Street, and they turned around and came back and asked if they could spend another day and night there. Naturally they said yes.

I have never seen a ghost at Mission San Miguel, or anywhere for that matter, but last April a man told me of seeing a ghost at Mission San Miguel. He saw a man step out of the wall on the south side of the mission church. This is a true story, he just stepped out of the wall wearing a navy pea coat. The ghost had to be William Reed, because he always wore his navy coat in the wintertime.

So we return to the cold night, Dec. 5, 1848, at the mission. One of the men offered to go get wood for the fire. He did so, but he also brought back an ax. He struck Reed several times with the ax. When they found the bodies, his face was slashed and he was cut in the back of the head.

A little boy had hidden himself in some boxes in the corridor of the mission. He called to the men and begged them not to hurt him. The leader seized the little boy, held him by his feet, and dashed his head against the pillars and killed him that way.

And the murderer headed south.

One final note, about three years ago, a lady who I have known for 35 years was at the mission gift shop. She had her little granddaughter with her, her granddaughter was about 3 at the time. The little girl came running to Grandma in an excited state.

"What's the matter?" asked the grandma.

"I saw a little Indian boy and he couldn't talk," the girl said. She said that the little boy had 'an owie on his neck.'

An ax, a cutlass and a knife had been used to kill members of the Reed family.

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