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  • Writer's pictureMacabre Emporium Pod

Episode 57 - Corpsewood Murders and Milunka Savic


The Corpsewood Murders

Corpsewood Manor Murders
Corpsewood Manor, where the murders took place.

Charles Scudder was first a student of, and then the associate director of the Loyola University of Chicago Institute for Mind, Drugs and Behavior. He was also an associate professor of pharmacology while there. He was often described by friends, family, and those that he associated with as a polished, brilliant and soft spoken man, all the while remaining confident in himself. He was also quite eccentric - like having a pet monkey and continually dying their hair crazy colors. Charles was a musician as well, playing the harp. He was actually invited to play with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at one point in his life, that alone shows how good he was.

In the 1950’s, he would marry a poet’s daughter named Bourtai. They fell in love, and got married, but they would only be married long enough to have four children together - all boys - Saul, Fenris, Gideon, and Ahab. After the birth of their fourth boy, they filed for divorce. It wasn’t until all of the boys were adults that Charles went on to find a new lover. His long-time friend and housekeeper, Joseph Odom became that person. 

While Charles was still living in Chicago, and enjoying it, he eventually grew tired of that city, packed up some of his belongings within his Chicago mansion and went after a simpler and much calmer life.

Charles took a trip and spotted some land he fell in love with. So he and Joe decided to move to the woods in northern Georgia to start their lives over together and a new gay couple. He chose an extremely isolated spot that sat on 40 acres, where he didn’t have to watch his beloved neighborhood turn into an urban ghetto basically. While he did pack most of his things before he left Chicago, he wanted out of there so badly that he left a lot of his personal belongings behind. Charles stated that “within two short years we were living in an elegant mini-castle.” 

Together, Charles and Joe and their two English mastiffs, Beezebub (named after a demon) and Arsinath (named after an H.P. Lovecraft character), lived in a small camper the entire time they built their home. And yes, THEY built it, with only their hands and their hand tools. They started with no running water, no phone, no electricity whatsoever. They dug a well to have access to water eventually, and used candles for light. They laid approximately 45,000 bricks by hand during the whole construction period. Upon completion of the home, it had a wood-burning stove, a chemical toilet that worked as an outhouse and they planted and harvested their own food. For those that don’t know, a chemical toilet is essentially an outhouse, it’s not connected to any type of drain system - it simply collects your piss and shit and the chemicals in the water mask the odor of it all…think port-a-potty. They also made a small vineyard behind the main house so that they could make wine. 

After the first year of building, they completed the first floor of their new castle and were able to move into it. The first floor  was the kitchen, dining room and living room. The next year consisted of working on the second floor, including adding the roof. Upstairs held two bedrooms, a circular staircase that led them from the first to second floor. 

Aside from the main house and vineyard, the couple also built other things on the property such as a three-story chicken coop. The first floor held all of the chickens and stored food. The second floor was a stockroom full of canned goods and the couple's elaborate porn collection. The third floor was known as the pink room - in essence it was their pleasure chamber - where they pleasured themselves, each other and their guests. The pink room contained old mattresses, more porn, BDSM equipment, and a guest book for those to sign in with by adding their names, sexual preferences and photos.

They even had a sign they put up out front that said “Beware of the Thing” near the large pink gargoyle that is at the top of the entrance to their home.

They went on to name their new home and property Corpsewood Manor. They said they named it that due to all of the beauty in all of the bare trees around them in the fall. But it’s kind of an ominous name, don’t you think?

At any rate, living in the woods and off-grid, you can expect some hunters to wander by eventually not knowing you or your property even existed until they stumbled upon it. They eventually got used to it and would often have hunters come up and ask for their permission to use their land. 

This is exactly how they met a man named Kenneth Avery Brock, who goes by Avery. I wouldn’t say they really became friends, but they were all friendly towards each other. Avery was a bit taken aback by their lifestyle and became quite suspicious of Charles and Joe. He suspected that they were multi-millionaires, and while Charles was very wealthy, and came from a wealthy family, he had actually put the majority of his savings into building Corpsewood Manor. 

Avery then went and told his friend, 30-year-old Samuel Tony West, who goes by Tony, that the couple were queer devil worshippers that were sitting on a bounty of money. 

On December 12, 1982, Avery and Tony made a plan of action to collect said assumed money - they were going to rob Charles and Joe. While en route to Corpsewood Manor, Avery and Tony stopped to pick up Tony’s nephew, Joey and his friend Teresa - then the four of them headed towards their bounty. 

Upon their arrival, they were greeted by Charles and then they all climbed the 40-foot ladder to the third floor of the chicken coop, aka the pink room. They five of them got settled in and drank some home made wine. They also partook in some shit called toot-a-loo, which is a mixture of paint thinner, varnish and other chemicals inside of a plastic bag - I’m assuming you huff the mixture to get a high. Charles was the only one that didn’t partake in the huffing.

The continued to party for quite a long time before Avery went down to his car, and returned with a .22 caliber Remington Speedmaster (which is a rifle). His first stop was to the house itself, where he put four bullets into Joe, followed by the two mastiffs that were sleeping next to the stove in the kitchen. 

They then went back to Charles and tied him up before demanding money from him. Tony’s nephew and his friend that accompanied Avery and Tony had tried to leave, unfortunately for them, the car didn’t start so they had no choice but to return to the house.

Avery and Tony continued on and ransacked the house looking for the money Avery was sure they would find, but they found no money, and nothing of any real value. Tony became angry and walked up to Charles and shot him in the head at point-blank range not once, but five times, and then they all fled. Avery and Tony had tried to steal the harp that Charles had been so good at playing, but it didn’t fit in a vehicle - because it's a harp, and harps are huge.

So instead, once they figured out their own vehicle wasn’t working, they chose to steal Charles’ Jeep and take off to the west and head towards Mexico. They needed a break from driving, and they needed to switch vehicles, so when they hit an I-20 rest stop just outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi, they found a new car that suited them. It belonged to a Navy Lieutenant named Kirby Phelps - whom they wound up murdering before they stole the vehicle. 

On December 16, one of the closest (distance-wise) neighbors to Charles and Joe stopped by Corpsewood Manor and found bullet holes all over the door, and immediately called the sheriff's office. That very same day, Tony’s nephew’s friend, Teresa, went to the police and told them everything that had transpired on the 12th at Corpsewood Manor. She even told them that she was being held captive by Tony’s cousin Joey at his mom’s house before she was able to escape because he knew she was not ok with what happened and was going to go to the police about it.

This sparked an instant nationwide search. Teresa and Joey helped the police and gave them their full cooperation, along with everything that happened that night, so they were never charged with anything - because honestly, they had no idea what Avery and Tony were planning to do that day. 

Avery wound up turning himself in on December 20th, 1982 after returning to Georgia. Tony followed suit and did the same thing, but in Chattanooga, TN on Christmas Eve. Both of them would go on to receive sentences for life in prison. 

During the investigation into the murders, the law enforcement that went into the home were a bit shocked at what they found. They had found numerous human skulls and a plethora of satanic symbols and artifacts, and what they called “gay-centric” writings and art. They had a small library that had nothing in it but occult books and items. They also had a small desk with a drawer that contained about 12,000 doses of LSD. While the couple themselves didn’t use drugs, they would share them at the parties in the pink room. 

They also found a painting that Charles had done of himself with a gag in his mouth and blood dripping from five different bullet wounds. The eerie part is, he had only painted this about 5 months prior to his death. An acquaintance of the couple stated that Charles told her “That’s how I’m going to die.”

The sheriffs involved labeled Charles and Joe as “devil worshippers”. It didn’t help the case that the county sheriff had tried to bring charges against them for their oddness previously and wasn’t able to do so because of freedom of religion. Go figure.

One of the couple's neighbors, Raymond Williams, had once told reporters that Charles was a member of the Church of Satan, but that he wasn’t an active participant. He said that Charles told him he was an atheist, but joined the Church to see what it was about. Not unlike Raymond, most of the area had no idea what the Church of Satan was, or what it was about - and that they didn’t condone worshiping anything other than Jesus. However, Magus Peter H. Gilmore and Magistra Blanche Barton confirmed that Charles was in fact a card-carrying member of the church. The Church of Satan’s founder, Anton LaVey also came forward and stated that he had been in contact with Charles on multiple occasions. It’s rumored that he had actually visited Corpsewood Manor at some point, but there has never been any proof of his visits there. A few weeks before he was murdered, Charles actually got a card delivered from the Church of Satan wishing him a happy 56th birthday.

Friends of the couple have said that with them being openly gay back then, in a time where that was not something you talked about - and if you were gay, you never let anyone know - that the Church of Satan’s “anything goes between consenting adults” policy would have looked mighty nice to them. Back then there was a ton of discrimination against those that weren’t straight.

During Avery and Tony’s trials, they accused Charles of spiking the wine he offered them with LSD in order to get them to perform oral sex on him. However, when the bottle of wine was tested there was not even a trace amount of LSD in it. Tony tried to claim involuntary intoxication, but come the fuck on, no one can force you to drink. Tony had already confessed to an officer that he and Avery had pre-planned the robbery, but not the murders. He also told the officer that Avery did indeed want to kill Charles because he had ‘heard’ that he had oral sex with a 17-year-old. 

Dr, Karczmar was a former colleague of Charles, and he was put on the stand as a character witness. He stated that Charles was not into drugs, he didn’t abuse them. He also said that Charles was not a satanist - instead told the court the opposite - Charles was dependable and bright.

The funeral for Charles and Joe was very small, and on their property. Joe’s ashes got scattered in the rose garden closest to the house, while Charles’ ashes were taken by his sister and they went back to Wisconsin with her to be buried in the family plot on April 25, 1983.

Charles’ harp and his statue of Mephistopheles are now the property of Bobby Lee Cook, a defense attorney. Bobby was hired by Charles' four sons to represent them as the heir to Charles’ estate. Joe’s sister also claimed the estate since she knows that Charles would have left everything to him. 

Avery is still currently serving his sentence in Coffee Corrections Facility in Nicholls, Georgia, and Tony is currently at the Wilcox State Prison in Abbeville, Georgia. Both men have been denied parole numerous times and are still alive.

Corpsewood Manor was purchased not long after the murders took place and from the jump stories began to make their way around about the strange happenings at the home, the weird things they owned. People still claim that the property is haunted, there were reports of hearing gunshots, barking dogs - and hearing a harp being played. All very possible things to have heard when the couple were still alive.



Milunka Savic

Lady of the dark, Milunka Savic
Milunka Savic

Belgrade 1964, 50 years after the start of WW1  ceremonies and events are being held across the country of Yugoslavia, but at the Monument of Gratitude to France military officers and dignitaries from around the world. These officers and others from France, Britain, and the United States chat among themselves with their stories of war. A little old lady slowly shuffles to the front in a long coat with a cane in hand for support.

 The men watch as she takes a seat in the front row as their conversations turn from about themselves to who this old woman is. Hearing their chatter she smiles to herself as they try to figure out who she is. Finally one of these officers asks “Ma’am who are you?”  The old woman stands before them and opens her coat revealing a chest full of medals that gleam in the sunlight. “I-I-I’m sorry Ma’am I didn't mean you any disrespect could you please tell us your story?” her age soon fades away, “My name is Mulinka Savicc and let me tell you a story about how I fought for my country when women like me weren’t allowed to.”

Milunka Savic’s birthdate is widely unknown due to no records of her family but is believed she was born June 28, 1888, in the village of Koprivnica, Serbia. Not else is known about her childhood except that she did have a brother named Milun. This fact is known about her because her brother was called to service during the First Balkan War. 

In 1912  the nations that make up the Balkans, Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, and Montenegro joined forces to push the Ottoman Empire from Europe. Serbia alone called up 255k men which was 9 percent of the population of the country. The countries that make up the Balkans would gather up 750k fighting men in total. The military’s search for fighting men even included the tiny village where the Savics lived that only had a population of 20. Her brother was suffering from TB at the time so she would take his place at the age of 24. 

She quickly saw combat in both of the Balkan Wars was assigned to the iron regiment unit and was promoted to Corporal.  She would be wounded by a grenade at the Battle of Bregainica during the second Balkan Conflict and this is where field surgeons discovered that Corporal Savic was a woman. She did recover but higher-ranking officers were unsure what to do with her as she was a remarkable soldier as she had proven many times over as this injury was sustained during her 10th deployment. The brass offered her a transfer over to nursing but she refused this offer. While she stood at attention and insisted she wanted to fight for her country as a combatant and not a nurse. He CO would contemplate her words and tell her he would give her his decision on what to do with her the next day as she replied “I will wait.” He would only let an hour go by as she remained at attention awaiting his word allowing her to still fight. 

In 1914 in the early days of WWI, she was awarded her first Karadorde(kata George Ay) Star with swords which is Serbia’s highest honor after the Battle of Kolubara. Here she would take the fight to the enemy, charging across no man's land with her rifle and two bandoliers of grenades. She would single-handedly clear an Austrian trench with her grenades and then run to the next one where 20 soldiers surrendered to her. After sending them back she would then assault a third trench with her grenades again and wouldn’t stop her Jane Wick type of fight until she was hit by shrapnel from an artillery shell. 

She would receive her second one after the battle of Cerna Bend in 1916 where she captured 23 Bulgarian soldiers in the same style of assault she did previously in Kolubara. They weren’t able to hold out against the opposing forces and the Servians had to retreat across the mountains and along the coast of Albania with only 100k troops left. They were evacuated by the British and French and her unit would become a Serbian brigade in the French Army. She would go on to fight in Tunisia and again on the Macedonian front until 1918 becoming a non-commissioned officer (holding a leadership position within their unit but at a lower rank. 

She would be wounded a total of nine times and be decorated time and time again by other countries for her bravery.  She would be awarded the Russian Order of Holy George for courage, the British Medal of St. Michael, the French Legion of Honor twice, and the only woman in WWI to win the France Croix de Guerre. 

So how good of a soldier was she? 

A French officer couldn’t believe a woman was capable of fighting like a man could in battle. So in Thessaloniki, Greece, this officer challenged Milunka to prove her skills. He challenged her to shoot a bottle of 1800  cognac and said if she could shoot it from 40m (130 feet) he would let her have the other 19 bottles in the case. It took her only a single shot to break the bottle. He refused to believe she could throw grenades as well as she did, and she took another bottle from the case and took it out with a grenade. Sources didn’t specify if she took it out by just throwing it live or not I am going to guess it was not a live grenade. 

Even postwar she continued to receive awards from different countries including her home of Serbia earning 12 medals in total. She declined a military pension from France that she was offered for her service but wanted to stay in Serbia. 

Here she would go on to marry Veljko Gligorevic and have a daughter of their own and adopt three more children. She would also go on to help 32 other children finish school as more than likely she knew how important this was as she was possibly illiterate herself. 

During WW2  she was placed in a concentration camp after being beaten by police for almost a year after she was found giving aid to the Partisans and Chetniks. The camp commander recognized who she was and ordered her to be released with all military honors. Who knows it could be a case of honor among soldiers or the stories of Mulinka proceeding her time in the camp knowing it would be the end of them all if she got her hands on grenades and rifle. 

Her story mostly went unknown until the 1960s when she attended a celebration for those who fought in WWII where many military officers spoke to her about her actions. During the 70s even more people came to know the Lady of the Dark after she was highlighted in a newspaper article about her difficult financial and living situation and was given a small apartment by the city of Belgrade. Milunka would die in 1973 and was buried in a family mausoleum until 2013 when her remains were brought to the Alley of the Greats in Belgrade New Cemetery.  Here is where all Serbian distinguished citizens and war heroes are buried.

In 2013 a documentary was made about her time in the military and one of my now favorite bands Sabaton has written a song about her named Lady of the Dark.

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