The Headstone Reads - Victim of the Beast 666
March 16, 2009 7:39 PM   Subscribe

The Search for Lilly E. Gray In the Salt Lake City Cemetery, there is a gravestone for a woman named Lilly E. Gray with an inscription that reads, "VICTIM OF THE BEAST 666." Many people have attempted to research this stone and Lilly, but strangely always hit a brick wall, as there is no information aside from her obituary, which states only that she died in a local hospital from natural causes. Flickr, Find A Grave and for more spookiness.
posted by deborah (30 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
She was molested to death by Aleister Crowley?
posted by doctor_negative at 7:45 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seems like she was killed by the Dark Lord.
posted by ColdChef at 7:47 PM on March 16, 2009

By which you mean dropsy.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:59 PM on March 16, 2009

She was molested to death by Aleister Crowley?

That was what I thought as well, damn you for beating me to the Crowley joke.

Could it not be a joke, though? Maybe she did have something to do with Crowley. I've never heard anyone or anything but Crowley referred to specifically as "The Beast 666". "The Beast" and "666" separately, yes, but not "The Beast 666".
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:02 PM on March 16, 2009

I love stuff like this, but mefi is a blackhole and any and all romanticism must be exorcised and made pure by the blinding light of rationalism. Bunch of pary poopers.
posted by nola at 8:12 PM on March 16, 2009


posted by DecemberBoy at 8:14 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yes, I live in Salt Lake City.

No, I don't know anything about it.

I want to speak with a lawyer.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:17 PM on March 16, 2009

In fairly recent years, they changed the number of that Highway. I was in the area a couple of years ago, with an old map still calling it highway 666, it is four hundred something nowadays. The mark of the beast 666 is something from Revelations. The other lady living at the house, may have been a polygamous wife, and Lily's regular relatives may have been in charge of burying her, but because she practiced polygamy, she was condemned by them.

Evening Primrose, and Mexican Primrose, grow well in Salt Lake City. Those two flowers beautify many a bed, and are water thrifty. There are a lot of creepy stories out of the Salt Lake City Cemetery. In recent years, there were a large number of cat mutilations there. The Avenues residents, where the cemetery is, were blamed, because they are a trendy bunch, or maybe goth kids doing rituals. This went on for a long time, until some Division Of Wildlife Resources guy investigated, and found fox hairs all over the carcasses. There are a lot of foxes in the cemetery, who were preying on house cats. Another myth shattered. Teenagers used to do a conjuring ritual in the old Jewish part of the cemetery, at a tomb, there.

Frankly the Salt Lake Cemetery, is a beautiful place with the most wonderful views of the Salt Lake Valley, it is full of deer, foxes, people, beautiful headstones, some very old. Some are quirky, Salt Lake is full of DIY, religious types, some more quirky than others. This stuff didn't start last week.
posted by Oyéah at 8:20 PM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

We're going to learn that there's a sex toy called "The Beast 666," aren't we?
posted by maxwelton at 8:21 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

she's probably OK since they got the number wrong, the number of the beast is actually 616
posted by sineater at 8:31 PM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

"she's probably OK since they got the number wrong, the number of the beast is actually 616"

Oh, great! Now I have to go back though and change all the ...

I mean, how interesting.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:37 PM on March 16, 2009 [8 favorites]

I know, my tattoo just seems like a typo now.
posted by nola at 8:54 PM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

The pair had an impromptu conversation, making reference to the names of many metal bands. Anderson asked Spencer what his favourite metal band was, and Spencer, put on the spot, gave the fake name "Salmon Hater."

Other details made up about the band were that they hailed from the hills of Glenelg, and that their latest single was 6.66 - One Hundredth of the Number of the Beast.

Within a couple of days, a listener had created a metal song by the given title for the duo to play on-air. Spencer and Anderson encouraged listeners to vote for the song in the annual Triple J Hottest 100 poll, for which votes were only a few days away from closing. Many people were surprised that the track reached number 26 in the Triple J Hottest 100 of 2002... [MORE]
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:04 PM on March 16, 2009

Short version of the article: I researched this mildly interesting tombstone but did not learn a thing.
posted by LarryC at 10:35 PM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

Hm. So if she was killed by the "beast 666". And, 666 is really 616... then I say she was killed by the Beast (Dr. Henry McCoy) on Earth-616 (of the regular Marvel Universe). Once again another crime is solved by my vast knowledge of Marvel Comics minutiae.
posted by runcibleshaw at 11:07 PM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Her initials are L.E.G. - could someone be pulling yours?
posted by Cranberry at 11:34 PM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Number of the Beese: 84281.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:16 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm sure Supernatural will do an episode about it eventually, as they run out of folklore to exploit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:07 AM on March 17, 2009

Other details made up about the band were that they hailed from the hills of Glenelg, and that their latest single was 6.66 - One Hundredth of the Number of the Beast.

I think there's lots of important theology to be done by subjecting the Number of the Beast to mathematical formulas.

Number of the Beast / Figures in the Trinity = 222, the Completely Neutral Number.
posted by JHarris at 4:42 AM on March 17, 2009

If you want to stick with 666 you're in good company. Irenaeus, for example (bolding mine):

Such, then, being the state of the case, and this number being found in all the most approved and ancient copies47004700 ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς σπουδαίοις καὶ ἀρχαίοις ἀντιγράφοις This passage is interesting, as showing how very soon the autographs of the New Testament must have perished, and various readings crept into the mss. of the canonical books. [of the Apocalypse], and those men who saw John face to face bearing their testimony [to it]; while reason also leads us to conclude that the number of the name of the beast, [if reckoned] according to the Greek mode of calculation by the [value of] the letters contained in it, will amount to six hundred and sixty and six; that is, the number of tens shall be equal to that of the hundreds, and the number of hundreds equal to that of the units (for that number which [expresses] the digit six being adhered to throughout, indicates the recapitulations of that apostasy, taken in its full extent, which occurred at the beginning, during the intermediate periods, and which shall take place at the end),—I do not know how it is that some have erred following the ordinary mode of speech, and have vitiated the middle number in the name, deducting the amount of fifty from it, so that instead of six decads they will have it that there is but one. [I am inclined to think that this occurred through the fault of the copyists, as is wont to happen, since numbers also are expressed by letters; so that the Greek letter which expresses the number sixty was easily expanded into the letter Iota of the Greeks.]47014701 That is, Ξ into ΕΙ, according to Harvey, who considers the whole of this clause as an evident interpolation. It does not occur in the Greek here preserved by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., v. 8).

Did you get that? It is 666 according to people who heard it from John himself!!
posted by vacapinta at 7:08 AM on March 17, 2009

Is it possible the 666 bit was added later by some jokester?
posted by Legomancer at 8:42 AM on March 17, 2009

Is it possible the 666 bit was added later by some jokester?

Do you realize how hard it would be to jokingly (and neatly) add an inscription to a tombstone?

My theory is that she lived with a very religious family and suffered dementia in her old age. They thought she was possessed and were unable to do anything to mitigate it. Her fate was memorialized on her tombstone as a token of the family's helpless grief and belief in the spirits that possessed her at the end.

The Alistair Crowley stuff is just kind of funny.

Really fascinating, deborah. Thanks!
posted by mudpuppie at 8:59 AM on March 17, 2009

I wish the article had mentioned her date of death versus her husband's, since if he were still alive when she died, presumably he would have the say over what went on her headstone. So odd and curious.
posted by taz at 2:47 PM on March 17, 2009

Definitely fascinating.

My answer to the mystery-- which isn't a very interesting answer at all, I'm afraid-- is that the hubby (and the presumable gravestone-buyer) was seriously off his nut.

If you look up Elmer F. Gray in the online archives of the Utah Board of Pardons, you'll find two pardon applications, one filed under "Elmer Gray," and one under "Elmer F. Gray." The "Elmer F. Gray" one is just barking insane.

In the "Elmer F. Gray" one, the petitioner states that he is being held under the name "Woodrow Lamb." Look up Woodrow Lamb in the same index, and you'll find an even larger pile of nutburgerage. The Woodrow Lamb paperwork mentions a brother in Colorado named Walter, and if you look in the online index to the Colorado State Archives, you'll see that they have incarceration records for roughly the right time for both Elmer F. Gray and Walter Gray. You can't view those records online, but I wouldn't be suprised if it were more of the same.

The University of Utah's digital newspaper archive also has a few articles that reference criminal conduct during the right period for a person named Elmer Gray. If you search (and if you can tolerate the abominable PDF viewer), you'll find articles about the umbrella theft mentioned in the article linked above, as well as some kind of minor horse-showing scam from the turn of the century, and a later criminal episode involving the use of aliases. (P. Kelly, I believe, was what he used. I’m sorry not to double-check. I just can’t deal with that PDF viewer again.)

[Um, yeah. Guess what I did last night instead of my o-chem homework?]

To sum up: Elmer Gray seems to have had both (a) very serious mental health issues; and (b) a pretty solid criminal resume. I'm guessing that (a) contributed to (b) fairly heavily. Lillie Edith seems to have taken up with the guy rather soon after his release from prison. The last application for probation was 1948 (I think.) The two married in 1950.

As for what the marriage actually was-- at this point, I don't think anyone can really say. Maybe Lillie was a vulnerable, lonelyheart-type who took Elmer on as a penpal while he was in prison. Maybe Elmer was an exploitative charmer, when he wasn't completely disconnected from reality. It’s easy to envision this: Elmer’s got a substantial paper trail. Elmer’s got handwriting we can see and a voice we can (just about) hear. Lillie, in contrast, is a blank slate. She was born in Ontario, maybe. At age 72, she married an ex-con in Elko, Nevada, and settled down to live with him in Salt Lake City, She died eight years later in hospital, leaving nieces and nephews, but no children. The ex-con followed in 1964. There doesn’t seem to be much more to know.

Despite the blankness, I would like to believe that Lillie was more than the sum of those rather vague parts. My operating theory, therefore, is that Lillie was also a a little bit criminal and little bit nuts. According to the records available online, Lillie seems to have burst, full formed and elderly, from the dirt of Elko, Nevada, just in time to marry Elmer. But maybe that’s not everything. Maybe it was merely the first time she’d used that name. I imagine her drifting down from Ontario, through Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Wyoming; going by names like Rose, Daisy, Tulip, and Iris; never settling; and leaving in her wake a trail of broken hearts, confusion, and bad checks. She’d have been the only one who really understood about the five democrats who ostensibly kidnapped Elmer Gray and murdered his former wife, according to his 1948 parole application. Hell, Elmer’s democrats could even have been the same guys she took a C-note off of, that time with the Texas twist crew out near Sioux Falls. Yeah, it made sense. They pretty much had to be. She’d known there was something fishy about those five.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:17 PM on March 17, 2009 [10 favorites]

Why does everyone assume the headstone was carved in 1958? I think more like 1998.
posted by cda at 5:17 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

My answer to the mystery-- which isn't a very interesting answer at all, I'm afraid-- is that the hubby (and the presumable gravestone-buyer) was seriously off his nut.

I like your theory, but one problem is that the husband listed in Lily's obituary is Elmer Lewis Gray, not Elmer F. Gray. I also have a subscription to an online newspaper database, and it had a 1964 obituary in the Salt Lake City paper for Elmer L. Gray, listed as as the husband of the late Lily Zimmerman.
posted by jonp72 at 8:07 PM on March 17, 2009

Oh wait! It turns out that there is a pardon application for Elmer L. Gray. Yup, this guy is seriously off his nut. I think you nailed it, palmcorder_yajna.
posted by jonp72 at 8:15 PM on March 17, 2009

I think there's also pretty good circumstantial evidence against the Aleister Crowley theory. Lily Gray died in 1958, before the occult boom of the mid-to-late 1960s. In other words, she died before things like Charles Manson, Anton LaVey's Church of Satan, and heavy metal songs about Crowley were part of the zeitgeist. By the late 1950s, the late Aleister Crowley was actually viewed as a fairly pathetic figure who had long lost his power to scare or shock people, much like Marilyn Manson today. This 1952 article from Time magazine said of Crowley, "In his last years, he was a shadow of a man, half-crazy and exhausted by drugs and debauchery, and his wickedness had degenerated into absurdity." Sure, every stoner and metalhead you knew in high school might have had a fascination with Aleister Crowley, but that doesn't mean two senior citizens from Utah in the 1950s would have thought much about the man.
posted by jonp72 at 8:26 PM on March 17, 2009

That's fantastic, palmcorder_yajna! Sorry about your homework, but that was terrific legwork. Poor Elmer apparently had trouble with democrats and devils all his life.
posted by taz at 10:18 PM on March 17, 2009

Wow, thanks for that, palmcorder_yajna! Lots of cool extra info.

I'm happy people are enjoying the thread. When I did a Mefi search I was stunned that it hadn't been posted before.
posted by deborah at 10:21 PM on March 17, 2009

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