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  • Haunted house opens in ex-mortuary

  • First-time haunted house proprietors Tammy and Tom Myers decided to set up shop in the former Simpson’s Funeral Home at 323 S. Kansas in Columbus.

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  • First-time haunted house proprietors Tammy and Tom Myers decided to set up shop in the former Simpson’s Funeral Home at 323 S. Kansas in Columbus.
    If you think touring haunted houses in warehouses or barns is creepy, try visiting one located in a mortuary.
    The whole thing started when the Myers, who own a wedding chapel and banquet facility just outside Joplin, Mo., bought the 6,000 square foot Victorian-style mortuary, which sat unsold for two years, from a local bank. They considered renovating it for use as a satellite reception facility — and still are — but they faced the question of what to do with it in the meantime. Tom said inspiration hit him early one morning.
    “I woke up one morning and I said ‘I know what we’re supposed to do with the house,’” Tom said, adding that they named their creation “Dexter’s Haunted House of Horrors” after the main character on Showtime’s hit series about a serial killer who only kills bad guys. In an eerie twist, after the Myers decided to name their spook house after “Dexter,” Tom noticed that the lock on the entrance to the house bears the name of the manufacturer; “Dexter Lock.”
    It certainly helps that Tammy is an interior designer as well.
    “People said they couldn’t see her decorating a haunted house, but she just loves decorating,” Tom said.
    It wasn’t as though it was entirely easy for Tammy, who said she had to stop decorating some days because the place just got too spooky.
    "I’ve never even been inside a haunted house,” she said during a tour of the place. “We just started building.”
    And build they did. With the help of handyman Norman Willey, they transformed the spacious interior into a macabre maze of low-hanging webs, claustrophobic corridors, concealed spooks and an eerie, otherworldly ambiance. They’ve been open for a week, and the house has already proven itself as a first-rate slaughter fest.
    “We had a girl last week who peed her pants,” Tammy said.
    For additional creepiness, the Myers built a replica embalming room in the original embalming room, and caskets were built where bodies used to rest while awaiting funeral services. And one of the former families that lived upstairs used to tell their young daughter that the people she saw lying stiffly on steel slabs or in coffins were sleeping, Tammy said.
    Locals say the house is haunted, and it doesn’t seem like such a far-fetched proposition. Indeed, the last room on the tour is said to house spirits in its closet, and has a uniquely threatening and disturbing presence.
    “The kids really don’t like this room,” Tammy said, and insisted that a group of supernatural researchers she had brought in had refused to enter the basement or upstairs.
    Page 2 of 2 - The all-volunteer cast is made up of members of the Myers clan and Columbus residents, and their ages range from 6- to 72-years-old.
    Volunteer zombie Becca Frobish said she likes to scare her friends and make them jump.
    “Especially if it’s people I know, all they guys who think they’re tough,” said Frobish, who shares an upstairs scene with her younger sister, Kionah.
    Volunteer zombie/predator Scott Hale agreed.
    “It’s fun to scare people I know,” Hale said. “And Halloween is my favorite holiday, too.”
    Becca and Kionah Frobish’s mother, Jamie, said she enjoys her role as the ghoulish greeter.
    “I’m just out there scaring people,” she said. “But most of all I love it because my daughters are doing it, and we’re doing it together.”
    Tickets are $13 each. The house is open from 6:30 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Halloween. Also, during the city’s Halloween Safewalk on Halloween, tickets will be $2 for children age 10 and under, and the money raised will be donated to All God’s Creatures animal rescue service in Columbus.

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