For decades the Von Epp Bookstore was a staple of the Cross business community. The owners, always members of the family, were active in the town and its various programs. While the proprietors spoke German with one another, they always spoke in English when in front of customers or non-family member employees.
Beginning in the middle 1800s, a curious, annual event began to unfold.
Children disappeared within the store.
On the 10th of every month, if there was a child in the shop, that child vanished. They were never found again. No trace, not any sort of clue.
They were gone, and although the police and residents tore through the building, no child was ever recovered.
Soon, residents of Cross kept their children away from the store on the 10th of each month, and the store would close as well.
In 1891, a new relative took over the business, and since there had been no disappearances for 25 years, he felt it safe enough to open the store again.
On December 10th, 1891, the store remained open. Several families visiting from out of town paid the store a visit to inspect postcards and small prints.
At 11:31 in the morning, Joseph Danforth – age 12 – of Cambridge, Massachusetts, wandered over to the history section of the store and vanished.
Amelia Harding, the shop-girl in the photo, was watching the boy when he vanished, and when she was calm enough to speak, she told the police what she saw:
A hole had opened in the bookstore, and a devil had snatched the boy out of this world and into darkness.
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