Quitman, Arkansas is a small town full of rich history. Filled with older homes and long time residents, it is one of the oldest communities in north central Arkansas, with stories to match. It was a major trading center until 1870 and was a popular enlistment hub for young Civil War soldiers. Some attribute some of the dark history as the source of so much of Quitman’s paranormal activity.
One popular story involves the Jackson family. A long time neighbor has given an account of Mr. Jackson and his wife who lived in the house for many years. They were blessed with a son, Joseph, in 1898. He proudly marched off to serve in World War I and died at the age of twenty one. The neighbor’s stories claim that the boy remains in the house across the street, on Mulberry Street.
Joseph Jackson is not the only boy with a long told story in Quitman. In 1954, Gerald Floyd Bettis was born to Floyd and Alline Bettis. While they had worked very hard to finally have a son to round out their tiny family, Gerald was a difficult child, even early on. He was described as being very vicious and cruel. He was commonly being sent home from school for altercations on the school yard, but teachers were concerned that Gerald seemed to be encouraging the negative treatment from other students.
At home, Gerald had an unusual habit of collecting cats and dogs. Ultimately resulting in his nickname “the dog boy”, Gerald’s house was constantly filled with animals. People were unsure what he did with the creatures after he caught them, but many were concerned that the boy was horribly torturing and killing the animals.
His horrible treatment carried over to his parents as they aged. Towering over his family at six foot four and over three hundred pounds, Gerald used his brute strength to keep his parents imprisoned in the attic of their home, later named the Bettis House. He kept them there for years, chronically abusing and torturing them badly, according to police reports. He fed them when he felt like it and would often throw food at them as if they were stray dogs and not his beloved parents.
Things escalated when Gerald threw his seventy year old father out the window, where he clung to the ledge for dear life until the police arrived. His body was covered in bruises and showed that he had been severely beaten over a long period of time. Floyd Bettis died in 1981, allegedly from an illness. However, neighbors speculated that his death was actually the result of complications from a broken neck after being violently pushed down the stairs by his son.
It wasn’t until the death of his father and continued abuse of his mother that Gerald was finally arrested. Later on in the 80s, Alline Bettis fell and broke her hip and was taken to the hospital. Although fear kept the woman paralyzed from speaking out, she finally broke down and told police about the torture that had been taking place in the home. Adult protective services quickly took Alline into custody.
Gerald’s mother’s testimony sent police to his home for his arrest. When they arrived, he was also charged with several drug related offenses, including growing marijuana plants in the family home. He was imprisoned in the late eighties and died from a drug overdose at age 34 in 1988.
Upon Alline’s death in 1995, Alline’s niece inherited Bettis House. After just a short time, she hastily put the house up for sale and never entered it again. The Weavers bought the home and were excited about their great deal. Unfortunately, they found out the hard way why Alline’s niece wanted nothing to do with the house. Shortly after moving in, the Weaver’s started to experience some very strange occurrences.
Paranormal activity quickly became common in the house. The family first noticed flickering lights, strange noises, and problems with electronics. Shortly after, the family dog began to refuse to enter the home. They would hear doors slam and footprints, without ever being able to locate a source. They experienced cold spots and toilets flushing on their own. The family described feelings of complete despair and sadness, and feelings of being watched or even pushed.
Before finally following suit of the dog and refusing to enter the home at all, the family also experienced coins floating through a room and landing in a crash at Mrs. Weaver’s feet, a man in the foyer who was dressed in World War I uniform, and a cat that would hiss and snarl before walking through a wall or door, unscathed. The Dog Boy himself has even been rumored to appear in an upstairs window, scowling at passersby.
Moving objects was a common occurrence, as well as leaving the home with all the lights and electronics turned off, only to return a short time later to every light and object in the house turned on. A recliner tipped and paused briefly, before being completely flipped over. Finally, while building an addition to the house, Mr. Weaver left to take a break. When he returned, a pile of 2×4’s left in the room were all standing on their ends. He could only stare in horror as they all crashed to the ground at the same time.