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Published October 18, 2017

Ghosts and Tacos: Haunted History of The Pine State Creamery

Raleigh’s Xoco–formally Dos Taquitos–may be the only restaurant in Raleigh with a haunted bathroom. Built in 1928, The Pine State Creamery in on Glenwood South has a Jekyll and Hyde history. This historic building was home to a wholesome, family-friendly ice cream shop in the 1950’s, then later to downtown nightlife hotspots like Dos Taquitos and Milk Bar.

But after two fires damaged the building in the 1960’s and 1970’s, The Creamery’s history took a darker turn. Two workers died, one within the walls where modern day Xoco now stands. His body, says the manager of the previous restaurant, was found in the freezer. However, the worst story of all took place in the 1990’s, when John Williams Jr. went on a serial killing spree in and around the Glenwood South neighborhood.

Serial Killers and Prostitutes

According to WRAL, Williams was found guilty of raping and murdering several women. He “sought his targets from among women drug addicts in a 2-mile area of downtown Raleigh.” Williams was a violent and, frankly, unintelligent man, with an IQ of only 80. While he was only charged with two murders, he was suspected in at least four slayings.

One of his victims was a woman named Deborah Elliot. Her body was found beaten and abandoned in the alley beside The Creamery. Another one of his suspected victims, a woman named Cynthia Brown, was found scattered along the railroad tracks nearby.

His jury “saw him as a lethal predator in the desperate world of crack addicts, preying on women willing to have sex in exchange for a high. He lured them with drugs, choked them, put a box cutter to their throats, and raped them.”

The Ghosts of Xoco

When you enter Xoco, a sign hangs on the door the reads: This building is confirmed haunted. 

Skeletons greet you at the door. Funky, eerie lighting haunts the long hallway, where a skeletal, pale woman dressed in a rose-red tango dress waits for you. Little skulls dance along the tables and bar. Xoco has embraced its spooky legends with Dia de las Muertos decor.

Strange things began happening in the evening hours. Friday-night selfies started showing strange figures in photos. Customers complained of hearing whispers, often someone whispering their name directly into their ear. Workers grew nervous when lights turned off and on by themselves. Little skeleton dolls began to move by themselves, and glasses would inexplicably fly across the room.

Also, I kid you not, the Women’s Restroom is a hot spot for this activity. The lights are said to go off by themselves, leaving unexpecting customers in the dark. The water spicket turns off and on. Customers have made a game of daring each other to use the restroom alone after a couple of drinks.

Debb Kiser, who worked at Dos Taquitos and now works at Xoco, has been working in The Creamery building for years. She’s the lead investigator for a paranormal investigation group, As Southern as Possible Paranormal (ASAPP), founded by Kristen Ford-Newell. ASAPP was invited to explore the rumors of hauntings, and they sought to communicate with the spirits through an official investigation at the restaurant.

The Paranormal Investigation

Kiser’s team discovered reactions on equipment when names were said out loud during an EVP session in the restaurant. Believing the ghosts to be the restless spirits of the murdered victims, Kiser tried asking “Cynthia? Deborah?”

The equipment responded. In particular, Cynthia is thought to be the primary spirit in Xoco. Deborah was murdered just outside the building, so it makes sense her spirit would wander the building. Cynthia’s body was discovered by the train tracks; however, it’s entirely possible her body was dragged there.

Furthermore, Cynthia’s murder we never vindicated, as the prosecutors were not able to gather enough evidence to convict Williams for her death — although he is still the primary suspect.

Xoco fully embraces the strange occurrences, even appearing on national television shows like CMT’s Southbound.

So if you’re looking to explore a creepy, local legend for Halloween, try having a taco at Xoco. Gather your courage and take a few minutes in the women’s bathroom.

Your friends will have a margarita waiting for you when it’s over.

Xoco is having a Halloween Party called Xoco Loco on Saturday, October 28th. Enjoy delicious Mexican food, drinks, and genuine ghosts. How’s that for a spooky, all-local Halloween?

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  • heather

    Heather

  • I sincerely believe that through the power of storytelling, I can make social issues become more than a set of statistics. My expertise is in community leadership, non-profit work, event coordinating, networking, and storytelling. All my articles.

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