The “Devil’s Cave” at Untermyer Park, Yonkers

thedevil'scave

From an issue of The Herald Statesman, a local newspaper in Yonkers, circa 1979:

“Meeting at midnights in the wooded, abandoned recesses of Untermyer Park, the cult held its rites on and near the old Croton Aqueduct, known to some neighborhood youths as ‘the gutters’ and the ‘sewers.’ The next line in the Breslin letter began: ‘Hello from the sewers . . . .’

‘We always called it ‘the gutters,” said a local teenager named Vince, who asked that his last name be withheld. ‘That sign you see spray-painted (graffiti at the site) ‘NGP’ – we always said meant ‘near gutters path.”

The Croton Aqueduct, no longer in use, is an underground tunnel about eight feet in diameter that winds some 25 miles from Croton Reservoir in northern Westchester to New York City. A wide path on top of it follows its course through wooded areas and residential neighborhoods.”

From I am the Son of Sam!, an article by John Vincent Sanders for the Fortean Times:

“As you clear the trees after an uphill climb in New York’s Untermyer Park, you cannot fail to notice what appears to be a rather bizarre-looking rock formation. Closer examination reveals iron handrails and other signs of human handiwork. Locals have always referred to the large structure – more than 40ft (12.2m) high at its west face – as the Eagle’s Nest. It was erected about 75 years ago as a cascading fountain, and the gazebo at its summit offers a fine view of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades.

Untermyer Park and the demolished pump-house – once known as Devil’s Cave – are more than points of local interest. Along with other nearby locations, they represent little-known pieces in a jigsaw puzzle of mass-murder and ongoing controversy.

Twenty-five years ago, New York was in the grip of an unprecedented homicidal menace. From July 1976 until July 1977, a brutal killer – who identified himself only as ‘Son of Sam’ – perpetrated eight separate handgun assaults; several of them were against amorous couples in parked cars but, in all cases, the primary targets were young women in their teens and twenties. Six of the 13 people attacked died of their injuries: Donna Lauria, Carl Denaro (a long-haired male mistaken for a woman), Christine Freund, Virginia Voskerichian, Valentina Suriani, and Stacy Moskowitz. A survivor of the first assault, 18-year-old Jody Valente, described her assailant as a white male in his thirties with curly hair.

During the course of the next 12 months, two letters containing satanic undertones and promises of further bloodshed were received by reporter Jimmy Breslin and the New York City Police Department. The murderer – dubbed ‘The .44-Calibre Killer’ by the New York press – triggered the largest manhunt in US history, creating a wave of fear that peaked during the summer of 1977. Police soon announced a “one gun, one killer” theory but, in retrospect, that theory appears to have been inconsistent with the facts available at the time, a time when, coincidentally, popular interest in satanism was on the rise.

Twenty-five years later, the satanic activity that used to occur in this area has become urban legend. The characteristics of Untermyer Park in particular made it a perfect location for such things; even today, fully half the grounds are densely wooded. Furthermore, several locations there, including the Eagle’s Nest (above) and the so-called ‘temple’, are still tagged with occult/satanic graffiti, much of it recently applied. Population shifts over the last three decades have resulted in a large Hispanic presence in the area. An individual familiar with the neighbourhood today assured me that evidence of santeria ritual fowl sacrifices are occasionally found in woods adjacent to the Aqueduct.

Former employees of nearby St John’s Hospital can still recall nights when chanting and torch flames were seen and heard in the depths of the woods, especially from the area of the now-demolished Devil’s Cave. There are those who maintain that harmless teenagers were the only ones frequenting the backwoods at night during the Seventies, but that belief flies in the face of some disturbing facts. Over Christmas 1976, dead Alsatian dogs, with their ears carefully excised, were found on the Aqueduct just south of Untermyer Park. In November 1979, a Westchester County Police Officer stumbled upon a sinister night-time gathering in the Lenoir Nature Preserve: a group of robed and hooded figures carrying torches and leading two leashed Alsatians.

Similar events were reported elsewhere in the region at the time. In the upstate town of Walden, New York, 85 Alsatians were found skinned between October 1976 and October 1977. Across the state-line, in Fairfield County, Connecticut, an employee at a local radio station told me of druid-like gatherings, at night, in the woods surrounding Candlewood Lake, near Danbury.”

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In October of 2006, Kwaree Blog went on an expedition to the site:

“If you grew up in my home town and went to my high school, you almost certainly know about the Satan Caves. Ok, I am pretty sure no one from anywhere is reading this, so let me explain. The Satan Caves are actual caves situated in a very strange area between three towns. The area is home to many man-made reservoirs that feed New York City. As such, you can imagine all the construction all those years ago that made the area mysterious…reservoirs and lakes, tunnels and caverns, canals and … well, caves.

It looks like the entire cave system is filled with about ten feet of water.

The building on the right is totally ruined and full of beer cans. I have no idea why anyone would want to be in there drinking beer. Laura loved the caves and I bet she would’ve gone in, if it wasn’t filled with water. I have to watch this one …

So there you have it…the Satan Caves. They do exist, but you won’t be able to go inside unless someone goes up there with a backhoe to move that dirt and drain the water.”

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