Kristin Lisenby Kristin Lisenby
5 minute read

In early 19th century America, motels were situated at mile markers just beyond a city’s limits. John and Lavinia Fisher ran the Six Mile Inn, a modest resting spot and watering hole located six miles outside of Charleston, South Carolina.

At just 27 years old, Lavinia was known for her bewitching looks and charming personality. On the outside, she was a gracious host. She enjoyed meeting new guests and would sit and chat for hours, all the while sipping tea and swapping stories.

So when reports began to surface of missing travelers that had last been seen at one of the inns outside of Charleston, nobody suspected that lovely Lavinia had anything to do with the disappearances. But while Mrs. Fisher’s friendly demeanor and hospitality appeared ordinary to most, not everyone was as receptive to her good looks and southern charm.

One such man was John Peeples, who would be the last guest at the Six Mile Inn. After a warm greeting from the innkeeper (who explained that although she had no rooms available, the traveler was welcome to rest in the salon), the man felt Lavinia’s questions to be suspicious.

Did he have a family?

What did he do for work?

Was he traveling alone?

What a beautiful watch! Was he carrying other valuables?

Peeples couldn’t help but notice that Lavinia was friendly, maybe too friendly, whereas her husband watched their interaction without saying a word. Even more suspect was that after Peeples shared that he was traveling alone, Lavinia suddenly remembered that she did, in fact, have one last room available.

Peeples found Lavinia odd, but he was too exhausted to find lodging elsewhere and agreed to stay for the night. When he stood to retire for the evening, Lavinia insisted that he keep her company a little longer. After all, she had just brewed a pot of tea and it would go to waste if he didn’t indulge.

Not wanting to appear ungrateful, Peeples allowed the hostess to serve him a cup. He was too polite to tell her that he despised tea, so instead, when her back was turned, he dumped the liquid into a nearby potted plant.

As the evening progressed, Peeples watched his friendly host turn agitated. Lavinia’s questions became more intrusive, and the man’s uneasiness resurfaced. Eventually, Peeples convinced the innkeepers that he needed to rest before another long day of travel. But once in his room, he still couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right at the Six Mile Inn.

Maybe that’s why Peeples chose to sleep in the chair instead of the bed, or perhaps it was pure luck, but either way, shortly after he fell asleep, Peeples was startled awake by a loud noise.

The bed (which was secretly placed over a trap door) had disappeared. When he peered into the pit where his bed used to be, he was horrified to see a small dungeon and what appeared to be human remains.

With his suspicions confirmed, Peeples tore open the bedroom door and was met face-to-face with Mr. Fisher. The innkeeper was shocked to see his guest so active (because his wife’s oleander-infused tea was strong enough to impair even the mightiest of men), but before Fisher could react, Peeples slammed the door, locked it, and escaped out the window.

Peeples ran the six miles to Charleston, where he reported that the Six Mile Inn was involved in a slew of unsavory activities, including murder. When police arrived at Lavinia’s property, they found the trapdoor, the dungeon beneath, and several bodies buried on the property. They also found a collection of gold jewelry, clothes, and other possessions believed to have been stolen from the missing travelers.

As the tale goes, John and Lavinia Fisher were jailed, tried, and sentenced to death by hanging. Allegedly, while her husband maintained his innocence (but also begged for forgiveness), Lavinia was angry, prideful, and openly resented what was to be the end of her story. According to some accounts, she wore her wedding dress to the hanging. As the noose was placed around her neck, she taunted the crowd with her final words:

“If you have a message you want to send to hell, give it to me, and I’ll carry it!”

Then, because she refused to let anyone take her life, she jumped off the platform.

Charleston locals say that after John Fisher was laid to rest, his face was never seen again. However, they claim that Lavinia’s ghost still wanders the interior of the Old City Jail. Legend says that she stares out the window of her former cell, hoping to catch the attention of a naïve traveler, one who has not yet heard of the beautiful and wicked hostess of the Six Mile Inn.

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