I am an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.
An Opportunity Arises
Philip Peters was a man who lived a life most would envy. The Colorado native had married Helen, his childhood sweetheart, fresh out of high school and worked tirelessly to meet their worldly needs. Considered by all who knew him to be the salt of the earth, he didn't have an enemy in the world, at least not to his knowledge.
At seventy-three years of age, Peters was still as active as ever, toiling away from dusk till dawn. In the fall of 1941, he was forced to put everything on the back burner when a broken hip landed Helen in the hospital.
Ever the devoted husband, Peters spent most of his time at her bedside as she struggled to regain her ability to walk. Returning home each day after visiting hours ended, he would have a bite of dinner before bathing and grabbing a few hours of sleep. When morning came, he would wake and do it all again.
Fifty-nine-year-old Theodore Edward Coneys had been a friend of Peters' on and off for years despite the fact that they were as different as night and day. While one had prospered in life, the other never seemed able to catch a break. This disparity was not lost on Coneys who had watched his friend's success from afar with a resentment that threatened to consume him.
Shiftless by nature, Coneys had never found a career path that was to his liking. Unable to hold a job for more than a few weeks, he had lived hand-to-mouth for as long as he could remember. Homeless for much of his adult life, soup kitchens and handouts were the only things that kept the aging ne'er do well afloat.
In a fortuitous twist of fate, Coneys found himself once again living on the streets around the same time that Helen was admitted to the hospital. Dropping by the Peters' house one day in hopes of mooching a hot meal, he was put out to find that no one was home. Rather than leaving, he formulated a plan in which he would finally have the life he had always wanted. From that point on, he would know what it was like to be Philip Peters.
A Tragic End
Coneys let himself in that afternoon and never left. As he looked around the place, the hard feelings he harbored towards his old friend only intensified. There was no denying that Peters had done well for himself. His resentment boiling over, Coneys decided then and there that it was time for a change.
He memorized the layout of the interior as he moved from room to room. After surveying every inch of the dwelling, Coneys made up his mind that the attic would suit his needs until more suitable accommodations became available.
After settling in, the home invader couldn't believe his good fortune. With the owners gone most of the day, he had the run of the house. As soon as Peters left in the morning, he would make his way down to the kitchen and help himself to a hearty breakfast. He would then clean up all evidence of his presence before lounging around like a king. In no time at all, he had his oblivious host's schedule down pat. Things were almost too perfect. All the same, Coneys knew that the arrangement couldn't go on forever.
One morning a month or so into his stay, Coneys heard the front door close, signaling to him that the coast was clear. He then made his way downstairs and proceeded to whip up a meal, as was his custom.
What he didn't know was that Peters hadn't actually left the house. He had simply stepped out for a moment before heading back into his bedroom. With both men unaware of the other's presence, the stage was set for the deadly confrontation to come.
Thinking that he had the place to himself, Coneys got on with his activities. Peters, unaware of the danger he was in, walked into the kitchen and found himself standing face-to-face with a familiar stranger he hadn't seen in nearly ten years.
So much time had passed since their last meeting that Peters hadn't recognized his former friend at first. With the element of surprise on his side, Coneys seized the moment and mercilessly attacked the bewildered homeowner, throttling him with anything he could get his hands on.
Peters tried in vain to defend himself against the frenzied attack. Realizing at some point that flight would be his only hope of survival, he had run for the safety of his bedroom. It would be there that he would die at the hands of someone who had, unbeknownst to him, been living under his roof all along.
After the deed was done, Coneys retreated to the attic as if nothing had happened. As the day progressed, he decided to take advantage of his newfound freedom. Thanks to the violent turn of events he had instigated, he no longer had to fear being found out. At last, he was the man of the house.
Stranger in the House
It wasn't long before those who had dealings with Peters noticed that something was wrong. Hospital staff were the first to question his absence when he failed to show up for his usual visit. After witnessing his unwavering commitment to his wife on a daily basis, they couldn't imagine any circumstances that would keep him from her side.
Neighbors in the close knit community became concerned for his well-being when he failed to show up for a dinner party at the house across the street. Since it was an occasion he had promised to attend, the hosts took it upon themselves to perform a welfare check. With that, they headed to the Peters' home.
After their persistent knocks went unanswered, the couple circled the house, looking for a way in. They eventually gained access through a back door that had been left unlocked.
They would later recall that the silence was deafening as they entered the kitchen. When they switched on the light, they saw blood spattered on the walls and dripping from the ceiling.
Hoping against hope that their friend had somehow survived the carnage, the pair continued on through the house. When they reached the bedroom, their worst fears were realized. Lying on the floor was the battered body of Philip Peters. Knowing instantly that he was beyond help, they phoned the police.
When they arrived on the scene, authorities could find no sign of a break-in which indicated to them that the victim had let his killer into the home willingly. Nothing appeared to have been disturbed, including a tidy sum of cash that was in plain view, ruling out burglary as a motive. Officials did what they could, but with no witnesses and no suspects in mind, the case quickly went cold.
Helen was released from the hospital shortly after her husband's murder. While she continued her recovery at home, she hired a housekeeper to see to her daily needs. The helper would end up leaving her position a few weeks later after voicing her concerns that the house was haunted.
The woman would share with investigators that, as she was entering the kitchen one day, she saw a hand as white as a sheet reaching around the door that led to the second level. As she let out a shriek, she heard someone run up the stairs. The frazzled housekeeper, convinced that she had seen a ghost, quit soon afterwards.
The next woman to hold the job complained of hearing strange noises on the premises at all hours of the day and night. Fearing that something supernatural was at play, she too tendered her resignation.
With no one left to care for Helen, she moved in with her son and his family. The decision, made out of necessity, probably saved her life.
No one knew it then, but Coneys had been in the house the entire time. It was he who had spooked the staff into leaving. He had been careful to frighten them away while still maintaining his anonymity. Once again, he had the place to himself. What he didn't realize as he reveled in his success was that all good things eventually come to an end.
Things began to unravel when eagle-eyed neighbors noticed lights on inside the supposedly vacant house. When police were notified, they began surveilling the property. One evening, in the summer of 1942, they finally hit the jackpot when they witnessed a man peering out from behind the living room curtain.
After storming the house, the officers apprehended Coneys as he attempted to flee to his attic roost. Frustratingly, it was the one area of the home that had not been searched at the time of Peters' murder due to the assumption that the opening was too small for an adult to fit through.
Upon seeing the killer in the flesh, investigators had a better understanding of how he managed to squeeze through the narrow space. Although he stood nearly six feet tall, Coneys was so painfully thin that a strong wind would have blown him away. They also noted that his skin was completely devoid of color, indicating to them that he hadn't seen the light of day in a very long time.
Coneys was tried and convicted of the brutal slaying of Philip Peters. He would die in prison in 1967 while serving out his life sentence. His legacy, such as it was, was not one many would wish to claim.
The incidence of people stowing away in the residences of others is not as rare as one would think. Over the years, there have been numerous documented accounts of home invaders found hiding in walls, attics, crawlspaces, cellars and basements. Some are acquaintances of the owners while others are total strangers who chose the properties at random.
In most cases, these unwanted guests leave on their own when they sense that their cover is about to be blown. When they are discovered, it is often completely by accident. Fortunately, the confrontations that inevitably follow seldom end as horribly as that of Peters and Coneys.
For those who have experienced these unfathomable events, the scars run long and deep. Along with the violation of privacy, the victims also suffer a loss of innocence. After what they have gone through, they can never again rest in the knowledge that they are safe at home.