The Unexplained: Who was the phantom barber of Pascagoula?

A newspaper photograph of Mary Evelyn Briggs and her sister Laura. Mary Evelyn lost some of her hair to the Phantom Barber.

The creepy intruder invaded neighborhood homes, never harming any people but stealing locks of hair.

A town with an eerily poetic name like Pascagoula, Mississippi must hold deep mysteries.  At the very least, it must have magnetic properties, otherworldly portals, or dangerous vortexes.

 The Pascagoula River is known to sing.  No one has ever learned why it does.  If you can catch it singing, the music sounds are flute-like, much like rubbing the moist rim of a glass.  The French settlers who came to the area in 1699 made note of the haunting tunes.

There was a time that Pascagoula once attracted a UFO to land there and the pilots got out and harassed a couple of isolated local fishermen.  I recently got a Kindle edition of the younger man’s true account of the incident and it is an interesting read:  Pascagoula—The Closest Encounter by Calvin Parker.

Pascagoula got its romantic name from the peaceful band of Native Americans that spoke the Choctaw language:  Pasca Okla translates as bread people or bread eaters.

There is an eerie and odd event that happened in Pascagoula during WWII that not many people know about or remember.  During that time the town of Pascagoula considered itself lucky because, in 1942, the government decided to put in a warship factory there. 

It supplied badly-needed jobs.  The population increased by 300 percent.  Did the spooky event happen because of this?  The addition of the factory brought an influx of outsiders seeking work.  There were mysterious strangers intermingling with the upright citizens of Pascagoula and its surroundings due to the calamity of war.

From this strange stew, the sinister creature emerged and soon got a name:  The Phantom Barber.  This phantom first struck an area convent.  He snuck in at night and terrified a child, taking a souvenir to remember the event.  After the convent, the creepy intruder went on to invade neighborhood homes.  He did not harm any people, but clipped chunks of their hair and made off with the locks in the night.  

Sometimes The Phantom Barber used chloroform to incapacitate his victim if he thought they would cause a ruckus.  The non-violent, but sinister invasions, happened many times—until they took a nasty turn.  The Phantom Barber became violent, wielding a pipe on an uncooperative couple.  They received some unpleasant and serious injuries.

Detectives were stumped.  Because of the use of chloroform on some of the victims, the detectives zoomed in on chemists.  They selected a chemist who was believed to be a Nazi sympathizer.

The suspect was charged with the attempted murder of the couple for using a pipe on them.  He was never charged with trespassing or theft of hair in any of the cases.  He later passed a lie detector test and was released.  His arrest was determined to be a result of the German-phobia that ran rampant at the time.

The real Phantom Barber was never captured.  Did he move away when the warship factory was dismantled?  Did he die?  Was he incarcerated elsewhere?  No similar phantom barbers were reported operating elsewhere during that time.

We will never know unless some odd locks of hair or a diary are uncovered in the years to come, to reveal the culprit.

SMH

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of It Rises from the Pee Dee. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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