STOKES COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Tragedy has a way of lingering, like the car crash that spurred the haunting of Lydia’s Bridge in Jamestown or the construction accident that gave rise to the Little Red Man in Old Salem. But some tragedies leave a more powerful legacy, one that spans multiple towns or, in this case, counties.
It’s one of the most well-known ghost stories of the Piedmont Triad, so much so that Netflix filmed a whole six-episode series—”28 Days Haunted”—centering on it alongside two other hauntings.
It’s the story of a Stoke County family and how its patriarch, Charlie Lawson, killed six of his children and his wife on Christmas day 1929.
“28 Days Haunted” focuses on Madison Dry Goods, a store in the town of Madison in Rockingham County. Before it was a general store, the building served as a funeral parlor, and it was there that the victims of Charlie Lawson’s massacre were embalmed. For 28 days, ghost hunters lived and slept in the building with no access to the outside world with cameras rolling to capture every stomach-turning moment.
But that’s not the only alleged haunting tied to the Lawson family murders.
After the bodies were embalmed at the funeral parlor in Madison, they were taken to Browder Family Cemetery in Germanton, where the family was laid to rest in front of thousands of mourners.
But some say they never found rest.
We met with a woman, Sonya Cox, who says she captured something she can only describe as evil at that very cemetery.
What happened to the Lawson family?
The stories tell us that a Germanton farmer, Charlie Lawson, sent his eldest son away to buy more shotgun shells before taking the lives of every single other member of the household.
“Some of them were shot, some of them were bludgeoned in the head by the butt of the gun,” Cox said.
Charlie then went into the woods, paced around—”There were footprints in the snow around a tree,” Cox said—and took his own life.
“He had scribbled some notes that didn’t make any sense on a piece of paper, and then some people heard the gunshot of him actually shooting himself,” she said.
A daughter’s friend found the bodies, the bloody scene sticking with her until her final days.
“It still made her cry and shook her to even tell those stories and how horrific it was,” Cox said.
At their funeral, 5,000 people mourned them—and it’s at Browder Family Cemetery that Cox found something disturbing.
“A couple years ago, my mom and my son and myself and some friends went at night,” she said. “At like 10 o’clock at night.”
She says legend has it, if you put baby powder around your car and go out there, children’s handprints will appear.
And that’s what they did.
“Had my Nikon professional DSLR camera with me,” she said. “Tried to take some pictures of the graveyard with it. It completely would malfunction. Would not work.”
So they took out their phones.
“It wasn’t until I got home and really started looking through those images that I saw some things that were kind of disturbing.”
Some of the pictures looked like static on a TV. Some were just white. Others, black. What they could make out, however, were strange orbs—and what looks to be a handprint in the baby powder on the car.
“There was one particular one that looked to be an image, leaned up against a tree looking right back at us that some have saw and thought looked very demonic,” she said. “The thing appears to have horns on its head, and it just has a demonic look to it, like a demonic-type spirit, like a ram’s head.”
Her daughter refuses to keep the picture on her phone, and Cox never printed it off until she decided to speak with us. But it was after she revealed the picture online that other people started commenting with their own stories
One commenter, a man, said he went out to get some video a few weeks earlier and went home to edit it late at night. At home, he “kept hearing a knocking sound behind him. He couldn’t explain where it was coming from and was worried that something had followed him home from there,” Cox said. “When he saw my pictures it kind of reaffirmed what he thought might have happened and it really freaked him out and scared him.”
Cox has gone back out to the cemetery since that day, but only when the sun is out. The strange photo serving as a constant reminder of why she won’t be going back after dark.
You can see a copy of that image in the museum on the second floor of Madison Dry Goods where the Lawsons’ bodies were lifted to a mortuary by an elevator that still works.
Hear even more
If you’re interested in learning even more about the Lawson family murders, check out our series “Deadly Secrets: The Lawson Family Murder” with FOX8’s Chad Tucker.
We also have a podcast, “Deadly Secrets: The Lawson Family Murder,” providing even more background on the killings. You can find it where ever you find your podcasts.
And hear from the owner of Madison Dry Goods on the haunting featured in the new Netflix series “28 Days Haunted.”
If you’re itching for more scary stories, check out our podcast, “Hauntings in the Piedmont,” hosted by FOX8’s Michael Hennessey.