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  • Writer's pictureIvy Boyd

Blue Albino Woman of Rochester Cemetery

Attempt at a recreation of common descriptions of the Blue Albino Woman. Made by Ivy Boyd in Canva Pro

Dusk has approached as you are driving down the dark roads of Topeka, Kansas. You make a turn as your headlights illuminate a sign which reads "Rochester Cemetery". Old stories of the vengeful spirit who haunts it flood back to you, as does her name... the "Blue Albino Woman." You get a little bit nervous, what if you see her?

Photo of Ivy Boyd at Rochester Cemetery, 2020,

As a child, this story both terrified and fascinated me. I was too young and naive to think more on the name itself, and where an urban legend like this may have come from. In my adult years, I finally set out to get answers and find out who this woman really was.

As a Topeka native, most people know this figure as the "Albino Woman" or "The Blue Albino Woman". There are many variations of her story: some say she was accused of being a witch due to her albinism, a genetic condition where the individual lacks pigment in their hair, skin, and eyes. As for the "blue" part of the name, there is a rare form of albinism where the skin almost has a slight pale blue tint. To punish her for her supposed witchcraft, a band of local men took her to these cemetery grounds where she was buried alive, leaving behind her vengeful spirit who forever roams the cemetery looking for her murderers.

Another version states that she had a daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered. In her grief, the woman took her own life by jumping off of a cliff into a nearby body of water. Now, her sorrowful spirit roams the area still in search of her daughter.

Rochester Cemetery at dusk. Photo taken by Ivy Boyd, 2020

Some sources do take an even darker turn, listing her as being ghoulish and demonic in nature, with glowing red eyes and an appetite for human flesh. But learning more about who she really was makes stories like this deeply upsetting...

According to some locals who's families have lived in Topeka for generation after generation, these legends are actually based on a real woman who did, in fact, have albinism. Details on her life do vary depending on who you ask. One user on a fandom wiki page for The Blue Albino Woman speaks on this, stating that their mother knew this woman and her parents and that her name was possibly Mary or Molly. They alleged that her parents were abusive to their daughter due to her albinism and the shame it may have brought them. She also appeared to be mentally disabled to some extent and was impregnated, possibly through non-consensual means because of her disability. Sadly, the parents did not know of her pregnancy until she went into labor and her baby passed away, having been buried somewhere in Rochester Cemetery. She was often seen walking the roads around the cemetery and the area which is now the Goodyear plant, sometimes having a small grey dog that joined her. After her parents passing, the user mentions that their mother and grandmother made note of other neighbors who brought her food to try and help. At some point she appeared to have relocated to another state, possibly California, where she stayed with relatives of her father.

According to Cathy Ramirez who worked for Ghost Tours of Kansas, the albino woman also worked as a maid at a two-story house near Rochester Cemetery. Her father was seen giving her rides to and from the grocery store, and she was described as having stark white skin, white hair, and pink eyes. It is common for people with albinism to suffer problems with their eye-sight, so it is possible that she would not have been able to drive herself. Cathy also believes that she died sometime around 1965.

Another user on the same forum claims that their grandmother had actually gone to school with this woman and that she died in a house fire in 1963, with other sources claiming she died in 1964. Some say that she did stay in the area and grew to be an old woman who occasionally frightened children and others with her behavior and appearance. So although there are some variations in the story of her real life as well, some details do align and begin to paint a more accurate picture for the Topekan woman who the legend is based on.

It was after her death that legends of her ghostly figure began to grow in popularity through the 1970s, with stories and new alterations still being passed down to this day. These include stories of her hitchhiking spirit getting into the back of cars, only to vanish, and attacking people who disrespect graves at Rochester Cemetery. (Rather than a small dog, she is now allegedly seen with a ghostly white German shepherd.)

In my tedious research, I did locate one other possible inspiration for the legend of the ghostly Blue Albino Woman. On November 20, 1885, the Topeka Mail printed a story headlined "The Spectre of the Dungeon" which detailed a ghostly encounter by some inmates of the Kansas City Jail. An eye-witness described the entity as having "big red eyes, like balls of fire, as big as your fists. I don't know what its face looked like, its eyes scared me so, but it was all a whitish blue, just like a dead man's." I cannot help but wonder if this account of a ghostly figure with red eyes and pale blueish skin could have traveled and influenced the legend that is told today. Note that right alongside that article in the Topeka printing is another article about Rochester Cemetery...

Other local stories also may have influenced some variations of the legend. For example, in 1965 (a date which some believe the "Blue Albino Woman" died) another woman, Eileen McClain, had fallen (or possibly jumped) from the Kansas State building, falling to her death. Perhaps this year and means of death in this story meshed with that of the albino woman in the version where she, too, is said to have jumped to her death. After all, word-of-mouth is how many stories and rumors spread, creating an effect like the game Telephone, where details can merge and alter over time.

The story of the Blue Albino Woman highlights how crucial it is that we look into the origins of our favorite paranormal stories and urban legends, and the negative stigmas that many of them still keep alive. Here, we have a woman who sounds like she dealt with her share of struggles, only to be remembered in such a false, scary, and insensitive light. Her memory deserves better.

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