Owatonnan Dies In Secret California Hospital Room During The Cold War
Halloween is on Saturday and stories of haunted locations are beginning to pop-up. Now whether or not Letterman's Hosptial in San Francisco is haunted by this Minnesotan can't be verified, but it does cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand. Back during the Cold War, a Minnesotan by the name of William Curtis Twitchell died in 1953 under some strange circumstances while at the Letterman Hospital. Does he roam the grounds? Maybe. But it's more about the how and where he died that makes you shudder.
The San Francisco Gate recently published an article about a nuclear scientist who died in a secret room during the Cold War, it turns out the sad tale was about Mr. Twitchell. According to the Gate piece: "Twitchell was a genius. Born in Minnesota in 1917, he got his undergraduate degree from Rollins College in Florida and a Master's in chemistry at UC Berkeley. At 23, he was promoted to project engineer in charge of the equipment department of the University of California radiation lab."
Twitchell's lab was filled with talent the likes of J. Robert Oppenheimer and Glenn Seaborg, two scientists that would later work on the secretive Manhattan Project. Twitchell's lab and the team were working on finding atomic particles. Which of course once WWII happened that type of work became invaluable to the US government.
Sadly in 1952, doctors diagnosed Twitchell with what the Gate wrote as "a malignant brain tumor" which in turn didn't give medical experts at the time much hope he would live very long.
The US government stepped in upon hearing of the diagnosis and rather than allowing Twitchell to ultimately hospice at home with his wife, they instead took him to a 'secure' facility. Due to the nature of his research, the US Government didn't want to take any chances that due to his brain tumor he would share government nuclear secrets, so they built at the cost of "100,000" a "secret ward just for Twitchell" at Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco's Presidio.
Twitchell was confined to this room, which was under guard 24/7, for the remainder of his life, with only a nurse to care for him. It was in March of 1953 that Twitchell died, and only two days later his sad story was exposed to the world. It was written in the San Francisco Examiner as being “A macabre tale of the atomic age was revealed yesterday”.
After his lonely death in isolation, Twitchell's body was sent back to Owatonna and was buried in the Forest Hill cemetery.