Located in the back plots of Willoughby Cemetery under the trees lies the grave of Willoughby’s “Girl in Blue”. “The Girl in Blue” is one of the city’s most tragic but untold stories during the Halloween season.
The mystery begins to unfold two days before Christmas 1933, when a young beautiful woman wandered into Miss Mary Judd’s boarding house on Third Street during the early morning hours and rented a room.
The following morning on Christmas Eve the woman left the house without leaving a name. Before stepping out, she asked the innkeeper if and where any local church services would be held. She was dressed in her blue coat along with a blue dress, sweater and scarf.
According to the reports of local citizens they clearly could recall the stranger in their town wandering the local streets toward the Second Street railroad crossing.
She wished passers-by a “Merry Christmas” looking at them with her blue eyes and smile. This is where the tale takes its plunge into tragedy.
The next recalled event of the young woman’s life would be her last. She was last seen throwing herself in front of an oncoming train.
The mystery takes another turn when police officials attempted to identify the woman’s body. All the traveler carried was her purse, made of blue fabric and a train pass to Corry, Pa, along with 90 cents.
McMahon Funeral Home, now known as McMahon-Coyne-Vitantonio Funeral Home, and the shocked citizens of Willoughby adopted the girl as their own and prepared her final arrangements. She was laid out till January 5, 1934 in hopes someone would hear about her untimely death and come to identify the body. All attempts failed.
The secrets of the Girl in Blue were buried under a gravestone that says, ‘’In Memory of the Girl in Blue. Killed By Train, December 24, 1933. Unknown, But Not Forgotten.’’
About five years later, in 1938, the woman’s brother visited the area and identified her as “Sophie,” providing a key to the mystery. However, her last name was still unknown.
It wasn’t until 60 years later in 1993 that a man in Corry, Pa., identified her as Josephine “Sophie” Klimczak, a native to Pennsylvania.
Although an identity has been given to the suicide victim’s body, her grave, death reports, and legacy will always be known as Willoughby’s “Girl in Blue”.
By Leanna Bihun
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