Out near Summerville, Georgia lays what remains of Corpsewood Manor, a mansion built by Dr. Charles Lee Scudder and his partner Joseph Odom. In December of 1982, the pair were gruesomely murdered, along with their two bullmastiffs, as a result of an attempted robbery by two acquaintances, Avery Brock and Tony West. Now, the hauntingly derelict buildings surrounded by dense woodland have been revealed in a series of eerie photographs.
Dr. Charles Scudder came from a wealthy family and worked as a professor of pharmacology at Chicago’s Loyola University. He and Joseph Odom, his long-time housekeeper and companion, continued to live in the old mansion in Chicago. Described by those who knew him as “brilliant,” “polished,” and “soft-spoken, but confident,” Scudder eventually grew fed up with city life and, in 1976, left the luxury of his Chicago mansion in pursuit of a simpler life.
After months of searching, Dr. Scudder and Joseph Odom purchased a 40-acre plot of land in the hills of Chattooga County, Georgia. The property was only accessible by an old logging road. There was no running water, phone, or electricity available. They had a well dug to pump water and used lanterns and candles for light at night. In the winter of 1976, on his 50th birthday, Dr. Scudder quit his job. When they arrived, Dr. Scudder and Joseph Odom saw the bare, hauntingly beautiful trees around them and named their new home: Corpsewood Manor.
Scudder and Odom also decorated Corpsewood Manor with various Gothic paraphernalia, including the skulls that Scudder had swiped and a pink gargoyle he had brought from his old mansion. Scudder himself thought of Corpsewood Manor as “more like a mausoleum, a tomb requiring care, cleaning, and endless costly repairs.”
In December of 1982, the pair were gruesomely murdered, along with their two bullmastiffs, as a result of an attempted robbery by two acquaintances, Avery Brock and Tony West. Avery Brock was an avid hunter who obtained permission from the couple to hunt on their land several times. It was through this means that he got to know the couple and decided that they had to be hiding wealth and fortune inside the house.
Brock and West headed to Corpsewood Manor on Dec. 12, 1982 with guns in tow. However, things didn’t start off violently. Initially, the four guests acted as if they were just there to hang out and accepted Scudder’s offer of homemade wine as well as a potent huffing mixture or varnish, paint thinner, and other chemicals. At some point during this drug- and alcohol-fueled haze, Brock got down to business, retrieving a rifle from the car and promptly shooting Odom and the two dogs. Then, Brock and West showed Scudder the bloodbath and did all they could to force him to give up whatever money he had.
Brock and West ransacked the house but were unable to find anything worth any value. West shot Dr. Scudder in the head at point blank range and the group fled the scene. The duo attempted to steal Dr. Scudder’s harp, but it would not fit in the vehicle.
Brock and West stole Scudder’s black Jeep and fled westward. They stopped at an I-20 rest stop outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi where they took a car from Navy Lieutenant Kirby Phelps and murdered him during the process. On December 16, a neighbor discovered bullet holes in the door of Corpsewood Manor and called the sheriff. A nationwide search quickly ensued. Avery Brock returned to Georgia and turned himself in on December 20, 1982. West did the same in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Christmas Eve. Both of the men received a sentence of life in prison.
During the ensuing investigation and trial – fueled partially by a local media circus – a mythos evolved in which the victims were vilified as “evil devil worshippers,” drawing from Dr. Scudder’s interest in the occult and the pair’s open homosexuality. Despite having been very well-liked in the community by those who knew them, the horrendous mythos continues to this day, and many locals still refer to the area as, “Devil Worshippers’ Mountain,” and claim that taking a brick from the property will lead to being cursed for life.
Though a fire destroyed much of the manor’s non-brick elements in the mid-1980s, much still remains intact apart from the main house; the homestead’s original outhouse, well room, and gazebo, still rising from the middle of the north Georgia mountains, suggesting the squandered potential not of devil worshippers, but two people who simply received no peace in death.