The Twelve Nightmares of Christmas, Day 4: The Eyeball Ghost

This story is excerpted from my award-winning book, Days of the Dead: A Year of True Ghost Stories.

December (12) – A Trooper to the End, Anniston, AL (1989, recurring)

When faced with a terminal diagnosis, people can have differing reactions. Captain E.C. Dothard was 58 years old when he was admitted to Stringfellow Memorial Hospital in December 1989 following a cancer diagnosis. Dothard was no stranger to hardship and stress. The state trooper was wounded in the May 1972 assassination attempt that left Governor George Wallace paralyzed. Dothard suffered a gunshot wound to the stomach. It was a graze, but still, it dropped him to the ground. Another trooper described Dothard “still barking out orders while on the ground after being shot.”

Captain Dothard was a tough old guy, but he decided he couldn’t face a long, slow, painful death by cancer. He wanted to depart this life on his own terms. He had brought his gun to the hospital, and after getting the news, Dothard shot himself in the head.

It wasn’t a neat job, either. The gunshot obliterated part of Dothard’s face. This violent, traumatic suicide has resulted in a unique haunting.

Dothard’s headless ghost is sometimes seen in the hallways at Stringfellow Memorial. An even more unforgettable apparition is the lone eyeball that is seen rolling across the floor and out the door of the room where Dothard took his own life. The eyeball always appears in December, and sightings cease by the 25th. Some people suspect that Dothard just wants to hang around for another Christmas.

Okay, yeah, that was a pretty weird story. Want more weirdness? Of course you do. Check out for podcasts to make you shiver.

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