Devil's Tree of Oak Hammock Park

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In 1971, sheriff’s deputy Gerard John Schaefer sexually assaulted and hanged two 19-year-old girls from an oak tree, then buried their bodies under it. The deputy returned for more unspeakable acts over the next 5 days. In 1977 the bodies were found by some fishermen. Local legend has it that hooded devil worshippers now dance around the tree, and the ghostly screams of the girls can be heard. The restrooms are said to be haunted by the girls’ ghosts. Local tales also state that the city tried to remove the tree but failed, as chainsaws and axes dulled or lost power. The tree is reported to still stand along a nature trail.

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    Geographic Information

    Oak Hammock Park
    Port St. Lucie, FL
    United States

    Get Directions »
    27.277518549743778, -80.40554881090429
    St. Lucie County, Florida
    Nearest Towns:
    Port Saint Lucie, FL (3.6 mi.)
    River Park, FL (4.4 mi.)
    White City, FL (8.0 mi.)
    Indian River Estates, FL (8.4 mi.)
    North River Shores, FL (9.3 mi.)
    Fort Pierce South, FL (9.6 mi.)
    Stuart, FL (10.9 mi.)
    Jensen Beach, FL (10.9 mi.)
    Rio, FL (11.0 mi.)
    Palm City, FL (11.4 mi.)


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    Comments (23)

      • The other day a couple girls and a staff member was at oak hammock park having lunch and one of the girls went to the rest room when the staff member and I heard a scream out of nowhere. I went and asked the girl in the restroom if she had screamed she said no. So I believe that the staff member and I heard one of the girls that was murdered at the park scream

    1. Been to the devils tree several times. Defiantly not very scary during the day. However, in the evening the place takes on a whole other side. Very eerie

    2. It’s there and yea it’s creepy!! Florida native remember when the killing happened! Careful can get lost in those woods lots of trail with forks in them. If it wasn’t for my Doberman I probably would of got lost and not made it out by dark!!!

      • You remember the killing happening?
        I have a couple things that you could possibly help me out with. I’m a student at Florida State University, and I’m making a proposal for a documentary about the devil tree. I’m trying to gather information about the tree, such as different people’s stories about the tree, whether something happened, or nothing at all, real news articles about the incident that happened, etc. Basically, the point of this documentary proposal is to distinguish what the facts are! I’d like to hear opposing views. I want to produce it, and I might sometime in December or January, but as of right now I’m in the preproduction phase!
        Since you remember the actual killing, can you contact me at my email: I’d love to hear the story!
        Also you can like the facebook page

      • do you know anyone who has actually been lost. I believe the girls were killed but I could never believe in ghosts or dancing devils.

    3. On July 21, 1972, Schaefer, while on patrol, picked up two teenage girls who were hitchhiking. He abducted them, took them to some remote woods and tied them to trees where he threatened to kill them or sell them into prostitution. However, when he got a call on his police radio, Schaefer had to go, leaving the girls tied up. He vowed that he would return.

      The two girls, who were aged 18 and 17, escaped their bonds and went to the nearest police station, which was actually their kidnapper’s own station. When Schaefer returned to the woods and found his victims gone, he called his station and claimed that he had done “something foolish”, explaining that he had pretended to kidnap and threaten to kill two hitchhikers in order to scare them into avoiding such an irresponsible method of travel. Schaefer’s boss did not believe him and he ordered Schaefer to the station where he stripped him of his badge and charged him with false imprisonment and assault.

      After posting bail, Schaefer was released. Two months later, on September 27, 1972, Schaefer abducted, tortured, and murdered Susan Place, aged 17, and Georgia Jessup, 16, and buried them on Hutchinson Island.

      • We all appreciate you posting information on this (As you found on Wikipedia), however, you should have posted the information that pertained to this haunted location:

        In April 1973, over six months since they vanished, the decomposing, butchered remains of Susan Place and Georgia Jessup were found. The girls had been tied to a tree at some point and had vanished while hitch-hiking, and these similarities to Schaefer’s treatment of the girls who had gotten away led police to obtain a search warrant for the home he and his wife shared with Schaefer’s (now divorced) mother.

        In Schaefer’s bedroom, police found lurid stories he had written that were full of descriptions of the torture, rape and murder of women, whom Schaefer routinely referred to as “whores” and “sluts”. More damningly, the authorities found personal possessions such as jewelry, diaries — and in one case, teeth — from at least eight young women and girls who had gone missing in recent years. Some of the jewelry was from Leigh Hainline, who had lived next door to Schaefer when they were teenagers; Hainline had vanished in 1969 after telling her husband she was leaving him for a friend from childhood. Also among the items was a purse identified as belonging to Susan Place. Place’s mother later identified Schaefer as being the man she last saw with her daughter and Jessup.

        Schaefer was charged with the murders of Place and Jessup. In October 1973, he was found guilty and given two life sentences. Authorities soon stated that he was linked to around 30 missing women and girls.

        Place and Jessup may not even have been Schaefer’s final victims; two 14-year-old girls named Mary Briscolina and Elsie Farmer vanished while hitchhiking on October 23, 1972: just a few weeks after Place and Jessup were killed.[2] Their bodies were later recovered, and jewelry belonging to one of the girls was later found in Schaefer’s home. He also raped and killed two girls and hung them from what is now known as the “Devil’s Tree” in Port Saint Lucie.

    4. Our team of investigators and our medium went out to the tree and encountered some amazing stuff. You can find the video on youtube linked from our website hope It’s labeled The Devil’s Tree 1,2, and 3. Pretty insane

    5. We visited the tree in 2006 with a couple friends and my one year old. As it was starting to get dark we were walking back to the car my son kept waving and saying hi to something. It was definitely spooky and I am sure he saw something there.

    6. I went to the Devil tree two weeks ago with my best friend. We did EVP’s on our phones and got rope swinging in the background and a girl whispering “He pushed us in the middle” also heard footsteps walking through the forest as well. My friend started drawing a cross in the ground while I was asking questions throughout the EVP session and after she was allegedly done, she doesn’t remember doing it at all and I saw her draw it until she stopped. I took a picture of it and we also found two pieces of what looked like white tile that was in the exact spot where my friend drew the cross. I believe a presence was with us when we went to the tree, hopefully we can go back there again when I’m back in Florida again,

    7. Experienced Adult  |  

      I am a local resident of Indiantown Florida and I visited the tree myself. It was around 10 at night and since everyone was talking about 06-06-2006 me and some friends decided to go get drunk there. I remember that we saw a pair of eyes and we got awfully scared. But that little incident didn’t scare us off, as I remember playing ouija in those woods.days after things happened. A random cat appeared in my bathroom and I saw an entity with long flowing hair in my peripheral vision while driving to school. It’s real.

    8. I just left there about an hour or so ago. I live about 2 miles away. I’ve been back 4 times in the past 2 weeks looking for a geocache that has eluded me thus far. The first time I went with my girlfriend. We entered into the wrong side of the park. I didn’t know the other side existed until I went back the second time, by myself. When I went in, the sun had just begun to set. It was pitch black about four feet in. Looked around for a bit, but my phone had no signal. I took some pictures of what I thought was the Devil’s tree, but it turns out that it was just another big, beautiful oak.But it seemed to get even darker, and I began to spook, which is very unlike me. Then I heard the lady’s cry for help, so I half jogged, half ran like the Devil hisself was chasing me, out of the woods. It was only when I got to the edge of the trail and saw that it was still light out that I laughed to myself and remembered the sound that I thought was a cry for help sounded exactly like a peacock. Which are scattered throughout the neighborhoods. Third time I went back, I brought my best friend. We searched for hours and found one out of the three caches. Tonight we went in with six of us and a hand held GPS. Still no luck. I did eventually find the actual ‘Devil’s Tree’ on my third visit. The whole place still gives me the heebie jeebies. But I’m not sure if it’s because of the story surrounding it or if there is evil lurking. It is a powerful area, but very beautiful. I’ll go back. There are still two caches in there that I am determined to find.

    9. The whole place is very creepy. I live local and have been there several times. I’ve got some through the spirit box and ouija eveytime I go there.

    10. Me and my daughter went this evening. Definitely spooky.we went into the bathroom first and turned off the lights my daughter was holding the Handle and asked if they could give a sign. She felt and heard a thump on the door. She opened the door and we went out screaming. She scared the shit out of me lol. But anyways. Coming to the tree it was eerie. Creepy feeling walking even through the woods.

    11. I was there last year in October, it was during the day, nothing happened, the tree is creepy, we didn’t touch it in fear of the stories told. We ventured into the woods to see the house foundations, the area has a creepy vibe, the tree does have the burns as told. It’s hard to go at night now that it is part of the park. I wouldn’t go there at night by myself.

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    Disclaimer: The stories posted here are user-submitted and are, in the nature of "ghost stories," largely unverifiable. makes no claims that any of the statements posted here are factually accurate. The vast majority of information provided on this web site is anecdotal, and as such, should be viewed in the same light as local folklore and urban legends.