Charles Shelar stood directly behind the broken, 112-year-old Meeker family gravestone during Sunday's annual historical walk in Niles City Cemetery. The Meeker family, a mother and her three children, were murdered by their father and husband, Charles Shelar.
It wasn't a Halloween evening ghost appearance, only a distant descendent of one of the most horrific murderers in Niles history, who attended the walk along with about 150 others.
Charles Shelar murdered three of his children and his wife on Christmas Eve, 1889, and committed suicide with a 90-cent razor. His wife and kids were buried far from his grave with her maiden name on the stone.
The living Shelar, a distant cousin, said Sunday that he believed his recent family members never knew about the murder and that it was never talked about.
Shelar has attended the cemetery walks before. He said a neighbor, who works at the McKinley Memorial Library in Niles, found the original newspaper story of the murder. His neighbor took it to his wife Pat, who also attended the walk, and asked if it was OK to show it because she didn't want to upset Charles Shelar.
''She said 'I found out something about his history, but I don't know if he'll want to know about it,'' Pat Shelar said. ''The family never mentioned it and I'm sure it would have come up through all those years.''
Charles Shelar said he was interested to know about his family's past. He said the original newspaper story was ''very explicit and scary,'' and his wife said the reporter who wrote the story arrived at the scene before the coroner.
Charles Shelar said after he learned about the murder, he saw there was going to be a cemetery walk on Halloween and that a horrible crime in the city was going to be a stop, so he attended.
The tour guide then and now, Wendell Lauth, asked if anyone was related to the Shelars and Charles said he was.
''I said 'yes,' and Wendell said 'What's your name' and I said 'Charles,' '' Shelar said, laughing. ''I don't think he believed me.''
The Shelar family also has the man who saved then-future president William McKinley from drowning on the cemetery walk.
Shelar's great-great-great-great grandfather, Jacob Shelar, saved McKinley and Joseph Butler from drowning when the McKinley family lived in Niles.
''I knew about the McKinley thing, but not this,'' Shelar said.
The McKinley family also has a small portion in the cemetery, with the former president's sister buried there. Abigail McKinley died just shy of eight months.
''I came to see Abigail McKinley,'' said Barbra Gilmour, of Niles. ''I'm very interested in genealogy and work on my family's genealogy all the time.''
Another interesting stop on the tour included the Stevens family mausoleum, with the family's patriarch Harry M. Stevens entombed. Stevens is known for inventing the drinking straw, which Lauth said he did because he wanted to find a way to watch baseball games without looking down at his drink.
Stevens, who was laid off from his mill job in Niles, went on to be a successful concessionaire and caterer. He stocked the concession stands at Yankee Stadium and at the Kentucky Derby, leaving his mark by making hot dogs and shelled peanuts staples at baseball games and the Mint Julep, which is now considered the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.
Stevens also invented the baseball scorecard.