Reporting Sandra McNeill
DETROIT (WWJ) - He was called the Black Widower and in 1994, Lowell Amos killed his wife at the Atheneum Hotel in Greektown and tried to blame it on a night of cocaine-fueled sex.
Tour Guide Karin Risko said the tours have been sold out since she first began them in August. Why a tour of true crime spots and death?
“I don’t do this as a slap in the face because of Detroit’s reputation for murder,” said Risko. “I do it because Detroit has a fantastic history.” The tour business has gotten very competitive downtown, and Risko said she needed to come up with a hook for something different.
Donning a black velvet cape and carrying a lantern, she begins the tour in front of the Second Baptist Church in Greektown. As the church bell strikes seven, she tells of Detroit hiring a sexton in the year 1830. “Any he would bury the dead,” said Risko. “Part of his job was to ring a bell every time somebody died.”
The tour is three hours of walking and a few short People Mover rides, with a stop at the Anchor Bar, where there’s a wall dedicated to customers who’ve passed away.
She tells of a man who murdered his wife on the Detroit-Windsor ferry. He survived his first hanging and had to be hung again.
And then there’s Father Gabriel Richard, who used to go around and pick up the dead during the Cholera epidemic in Detroit. He succumbed to the disease himself in 1832. Risko said that some see his ghost pushing a cart downtown to this day.
Risko herself isn’t a big believer in ghosts. “There’s got to be some kind of afterlife, I guess,” said Risko. “But I’m not so much frightened by ghosts. I’m frightened of the atrocities the living commit toward each other.”
The 30 or so people on a recent tour universally said they loved learning tidbits of the city’s history. “You get to see Detroit,” said Zachary Diem. “See what’s out here. You walk around and you don’t notice that you’re standing where a crime happened 100, 200 years ago. So it’s really cool. Really fascinating.”
Risko doesn’t think the tour reinforces the often negative image outsiders have about the city.
“I love Detroit and you know what, I’m just not the person who gets so embarrassed every time someone says something bad about Detroit,” she said. ” Frankly, I don’t give a damn.”
Get more information on the Notorious 313 tours – HERE.