Show Notes: 2 Haunted Restaurants and 2 Cold Cases

This show, “Michigan and other Mayhem”, is a sort of factual, slightly comical, always earnest podcast about interesting stuff in Michigan and around the world. It is done by two sisters-in-law (Ali and Jenn) that like to talk about random interesting stories.  Expect cults, mysteries, murder, fast-talking, and a couple of mental palate cleansers… and cuss words.  Those happen on this show, a lot.

Episode 11: Four Mini-stories- Cold cases and Haunted Restaurants

Click Here to Listen to Episode 11

Warning: This podcast occasionally contains strong language which may be unsuitable for children.



  • Pretend podcast music (because we couldn’t find any we liked enough for a theme song).
  • Ali has a weird laugh. It is often loud.
  • Ali being corrected. She was contacted and told that during the Benton Harbor House of David podcast, twice she said 1980-something when she was supposed to say 1880-something.  Oops!  The text is right in the show notes, but she had misspoken during the recording.
  • You can hear Jenn’s dog in the back. He just wants to be involved.
  • Correction: Jenn pronounced Jannette Roberson’s last name as Roberston which was incorrect.

The Whitney Restaurant in Detroit

  • Whitney Restaurant was built as a mansion between 1890- 1894 for a local lumber baron, David Whitney Jr.
    • At the time, he was the richest man in Detroit
    • 21,000 sq feet, has 52 rooms, 3 stories tall
      • 10 bathrooms
      • 20 fireplaces
      • The outside is covered in pink jasper stonework
      • Tiffany glass windows-rumoured to be worth more than the house now
      • Elevator (1st residence in Detroit to have a hydraulic elevator for personal use)
      • 1st-floor mantle was wired for electric bulbs by Thomas Edison
      • Absolutely gorgeous
    • David Whitney became known as Mr Woodward Avenue, as the upper Woodward area became known as a popular place for affluent people in Detroit
      • The Whitney family lived in the house until the 1920s
      • Wayne County Medical Society moved in during the mid-1900s and the Whitney’s paid the $15,000/year taxes
        • The family were advocates of the medical profession
        • The Whitney’s believed that the house should be preserved, not for personal use, but so that the public could enjoy it
      • The house became an upscale restaurant in 1986 and is still a restaurant today
      • Both David Whitney and his second wife, Sara, wife died in the house
        • They are said to haunt the house, along with at least one of David’s children.
        • Rumor is that David died of a heart attack in the house in 1900 when one of his daughters (he had 3 daughters and a son) told him that she was marrying and moving to Europe
        • He was 70 years old at the time.
        • Sara died in the house 17 years later, in 1917.
      • David’s first wife, Flora(h), who died before the mansion was completed and may haunt the building
        • Side note: Sara is Flora’s sister who was younger than Flora by 13 years
        • A psychic said Flora haunts the house because she is jealous Sara was able to live in it. Flora had died just before construction was completed.
      • Grace, David’s youngest child is considered the “angry spirit” on the grounds
        • Once the restaurant owners moved a tea set and the possible Grace apparition made such a fuss, knocking stuff around, that they put the tea set back into its original location.
      • The elevator is known to go up and down between floors, without passengers in it
        • Full body apparitions have been seen
        • Table settings move on their own
        • A lot of the activity takes place in the carriage house
      • The restaurant’s cocktail bar is called the Ghost Bar. So, they are aware of their ghostly reputation and seem to be fine with it.
        • The Whitney restaurant does hold paranormal diner tours as well but it costs $130.
      • The building has been listed as a Michigan Historical Site in 1971
        • List on the US National Register of Historic places in 1972
      • About to begin renovations to be a greener building, more energy efficient
      • Syfy episode on The Whitney Restaurant:
      • Ali and Jenn were supposed to eat at The Whitney.
        • Ali’s husband didn’t want to pay $40 for her to eat 6 bites of something.
        • The two of them were wearing their wedding clothes because they aren’t fancy dressers like Jenn.
        • Jenn was looking super-fly. She was an 11 out of 10.

South Lyon Hotel

  • The South Lyon Hotel was built in the late 1800s around the railroad service and was originally called the Commercial House.
  • There was another competing hotel, called Lyon Hotel (also named the Moody House). Employees from the two hotels would race to the train station once they heard the whistle blow, trying to convince disembarking travellers to stay at their hotel.
  • The races between the two hotels were a source of entertainment for South Lyon citizens, who would stop what they were doing to go watch.
  • The Commercial House/South Lyon hotel sits on top of a former cemetery.
    • Before construction of the structure, two men were paid $2.50 per coffin to move the bodies to another site.
    • Once all the bodies were removed from the location, the hotel was built.
    • Some people speculate that not all the bodies weren’t moved before building and the disturbance may be what causes the hotel to be haunted.
  • A fire broke out in the hotel in 1977.
    • I read several articles that said someone died in the 1977 fire, but I couldn’t find the name of any victims it may have been.
    • The building didn’t become a business again until the late 1980’s when the structure was turned into a restaurant.
  • In June 2016, another fire broke out on the second floor of the restaurant around two in the morning.
    • No one was killed or injured in the fire, as the staff was quickly alerted by an alarm.
    • Still, the roof and second floor received a lot of damage.
    • The South Lyon Hotel, which is really a restaurant, opened again for business in late 2017.
  • There are people who believe the restaurant is haunted.
    • There have been reports of shadow figures on the stairs leading to the second floor.
    • Glasses have been known to slide across the table and fall on the floor when there isn’t a person near them.
    • Loud banging on walls and windows have startled people in the building.
    • Plants and chairs have been arranged overnight when no one is in the building.
  • When Jenn and Ali went to the restaurant it was busy
    • Jenn was dressed for a fancy place and was taken to a sports bar.
    • Jenn felt everyone was staring at us.
    • No ghosts but Ali ran into her Aunt Teri and her Uncle Rick and her Aunt’s dad.
    • Jenn really liked the steak she ordered. Either the table was small or we ordered a lot of food.
    • South Lyon has a Bigby coffee with a drive through!

Cold Case of Dan Barnett and Bruce McCallister:

  • The two men, Dan and Bruce, are friends and decided to go camping in Lake County, MI in March 1975
  • In the early morning hours, as the men were sleeping, several gunshots rip through their tent
  • Dan was killed. Bruce was seriously injured.
  • Neither men knew anyone in the area.
  • It seemed to be a random shooting.
  • A single bullet casing was found.
  • It had snowed on an off during the night, so police were able to find footprints and tire tracks.
  • Police found a truck with a similar tire impression. It belonged to a local man, Leroy.
    • Ali starts to sing the old song about “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown”
    • When Jenn hears the name Leroy, she thinks of Amish people.
  • Leroy had a gun that could match the casing.
    • They charged him with open murder.
    • Jenn had a hard time figuring out exactly what is an open murder charge.
  • During the trial, Leroy provided an alibi. He didn’t know the victims.
    • Not enough information to try him.
  • Then the cops said that two to three people committed the crime, and Leroy knew who it was.
    • Later, Leroy went to prison for drug trafficking and gun charges.
  • The Kings do not believe in camping. They believe that going to a motel is camping.
    • Jenn feels like her lake house is camping because it takes 20 minutes to get to a store.


Cold Case from Oceola, MI Janette Roberson

  • Janette worked at a pet store, where she was murdered on January 19th,2016.
  • Her body was found with multiple injuries in the backroom of the pet store.
  • The police believe multiple weapons were used to injure her.
  • No arrests were made.
  • Because the injuries were so brutal, police believe she was killed by someone she knew.
  • She was getting a divorce, but her husband was ruled out.
  • It remains unsolved today.

Published by Michigan and other mayhem

Random Michigan and mayhem, you know you want it.

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