Truro Cemetery Holds Dark Secrets

A Column by Chris Setterlund

A Column by Chris Setterlund

It’s just about Halloween time. This is the time of year to scare and be scared. There are numerous all-time classic scary movies which will be shown during the month of October having people clinging to their couches and hiding behind pillows. However as scary as some of those films are there is nothing scarier than when the horror is actually real.

Cape Cod is not exempt from having its own tale of terror in the pages of its not-so-distant history.

The town was Truro, the year was 1969, and the man was Antone Costa. The body of missing woman Susan Perry, Costa’s then-girlfriend was found mutilated on the grounds of Pine Grove Cemetery a highly secluded area off Old County Road on February 7.

On March 4, the bodies of three other women, Patricia Walsh, Mary Anne Wysocki, and Sydney Monzon were all found brutally mutilated in an area not far from the cemetery.  They had all vanished from Provincetown. The bodies all had their hearts removed, had human teeth marks on them, and there was evidence of necrophilia.

costa02Costa was arrested when the murder sites of the three women was revealed to be his personal garden where he grew marijuana. Costa was tried for the murder of three of the women though it is thought that he could be responsible for as many as seven or eight murders.

He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on May 29, 1969. Costa committed suicide by hanging in his cell on May 12, 1974. He is buried in an unmarked grave next to his mother at St. Peter the Apostle Cemetery in Provincetown.

During the peak of the media attention surrounding the murders, famed author Kurt Vonnegut compared Costa to Charles Manson in his collection of essays entitled Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons.

costa03The story of Tony Costa was captured in the book In His Garden by Leo Damore which was published in 1981. Though the ‘garden’ is now overgrown and barren of any connection to those gruesome murders, there is another spot which remains virtually unchanged to this day where curious visitors can go. Located in the rear of the Pine Grove Cemetery in Truro is the brick crypt where the grisly dismembering of the victims’ bodies took place.

The cemetery itself is very remote and eerie, located nearly a mile down a dirt road. The crypt is in the left rear of the cemetery near an old fire road. The truly brave can pull the rickety wooden door of the crypt open and step inside to stand where the horrific acts took place.

If that does not give you the creeps, there are reports of paranormal activity taking place at the cemetery as well. In 2007, The New England Society of Paranormal Investigators did some research at the cemetery.  They used a K2 meter and received answers to several questions posed to spirits through the form of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). There was also an incident of sudden power loss of camera batteries and a microphone coinciding with a cold spot moving through the area.

costa01These events are of course all up for debate but none the less make a Halloween trip to Pine Grove Cemetery all the more intriguing and terrifying.

Antone Costa is an infamous legend in Cape Cod history. His despicable crimes are still remembered by those who lived here at the time, and especially those who interacted with Costa. The story seems like something out of a horror movie until you go and visit Pine Grove Cemetery and realize that this movie was in fact reality.

Do you dare to go and walk in ‘Tony Chop-Chop’s’ footsteps?  Happy Halloween!

If You Go: Pine Grove Cemetery – Cemetery Road, Truro

Chris Setterlund, who lives in Yarmouth, is a lifelong Cape Codder and the author of In My Footsteps, a guide to historical sites on Cape Cod.
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