God’s Sometimes Tragic Stage Play: Screaming Bridge and the haunted Millikin Roundabout

BridgeLet me deal with two birds here with one stone, the sad story recently at Lakota where a student was thrown in jail for bringing a gun to school and the really stupid idea of putting a roundabout at the corner of Maud Hughes Road and Millikin.  I explained yesterday my thoughts about the student with the gun and alluded to a school shooting which I had been involved in and promised to tell a story I had from personal experience.  I will do that now, and tie it in to what motorists can expect to witness as they travel through the South East portion of the upcoming roundabout.  Many years ago during my junior year at Lakota a car load of boys came to a stop at that exact spot in a car riddled with bullets.  The driver of that car died of a gunshot wound to the head, and I was on the other end of the tragedy and will explain the why and how in relation to the current situation.  The media turned the issue into a circus, I was considered to be a dangerous gang leader and modern real life version of the West Side Story.  Ballistics experts had conspiracy theories about how such an expert shot could have been made, and a manhunt ensued with a door to door search across the entire region.  And of course there was supernatural assistance which confirms to me the very existence of otherworldly entities which many would call God.  So brace yourself for a hair rising tale and an all too true story of honor, death, and supernatural activity as we jump into the most tragic story known surrounding the hauntings of Screaming Bridge. 

But first I have to talk about roundabouts.  They are very European and a real pain in the ass.  I hate them because they impose too many restrictions on driving.  They are  fine for the saggy assed Europeans and their unshaved arm pits, their bad breath, and their political socialism because those idiots don’t have anywhere they really need to be since most of them get a month of government paid vacation each year.  They are never in a hurry to get anywhere.  Here in America, where we are productive and driving along a stretch of road like Millikin enjoying the countryside at about 50 to 60 mph, we don’t want to slow down to 20 mph to deal with a dumb roundabout where some indecisive soccer mom chick imported from New England is blocking our right of way.  So since the Trustees of Liberty Township want to adopt all these Agenda 21 oriented “development designs” and won’t listen to reason, then they can drive right through the ghostly apparitions of at least one of the ghosts that hang out in and around Screaming Bridge which is just a few yards south of that location.  Out of all the urban legends centering around Screaming Bridge, I know at least one of the tragic stories is true–because I was there.

Read more about Screaming Bridge and the upcoming roundabout at these links:



It was early January at the current Lakota West Freshman building and three guys were picking on some girls who were sitting near me.  I’ve told stories before of my experience at Lakota.  I had a group of kids who sat with me at lunch who were considered social misfits and were extremely rebellious.  I had a reputation for being extremely daring and one of the lunch time games had been to throw food at the Lakota administrators who stood guard around the parameter of the cafeteria during every lunch period.  I would often wail large chunks of food at them right in front of everyone witnessing.  Most of the time I was very obvious about throwing food at them daring the administrators to do something.  Of course their inaction prompted me to do it more, and more audaciously.  So I had a reputation to manage when these three boys who had a history for being tough guys started picking on a girl sitting next to me.  The boys were very tall for their age and were known to fight often.  One of them picked up the coat of one of the girls and tossed it on the floor so he could sit in that particular seat to impress another girl who was within that group of young ladies.  The girl who had her coat thrown to the ground protested.  One of the boys proceeded to call her very grotesque names.  I looked to the Lakota administrator who I had been tossing mashed potatoes at and he showed no signs of doing anything about it, so I injected myself on behalf of the girl.   I told the kid to pick up the coat.  The boy gave me a smart assed answer as he picked it up and put it back which evolved into a small war between my group and his group for the next week where we had a food fight which escalated over the ensuing weeks.  Of course when food fighting lost its effectiveness we turned to games of strength, where I ended up punching a cafeteria plate shattering it into hundreds of pieces.  The plates were those old hard plastic types which were extremely hard.  When I punched the plate, the center broke away showering my friends and the targets of my aggression with debris.  But the rim of the plate stayed intact and badly cut up my fist requiring plastic surgery to fix.screaming-bridge-5

There wasn’t anywhere to go from there but into an actual fight off-site away from Lakota.  When the boys saw how far I’d take things they got a little scared.  It was their suggestion to fight and none of them wanted to fight me one on one, so they proposed that I fight three of their guys all at the same time at Screaming Bridge on Maud Hughes Road.  I accepted once my hand healed up in about 6 weeks and could again make a fist–because I had on a splint which prevented my hand from closing.

At the end of February 1985 Nightmare on Elm Street was playing at the Showcase Cinemas in Springdale and I made arrangements with the guys I was fighting to finally meet at the Screaming Bridge at 10:30 PM.  Over the weeks leading up to the event, things cooled down between my group and their group.  They were obviously nervous about what to expect out of me.  They knew the stories, but were confident that three of them would be enough to emerge successfully from the fight.   But they had in mind precautions which were leaked to me by one of the boy’s girlfriends who had a crush on me at the time.  She told me that her boyfriend had plans to bring weapons to the fight and were going to set up booby traps on the hillside which was very steep leading from Maud Hughes Road down to the railroad tracks below.  Supposedly ghosts screamed at night from there and satanic rituals routinely were conducted to car stereos blaring Ozzie Osborn music.  She begged me not to go, but of course I had to.  She warned me that they planned to push me down the hill into the booby traps which would be seriously harmful; some of them were jagged toothed bear traps that could take off a leg.  Other traps would include spikes angled to penetrate right through a body falling down the hill killing them.  The traps would be constructed based on a Vietnam War guerilla warfare manual.

I made plans of my own.  My friends all wanted to go to the fight to watch me combat the three guys.  It was the talk of the school for that whole Friday.  The next day on a Saturday it was agreed that we’d all meet Showcase Cinema and watch Nightmare on Elm Street then head to the fight afterwards.  It sounded like a fun night, go see a scary movie, go have a fight at a scary bridge full of haunted folklore, and have a good bit of fun doing it.  My plan was to take care of business then enjoy the evening with some girls that we’d pick up at the movie.  We’d go in two cars, I’d have my entourage in my car and some of my other friends would arrive by pickup truck meeting me at the fight.   On my side there were about ten spectators, five in my car, and five who would come by truck.

Little did I know but the previous weekend I had been visiting another set of young ladies at a nearby neighborhood and a friend of mine in a bizarre act of spontaneity ran next  door to a neighbor’s house and attacked a semi truck that was parked there.  The big truck had a grill guard that my friend stabbed several times with a knife simulating what effect it would have on a human body.  I managed to calm him down after a while.  He was trying to impress the girls we were with, and to a large extent, it worked.  But when we left the girls house, the owner of the truck had been watching through his window and took down my license plate number when he saw my friend who had done the vandalizing get into my car.  Screaming Bridge was only a about a mile and a half from this location and I thought often though-out the evening about the fight that would take place there the following week.

A week later while at the movie, I found some girls to meet up with after the fight, it was a group of five girls, one for each of the occupants of my car.  In the trunk of my car were weapons I had brought just in case things got out of hand at the fight later.  I of course had my bullwhip, but there were various clubs, knives, a medieval ball and chain along with a number of other melee weapons also there.  I was very specific to both groups, the group who would drive with me, and my friends arriving in the truck later, not to bring any guns.  If things went bad, we didn’t want to the temptation to pull any triggers.  The goal was just to hurt the kids, not to kill them.   The goal was to teach them a lesson, and that was all.

After the movie I made arrangements to meet up with the girls after the fight.  They didn’t want to go to Screaming Bridge after watching Nightmare on Elmstreet, so agreed to meet us at a local Perkins around midnight once I took care of business. My friends were pumped up to watch a good fight and I was getting revved up now that the fight was about 30 minutes away.  We headed out to my car ready for war yelling at the top of our lungs the way boys do when they are getting themselves worked up for a difficult task.  But to my surprise, my entire family was waiting in my car for the movie to end and for me to return.  They knew I was going to the movies, and apparently the police were looking for me.   So my parents and siblings came where they knew I’d be.  They had opened the trunk to my car and saw my whip and all the other weapons in there and they wanted to know what was going on.

I tried to explain that the weapons were nothing, but there was a more pressing issue at hand.  The truck driver who had his grill guard vandalized by my friend was demanding at that exact hour to see me and get a formal apology from my dad.  The guy could have reported this incident to the police any time during the previous week, but he chose that exact hour—strangely.    Of course none of the adults knew of the fight I had to be at when 10:30 PM hit.  The timing couldn’t have been worse. It could have, and should have occurred earlier in the day, but for whatever reason, the police and the truck owner wanted to talk to me at exactly that specific time.

I was very upset for reasons my parents had no clue of.  My mom took my friend’s home while my dad drove me and the friend who had done the vandalism to the house of the truck driver to try to convince him not to press charges.  We were driving down Princeton Road and past the intersection of Maud Hughes at exactly 10:26, four minutes from the time that I was supposed to be at the fight.  I could see the truck lights of my friends going up the road at exactly the time I told them to be there.  It was odd again that out of all times of the day, it was right at that exact moment.

We arrived at the truck driver’s house for a meeting arranged by the police.  My friend apologized to the guy, and we spoke for a bit.  The guy was reasonable and understood what it was like to be a young person.  We had a nice talk.  Off in the distance we heard what sounded like fireworks going off.  I was very upset about being late to the fight and was very worried that my reputation would be reflected poorly in missing the event.  As we sat there I was scheming for a way to get away and sneak over to the fight because the disgrace in missing it would be too much come Monday morning.  While my dad and the truck driver finished their discussion my friend and I were standing out in the driveway by the car and we heard sirens ringing all over the countryside.  We anticipated that a major wreck had occurred somewhere to the North, and it sounded serious because there were a lot of police cars.

The rest of my evening was trying to explain to my parents what had been going on with the vandalism issue, and trying to explain the weapons in my trunk.  The next morning I was glum, I had missed the fight which I’d never hear the end of, and I missed meeting the girls I met at the movie theater.  It had been a bad night.  I had to work during that following Sunday, so I left quietly and wondered why there were strange cars parked off the side of the road close to my driveway with government plates.  There were several, and since I lived in the country, this was a very strange sight.

The boys I was supposed to fight had been found in a car at the corner of Maud Hughes and Millikin all shot up.  The driver had been killed with an expert sniper shot that came across the field and struck him in the side of the head passing in front of the other two passengers who were both in the front seat.  And my name was all over the police radio.  I had to work the day shift at the Emperor’s Wok Chinese restaurant on Chester Road that morning for the church crowd and the owner called me into his office where he kept a police radio on.  My name was all over the reports as the prime suspect in the murder of a Lakota student.  The trouble for the police—they were with me at the time of the shooting—so it couldn’t have been me.  God works in mysterious ways.  Suddenly missing the fight and the meeting with the girls was not so important, and a new level of concern moved through me.  My friends who were meeting me at the fight were now missing.  A manhunt ensued.

Their side of the story is well documented by court records, and it was really a tragedy for everyone involved.  My friends had arrived at the fight and found that I was not there.  The boys I was set to fight were already at Screaming Bridge and told my friends that they had killed me, and pushed me down the hill.  This panicked my friends and one of them had brought a rifle, even though I said not to.  He shot at the boys as they got in their car to flee the scene.  My friends chased them down pelting them with gunfire.  My friends thought they were defending me.  They didn’t know that the police had already picked me up for another incident.  They thought I was at the bottom of the hill in a bloody heap at the hellish Screaming Bridge where the mood of the area was not conducive to logic.  The boys I was supposed to fight should have never poured gasoline on that fire, but that was a hard lesson for everyone involved.

As my friends chased down the car of the fleeing antagonists the guy who brought the rifle kept firing riddling the car with gunfire.  As the car turned north on Millikin Road a chance shot flew through the passenger side window and in front of the faces of two of the three boys.  The bullet hit the driver in the exact spot that a professional sniper would have aimed for which led to the rumors of a professional hit which I had supposedly organized.  The reality wasn’t quite so dramatic.  My friends didn’t want to kill the kid; they just wanted to scare him in revenge for being scared themselves.  The police confirmed in court that they found the traps that the girl had told me that they’d have there, and inside the trunk of the car they found lots of malicious weapons that they planned to use on me during the fight.  So the prosecution didn’t have much to go on against my friends, there was intent to harm on both sides, and it was every bit as dangerous of a situation as everyone felt it was.  If I had made it to the fight there is a good chance I would have been the one that caused the loss of life, and more people would have been likely harmed, so the situation came out as well as it could have.

Of course everyone felt bad for the kid who lost his life.  We hated each other, but not that much.  Later in a fight that one of the other kids I was supposed to fight that night found himself in at a Friday Night Lakota football game, he was ganged up on by several other kids and I came to his defense, the same way I had come to the defense of the girl the year earlier.  Sure he blamed me for the death of his friend, but I still helped him when he was in trouble—because it was the right thing to do.  He suffered enough and was never the same after the loss of his friend which of course nobody wanted to see happen.  But a lot of people grew up a whole lot that night, and the community had to come to terms with the kind of violence that can sometimes take place between students who don’t see eye to eye on things.  The Lakota administrators were completely powerless to do anything about the matter, just as they are powerless now.  They can attempt to legislate away temptations of such violence, but what they end up with is watered down brainless drones in the process.  The cost of people’s ambition and will to live are not worth sacrificing just so that tragedies like the one described are avoided.  It is obvious to me the hand of God in whatever form one wishes to apply, was at play, because of the strange coincidences that really defy reasonable logic.  I don’t believe in tampering with such hands.  Fate has to play out the way we carry out our decisions with one another in order to have authentic results.

The recent Lakota student thrown in jail the way he was violated him in many ways.  Likely he was in a similar situation as I often found myself in, and he was either the provoker, or the victim, but he was doing what he was doing to act in accordance with his nature.  Lakota imposed on that process by stepping in to prevent it so to adhere to a value judgment of society which is afraid of such raw emotion, and is going to great lengths to micromanage thought so to prevent such episodes of violence.  They will even go to the extreme of numbing people’s minds so that everyone stays compliant.  They don’t care if they ruin people’s thoughts so long as they don’t kill each other on Saturday nights.  The value to the institution is the life of everyone even if the result of that life is a numbed down version of their full potential.  The big difference with me is that I never allowed myself to become compliant, or brain-dead.  I have never sought destroying my mind with intoxicants, so my approach to these kinds of problems are often raw.  The result was that I met these boys in the Lakota cafeteria with the full potential of my nature and I had a lot of people willing to follow me into the bowls of Hell—as I still do—because of it.  This ability can be used for good or evil.  I use it for good as I define good, and that definition does not come from institutional parameters, but from my own life understanding forged by such experiences.

A Lakota student died that night meeting me for a fight that brewed for most of the 1985 winter.  I don’t mean anything against his name when I say that there wasn’t anything about that night that I’d take back.  A lot of people suffered, it was tragic, but it was authentic and part of a bunch of intersecting lives fighting for their definition of good.  For me, defending good was in honoring the right of the girl in the cafeteria not to have her coat thrown on the ground.  Was that worth the death of a young boy, or the voluminous amounts of money spent in legal fees—in my world it was.  Because right is right, and it is through conflict that we discover merit when the tapestries of society seem inclined to hide it from us.  Because of that night and the obvious work from God’s hand in protecting me just enough to let me see the events play out, a tremendous wisdom was given to me which I use to this very day.  I was intimately close to the situation without being pulled so far in that I would be lost to legal nightmares forever.  I have taken the lessons of that night and done countless good with the lessons.  I consider the situation very valuable.  I could have done like everyone else and said nothing when the boys bullied the young girl.  If I had nobody likely would have died, my hand wouldn’t have been reconstructed by plastic surgery, my friends wouldn’t have been tarnished for life, the lives of the people I was set to fight wouldn’t have been haunted for the rest of their lives and the terrible pain their families have felt all along in the loss could have been avoided.  At that time I had just been elected Vice President of the Dan Beard Council because of my work in the Boy Scouts of America’s Explore Post activities for all of Cincinnati.  Once my name was associated with the death of a Lakota student, they banned me from further activity which was a terrible cost to me, because I enjoyed that activity.  But it was still worth telling the kid to pick up the girl’s jacket and respect her—because he did forever after—at least for the next couple of months.  But others had been watching, and knew that disrespecting young ladies, at least while I was around, was not acceptable and I would not put up with it.

Lakota administrators weren’t there protecting the rights of the girl.  They were too cowardly to keep me from throwing mashed potatoes at them staining their suits with my lunch on a daily basis.  They weren’t then, and are even less now in any kind of position to take a moral stand on anything because the goal of all such activity at places like Lakota are to save lives—not to help create value for those lives.  The government institution believes that lives are valuable until of course we are talking about abortion, or the molestation of children, or the sex trade, then they are powerless to offer an opinion because all they care about is that they can manipulate public support for their endeavors, and they can only do that so long as they pack up their mindless students onto a bus and ship them back to their parents at the end of the day brain drained and ill prepared for the future.  But at least those kids are alive—by the technical definition.  Their heart is pushing blood through their bodies.  They do not value life as I do focusing on brain activity being more important than the blood that pours through it.  I see every day the corpses of a thousand souls standing in line at the grocery, or showing their friends the latest rare stone quarried out of the blood mines of Africa.  Sure their bodies live, but their minds are dead and places like Lakota kill them.  Sure they will damn my name for playing a part in the death of a Lakota student, and that event will always trail behind me like many other stories have over time, but I can promise that I have seen lives benefit greatly from their own authenticity, something that I have always pushed to experience.  Sometimes you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, or on what’s right such as in the case of the guy who had the semi truck damaged by my friend showing off for some girls.  But when I spoke to the guy, he wanted what was right, and when he met me face to face and saw my sincerity, he found we had more in common than not.

The fight at Screaming Bridge in Liberty Township, Ohio at the end of February in 1985 was about two groups of people fighting for their interpretation of what’s right and wrong.  The school did not offer the answers to the manhood questions we were asking.  So we had to find those answers ourselves.  I chose the path of being a daring rebel against authority.  The boys I was fighting chose to be a bully, and my friends wanted to experience fearlessness through my actions, so they tagged along closely, and sometimes did things I would never think to do, like vandalize a truck not so much to impress a bunch of girls, but me—to show me how bold they were.  The gunshots where probably done for the same reason once primordial motives are ascertained beyond conventional explanation.

The reason we picked Screaming Bridge as the place to fight was because it was thought to be haunted and where else would such a confrontation take place.  Young boys want to know that they can go into the mouth of our darkest fears and face the demons there.  So while we were fighting each other, we were testing ourselves at the same time, which was the real cause of the fight.  I had fought more than one person at the same time on several occasions, but I wanted to do it against guys that were bigger than I was, probably meaner, and I wanted to do it at a place known for demonic practice where even the demons of Hell would be fighting against me.  With all those emotions present and the added fear of the place in general, it proved to be too much for the people who came to watch me fight that night without me there to calm their minds with action.  But all said, if the hand of God had not interfered so obviously, the death toll would have been far greater, and the impact to the community, much more devastating.  God doesn’t come down out of the clouds to sit on our shoulder providing a defined entity that we can often see and touch.  But I will never forget the timing of driving by Maud Hughes Road and seeing the tail lights of my friends going to the fight toward a destiny that would turn out to be tragic, while in the company of the police who wanted my head nailed to a platter for an entirely different reason, and would otherwise want to throw me in jail in seconds once the shooting took place.  It is in such murky stories like this entry into Screaming Bridge and the folklore of Liberty Township that it is obvious to me that God defends the good even when the ways are not easily defined by the misery present by destruction and mayhem.

When the stupid roundabout is built on Millikin Road cars traveling through the South East portion of that circle will pass through the spot where the bullet riddled car came to a stop.  It is the resting place of the guy I was supposed to fight that night which ended straying off the road by a freakish bullet strike.  For years I have driven past that intersection and wondered if his ghost was there mixing with the other area hauntings.  One would hope that such spirits could move on and not be stuck in a tyrannical limbo, but you never know, especially under the circumstances.     I always knew that the car had stopped off the side of the road and not in the path of Millikin Road traffic.  Now, with the new roundabout, the road will carry vehicles right through the resting place of that terrible incident.  Since history is often forgotten by the next generation and politicians who have no problems building homes on top of tombstones and old Indian graves—and in Liberty Township, this has happened a lot—the mysteries of ghostly apparitions and minor hauntings are something to be concerned about.  Now, because of the new roundabout, we won’t be able to speed through that intersection any longer, but will have to slow down and pass right through the spot where the occurrence transpired.  So it will surely add one more layer to the deep mysteries and sometimes haunted past of Liberty Township, Ohio, and the occasional terrible things that happen even when the intentions are good and we all find ourselves actors on a stage play of God’s drama.

Rich Hoffman



16 thoughts on “God’s Sometimes Tragic Stage Play: Screaming Bridge and the haunted Millikin Roundabout

  1. Oh. I had to actually look up what a “roundabout” is…..I grew up in Western Mass and there was one in a town near me….there’s also one in Cape Cod….it figures that New England is always “ahead of it’s time” in copying the worst ideas that Europe has to offer.

    Amazing story, by the way.


      1. Exactly and my theory on rotaries is that they are solutions looking for a problem, like most hair brained government “ideas”.


  2. Government shared by the Brits. When I sold travel, we spent a ton of time in the Caymans and British West Indies. Rotaries, circle freeways, roundabouts were born there. They don’t have real intersections. It’s all circles at a light going every which way. It’s hellish and the main cause of car crashes. Put a tourist on those things as a right side driver and on the opposite side of the road, and you have pure chaos!


    1. If the constitution is a “living breathing document” with subjective rules and laws that change with the wind with zero direction, then why not the roads?


  3. Try driving east from I-75 on the Austin Road exit through that stupid conglomeration of what is considered to be an expanded intersection.


  4. Ck it out…..there are far more accidents caused by round abouts. So why have them?…..I suspect the contractor getting the work and money for these things is politically connected….meanwhile we all pay the price of more accidents and higher insurance rates. Some nutty folks actually want Liberty Twp. to be known for it’s roundabouts…they plan to have lots of them.


  5. Rich, what was the name of the boy that was killed? I remember him from my neighborhood (I was a lot younger). I remember him being a very sweet kid heavily involved in chorus. Just two months before he was killed, his chorus group was at my school (Hopewell Jr.) performing a christmas concert. He was very funny and had the whole school in stitches.


      1. That’s it, thanks! I drive that bridge often and my thoughts are with T.O. too. A sad tale indeed.


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