BUILT: c. 1960s
OPERATION TIME: Unknown to 2002
STATUS: Open as medical office
During the late 1960s, the site was used as a gas station. A woman was brutally beaten, raped, and murdered on the property, with her body discarded on the right side of the building. The killer remained unidentified. However, there are no records of the event to be found to confirm the crime occurred on the property.
The station was eventually turned into a Blockbuster video store. In May 2002, 48-year-old serial killer Donald Ray Wheat went on a two state, six day robbery and murder spree. He began his crime rampage on May 10, when he and his girlfriend robbed and murdered a grocer in Bowdon, Georgia and robbed Joe’s Quick Stop in Waldo, Alabama. On May 12, he robbed a Crown Gas Station and non-fatally shot a customer in the head as he left the store. He stabbed a female employee ten times at The Movie Gallery in Heflin, Alabama; she managed to survive her wounds. On May 15, Wheat shot four men in the back of the head: employees Douglas Edward Neal, Jr. (27) an Austin Carl Joplin (23) and customers Joseph Michael Burch (20) and Andrew Burch (19), who were brothers. He was arrested two days later in Ashland, Alabama and sentenced to death. Wheat died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 50 in 2004 at Holman Prison before he could be executed. The Blockbuster store closed as a result of the tragedy.
In June 2008, a portion of the building was demolished and remodeled. It currently operates as a small medical office. Family members of the victims often visit the site and leave four crosses as memorials for them.
The building is said to be haunted by Wheat’s victims. Visitors report feeling as though they are being watched and cold wind on the right side of the building. There have also been sightings of seemingly sourceless shadows.
- Forgotten USA. “Blockbuster,” www.ForgottenUSA.com
- Mystery 411. “Old Blockbuster Video Store,” www.Mystery411.com
- Oxford Paranormal Society. “Blockbuster Folklore,” www.OxfordParanormalSociety.com
- Tuscaloosa News. “Man convicted in Blockbuster killings dies in prison,” www.TuscaloosaNews.com