If you ever get annoyed when children are running up and down the hallways of your hotel when you’re trying to sleep, staying a night at the Wort Hotel in Jackson might be one to cross off your list. But these children can’t be scolded by hotel staff. They died nearly 50 years ago, and still haunt the halls of the hotel to this day.
The luxury hotel was constructed in downtown Jackson by homesteader, Charles Wort in 1941. The famous Silver Dollar Bar was constructed just a few years later right next door to the hotel. The hotel survived a fire in the 1980s, was rebuilt and reopened, and continues to operate today, but local Ghost Tour experts will tell you that not all is as it appears in the Wort.
Those looking into the windows of the hotel may see faces staring back at them, namely of two small children who are said to still call the Wort home, even after their tragic deaths. The story of the killing of the children is more heartbreaking than any other haunting in the Cowboy State.
In 1965, a man named Andrew Pixley came to Jackson Hole. Pixley was born in New Mexico, and considered Dallas, Oregon as his hometown. On the night of August 5th, 1964, Pixley climbed a stack of wood and broke into a room at the Wort Motor Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The room was occupied by Circuit Court Judge Robert McAuliffe from Illinois and his family while they enjoyed Jackson as part of their vacation.
When the Judge and his wife came back to their room, they found Pixley laying on the ground, presumably intoxicated. McAuliffee pinned Pixley to the ground, and an officer in the area heard Mrs. McAuliffe screaming and came running to the room. The chilling words she screamed were: “My God, this man has killed my babies.”
It was then that they discovered that two of the Judge’s daughters had been killed in their beds. Debbie, 12, and Cindy, 8 had been sexually assaulted and murdered. The youngest child, Susan at only 6, was left alive and unharmed. She may have witnessed the attack on her sisters. Initially, Pixley only told police “I didn’t do it,” citing his Native American heritage as a reason for why he couldn’t have done the heinous crime. A crowd outside the hotel initially called for him to be lynched, and Pixley was moved to the Wyoming State Penitentiary for better security.
The tale of Andrew Pixley and the Wort motel is a tragic one, ending with the perpetrator being put to death with the cas chamber at the Rawlins Frontier Prison.
Employees have reported getting calls from concerned guests, wondering why children are wandering the halls alone, and calls from onlookers who see the children playing on the second floor through the windows, though no children are found when hotel workers look for them.
The children aren’t the only specters that stuck around in this picturesque hotel, as the website for the Wort describes one of their friendly ghosts in the halls. A man named Robert “Bob” Tomingas took a job as the Wort Hotel’s maintenance engineer in 1950 and stuck around until this day, even after his death.
The staff say that Bob was known to be able to fix any mechanical issues that arose in the hotel, including leaving work equipment near repairs that needed to be made, as if he were about to work on it himself. “While Bob never appears for our guests, we still consider him a valuable team member at the historic Wort Hotel,” the hotel staff say.
Ghostly children still playing in the halls from the afterlife, a friendly and ghostly maintenance man and the beautiful scenery of the Tetons, what more could you want from a weekend getaway?
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.