Digital illustration of huge old ships at a port, with a hint of mountains around them. The docks have lumber piles ready to be loaded.

The Ghoul of Grays Harbor

Episode #163

2021-04-23 15:44:23


The Pacific Northwest was said to be terrorized by a serial killer in the early 20th century. Bodies were floating to the surface of the Chehalis and Wishkah Rivers. A local police chief told reporters that he believed that they were dealing with “the greatest murderer of the age.” 

But the real story was a lot more complex. It’s about myth-making and working conditions, The Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, and a man named William Gohl (often called Billy Gohl) who angered the wealthiest and influential people in town: “They saw him as a thorn in their side and as a person who needed to be removed.” 

Aaron Goings’ book is The Port of Missing Men: Billy Gohl, Labor, and Brutal Times in the Pacific Northwest.