Can a desperate man put a curse on someone, and does it work? Jake Bird, a serial killer, seemed to think so. When on October 30th, 1947, police responded to a report of a woman screaming in a Tacoma, Washington, house, they found Bird, 46, covered in blood, and the bodies of Bertha Kludt, 52, and her daughter Beverley, 17. Both women had been beaten and slashed with an axe.

Bird was arrested for their murders and signed a confession, in which he also admitted several other killings. But at his trial he withdrew the confession, complaining that the police had beaten it out of him.

He was found guilty, and when the judge asked him if he had anything to say before sentence was passed he replied: “I’m putting the Jake Bird hex on all of you who had anything to do with my being punished. Mark my words, you will die before I do.” With that, the judge sentenced him to be hanged.

A month later the judge died of a heart attack. One of Bird’s lawyers died a year later, on the anniversary of the sentencing. A police officer who took down Bird’s second confession died in January 1948, and the court’s chief clerk died shortly afterwards. The officer who took Bird’s first confession died of a heart attack, and one of Bird’s prison guards died shortly after that.

Jake Bird outlived them all. He was hanged at Walla Walla on Friday, July 15th, 1949.

A baffling coincidence, or the eerie result of a doomed man’s curse?