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ICONS : The Haunt of the Hotel Del

PALM LATITUDES

January 03, 1993|Sharon Whitley

Look a night in Room 3312 or 3502 at San Diego's Hotel del Coronado and you may get more than you paid for. Like flickering lights, swaying curtains, cool blowing air and mysterious voices. You may even see a beautiful brunette named Kate Morgan wearing black 1800s garb, gliding down the corridors or standing by the window as if waiting for someone.

That someone is her estranged husband, card shark Tom Morgan. In November, 1892, the two were traveling through Los Angeles by train. After an argument, partly over Kate's pregnancy, he disembarked, promising to meet her at the hotel, where they were planning to spend Thanksgiving. He never showed.

Later that week, her body was found outside the hotel on steps leading to the ocean, a bullet in her head, a gun in her hand--an apparent suicide. She was not pregnant.

Since then, guests have reported hearing odd noises and seeing a ghostly figure of a woman. Then, in 1989, an Orange County attorney, the late Alan May, heard the story. Intrigued, he researched it, finally deciding that Tom Morgan had murdered his wife. He also speculated that Kate had aborted her baby. He published his material in "The Legend of Kate Morgan: The Search for the Ghost of the Hotel del Coronado" (Elk Publishing).

A real-life ghostbuster is also interested in the hotel's haunted rooms. Parapsychologist Christopher Chacon says Room 3502 is "a classic haunting." Using infrared cameras and gadgets that monitor magnetic fields, humidity and temperature fluctuations and electronic emissions, he and his crew picked up 37 abnormalities in Room 3502 in one recent 24-hour period, though he found nothing in Room 3312.

Room 3502, legend has it, had been a maid's room in 1892--the maid who attended to Kate Morgan. The day after Kate's funeral, she mysteriously disappeared and was never heard from again.

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