Cal State Long Beach's long haunted past
Ancient Indian burial grounds, a homicidal professor and a murder committed by a student who worked for this very magazine, read up on CSULB's ghost stories.
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Updated: Saturday, April 9, 2011 18:04
At the end of each October, Cal State Long Beach hosts its annual Spooktacular where people from every field and department dress to the nines with fake blood and every gory fake body part imaginable. But while the event has been filled with plenty of hobgoblins and creepy characters, there are certainly enough spooky stories that have taken place at CSULB to really give students a scare. The very foundation upon which our university sits even has a chilling past.
CSULB rests upon the holy ground of the Gabrielino tribe, as well as the holy ground for many other American Indians. This land is known as Puvungna.
The land, now occupied by the university, was once an Indian village. From the larger village, all that remains is the undeveloped, 22-acre lot on Bellflower Boulevard, which is a spiritual mecca for the Gabrielino, who believe their god, Chungichnish, taught from the site.
In 1972, it was first discovered that Puvungna was an ancient burial site when portions of the remains of an Indian boy were found by workers, according to an article in the Union Weekly. According to the article, the site was commemorated in 1979 by American Indian students by burying the remains of the boy at Puvungna.
The site, though, hasn't remained in peace since its 1974 addition to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1992 and 1993 there were efforts to develop the grounds into a strip mall and community garden - something strongly opposed by the Gabrielinos, who subsequently began the "Puvungna Sacred Site Struggle of 1993-1995."
In 1995 the struggle ended with former CSULB President Robert Maxson's move to the presidential position, and his vow to never disrupt the Puvungna.
Yet 11 years later, tension resumed between the university and the American Indians when current President F. King Alexander assumed the presidential role and bargains between CSULB and the native group were no longer recognized.
Tales of ancient burial grounds and a holy, sacred site aren't the only chilling stories related to CSULB.
In 1973, a former part-time economics professor, Jalal Bayati, was charged with murdering two people after having called the police admitting, "I just stabbed two people."
When police arrived at Bayati's apartment, they found Elizabeth Ann Johnson, Bayati's former girlfriend, on the floor with blood covering the apartment and Bayati sitting in a chair repeatedly screaming, "I just killed the one I loved," according to an article in the Daily Forty-Niner.
Later, Stephen Arena, Johnson's coworker, was found stabbed to death on a bed in one room of Johnson's apartment across the street. A butcher knife and an ornamental knife were found covered in blood in the apartment, according to the article.
Former faculty members aren't the only people tied to CSULB with murderous pasts. Former student and University Magazine editor Carol Worthman was arrested Halloween night in 1985 for the murder of her allegedly abusive husband. Carol's husband, Paul Worthman, was discovered shot five times in the neck and back. His body was found in the back bedroom of the small home the couple once shared with one of their neighbors.
Carol's attorney in court contested that Paul had put on a ski mask the night of the murder and threatened to "execute her." According to a Daily Forty-Niner article, after the couple divorced Paul would often wear a ski mask and taunt and stalk Carol, who had been raped by an assailant wearing a ski mask.
Prosecutors at the former student's trial said Carol took between 20 and 30 minutes covering up the murder, putting a mask on her former husband, "making it look like he was an intruder and it was self-defense."
Carol testified that she had been often been abused by her husband throughout their marriage, and on one occasion had her head pushed into a sink by Paul, giving her head injuries.
Prosecutors claimed that Carol killed her husband in cold blood after he refused to reconcile with her.
Other bizarre behavior by people who once walked CSULB's halls includes a former civil engineering professor, Elena Zagustin, whose house emitted such a strange, foul odor that 33 Huntington Harbor residents filed claims against the professor for emotional distress.
In 1998, the professor's home was so filthy that she was ordered to pay $3,057.73 in compensatory and statutory damages to her neighbors. Later it seemed that Zagustin had dropped off the face of the Earth. She failed to show up to her scheduled probation violation appearance in court and didn't appear at five consecutive class lectures.
A warrant was issued for her arrest and she eventually lost her job at CSULB, according to an article in the Daily Forty-Niner. She attempted to flee the state and was detained by LAX customs officials while trying to get on an international flight with $10,000 in her possession.
Whether it was the ancient Indian burial ground or just temporary insanity that made these students and professors do such crazy things, nobody will ever know. But be careful when walking through the halls of CSULB, and make sure to be nice to your professors, and editors of this magazine.