Gateway: Living

Author to share spooky tale of Olalla history

Olalla resident Gregg Olsen’s book, “Starvation Heights: A true story of murder and malice in the woods of the Pacific Northwest,” tells the story of Dora and Claire Williamson, two wealthy British heiresses, who came to the sanitarium of Linda Hazzard in 1911, a doctor who claimed to have a revolutionary fasting treatment.
Olalla resident Gregg Olsen’s book, “Starvation Heights: A true story of murder and malice in the woods of the Pacific Northwest,” tells the story of Dora and Claire Williamson, two wealthy British heiresses, who came to the sanitarium of Linda Hazzard in 1911, a doctor who claimed to have a revolutionary fasting treatment. Courtesy

When crime writer Gregg Olsen moved to Olalla 20 years ago and the locals found out his profession, suddenly there were people eager to tell him about the town’s own strange crime, one from back in the early 1900s.

“It turned out to be the story of a lifetime,” Olsen said.

His book, “Starvation Heights: A true story of murder and malice in the woods of the Pacific Northwest,” tells the story of Dora and Claire Williamson, two wealthy British heiresses, who came to the sanitarium of Linda Hazzard in 1911, a doctor who claimed to have a revolutionary fasting treatment.

Hazzard’s method starved her patients to death. At the time of Claire Williamson’s death, she weighed less than 50 pounds. In total, at least 40 patients died from Hazzard’s controversial diet.

It’s a story that defies belief, and the process of writing and researching opened Olsen’s eyes to true crime.

“I found that crime history can be just as fascinating as crime on the news today,” Olsen said.

Readers all over found the story fascinating, too. Olsen’s book became a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. It was also honored by the Washington Secretary of State.

Olsen will take part in the final presentation of the Harbor History Museum’s Buried History series. Named “The Wicked Cure,” Olsen will join investigators from WSPIR, Washington State Paranormal Investigations and Research, for a discussion of Hazzard, her house and her “wicked cure.”

WSPIR has been out to Hazzard’s house, home of her deadly sanitarium, to investigate paranormal activity.

Tickets, unfortunately, have sold out to the Harbor History Museum event, but more information on Hazzard and WSPIR is readily available online.

Olsen’s book is available through most major booksellers and through his website at greggolsen.com. There’s also a website entirely devoted to Dr. Hazzard’s disturbing story at starvationheights.com.

The Starvation Heights website address can also be found in a hidden spot in the harbor: Olsen purchased a brick with the web address that’s outside the Harbor History Museum.

WSPIR has more information about the organizations work at wspir.com. Their meetings are open to all curious about the unexplained phenomenon is the world.

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155

karen.miller@gateline.com

@gateway_karen

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