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Mystery of Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier (officially Lake Sidney Lanier) has been the location for more bizarre and mysterious deaths and disappearances that still remain unsolved. This lake is a reservoir in the northern portion of the U.S. state of Georgia. It was created by the completion of Buford Dam on the Chattahoochee River in 1956, and is also fed by the waters of the Chestatee River. The lake encompasses 38,000 acres (150 km2) or 59 square miles of water, and 692 miles (1,114 km) of shoreline at normal level, a "full summer pool" of 1,071 feet (326 m) above mean sea level. It was named for poet Sidney Lanier, and was built and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is patrolled by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR). Ever since the Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of Buford Dam in 1952, and the backwaters of the Ole Hooch started filling in the cracks and crevices of North Georgia’s foothills, tall tales and legend have circulated throughout these parts about the secrets of Lake Lanier.

One such case revolves around a Georgia man by the name of Kelly Nash, 25, who went missing from his home in Buford, Georgia, on January 5, 2015. Early that morning at 4AM, Nash awoke with flu-like symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, and told his girlfriend Jessica Sexton, who was with him at the time, that he felt terrible and should probably see a doctor before going back to bed. Sexton then woke up again at 7:30 AM to find that Nash was gone and had not taken his wallet, car keys or ID with him. When Nash still had not returned that evening, police were called in and it was discovered that a 9mm pistol was missing from the house but none of Nash’s other belongings were missing or out of place. A massive search would subsequently be launched for Nash, involving authorities, family and friends, and dogs specially trained to sniff out dead bodies, and a $50,000 reward was offered for any information, yet no trace of the man or his whereabouts were found. It was not until one month after his strange disappearance, on February 8, that Nash’s badly decomposed body was found in Lake Lanier by a fisherman. Nash was still wearing the pajama pants and dark shirt that he’d had on when he went missing, and although the body appeared to have no major trauma, it was found that he had suffered a single gunshot wound to the head. The crime has never been solved and it is unclear why he chose to go out in the middle of the night in his sleeping clothes, how he ended up at the lake, and whether he committed suicide.
Satellite Map of Lake Lanier

In April 1958, Lake Lanier claimed its most famous victim, Susie Roberts, long since known as Lake Lanier’s Lady of the Lake. Roberts lost control of her car and crashed off the right abutment of Lanier Bridge on Dawsonville Highway. Her car came to rest in ninety feet of water, on a steep slope at the base of the bridge, caught in the deadfall of sheered-off tree trunks that comprise the Lake Lanier bottom.

A year after the accident in 1959, divers discovered the body of Delia Mae Parker Young, believed to be a passenger in Susie Roberts' car, but could never locate the car or remains of Miss Roberts.

With visibility being almost zero at that depth, Roberts remained undiscovered until November, 1990 when construction on the new Lanier Bridge expansion was underway. Construction crews found Roberts car while dredging out the lake bottom to set the foundation pillars for the new bridge. As construction crews were dredging the bottom of the lake in order to set up pillars for the expansion, they uncovered a rusted out hulk of a 1954 Ford which held within it the remains of a human body. The car had been hidden within tree trunks, mud, and other detritus in 90 feet of water on a steep slope. The body was decomposed to the point of being unidentifiable, but the belongings found on it, including a purse, rings, and watch were able to conclusively prove that the body was that of the long missing Susie Roberts. The headstone was changed accordingly, and Susie Roberts was buried beside her. Interestingly, although the deaths of Delia Parker Young and Susie Roberts is an old, mostly forgotten case, it has spawned one of the area’s most persistent and frightening local legends. It is said that a ghostly young woman dressed in a blue dress and missing her hands can sometimes be seen walking up and down the length of Lanier Bridge, and is said to be the ghost of Delia Parker Young, since she had been dressed in a blue dress on the night of her death and her body had been found minus hands. According to those who claim to have seen the ghost, which has since become known as The Lady of the Lake, Delia’s restless spirit seems to be searching for her missing hands.

On June 2012, boating collision killed Buford brothers Griffin and Jake Prince, whose funeral was July 3 in Suwanee. A Johns Creek business owner has been charged with boating under the influence in connection with that collision.

One month later, an accident occurred which injured Kyle Glover, 11, and a 15 year old girl. Glover, stepson of superstar entertainer Usher, reportedly has been declared brain dead by doctors in Atlanta. The children were in an inner tube being pulled by a pontoon boat when they were hit by a jet ski. The man piloting the jet ski reportedly was a member of the boating party with the children.According to, officials with the Department of Natural Resources, which patrols Lake Lanier, have been trying to re-create details of the incident involving Usher's stepson. They say alcohol does not appear to be a factor.

Ghosts, freak accidents, and mysterious murders are also not the only weird things apparently going on at Lake Lanier. Local fishermen have long insisted that there are gigantic catfish in the lake which reportedly reach sizes of 5 to 7 feet long and are said to swallow dogs that get to close to the water and even attack swimmers and divers. These giant catfish are said to be particularly attracted to the deep waters below Buford Dam, and there are various accounts from divers working in the area to examine the dam or fix bridges who have seen the huge fish for themselves, which were scary enough to supposedly make some of the divers refuse to go back into the water there ever again. One of the most popular local tales concerning the alleged giant catfish of Lake Lanier concerns a truck carrying live chickens, which supposedly hurtled off of the Thompson Bridge in the 1980s and sank to the bottom along with its cargo. Divers were then sent in to examine the wreckage and to their horror found catfish “the size of 12-year-old boys” gathered about the sunken truck and engaged in a ravenous feeding frenzy swallowing the chickens whole. Other stories have described fishermen hooking into the enormous fish and having their boats towed around the lake. It is unclear whether these reports of giant catfish in Lake Lanier are true, exaggerations, or pure urban legend, but it is certainly enough to give one pause before getting into the water here.


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