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Chandler teacher tells chilling story to students

Hamilton High School history teacher Ed Hermanski has been telling a spooky tale to his junior students for 12 years. His tale of a mysterious death in Texas has become an urban legend.

Hamilton High School history teacher Ed Hermanski has been telling a spooky tale to his junior students for 12 years. His tale of a mysterious death in Texas has become an urban legend.

She had this evil, evil look on her face, and she was dirty, and she had blood on her fingers . . . She said, “Ssshhh. They’re here.” And I said, “Who’s here?” And she said, “The ones who live in the walls.”

Once upon a time, in a cozy suburb known as Chandler, there was a teacher known as Mr. H.

He liked to tell stories, and still does. Especially the tale of a girl named Kimberly who attended his middle-school class in Texas many years ago.

As Mr. H tells it, Kimberly’s parents vanished in the early 1990s. Their remains were found in the backyard. A dog’s disemboweled corpse was in the refrigerator. Malevolent creatures emerged from beneath Kimberly’s bed.

The macabre events that took place are almost too horrible to describe in a family newspaper.

Mr. H, whose full name is Ed Hermanski, started spinning this yarn about 15 years ago. He continued when he became a history teacher at Hamilton High School in Chandler. His story, while spliced with humor, is chilling enough to keep hundreds of teenagers quiet for an hour. Hermanski tells kids at the start to leave if they become too frightened. A few exit early. Others, even honor students and tough jocks, cannot sleep afterward.

Over time, Kimberly’s story spread through the east Phoenix area and around the country via the Internet. More and more teens asked to attend Hermanski’s annual renditions. Last year, in a single week, he recited the tale during eight class periods and several more times after school. Performances had to be moved to the auditorium, where more than 300 students, teachers and parents sat spellbound.

“It’s turned into a monster,” Hermanski says, chuckling. “It’s taken on a life of its own. I’ve actually had e-mails from Florida, New York, Ohio.”

He has copyrighted the story, and a former student has started work on a script they hope will lead to a Hollywood film.

“What I’m trying to do is adapt it to the screen where it still affects all of your five senses like it does when he tells it,” said Mike Burciaga, 23. “The way he tells the story is what makes it special – the emotion, the imagination.”

With shaved head and the face of a 50-year-old cherub, Hermanski’s soliloquy is delivered in the dark except for a single bulb on the podium, illuminating his visage from below. When he drops to a whisper, the voice seems to echo amid nervous twitters.

She looked emaciated. Her eyes were sunk in her head. She looked down at her hand and started to rub it and she said, “Poor Kimberly.”

As Hermanski tells it, Kimberly became a murder suspect. Her trial was moved to Arizona and she was convicted. Then, years ago, she escaped from prison. She began stalking people, including her former teacher. What makes the story most unnerving is Hermanski’s insistence, with a coy smile, that it is “based on real events.” He did teach at Walter Clarke Middle School in El Paso. Something strange did happen to one of his students. The investigator, police Officer Johnny Guerrero, really is his friend.

Over the years, some students have tried to debunk the legend, conducting research and even driving to Texas, only to find tendrils of truth. Mr. H concedes that details have been altered to protect privacy and embellished for entertainment purposes. But when asked to separate fact from fiction, he shakes his head, offers a poker face and says, “The more information I reveal, the story loses its clout. I enjoy freaking the kids out . . . but I don’t want to terrorize them.”

Hermanski first told about Kimberly while teaching at Willis Junior High School in Chandler about 15 years ago. Students had been discussing paranormal events. After announcing that he did not believe in all that stuff, he proceeded to tell how something very unsettling had happened to him years earlier. “When I was done, they were all huddled together and shaking. I’m like, ‘Uh-oh. They’re really scared.’ ”

Hermanski said his target audience now is high-school juniors. But younger kids sneak in sometimes. Recorded versions of the story are shared on iPods.

There have been few complaints from parents, and Hermanski, a teacher first, would like to keep it that way. There is no punch line to “The Kimberly Story,” no clear ending or moral. It winds down with the latest report of a young woman in white seen at Hamilton High School’s prom, or wandering along Gilbert Road at midnight in search of dead children.

Hermanski admonishes students not to let Kimberly get into their heads. There’s really no need to check the vents or lock the doors, he says. Not even when you’re home alone, late at night, and you hear strange noises.

If you think about it too much, you become a part of it. And, tonight, when you turn out the lights, I don’t want you to think about it too much.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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