In Search of the Devil’s Tree

Most people we talk to have never heard of Deputy Sheriff Gerard Schaefer- we hadn’t, and we’ve been residents in the area since birth. It took a rumor overhead by a friend to tip us off to the strange history of Port Saint Luice; a little digging led to the truth and the story of Gerard Schaefer. This twisted individual was responsible for the deaths of possibly hundreds of women, with his victims remains having been found at both Blind Creek and in what is now Oak Hammock Park in Port Saint Lucie. For a full history of this man, visit Michael Newton’s article, “All About Gerard Schaefer“.

The murderous past of Oak Hammock Park was compounded in the years after Schaefer’s horrific crimes took place. Soon groups of Satanic worshipers moved in, claiming the tree Schaefer’s victims had been hung from as their own. They held rituals under what was fast becoming known as the Devil’s Tree, despite the attempts of others in the area to prevent their activity. Here are a few excerpts from the local papers over the past years:

“With Bibles in hand and a can of paint at their sides, a team of pastors set out to rid an oak tree of evil Thursday after reports that the tree has been the site of two murders and several satanic rituals. Chanting “demons be gone” and “this is holy property,” four pastors and two church members joined hands around a 150-year-old live oak on Southwest Leafy Road.”

Author: TERESA LANE, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Date: March 5, 1993

“A 150-year-old oak tree slated for the chopping block because of folklore tying it to evil will not be razed, the tree’s owner said Friday. Instead, an 8-foot wooden cross will be erected near the tree to warn devil-worshipers they’re not welcome on Southwest Leafy Road, said Alan Weierman, administrator of the children’s shelter that owns the 30-acre tract in western Port St. Lucie.”

Author: TERESA LANE, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Date: March 6, 1993

The land on which the Devil’s Tree grew eventually found its way into the hands of the Parks and Recreation Department in Port Saint Lucie. As the story goes, the employees were instructed to cut the tree down in preperation for the land becoming a public park. Here is an excerpt from a standard “friend of a friend” accounting of what happened next:

“The city decided to remove the tree. They contracted the work out to a local tree removal service, who went in with their chainsaws and equipment to cut down the oak, however, their chainsaws wouldn’t fire up. Frustrated, but not ready to give up, they returned with some unused chainsaws, and were surprised to find they also wouldn’t start. All of the chainsaws worked properly later on.

The story got even odder because they came back again, planning to cut down the tree with an old fashioned two person pull saw, the kind made out of tempered steel. Oddly, the teeth broke off the saw.

At this point, the city felt they had run out of options and just decided to leave the tree. That is- until recently. I have heard rumor that perhaps the Devil’s Tree may have been cut down without anyone having been told. Since I haven’t been to Oak Hammock Park recently, I can’t confirm that though.”

In addition to the rumors of activity at The Devil’s Tree, it is said that the woman’s restroom at the park is also a spot with unexplained noises and other events. Today, we decided to take the chance and visit Oak Hammock Park in search of the infamous Devil’s Tree. We went off directions we’d found on another website, which pointed us towards the tree and explained that it was a very old, large oak with metal benches under its branches and a lot of Spanish moss hanging above. After following the directions to reach the tree, we came across one that seemed to fit the bill exactly. We took pictures and discussed the fact that none of us had an erie feeling from the tree, something everyone seemed to report. We continued on down the path, eager to explore the remainder of the park, which is an idyllic slice of ‘old Florida’.

It wasn’t long before we came upon the second tree. It was a very large, old oak. There were metal benches under the branches. The Spanish moss was there. All the signs, yet this was the second tree that fit the description. We thought it odd and, after taking pictures of this second tree, continued on down the path- where we found tree number three. There are five large, old oaks that fit the description of the Devil’s Tree along one path alone, making it nearly impossible to identify with the information we currently have.

Having said that, only one tree gave off an eerie feeling; only one tree seemed to be “creepy”. It also had a rather interesting branch, which you will be able to see in close up in the images below. We also took time to check out the women’s restroom, which didn’t seem like anything interesting during the day.

We’re not done exploring the Devil’s Tree- we are currently attempting to reach those who were involved in the original cases in an attempt to find someone who can verify which of these majestic oaks has the sordid past.

11 Responses to In Search of the Devil’s Tree

  • rowdiegurl says:

    I see the place on the branch where the moss isn’t but am a little curious what your thoughts on this are. If you ask me, the tree is kinda creepy without any history!!!

  • grim says:

    Well, we’ve taken a poll of viewers and everyone seems to have come up with the same immediate explanation for the ‘missing moss’ on the branch; everyone said it looks like rope burn on the branch.

    Several of them didn’t even know the history of the tree.

    It seems rather unlikely that something like that would have survived for so many years, and we’re really reluctant to call it anything other than a spot without moss. However, it is odd.

  • cubanguy says:

    none of those is the devil tree. the devil tree has no leaves on it, nor is it surrounded by trees. also it has chain marks on the trunk of it and has words on it as well.

  • pappas says:

    I Dont know what tree u have pictured but that is definately not the tree. When u go into oak hammock park,go along the c24 canal until u see a path on the left hand side and do down that path about 40 yards and u will see a huge oak tree .. it will definately stand out to u and creep u out a little bit. AnD that owl that some of u might have heard of is REAL. I’ve seen it and thought it was weird and now i hear other people link it to that tree.

  • luna says:

    cubanguy and pappas- perhaps you should read the more updated posts on this topic.

  • anthonie says:

    I was at the tree last night at about eleven o clock and we went to the first two trees. we went the path of the c24 and the first tree gave off a erie feeling. the next tree was spooky but the first one is the devils tree.

  • Yvonne Mason says:

    If you want the truth and where the real tree is contact me. I have just released a true crime and have talked with the law enfrocment who worked that case
    Yvonne

  • Iwusther Thudnia says:

    Ok there are multiple trees on the path yes. But there is a small path around the tree. Also the county tried chopping it down with axes and each axe head flew off. In addition they also tried burning it down. You can see the charrring in a knot of the tree.

  • kelsey says:

    me and a couple friends went there the other night and we took a picture of the tree to see if we could capture anything, and guess what we got? a distinct rope on a branch and a head, torso, and arms hanging from it.

  • Lucky says:

    I was here i may have got away without knowing it I ran away from home 1972 and 1973. at that time I was sitting on the side of the road on the other side of a ditch in some woods in Port Salerno. it was cool I was watching a deputy sheriff going back and forth I know the deputy was looking for me. I had always wondered if I was the clever one that got away. anyways hate to burst anybody’s bubble I am sure that tree got chop down. left undone it would have caused a lot of problems

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