Swiss Village Apartments Ghost

I recently became aware of the Swiss Village Apartments located at 4250 Fourth Avenue in Hillcrest by a website visitor named Kevin. He reported strange occurrences while residing at the 4th Avenue Apartments (formerly Swiss Village). I decided to look into the history of these apartments to see if I could find any cause for the “high level of strangeness” Kevin experienced.

It’s a super long story, too long to tell here, but had things move, colds spots and sleepless nights. For one week in a row, I had horrid pain in the middle of the night, couldn’t sleep, but fine in the day. Woke up one evening, saw a ‘man’ at the end of my bed, yelled at him/it to ‘get the F off of me’ and never had any issues again. That was the super short version. 

Kevin former resident 4250 Fourth Avenue Apartments 2017-2021

Disclaimer: Fourth Avenue Apartments

The history we provide and any reference to “ghosts” and “high level of strangeness” is purely for the Swiss Village Apartments, not the Fourth Avenue Apartments. There is no known way of proving or disproving the existence of ghosts, and we are simply responding to a post written by website visitors. The area should be considered private property trespassers will likely be in violation of law and prosecuted.

Fair use historical news worthy Swiss Village Apartments circa 1970  San Diego Union  2/15/1970
Fair use historical news worthy Swiss Village Apartments circa 1970 San Diego Union 2/15/1970

History of Swiss Village Apartments in Hillcrest

The Swiss Village Apartments were the brainchild of North Park Realty Investor Don Cohn and builder Thomas Kelly of Imperial Valley. The apartments were modeled after a Switzerland alps style ski lodge and village. The building’s location on a hill overlooking Mission Valley was essential to the overall design concept. The site allowed tenants a view of the wooded sloping Alpine-like terrain down into the valley. Other building features included cascading ponds linked to a decorative waterfall feature and a 3000-square-foot community center full of amenities. The Swiss Village apartments had 126 rental units with one, two, and three bedroom options and opened to renters in 1970. Eventually, the apartments were renovated and are currently known as the Fourth Avenue Apartments.

Swiss Village Apartments A Case For Ghosts

When evaluating and researching possible haunted locations for guests, we try to provide anything relevant to the area that might interest our readers. In the case of The Swiss Village Apartments at 4250 Fourth Avenue in Hillcrest, several things stood out right away. Every building has a history, and The Swiss Village Apartments is a story of life, death, and shared geography of San Diego’s very own “Waverly Hills” style hospital. The information provided herein does not represent the entirety of the story, just some critical notes.

Geography of 4250 Fourth Avenue Hillcrest

As stated earlier, the Swiss Village concept needed the hilltop vantage point for its ski lodge Alps style. That geography may have come at a “Ghostly” price. Comparing a map from the 1960s to current day Google, we find an interesting reference to a San Diego county general hospital and a mental hospital.

The Old County Hospital San Diego
The Old County Hospital San Diego

The current day UC San Diego Medical center in Hillcrest is only minutes away from 4250 Fourth Avenue. When digging into history, we discover that the current-day hospital was once a vast County Hospital complex serving the indignant population of San Diego.

The three-story “training” hospital opened on March 15, 1904. They were referred to as inmates to get a sense of the social status given to the indigent who moved into this facility. The transfer of the 90 patients from the existing poor farm county hospital in Mission Valley below happened quietly in the middle of the night. The staff didn’t want to draw the attention of the public. During its 60 years of operation, the hospital had several additions, including a fourth floor, a five-level east wing, and a nurses station. This fully equipped training hospital included a morgue and autopsy room. The staff mainly consisted of volunteer physicians, a head nurse, and nurses in training. The county general hospital also served as a place of alms for the poor and a sanitorium. People lived and died through the entirety of its 60 years of operation.

Could spirits from the hospital have manifested over to the nearby Swiss Apartments? We will likely never know. We also found three peculiar deaths during our research into the Swiss Village apartments.

Swiss Village Apartment Pool Death

Patricia Ann Simmons death Swiss Village Aprtments

We don’t know much about Patricia Ann Simmons other than a brief death notice posted in the San Diego Union on June 18, 1974. Patricia was a microbiologist at University Hospital and lived in the Swiss Village. Her lifeless body was found in the Swiss Village pool at about 5:45 pm on June 17, 1974. We could find no other reference to her death and must assume it was due to natural causes. We find it peculiar that a 26-year-old trained in the medical field drowned by accident. As such, we have made a formal request to the coroner’s office for her death certificate.

Swiss Village Builder Thomas Kelly and Wife Tragic Plane Crash

Thomas Kelly death builder Swiss Village Apartments

Thomas Martin Kelly of Imperial Contracting Co. and his wife both died when the small twin-engine plane piloted by Thomas crashed in an empty Texas field on February 16, 1979. Kelly was the builder for the Swiss Village Apartments and, at the time of his death, was a defendant in the case of DEL MAR BEACH CLUB OWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC., Plaintiff, and Appellant, v. IMPERIAL CONTRACTING. Perhaps in his death, Thomas visits the job sites he worked so hard to build in life.

The Unbelievable Tale of John Bowie Jr.

Sometimes while doing research, we run across stories so incredible they seem surreal, as in the life and death of John Bowie Jr. John was born on February 17, 1940, in Louisiana. The first part of John’s life was unremarkable. Things dramatically change when he begins living at the Swiss Village apartments in Hillcrest. John lived at the Swiss Village apartments and a local motel under an assumed name. He was also involved with a motorcycle “club” called the Voodoos. John supposedly earned income from selling used restaurant grease to soap makers but could not be verified.

John was involved in a love triangle between himself (32), Deborah Ann Thomas (19), and Riley White (31) in 1977. Deborah had been involved in a relationship with Riley and John. Things went sour, and John killed Riley by shooting him with a 12 gauge shotgun. Deborah was John’s common-law wife at the time of Riley’s murder. Though John immediately admitted to the murder, the District attorney never pressed charges on the grounds of self-defense. Police had also questioned John for involvement in a prostitution ring. John and Deborah continued to live together at the Swiss Village apartments after the murder.

John Bowie, an avid motorcyclist, was injured in a motorcycle accident in 1978. An infection in his heel followed and caused John to be hospitalized. On Thursday, July 27, 1978, exactly one year after Riley’s murder, Deborah entered John’s hospital room and shot him twice with a .38 caliber pistol at point blank range. John suffered two gunshot wounds, one to the neck and one to the chest. Miraculously neither of the wounds proved life-threatening. Deborah was arrested shortly after the shooting.

Deborah Ann Thomas Trial

It would seem that John could cheat death at will, but his luck would soon run out. On Tuesday, September 5, 1978, John was murdered. Witnesses say a car with two men pulled up beside John’s Cadillac, stopped at a red light, and fired at least one fatal shot into John’s head execution style. Police struggled to find suspects, and Deborah, still in jail for attempted murder, was questioned multiple times without producing any leads. Could the violence of Deborah and John’s wild-life together be a cause for a haunting at the swiss village? We will never know.

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