The city of Puno lies comfortably on the banks of Lake Titicaca in the ancient country of Peru. It is a beautiful place, full of bright, clean streets and friendly people. There is a wonderful fresh sharpness in the air owing to the city’s high altitude and close proximity to the mountains. In a place so dazzling and clear it is hard to imagine the existence of a dark and evil presence. But in the center of town, on the corner of the Plaza de Armas, across from the cathedral, there stands the crumbling ruins of an old Spanish adobe building. This was once the home of the Conde de Lemos (Viceroy of Peru), and it is the most feared place in the whole neighborhood.
During the seventeenth century, the Conde de Lemos was known to be a particularly ruthless despot. In 1657, two brothers, Jose and Gasper Salcedo, discovered the Layakakota gold mines and soon became two of the richest men in Latin America. The iron-handed Count Lemos could not bear to be outshone and sent his armies to capture the Layakakota mines.
Hearing word of the armies’ approach, the Salcedo brothers and their families barricaded themselves into the mind with supplies of food and ammunition. The army surrounded the mine and a siege began. After several weeks the food ran out and the people holed up in the mine began to starve. To save them from further suffering the women and children were sent out into the waiting arms of the count. Showing no mercy, the depraved Count Murdered them all in front of the entrance to the mine and in full view of those still inside. When the Salcedo’s ammunition finally ran out the Count had them burned alive inside the mine before declaring his victory.
His evil lives on and the house on the Plaza is still home to his restless spirit. Strange unexplained lights can be seen flitting room to room, loud bangs and roars of anger can be heard from out on the street. There is a police station next door to the house and a small shop on the other side. Police will walk around the block to get to the shop rather pass in front of the house of terror.
Many people have attempted to live there, but all have left after experiencing enormous amounts of ill fortune. One resident claimed to have been visited nightly by the count. She would wake in the darkness to find his presence hovering above her, his evil eyes peering down. As soon as she screamed or turned on a light, he would disappear.
Many past residents regularly felt a heavy hand clamping down on their shoulder. They would turn to confront the assailant, and the room would, of course, be empty. Families with young children have been unable to stay in the house for more than a night without the children becoming wildly disturbed and speechless with terror. Children seem to be particularly sensitive to the presence of the Count’s evil spirit, sensing his cold heart and threatening lack of morality. Occupant after occupant found themselves battling against illness and financial misfortune. It would seem even after death the Count could not bear to see others profit while he himself languished.
A young couple spent the first night of their honeymoon in the company of the Count. They were the last people to experience his malevolence at close range. They were accomplished sailors and after a particularly noisy and frightening night they took a boat out onto Lake Titicaca. There were high winds that day, the boat capsized, and the two excellent swimmers both drowned.
The house of Count Lemos has remained empty ever since, a dark stain bleeding into the center of Peru.